What Chess Masters See that Most of Us Don’t: An article on what to do before making a move.

What Chess Masters See that Most of Us Don’t: An article on what to do before making a move.

Jan 29, 2016, 10:17 PM |

Hello there chess player…

There are many aspiring players out there. Some play just for fun and there are some who decided to be serious about the game. As to numbers, active players with a FIDE rating rose from 64,630 in year 2009 to 101,367 in year 20131. It was common to all of us that we have learned the rules on how to play the game but some were not taught or able to figure out what to do when choosing a move.

This article aims to deliver such guide. It tries to show a thought process on how to know if an opponent has made a bad move and how to prevent ourselves from committing such mistakes.

My target reader would be players who has knowledge about the rules of the game, chess tactics and positional play who would want to improve their play by exploiting mistakes being made by their opponents and creating measures to avoid doing blunders. Although my primary target readers would be beginners, it is my hope that intermediate players would find this guide of help.

If you’ve come to have read this write-up, it is an indication that you’re putting some effort to increase your skills. So let’s all gear up and start.


Why Come Up with this Process?

I was playing one afternoon when it all hit me. I am confidently playing against a club player when I made the mistake of placing one of my pieces in the line of defense between my queen and a critical square. I started to ask questions. Why didn’t I see that? Why didn’t I consider that my move would have that effect? Are there other things I am not considering?


How Did I Came Up with the Process

My resolve had been to create a process in which I will try to consider all things that for the time being I know. I’ve come to read an article once and it proposes that a piece has two effects that is attack and block. With this in mind, I browsed for chess rules2 to which I will base the thought process. I summarized the rules and found the following critical:

1.     If a piece moves to a square occupied by an opponent’s piece the latter is captured and removed from the chessboard as part of the same move.

2.     The bishop, rook or queen may not move over any intervening pieces.

3.     It is not permitted to move a piece to a square occupied by a piece of the same colour.


Using these rules, I came up with the following advantages and disadvantages of a move:


1.     The moving piece attacks new squares.

2.     Lines were opened for ally pieces.

3.     A square was left available for allies.

4.     Lines were closed for enemy pieces.


1.     The moving piece may have been placed under attack.

2.     The moving piece left squares undefended.

3.     Lines were opened for enemy pieces.

4.     Lines were closed for ally pieces for them to move or protect allies.

5.     A square was made unavailable for allies.


With these advantages and disadvantages, I was able to complete the thought process that can be seen below:

A. Checkmates

1.     Can I deliver checkmate? If yes, then do it. If no…

2.     Does he threaten to checkmate my king? If yes, prevent if possible. If no…

B. Gain material (If you answered yes to any, consider it as a candidate move.)

1.     Is it safe to capture the moving piece?

2.     Did the moving piece left ally pieces or critical squares undefended that can be exploited?

3.     Can I make use of lines opened to gain material?

4.     Can I capture any trapped piece?

5.     Did the moving piece blocked lines of defense?

Choose between the candidate moves if there are any, then go to E. If you answered no to all 5 questions, then…

C. Prevent loss of material

1.     Does he threaten to gain material? If yes, consider candidate moves to prevent such loss and choose between those candidate moves, then go to E. If no…

D. Improve position

1.     Choose candidate moves that can improve position of pieces then choose between those moves, then go to E.

E. Sanity check of candidate move.

1.     Can the opponent deliver checkmate?

2.     Can the opponent safely capture the moving piece?

3.     Did the moving piece left ally pieces or critical squares undefended that can be exploited?

4.     Can the opponent make use of lines opened to gain material?

5.     Can the opponent capture any trapped piece?

6.     Did the moving piece blocked lines of defense?

If you answered no to all then make the move. If you answered yes to any, choose another candidate move and go back to E.



[Event “Live Chess”]

[Site “Chess.com”]

[Date “2016.01.16”]

[White “tarikchessoran”]

[Black “bien06”]

[Result “0-1”]

[WhiteElo “1346”]

[BlackElo “1404”]

[TimeControl “3|0”]

[Termination “bien06 won by resignation”]


1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Nc3 Bg4 6.Bg5 e6 7.Be2 Be7 8.h3 Bh5 9.O-O O-O 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.Qd2 Nc6 12.Rfe1 Rc8 13.a3 a6 14.Rad1 Qb6 15.Qc1

The queen move left d4 with less number of guards…


15.  … Bxf3 16.Bxf3 Nxd4 17.Na4 Qa7 18.c3




The pawn move deprived the knight on a4 of any flight square…


18.  … Nxf3+ 19.gxf3 b5 20.Qe3 Qxe3 21.fxe3 bxa4 22.Rc1 Rb8 23.Re2 Rb3 24.f4 Rfb8 25.Rcc2 g5 26.fxg5 Bxg5 27.Kf2 f5 28.Kf3 Kf7 29.Rg2 h6 30.Ke2




The king blocked the pathway between the rook on g2 and the pawn on b2…


30.  … Rxb2 31.Rxb2 Rxb2+ 32.Kf3 Rxg2 33.Kxg2 Bxe3 34.Kf3 Bd2 35.Ke2 Bxc3 36.Kd3 Bb2 37.Kc2 Bxa3 0-1



Hope that you find this article helpful. You can thank me by letting other people know about this page. Thank you. : )





1 FIDE Statistics Suggest That Chess Is On The Rise



2 Laws of Chess: For competitions starting before 1 July 2014 (https://www.fide.com/fide/handbook.html?id=124&view=article)