The Nine Skills of an Effective Chess Player

The Nine Skills of an Effective Chess Player

Mar 25, 2013, 9:32 AM |

   There are 9 skill one must master to play effective chess. They fit together like building blocks to a puzzle. If one piece is missing the picture as a whole is left distorted. Strong player have at at least some degree of mastery of all these skills. To often thou the novice player is left in the dark, potentially excellent chess players give up on the game because they are never given the tools to improve on these basic skills. I have read tons of chess books and for some time I did not improve. I would ask strong players, "If I have all this knowledge from all there books, why cann't I get better?" This is not a fair question to ask anyone. So after much evaluation of myself as a chess player, I throw aside all the chess books and started at the basics of how the game is played. Here is what I have come up with.


Chess play has two fundamental aspects to it. Analysis and Strategy. Analysis is actually a set of four sub skill that work together to form concussions about a given chess position. These abilities are the first important step to good chess play. They are:

Visualization - The art of seeing the relationship between the pieces after a few moves are made. If you can follow a game without the need for a board then you have good visualization. 

Calculation - This is purely a logic function. The act of "If I move here the he goes there." Calculation is the primary function need for assessing and creating tactics.

Evaluation - This Has two sides to it. Static and Dynamic. Static is to assign a value to the current position. This is based on such things as the material balance, Scope of Pieces, Space, and strength of the pawn structure. Dynamic Evaluation is bit more complex, seeing a position as fluid and looking with a far reaching eye is often the hardest thing about chess. This side of evaluation is closely tied to the strategic side of chess. Both are need to complete the Calculation task. Good evaluation skill allows us to assign a value to the end of a calculated line.

Pruning - Narrowing down of the potential moves to only those moves that need to be investigated is a bit of an art. Mostly I find experience governs this process but there are ways to help you. If you where to calculate all the possibilities you would quickly get lost as the analysis tree grew. Novices have the impression that expert players are able to calculate all these lines. In truth the expert calculates less then the novice because of a good feel for the skill of pruning.


   The strategic side of chess is also comprised four sub skill but these skill tie in to the aforementioned skill to bring together the effective chess player. These skills are:

Planning - To have a plan is better than no plan at all. Planning is sometime misunderstood at the lower levels of chess. Yes having an overall Idea of what you want is the goal here, but the rout to this goal is also made of several smaller plans. Planning is also part of the pruning process. Whit out a plan there is no direction to our plan, and therefore no easy way to pick candidate moves.

Adaptation - Once you know what you want, and you have made a plan to get there, this does not mean you will realize that plan. Your opponent will have plans of his own, and for every good plan you make there could be a counter plan. The ability to adapt and rethink your plan on fly is key. For the faster your plan reacts to change the better the chance for success. 

Pattern Recognition - From the simple patters such as a fork or a skewer to more complex patterns such as Anastasia's Mate. Knowing and recognising these patterns is very important for several reasons. Knowing these patterns can set in motion a plan. Recognizing the pitfalls that could put you in such a position can also set a plan in motion. Patterns can help in the pruning process by eliminating inferior moves from you mind and guiding you on a path to a winning Idea.

Prophylaxis - Playing with Prophylaxis is to play from the opponents point of view and find the move that is most damaging to there potential plan. Knowing when to use such moves is a bit of an art. But the skill comes in to play constantly. After every move the opponent makes we need to see what that move is telling us, to recognize the potential threats that may come our way. I would say that Active play is of the up most importance, this is only trumped by king safety.


The last skill is an Eye for Error. Since you are human and you are playing against other humans, blunders will happen. It is important to check your self before deciding on a move, but also be aware of the opponents errors so when you have the chance you can capitalize on them.


Thank, I hope this help others.