How to get started in chess

Posted by Roline Pretorius on

If you're just starting out in chess, you might be asking your coach questions like these:

  1. What's my playing style?
  2. Why did I lose when I had the better game? Is my opponent cheating?
  3. How do I get good fast?
  4. How do I get a higher rating?

You might even think that you're the only one asking these types of questions, but the truth is that most players suffer through the early years. There is no quick fix and you'll have to struggle through the mud just like everyone else.

Here are some great tips to help you.

1. Do tactics daily
Look at 10 to 20 chess tactics every day (quickly, so it doesn't take up much time). Start with short, easy ones and when they are too easy, look for more complex ones. 
2. Build an opening
Create a simple, very basic, but solid opening repertoire. Don’t just memorise the opening but make sure you understand what the opening is about. A coach or a book can help but don’t bother going more than 10 moves into your openings. 
3. Train yourself
Train yourself (and it’s not easy) to make sure your pieces are protected, and also look to see if your opponent’s pieces are unprotected (since you can eat them up!). This is very important since no amount of skills will help if you keep hanging your pieces.
4. Gain a better understanding
After a while, try to spend a bit of time understanding basic positional concepts. Anyone can learn solid positional concepts, and most reasonably played games have a mix of positional ideas and tactics blended together. Want to test your positional chess knowledge? Check out this article.
5. Look at endgames
Take a look at some basic endgames (queen and king vs. lone king, or rook and king vs. lone king, or king and pawn vs. lone king). Start with those raw basics and, once those things are easy to you, add a bit more.  

 

Some players will say this is too much. Others will say it’s too little. Everyone is different. But embracing (and mastering) these five things will propel you to a new chess level. 

(Adapted from IM Silman's article How to start out in chess. Read more here.)


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