Before You Move!
If I took my own advice, I would win far more games! This is a process that came partially from my coach from long ago, and partially from a beginner's book at chess; and a smidgeon from my experience. Because I have overloaded myself in games and because I tend to be a little impatient, this has been being neglected; and my rating shows it!
See Every Piece!
See the whole board! Low rated players, like myself, tend to see only the square of the board that are nearest the objective or threat. If our King is under attack, we tend to focus so much on blocking and moving it out of danger, we miss opportunities to attack. When we believe we are close to checkmate, we sometimes concentratte on the offense until we are overcommitted and we neglect to respond to the threats to our own King. Pins and discovered checks can be nasty; and this can easily happen to us if we're not seeing what is behind that nearest piece.
What is that piece doing?
Unless our opponent has made a mistake or left a piece hanging, it's there for a reason. Where is it pointing? What is it threatening? What squares is it defending? In considering this, pay attention to that Knight. See where it is, what squares it can cover; then look at what squares it can cover when it makes its next move.
Why did he make that move?
Your opponent has an objective for the last move he made, unless he has made a mistake. Look at what piece he moved last, and to where that piece was moved. Then, look at the squares it covers, look at how it is defended, look where it is pointed and what else may be pointed there as well.
What does that move do for him? What does that move do to me?
Do I Have Center Control?
Center control is integral in the game of Chess. If you do not have your share of center control, that should be the focus of your moves. Do not begin a wing attack while center control is contested.
Are my pieces defended?
Are My Pieces Coordinated?
Your pieces must be working together towards the same goal. During the endgame, all of your available pieces should be focused on affecting checkmate.
Are my opponent's pieces defended?
Are My Opponents Pieces Coordinated?
If your opponents' pieces are not coordinated, there remains the possibility of capitaliing on this.
Can I check?
Checks are powerful weapons. Sometimes, when we get our opponent in check, his defenses fall apart and checkmate is not far behind.
Can I be checked?
Checks are powerful weapons. Sometimes, when we get into check, our defenses fall apart and checkmate is not far behind.
Can I capture?
Can I be captured?
Are My Pawns Defended?
Is My Pawn Structure Intact?
Are My Opponent's Pawns Defended?
Is My Opponent's Pawn Structure Intact?
Look at least (at the very least) 3 moves in advance!
- Then what?
- Then what?
Consider 3 options!
Don't rush your moves. Don't make the first move you see. There may be a stronger move.