A “one size fits most” approach for us average players.
So what exactly is average chess? I remember reading somewhere that the average chess tournament player is about a 1400 rating. If so, what does it take to get a higher than average rating?
First, just forget about memorizing openings past the first 5 or 6 moves. Unless you are studying for Expert or higher ranking, this is all you need to have fun and enjoy the game. Keep it simple. Just study openings starting with e4 or d4. And, try to “get out of the book” or, at least, out of the main opening lines. Even a “slightly inferior” line of play can be a winner if you’re more familiar with it than your opponent.
Second, you must practice and study tactics. The tactics trainer on chess.com is excellent practice. Don’t worry about your rating. Just learn the tactical “patterns” so you can easily recognize them during a game. The more you train – the better you get.
Third, learn basic chess strategy. It’s simple really. Don’t make any unnecessary moves, fight to control the center of the board, and keep your pieces active and mobile.
Fourth, make a battle plan. After the first 5 or 6 moves, your opponent has probably indicated his plan for attack or defense. All you have to do is form a battle plan to fit the situation. Then try to stick with your plan to win the game. That doesn’t mean never change the plan, just only make changes as necessary.
For example, let’s say you’re just past 5 or 6 moves into a game and your opponent has given you an opportunity to close the center. Should you? Well, the answer is probably yes, if you are good with your knights. So your battle plan might be:
1. Close the center.
2. Trade one bishop for opponent’s knight. (maybe doubling his pawns in the process)
3. Attack his castle with all available forces while utilizing your more mobile, and effective knights.
There you have it - a simple, effective approach to playing better than average chess. Oh, yes. Don’t forget to have FUN. It’s just a game – win or lose. You’ll learn more from your losses than your wins. So just PLAY!