Game Imroving Tips

Feb 8, 2008, 9:55 PM |
EndgameRook and pawn endgamesTry to cut your opponents king off from the action by strategically placing your rook on the best file or rank to keep it as far away as possible. Remember, in endings the king can be a useful attacking piece.
EndgamePawn and piece endingsIn endgames where you are a pawn down it is generally best to exhange pawns but avoid exchanging pieces. The opposite also applies - if you are a pawn up it is usually best to exchange pieces but avoid exchanging pawns.
ExchangesKnights and BishopsIn open postions, bishops are usually stronger than knights. In closed positions, knights are usually stronger than bishops. Consider carefully before exchanging a bishop for a knight or vice versa, especially in semi-closed positions which can open up. Normally a bishop pair is much stronger than a pair of knights. In endgames where you are a pawn or two down and have 2 bishops against a knight and bishop, you can sometimes salvage a draw if you can manage to exchange your opponents knight for your bishop which is on the same coloured squares as your opponents bishop, as this will leave opposite coloured bishops which is frequently drawn. Also bear in mind that whilst these statements are true in most cases, there are always exceptions! Therefore try to visualise the situation that would result if you made any of the above exchanges.
MiddlegameUsing your rooks to best advantageTry to control open files by doubling your rooks on them. Your ultimate aim should then be to penetrate your oppnents defenses and double them on your 7th rank. If your opponent has no rooks on their back row, doubling on your 8th rank can also be effective. Even if you cannot double your rooks, controlling an open file or your 7th or 8th rank with just one rook can also be good. In other circumstances rooks can be useful on semi-open files playing against weak pawns. You can also use you queen to double or treble (preferably behind your rooks) but also look out for chances of using her majesty to attack 2 points simultaneously such as along a diagonal and along a file.
OpeningOpening principlesEven if you are not very knowledgable about different openings, you can still obtain reasonable positions by adhering to the general opening principles. Try to control the centre of the board (d4, d5, e4 & e5), or failing that prevent your opponent from controlling it. If you are able to establish a piece in the centre it will have its maximum potential by covering more squares and also from there it can quickly move to a localised area to attack any weaknesses your opponent has. If your opponent neglects the centre you can often drive a wedge into their position severely restricting the scope of their pieces. The other main principle is to develop your pieces quickly. Do not start premature attacks before you have completed your development as you will frquently leave yourself open to a deadly counter-attack. Sometimes you will see certain strong players flout these rules, but until you have their experience and expertise stick to the conventional tried and trusted methods. Summarising, try to control the centre and develop quickly.
The best middlegame booksNimzovichAlthough it was written some time ago, My System by Nimzovich is still an excellent book. My copy is in English Descriptive Notation! However, it is currently available in Algebraic.
WinningThe threat is better than the executionIf you are threatening something, you can often get your opponent in a worse mess by creating a 2nd threat instead of carrying out your immediate threat. If you are able to build up several threats, your opponent will probably tie himself (or herself) in knots trying to parry them all.