Beginner tips and fundamentals


This forum is about tips for beginners playing this variant. Only the FFA variant is covered here (teams are covered here). The rules will not be explained here, so if you have not read the rules for 4-player chess, I recommend reading those first.


Before giving tips I think it is important to understand the goal of the game. The goal is NOT to checkmate first. The goal is NOT to be the last player standing. The goal is NOT to have as many points as possible. The goal is to have more points than your opponents at the end of the game. It doesn't matter if you have 1 more point or 20 more points than the player player behind you. Additionally the game is not just about 1st place. If you have no chance to get 1st you can still try to get 2nd or 3rd. With this in mind, let's get to the tips:


1: Never resign!

I am not talking about claiming victory by resigning which will be covered later. Premature resignation is far too common in this variant. If you lose a lot of material early, then there is still a chance for a comeback. And I am not talking about merely losing a queen here. You can lose a queen, rook and 2 bishops and I would still argue that it is too early to resign. Even a position where you are mate in 1 is too early to resign. The thing is that to get as high place as possible you should try to get as many points as possible. It is very pessimistic if you think it is impossible for you to get at least 1 more point before you are checkmated. When it comes to positions where you are mate in 1 you should know that there are more players than the player that tries to checkmate you. The other players may want to prevent him from mating you or let him pay for it by attacking that player. When it gets to that players turn he might choose to prioritize something other than mating you (such as king safety or saving his queen).


2. Don't trade early!

The thing about trades is that if you trade a piece with another player, then you both lose a piece and the other players will have one more piece than you. In other words a trade is bad for both players involved. While the goal of the game is to get points, those points will come if you stay in the game for a long time. I'm not going to discuss to what extent you should avoid trades here, I just want you to know that trades are generally bad for you.


3. Watch out for the diagonals!

The bishops are a scary piece in this variant. Their worth about the same as a rook. One mistake many beginners do in this variant is to develop their bishops towards the centre and leave the pawn in front of their knight undefended. Another mistake many do is to leave themselves exposed to a check along a diagonal. You need to watch out for that and the typical way to deal with it is to block the diagonal with a pawn or develop your bishop on that diagonal yourself.


4. See checks as threats!

When a player is in check he must respond to the check and while doing this other players can try to take advantage of this by for example attacking a queen or capture a piece without giving the player a chance to recapture. This is especially true for checks by the player to your left, since there are 2 players after him that can take advantage of the check. So you should really try to avoid checks by him.


5. Claim win (victory by resignation)

If there are only 2 players left and your ahead by at least 21 points, then you can just resign and win the game (The button should say "Claim Win"). You should use this opportunity whenever you can.


That is all tips I had in mind. If you want some more tips, then you can read about some stuff about why the position of players matters here. If you think you know you should still read that thing about positioning. Just reading that has helped some players gain hundreds of rating points.


Part 2:


I agree with MartinO. Good job as usual bud. 


Great tips, @Martin0! You are an excellent player, and it has been a true pleasure to sit across from you on the quad... even when you do eat my unprotected queens. *chomp*


 Yep. Very good tips!


Thanks guys, and it was a pleasure to play with a developer like you @ignoble.


This is actually the first time I have heard the advice to always castle to the right. That is interesting, I tend to always castle kingside, but I do get your point.


"Because of this checks can be really scary and should be avoided." maybe rewrite this as it can be understood the wrong way by beginners...getting checked should be avoided (especially if it's from the player to the left), checking someone can ruin their game. (Remember that checking is not the safest way to checkmate against a sole king because of the weird selfstalemate).


Practice doing nothing (maneuvering if you like (Kh1-Kg1-Kh1-Kg1 etc...grin.png) will serve you in this game...


I probably should rewrite the avoid check tip to put some emphasis that it is very important to prevent this from the player to your left. The thing is that I will have to explain why it is the player to the left that are more scary since that is probably not obvious to new players (it was not for me the first games I played). The reason I excluded it was because I wanted the tips to be easy and I cover the positioning in the link at the end later anyway, but I will rewrite it to be a bit more specific when avoiding checks (probably tomorrow).


Nice tips!


To add my 1 cent I would add the blurb about friend, enemy and backstabber might help with the castling and checking that is so important as well as establish a better foundation.. To that end maybe not beginner tips but for sure middle level. knocking out side players vs the player across from you gives you a better shot at points and wining in the early and mid part of the game. 


I intend to make some small steps with each of these helpful forum posts. I did not want to repeat the thing about "friend, enemy, backstabber" here since I didn't want to repeat myself.



Martin0, your previous note (about the friend, enemy and backstabber) helped me to raise the rating from 1400-1500 to 1650-1700. Thank you! Keep up posting your notes (if you enjoy it, of course)!


I'm glad to hear that @BabYagun. Personally I am rated 1600 right now, but somehow I gained a bunch of rating points (from 1500 to 1600) in teams mode. The few games I have played afterwards has kept me around the 1600 mark though. I will try to keep posting, but we'll see. It depends on how much free time I have and if I think I understand a concept good enough that I can write about it.


I added some text about the checks that you should avoid checks by the player to the left.

I also changed the ending to encourage people a bit more to read that stuff I have written about friend, backstabber and enemy.


So far my guiding strategy has been hard defense to the left, hard attack to the right. I realize that if everyone does this I'll be getting attacked from the left relentlessly, but this seems to be the way you have to play, simply based on rotation. 


It's also important to remember, if your leftside player gets attacked by the crosstable player, you can attack leftside with impunity. 


Finally, do not give leftside a chance to put you in check. The threat of a check from leftside is as dangerous as the actual execution. If you get checked from leftside, the crosstable and rightside are going to eat your lunch. 


When it is your move and somebody is in check, attack that person's pieces or capture their defended pieces. It will get you more points and more attacking pieces.


I agree about never resigning as I have often won from impossible situations (ie down to only a couple of pieces). It is strange how playing dead can work in your favour.

I find trying to get the early queen often back fires. It is better to arrange your pieces defensively before heading out looking for queens.


Thank you for the information. Translated into Russian - 

Спасибо автору за статью. Сделал перевод, для русскоговорящих игроков: "Четверные шахматы - советы новичкам".


@Anadara, another great translation made by you. Thanks a lot!

One note: You translate Free-for-All as «Свобода для всех». I believe it should be 1) "Каждый сам за себя" or 2) "Все против всех", or 3) "Всё дозволено". I like 1) more than 2) and 3), but they are also correct. Please look at Let's rename FFA to eliminate ambiguity.

BabYagun написал:

@Anadara, another great translation made by you. Thanks a lot!

One note: You translate Free-for-All as «Свобода для всех». I believe it should be 1) "Каждый сам за себя" or 2) "Все против всех", or 3) "Всё дозволено". I like 1) more than 2) and 3), but they are also correct. Please look at Let's rename FFA to eliminate ambiguity.

Thank you! Fixed it - «Каждый сам за себя».

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