Stuck at 400 ELO and I've been playing for a year.

I've been 400-500 after a year of playing. Seems like other players are way better than they should be at this level.

I know the basics:

- don't hang pieces
- take hanging pieces
- control the center
- develop your pieces
- the Sicilian opening strategy
- keep an eye out for potential batteries and forks

Yet, here we are.

I don't always do these things perfectly. Hanging a piece occasionally happens. But that occasionally happens to >500 players also, I assume.

400-level players aren't nearly as bad as people think. They're not "learning how the pieces move" bad. They're not even "learning basic tactics" bad. They're way better than that.

Sure ya do bud. Some pointless vagaries as any other thread.


Let’s work on your chess sometime, message me and we’ll meet up on your preferred communication platform. If there’s a will then we’ll make a way!



Playing the Sicilian at 400? The Sicilian is way complicated, and a lot of people recommend not trying to learn it until like 2000. And after reviewing some of your games, you don’t even play the Sicilian, so why learn it? Just learn a basic line against it, like the alapin or smthn.


I’d recommend watching some videos and reading some books to help. From reviewing some of your games:

1. You castled directly into an attack. You played b3, didn’t fianchetto your bishop, and ended up with a weak pinned knight that couldn’t be defended.


2. You have to evaluate what the opponent wants when they make a move, and what’s under attack before you play. I struggle with this a lot too, but hey, we’re all trying to get better. 

After 5...Ng5, you played d5, which is a square you control less than your opponent. Your opponent is obviously trying to fork your queen and rook, and your king still isn’t castled. So short castle would have solved all these problems. Try to find the optimal move. Also, I should mention, d5 isn’t a blunder. Often, d5 Na5 is played, but you played Nd4?. Then, after 7.d6, you failed to evaluate the threat and played pawn takes, got forked, and lost the queen.



3. Stick to the fundamentals. In this game, you moved your queen out on move two. Develop your minor pieces first, knight before bishop. 8...Nxd5?? is a blunder. Your queen was overloaded, and you need remember that before you snap take. I have trouble with this too, but just think “after [blank] happens, what would I do as [my opponent], or, “after [blank] happens, does [my opponent] have any very good moves?


10...bb4+?? is also a blunder. This is a danger level that doesn’t work. Your queen was under attack, and you gave a check and pawn blocks, resulting in two of your pieces hanging. You can only save one, so instead of being fancy, just move the queen. Before you play a move, think, “how would I respond” or “is this move really necessary?”, and visualize the complications you’re making for yourself.


4. You’re too quick to resign! You’re 300, if you blunder a piece you should always play on! Your opponent could end up blundering their queen or smthn, it’s not like they’re a grandmaster who’ll never make a serious mistake.


who knows though, I’m only 1450, maybe a more qualified person will come along. I make as many blunders as a 200 in some of my games happy.png




And before you ask, yes, I do have too much time on my hands. I’m on winter break, it’s 1:40am here in the US, and I have a bad case of insomnia. help meee....


The Sicilian Opening theory is anything but basic... I'm struggling with it all myself.

Below 1000 rating I wouldn't touch the Sicilian at all. There's way too many advanced, high level ideas that will go over your head. Stick to just 1. e4 e5 openings, or 1. d4 d5 openings.

I haven't played many 400 rated players on this site but can't you just Scholar's mate them? Or fried liver them?


I wouldn’t recommend the scholar’s mate to anyone. It breaks principles left and right, and it doesn’t help you improve in the long run. And he’s the one getting fried liver’d, so probably just choose one opening and stick to it...


Read this. Hope it helps.


Study the fundamentals...

Improving Your Chess - Resources for Beginners and Beyond...


"I've been 400-500 after a year of playing."
A rating of 400 - 500 is a sign of frequent blunders.
Always check your intended move is no blunder before you play it.
Sit on your hands.
Hang no pieces, hang no pawns and you are 1500 overnight.


Man’s playing the sicillian as a beginner😭😭😭😭a


No shame, I once wanted to try and learn it as well. Isn’t like, 25% of chess theory all variations of the Sicilian?


Well I dont know about 400 player, but I am 800 and definitely consider myself weak
I might not directly hanging pieces (at least not often enough to consider it an issue), but I do get into fork and pin traps.
I miss chances for simple tactic combinations and under time pressure even missing hanged pieces waiting to be taken.


The way I see it, at 800 game is all about blunders
If I have no blunders, I rarely lose. And even if I have, I sometimes win because opponent just had more (I also winning blunders - a mate that contained a blunder in the combination, but luckily opponent missed).


TL;DR:  Focusing on basic beginner guidelines might help you blunder less and take better advantage of your opponent's weak moves!

So, I'm sitting at about 1000 rapid.  At my rating, I'd say I'll sometimes get a game where I don't have a serious one-move blunder, though it's truly exceptional when I get a game that will rate as having no errors (and usually that's only when my opponent blunders a major piece and resigns in ten moves or so.)  But, entirely blunder-free games are the exception, not the rule.

What's the difference between this and playing in the 400s?  I'd say there are differences both in type of blunder and rate of blunder.  In the 400s, you'll see somewhat more blunders or bad moves, but also the blunders or bad moves will leave you open to more obvious attacks or tactics.

So, for example, in this game, the computer had you ahead until you captured a pawn that left you losing your queen to a simple tactic:

Now, as for just that move itself, my analysis in a game would start by noting that my queen's safety depends on a "soft" pin of the e7 bishop, which should provoke the question "Where can that bishop go and what happens then?"  Clearly, my opponent would be looking for ways to (a) get that bishop out of the way (b) in such an aggressive way that I either need to save my queen immediately even if I give up something else to do it, or in such a way that I have to give up my queen to respond to a more serious threat (like check.)  So, it's very possible that I would see that tactic before it happens.

But, in the 1000s, just as in the 400s, mistakes happen, and it's very possible that in that position I'd make the same move you did.  However, I'd like to point out that there are issues with how you got to that position in the first place (even if the computer had you ahead.)

Your king is sitting in the center of the back rank and your central pawn structure is just gone.  Your king's safety is a resource, and while you can, in a sense, spend it to get other advantages, if you wind up in this position you need to exercise extreme vigilance and probably prioritize getting it to safety as soon as possible.

While it's easy to overly prioritize pawn structure, if you think of the pawns in your game as walls that block movement and protect pieces, you'll start to value keeping them in place rather than trading them off in a way that leaves you with nowhere to run.

In looking at that position where you took the pawn with your queen, I noticed pretty quickly that you had an opportunity for a tactic that would trade your king-side rook for your opponent's queen.  By playing Rf1, you pin their queen to their king, so that they have no choice but to take your rook with Qxf1, which you immediately follow with Kxf1, taking their queen.

That tactic should be easy to see, because a couple things lead you there:  "My rooks are sitting in the corner, undeveloped."  Also, "Can I move either rook to an open file?"  Had you been asking either of those questions, "Oh crap I can pin and force an exchange of the opponent's queen for a rook!" should have been a natural next step.

I think my message with all of this is that it's one thing to think "oh, my opponent is just good at thinking of clever tactics," but in fact all the more basic, beginner's guidelines (get your king to safety, develop your pieces, put rooks on open files, always ask what your opponent could be doing to punish the move you want to make) end up adding up to better outcomes all by themselves, even if you're not a tactical genius.

That's not to say that you should be holding back and playing super-defensively.  Attacking is essential, and you often have to trade a defensive advantage away to attack (easy example is breaking your pawn structure to attack theirs) but ideally you get yourself into a defensible position first where your pieces work together to make one powerful attack rather than just making a mess in the center of the board and hoping you get one extra good hit in.  (Not that that's an unviable approach, but it does involve betting the whole game on you being more tactically capable than your opponent.)

The reason the computer had you ahead, by the way, is that it assumes you're an inhumanly-good tactical wizard, and you were in a position that would benefit a lot from that.

P.S.  I'm working on the same types of issues to improve my game, so like I say, the difference is a matter of degree.


Hi! My name is Lauren Goodkind and I’m a respected  chess coach and chess YouTuber who helps beginners out :

Here’s some ideas to help you get better.  

-I’ll be happy to analyze one of your chess games for free for my YouTube channel, since I love to help beginners out.  Share one of your games with me!  This is a great way to get better!  

-I recommend two books for you: “50 Poison Pieces”   and “Queen For A Day: The Girl’s Guide To Chess Mastery.”  Both books are available on  Both books are endorsed by chess masters!  

-If you are serious about chess, I highly recommend you hiring a chess coach to help you.  

-Also consider all checks and captures on your side and also your opponent’s side. Always as, “If I move here, where is my opponent going to move?”. Do this for every single move!  

-Play with a slow time control, such as G/30 so you have plenty of time to think before every move. 

-You are welcome to come to my free online beginner chess class on March 12:

Same bud. Lets play. Been playing for over a year. Still under 600. I follow chesbrah building habits. i’ve done a ton of puzzles but still get most wrong .

If you're rated 400 you ARE hanging pieces all the time(and so is your opponent) Try to develop a constant awareness of whether pieces are defended or not.

Here's an exercise; play a game of chess, without the goal of winning, just make it your sole intention to keep all of your pieces defended. Every move, scan through the position and check to see if any of your pieces are undefended and check your opponent's pieces too. This is more of an exercise rather than what you should be doing every single game, but the point is that this 'undefended piece awareness' that you're developing will soon become a habit.

Treat it like a mediation, just be aware of when pieces are defended and when they're not and gradually you WILL improve a lot.  It's when this process becomes habitual that you'll really feel something click. Practice this and lemme know how you get on.

Btw: this exercise I got straight from John Bartholomew from his free video series chess fundamentals on youtube. The first video is about undefended pieces.

Uh, maybe I don't know the Sicilian opening strategy? Maybe it's actually the Italian or something.

Basically I do the thing where you move your king pawn out two spaces, then move the knights over the pawns, toward the center. Idgaf what it's called frankly

And I feel like I shouldn't have to care in order to reach level 500 after a year of consistent play.

I'm pretty sure there are just a lot of...assisted...players on this level.
BenStegeman wrote:
Uh, maybe I don't know the Sicilian opening strategy? Maybe it's actually the Italian or something.

Basically I do the thing where you move your king pawn out two spaces, then move the knights over the pawns, toward the center. Idgaf what it's called frankly

And I feel like I shouldn't have to care in order to reach level 500 after a year of consistent play.

I'm pretty sure there are just a lot of...assisted...players on this level.

Probably talking about the Italian or Spanish. When you play a game, you can see the name of your opening right above the move list.


After taking a look at your games, none of your opponents that I see are “assisted”. Your opponents are just capitalizing on your mistakes, and you aren’t capitalizing on theirs. You don’t have to gaf about the name of an opening, but what you do have to do it get your tactics and one move blunders down pat.

BenStegeman wrote:
Uh, maybe I don't know the Sicilian opening strategy? Maybe it's actually the Italian or something.

Basically I do the thing where you move your king pawn out two spaces, then move the knights over the pawns, toward the center. Idgaf what it's called frankly

And I feel like I shouldn't have to care in order to reach level 500 after a year of consistent play.

I'm pretty sure there are just a lot of...assisted...players on this level.

Salty cry.png