Beginners Tips: Keep It Simple, Play It Safe

Beginners Tips: Keep It Simple, Play It Safe

Jun 5, 2012, 9:10 PM |

During my early years of learning chess, one of my frustration was that I kept falling into tactical traps all the time. I realized that I was not as gifted as others when handling complex positions, so I learned to keep my games simple and play them safe. So today I would like to share some tips that I believe may be helpful for beginners.

Thinking Process

Before making a move, it is important to calculate several moves ahead. Advanced players may want to calculate more moves, but for beginners 2-3 moves ahead are enough. Check each of the opponent's piece which squares where it can go to.

Fast Deployment

During opening stage, it is critical to get your pieces (non-pawns) out as soon as possible. Although there are openings that delay the deployment of the pieces (non-pawns), for beginners it is important to develop your pieces (non-pawns) at an equal or faster rate than your opponent. It is better to get your guns out early than late. Keep it simple. Play it safe.

Material Count

The common mistake that beginners make is that they tend to throw away materials. Be stingy. Do not throw away materials unless you get a worthy compensation for it. At any stage of the game, you must always keep count how many pieces you and the opponent have.

The Command Center

Fight for the center. Those who have control over the center generally have easier task in coordinating their pieces. When you are under heavy fire, a permanent way to disperse the opponent's attack is by retaking the center.

Dangerous Line-Ups

When pieces are put along the same horizontal, vertical, or diagonal lines, they are in a potentially dangerous position. Scan around for threats when you put your pieces along the same line. For practical reason, it is better to scatter your pieces along different lines instead. Below is an example of the rooks being attacked on their blindside.

Hanging Pieces

Hanging pieces are pieces (non-pawns) hanging loose in a hostile territory with no protection. Reduce the number of hanging pieces. The less the better. Keep it simple and you have less headache to deal with later on. 

Returning Home Safely
When sending pieces into the enemy's territory, make sure that they have a clear path to return home or to a safe outpost. Never send a piece into the enemy territory without a clear plan on how it may retreat.
Just as in any military operation, never send your piece into the enemy's territory without back-ups. Chess is a team effort. Count how many enemy pieces in the target area, and make sure you send at least an equal amount of force.