Playing Better Chess: A three-pronged approach

Playing Better Chess: A three-pronged approach


Learning a new game or skill requires practice, and to remain proficient, you must practice. The game of chess is no different, and its the first approach to playing better chess.

Play the game often and work on basic tactics. Build on these tactics and develop your game by practicing each new skill along with the already familiar ones.

Challenge Yourself

Playing the game regularly builds your skill sets, but you need to continue to challenge those skills. First, play against people who are better than you are, and learn from them. Ask questions and and study their tactics as you play. Further challenge yourself by teaching the game to someone else, or helping someone else improve their game.

By learning from those who are more skilled, and teaching others the game, you see the game from other perspectives. You’ll reach a fuller understanding of the game when you are both student and teacher.

Build Your Mental Game

The game of chess requires more than a working knowledge of moves and tactics. It isn’t enough to push forward; you must anticipate your opponent’s moves and the tactics he’ll employ. As you play the game, consider how the board looks to your opponent as he seeks out your weaknesses. If you imagine the board through the other person’s eyes, your long-range plan is more likely to succeed as you adapt it to fend off his attacks.

Seeking out and exploiting an opponent’s weaknesses is part of the game, but your mental game should also include recognizing your opponent’s clear strengths. Knowing your own strengths, and feeling confident in your skill as a player, will add depth to your mental game as you more readily go on the offensive.

While good chess players always see the whole board, better ones look beyond the board and observe their opponents as well. Take time to watch the players at tournaments. Look for ‘tells’, twitches or habits that belie a player’s move. Study their personal styles: Are they fidgety, calm, short-tempered, methodical? Understanding the human nature of your opponent can give you a psychological edge and improve your mental game, as well as your game on the board.

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