What Is Your Mental Checklist When You Play?


I sometimes think that while playing either live chess or over the board, playing good chess is simply a matter of following a checklist.  It would be great to write down rules on a piece of paper and refer to each item before each move, assuming there is no time control.  Here are some examples of checklist items to follow.

1. (Number One Rule) Protect your king from checkmate.

2. Are all your pieces protected?

3. If a piece is double-attacked, you should double-protect.

4. Are any of your opponent's pieces unprotected?

5. Is there a danger of a fork?

...and so on.  Perhaps this checklist wouldn't be so simple, given the myriad of other things to worry about.  However, I'm wondering if we can compile a checklist for beginning and intermediate players to follow to help improve their games.  Of course, there is no way to achieve an expert level of chess by way of a simple Ten Commandments of Chess, but perhaps we can create something that may improve the majority of average chess players?


4 items in my mental checklist

1) Why did he make this move (my opponent)

2) What can I do to counter

3) Are there any other threats?

4) Can i do something else


1. Am I awake?

2. If you answered yes to #1 proceed to #3. If no then proceed to #1

3. Proceed to #1

4. How'd you get to number 4? Proceed to #1

Ok seriously...

  • King Safety
  • Pawn Structure/Distrobution --------------------------> Any hanging ones?
  • Piece Development/Harmony (Is everyone doing something)--/
  • Open files, weak squares, diagonals
  • Prophylaxis (What does my opponent want to do)

I don't do the last one much...


on each move i check

1. what threaths to my opponents have

2. are they real

3. what good did that move do

4. what bad did that move do. you cant move a piece without losing anything like coverage of a square or something. all moves do some good things and some bad things.