"Top Chess Tips for Everyone"

"Top Chess Tips for Everyone"

Dec 10, 2009, 2:48 PM |

Top Chess Tips for Everyone

National Master and PA Scholastic Coordinator - Dan Heisman

Internet Research By: "KingsEnemy"

1. SAFETYThe #1 chess guideline: Keep all your pieces safe! (And consider taking opponent’s pieces that are not safe). You must make all your decisions before you touch a piece.  If you touch a piece and something will not be safe, it is too late, because if you touch a piece you must move it. 


2. ACTIVITY: Make sure all your pieces are doing something all the time! – So, for example, move every piece once before you move any piece twice in the opening (as a goal).  Often the best strategy in a position with no tactics (see #7) is to find a piece that is doing little and find a way for it to do more!  If you can keep your pieces safe and active all the time, you are already an intermediate player, at least!

3.  You are trying to find the BEST move, so when you see a good move, look for a better one If you don’t look, you can’t see!

4. Three things you try to do specifically in the opening:  

·         Get ALL your pieces into play

·         Get some control of the center

·         Castle your King into safety

One of the things I teach I now call the "Dan metric":

What is the move number of the move that finally means that all your non-pawns are developed? Castling counts as only a King move, not a rook move.

So for example the move number at which you have made both Bishops, both Knights, both Rooks, the Queen, and the King move is the number.

Special cases:

1. Count a rook as developed if the rook file becomes semi-open or open with the Rook still unmoved.

2. Count the Rook on the castled square (d1 or f1) as developed if:

A) It is on an open or semi-open file, or

B) It is necessary to defend something that is attacked, or

C) The rook on d1 after queenside castling has the pawn at least on d4 or further.

I consider the following:

A) Excellent: 12-14 moves (to complete development)

B) Good: 15-17 moves

C) Fair: 18-19 moves

D) Sludge: 20-24 moves

E) Mother was a Glacier: 25+ moves

Of course sometimes you get sidetracked with pieces attacked which have to relocate, or trades, but most often a player can develop his pieces faster.  Remember, "the player who uses his Rooks best usually 'wins' the opening."

5.  Other opening guidelines: Move Knights before Bishops – as a general move order, move out the Knight on the side where you want to castle, then the Bishop, then castle, then move your other Knight, your other Bishop, move the Queen up a little and then move both Rooks where they will do some good.  Don’t start an attack until ALL your pieces are ready.  Don’t move up your Queen too far where your opponent’s Knights and Bishops can attack them and win tempos (time).   The player who makes the best use of his Rooks (and the fastest use) usually wins the opening!


6. TAKE YOUR TIME – if world championship players always take several minutes to find a good move, what makes you think that you can find a better one faster? Look at it this way: NOTHING is preventing weaker players from playing like stronger players and taking your time to look at as many possibilities as you can.

7.The way to keep your pieces safe and to win your opponent’s pieces is through tactics. Tactics are the most important part of a chess game – every good player knows basic tactics. The most basic tactic is counting – that is, making sure each piece is adequately guarded enough times by other pieces.  Studying the other tactics: Pins, forks, checkmates, skewers, removal of the guard, queening combinations, double threats, discovered checks, etc. can be done first working through (and enough times that you are sure you know) a book like Bain’s Tactics for Students and then Hays and Hall's Combination Challenge (or use the software CT-ART 3.0).  If you like doing the puzzles in those books, you will probably do all of them and become a good player! By the way, the player who gets the most pieces out first usually finds himself on the good side of the tactics!

8. For piece values, start with Pawn = 1 pawn; Bishop and Knight =3 pawns; Rook = 5 pawns; and Queen = 9 Pawns. More advanced players should think of Bishops and Knights as worth about 3¼ pawns, a Queen about 9.75.Having two Bishops when your opponent does not is called “the Bishop Pair” and is worth about an extra ½ pawn. Winning a Rook for a Bishop or Knight is called winning The Exchange and is worth almost half a piece (Bishop or Knight)

9.When you are considering which move to make, consider first your checks, captures, and threats – similarly, when trying to see what your opponent can do to you, look for his checks, captures, and threats first.

10. Your opponent is just as important as you are. Make sure you pay just as much attention to what he is doing as to what you are doing.

11. Eliminate fuzzy thinking – everything on the chess board is visible. Either something is a threat or it is not – you have to do the work to figure it out. Don’t fall for thinking, “I think his piece might get into danger”; either it will be in trouble or it won’t!

12. After your opponent makes a move, ask yourself Why did he do that?” and What can he do to me now that he couldn’t do to me before?” And check to see if that piece or any other opponent’s piece is not safe.

13. Some good endgame tips are: 1) The King is a strong piece – make sure you use it. 2) Rooks belong behind passed pawns, 3) Passed pawns usually should be pushed.

14. Many things in chess are easy! Taking your time and looking to find more reasonable moves – and looking for what your opponent can do – is a habit that all good players have – and you can too, if you just try!

15. A good attitude is important. No matter how strong my opponent is, I never think, “I am going to lose this game” before it even starts! I just feel like I have to take my time and play my best no matter who I am playing. If I win, fine; if I lose, then I want to learn why I lost so I won’t lose that way ever again!