How to learn chess?


I started to seriously study chess about 2,5 weeks ago, which I started with the lessons on this website, some YouTube videos and the tactic puzzles.

After about a week I thought to myself that learning from playing would obviously be a good idea as well, but I was instantly pummeled to 500-600 rank. Although I have been gotten slightly better, I feel like I am unable to make progress when it comes to tactics and playing chess in general.

What do you think is best way to study chess for beginners?


A few tips...

Be sure to develop ALL your pieces as rapidly as you can in the opening - this is extremely important - you are already behind if you have fewer developed pieces than your opponent.

Development includes connecting your rooks on the first rank (i.e., this means that your other pieces are no longer occupying the first rank, and that you have castled).  And if files become open (clear of all pawns) or semi-open (i.e., only your opponent's pawns are on the file), or likely to become so, it is generally a good idea to post your rooks such that they have influence on, and command of, these files.

So once you have developed ALL your pieces, begin to think of ways that you can open lines (files and diagonals) as required - consistent with your offensive plan - for your rooks, bishops and Queen.  The point is to give your pieces more potential for "activity" and for them to be able to influence more squares on the board (called "scope").  All other things being equal, the player with the greater activity and scope for his pieces generally enjoys an advantage.  Other than a material advantage, this is probably the single most important advantage to strive for in a game.

For opening files, this is accomplished generally via pawn exchanges (a file is not open for you if your pawn(s) is on it).  These pieces also require open lines so that when the time is right they can quickly participate in an attack.  The greater the number of pieces you can bring to bear in an attack, the more likely it is to succeed.  Insufficient attacking force in many cases will not only end up needlessly wasting valuable pieces, but also increases the likelihood that your opponent will be able to fend off your attack, turn the tables, and gain the initiative..

On each move, FIRST try to identify immediate threats to you (are ALL your pieces protected?!).  Once you have developed your pieces, begin the (continuous, on every move) process of identifying if there are any useful threats you can create for your opponent to deal with - that is, try to create problems for your opponent to solve as much as possible - if you don't, you're just giving him free reign to do whatever he likes.  Better to put him in the position of having to deal with your moves and threats, as opposed to the other way round.  At the same time, be cognizant of improving the position/placement of your pieces and pawns, not only for ensuring an adequate defense, but equally important to put them in a position where they can support and/or quickly participate in an attack/tactic/combination - i.e., offensive operations.

The following very instructive video makes the point (revealed at minute 15:10) that "activity is the underlying principle which governs all chess games"....

Chess opening principles for beginners…

When deciding upon a move, think in terms of….

The Principle of Maximum Usefulness…

Spend some time studying the following instructive game with the goal of understanding the reasoning (i.e., the principles) behind each and every move White makes…go over the game (slowly) as many times as it takes until you understand White’s decisions…

5 most important principles of attack in chess…

From your profile you play exclusively rapid and blitz games.  Try to play mostly longer time controls, including "daily" chess, so you have time to think about what you should be doing - speed chess may be fun, but at this stage of your development it will do little to promote your rapid improvement or your understanding of how to play correctly.

It makes sense that taking time to think about what you should be doing would promote improvement in your chess skills.

This is not to suggest that you should necessarily play exclusively slow time controls or daily games, but they should be the greater percentage of your games, much more so than speed games (rapid, bullet, blitz, etc.) which do almost nothing to promote an understanding of how to play the game well.  Speed chess tends to be primarily an exercise in moving pieces around faster than your opponent while avoiding checkmate, in hopes that his/her clock runs out sooner than yours.

Here's what IM Jeremy Silman has to say on the topic...

And the experience of a FIDE Master...

Also, playing without a good foundation in fundamental chess principles and understanding how to apply them will do little to help you become a good chess player. In order to understand these principles it takes study - there is no easy, quick solution to playing good have to put in the effort to learn...

Good Chess Books for Beginners and Beyond....


Thank you RussBell, I've gone over a few of the links and studied them and they seem fairly informative. I will go through them all and try to play longer chess games. Let's see where that leads in a few weeks.


@WhiteZet -

Welcome.  Good luck!


"... for those that want to be as good as they can be, they'll have to work hard.
Play opponents who are better than you … . Learn basic endgames. Create a simple opening repertoire (understanding the moves are far more important than memorizing them). Study tactics. And pick up tons of patterns. That’s the drumbeat of success. ..." - IM Jeremy Silman (December 27, 2018)
"... In order to maximize the benefits of [theory and practice], these two should be approached in a balanced manner. ... Play as many slow games (60 5 or preferably slower) as possible, ... The other side of improvement is theory. ... This can be reading books, taking lessons, watching videos, doing problems on software, etc. ..." - NM Dan Heisman (2002)
"... If it’s instruction, you look for an author that addresses players at your level (buying something that’s too advanced won’t help you at all). This means that a classic book that is revered by many people might not be useful for you. ..." - IM Jeremy Silman (2015)
Here are some reading possibilities that I often mention:
Simple Attacking Plans by Fred Wilson (2012)
Logical Chess: Move by Move by Irving Chernev (1957)
The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played by Irving Chernev (1965)
Winning Chess by Irving Chernev and Fred Reinfeld (1948)
Back to Basics: Tactics by Dan Heisman (2007)
Discovering Chess Openings by GM John Emms (2006)
Openings for Amateurs by Pete Tamburro (2014)
Chess Endgames for Kids by Karsten Müller (2015)
A Guide to Chess Improvement by Dan Heisman (2010)
Studying Chess Made Easy by Andrew Soltis (2009)
Seirawan stuff:


Thank you spongey, I will go through them as soon as possible.


Practice, study and time. Basically, everything that has already been said.


your first book Logical chess move by move  Irving Chernev

2nd book Most Instructive Games ever played by Chernev

This will get you to 1000

1001 Sacrifices

1001 Checkmates

Add very basic book about opening play

Do both these books spending no more than 5 minutes a position then look at answer   Rinse and Repeat till you score 90 percent without looking at the answer  and use a board till you get to this level and write everything down questions problems interests good games you want to look at deeper if you dont write it down it is not important and make sure your goal is written down. My goal was 1800 rating my peak was 1964 and the highest over the board player I defeated was 2240+ statistically I am hugely better with white but am also a total conservative at the board not good at attacking till an endgame is reached appraise your play and be honest with yourself.

Get you to 1600

Now add Books about endgame play

Specific Opening Books that interest you

Capa  best games

Botvinnik Best Games

Alekhine Best Games


from there choose your own path this should get you to 1900 uscf and that is where I stopped growing as a chess player always try and push yourself as an analyst from 1 or 2 moves ahead to entire variations I am pretty good till about 4 moves ahead and a couple of short variations but more than that and my evaluations arent very good. 


Playing it is the best