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Common Chess Errors

In his classic Novice Nook The Theory of Chess Improvement Dan Heisman points out the following common chess errors, which I keep running up against.

  • Playing too fast or too slow.
  • Having bad thought processes – such as playing “Hope Chess”
    (making a move but not analyzing whether you can safely meet any
    forcing reply).
  • seeing a good move and not looking for a better one.
  • not looking for all your opponent’s threats from his previous move.
  • Not following general principles, such as not developing all your
    pieces in the opening or not activating your king quickly enough in the
  • Misunderstanding the value of the pieces. For example, thinking that
    trading a rook and pawn for a bishop and knight is usually an equal
  • Psychological errors, such as not playing with confidence, or avoiding
    higher rated players for fear of losing.
  • Analysis errors, like “retained images” (where you analyze and think a
    piece is still on a square from which it moved earlier in the imagined
    sequence) or making “quiescence errors” (stopping your analysis to
    evaluate a position when there are still tactics to be resolved).
  • Evaluation errors – thinking a position is good when it is actually bad
    and vice versa.

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