Chess Strategies for the Beginner

It’s a game that’s remained popular for centuries in one form or another, played by kings and commoners alike. But chess can be an intimidating game when you watch the experts play; slapping their palms down on the timer while pieces dance across the board in an intricate ballet performance. So how can you become a better chess player? Take a look at these basic strategies and see if they can help your game!

First, let’s consider the pacing of the game. While competitive chess requires the use of a timer to encourage gameplay and stop a player from stalling, there’s no reason for you to be concerned about racing to make a move in casual play. Discuss this beforehand with your opponent and if a timer is used, see it as more of an ally than another opponent in helping you to discard useless moves faster and create a winning strategy.

Never sacrifice a piece without getting something of equal or greater value back as soon as possible. Losing any piece in a chess game is detrimental to a win, but losing your pieces without getting anything back in trade is going to hurt your overall game in the long run. Even if it’s only a pawn for a pawn, consider each move and piece as if it were your last one. Losing a knight but placing the opponent’s king in check or forcing his/her queen into a spot where you can take that piece can make that sacrifice worthwhile.

Always castle if possible. This move, for those who might know it under a different name, consists of moving the rook in two or three places on the board to sit on the outside edge of the king who has moved over one space. Both the king or the rook must not have moved during the game prior to this action and all spaces between the two must be vacant. This allows you to present a “wall” of pawns between your king and the attacking force. Whether you do this on the king’s side or the queen’s, it is a good defensive move and well worth the effort.

See at least three to five moves ahead of yourself. Many players tend to react on the spur of the moment to the opponent’s move, not seeing that they may be walking into a trap. Consider how your move changes the board and then extrapolate your opponent’s next move and then your reaction to that. If you take that pawn will he/she then take your knight and leave the king open? Or will you be better off blocking that pawn in and leaving no room for it to move further up the board?

Never sacrifice your queen if at all possible. The queen is the most versatile piece on the board and is irreplacable, unless you manage to move a pawn to the opposite end of the board and that is a rare occurrence. Unless you feel that you can win within a few moves, guard your queen as zealously as you guard your king.

Becoming a better chess player only happens over time and with playing a lot of good games with a good opponent. But if you keep these few simple strategies in mind you can start developing your own tips and tricks on your way to becoming a consistent winner!

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