Improver's Guide


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Establish control over the board, secure key positions and make space for your pieces to maneuver.

The goal of the opening is to develop your pieces, control the center, and establish a solid pawn structure. As you do this you try prevent your opponent from achieving their goals as well as disrupting your own plans. Keep in mind where you want to castle whenever you push one of your pawns, they can't move backwards and can become permanent weaknesses. Start by pushing pawns in the center and placing your knights and bishops on squares where they exert control over the center and support the center pawns. This would give you access to a large number of squares and provide room to move freely. If you fail to do this your opponent would be able to get an early advantage by gaining space and cramping your position, making it hard to get your own pieces coordinated.

Golden rules: Develop your pieces, control the center of the board, avoid moving the same minor piece twice early in the game, castle your king to safety, connect your rooks, don't rush your queen out too early.


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Create a plan to guide placement and activity of your pieces, until the moment is right for a decisive strike.

A well thought out plan in the middle game can be the difference between a win and a loss. While forming your own think about what your opponent wants to achieve exactly and whether you should try and stop it. Implementing your own plan is important and if you can incorporate offense and defense in your moves you are on the right track. Identify which piece is contributing the least and find a better place for it. Take aim at your opponents weaknesses and build pressure by adding pressure on the key square.

Through out this phase you will exchange pieces with your opponent. Trading can occur piece by piece of equal value or in a tactical sequence, where you temporily sacrifice a piece and gain it back a moment later. Consider how this would impact the structure of the pawns. If during this process you can damage your opponents structure by isolating pawns or doubling pawns it may set you up to win in an endgame. However, having doubled pawns isn't the end of the world, it can also open a file for an other wise inactive rook for example.

As a result of trading off one of your bishops you lower your influence on one of the color complexes. To compensate for that try placing your pawns on the respective colored squares.


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Make studying common endgame setups a priority in order to improve your ability to convert advantages into wins.

The endgame is the final phase of a chess game, where there are fewer pieces on the board and the focus shifts to converting an advantage into a win or saving a draw. It is important to have a good understanding of basic endgame concepts and techniques, such as pawn promotion, king and pawn endgames, rook endgames, and queen endgames. These concepts can help you to make the most of your material advantage, or to find ways to draw the game if you are behind. It's also important to be aware of the basic endgame principles like opposition, zugzwang, triangulation, and outflanking which can be used to improve the position of your king and pieces. Endgame play requires a high level of accuracy and a deep understanding of the positions that may arise. It is often the stage of the game where small mistakes can be fatal and where the most experienced players can really distinguish themselves. Therefore, it is essential to study and practice endgames regularly to improve your chess skill.


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Keep your moves and plans simple to reduce the chance of mistakes and to make your decisions easier to execute.

Simplicity is an essential principle in chess. By focusing on simple plans and moves, you reduce the number of options and make more accurate decisions. This leads to more efficient play and fewer mistakes. Identify when a position is becoming too cluttered and simplify it by exchanging pieces to your advantage. By doing so, you increase the chance of finding the best move and taking control of the game. Simplification makes it easier to avoid tactical threats and to find a clear path to victory.

Of course just because you can trade a piece doesn't mean you always should. Sometimes it is better to the leave the tension and build the pressure before you initiate simplification. Timing is key.


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Practice tactical motifs such as forks, pins, and skewers regularly to gain a decisive advantage over your opponent.

Tactics in chess are the key to winning games. They include the ability to recognize and execute short-term, forced sequences of moves that lead to a material or positional advantage. These can include checkmating sequences, forks, pins, discovered attacks, and other tactical motifs. To be a successful chess player, you must practice tactics regularly. This will improve your ability to spot and execute tactical opportunities, and to calculate variations quickly. You can find many tactics puzzles and exercises online or in books, which will help you develop a keen eye for tactical opportunities and recognize patterns that frequently occur in games. Add tactics practice to your daily routine to improve.

Longer Games

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Seek out and play against stronger opponents to improve your own abilities and understanding of the game.

To improve your chess skills, playing games is essential. However, not all types of games are created equal. Blitz and bullet games, while entertaining, do not provide the same level of learning opportunities as games with longer time controls. To truly benefit from your chess games, choose a time control that allows you to spend a couple of minutes on a critical move. This will give you the time to develop a plan and identify tactical opportunities in the position. Remember, no Grandmaster or International Master has achieved their level of play through speed chess alone.


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Follow a checklist to consider threats to the king, tactics, placement and protection of all pieces.

It's important to always keep in mind the most forcing move possibilities when going through your mental checklist. This means starting with moves that put the enemy king in check, as they are the most critical to address. From there, you should assess whether or not you are in danger of being checked, and if any of your pieces are hanging or underdefended. It's also important to be aware of any tactical opportunities in the position, such as the ability to create a fork, pin, or skewer. Additionally, think about how you can place your pieces in a more active position, occupy or control key squares, and block enemy pieces. With practice and experience, you will be able to go through this process more efficiently and with fewer mistakes.


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Regularly review and analyze your own games — focus on identifying patterns in your play and areas for improvement.

Analyzing your chess games, especially your losses, is a crucial step in the process of improving your chess skills. By reviewing your games, you can gain a deeper understanding of the patterns in your play, which can include common mistakes or areas where you need to focus your improvement efforts. This process can help you to identify and correct any weaknesses in your game and to develop a more sound and effective chess strategy. Additionally, analyzing your games can help you to better understand the strategies and tactics of your opponents, which can give you an edge in future games.


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Who are your chess idols? Pick one and study their games and the concepts they use to improve your own chess abilities.

To truly excel in the game of chess, it is important to study the games of stronger players and to understand the concepts they use. This can include studying the games of grandmasters, studying the intricacies of different openings, and studying the advanced concepts of endgames. By studying the games of stronger players, you can learn from their successes and mistakes, and gain a deeper understanding of the game. Additionally, by studying the games of your chess idols, you can gain insight into the strategies and tactics that they use, which can help you to improve your own game.


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Avoid becoming overly focused on any one area: opening, middle or endgame. Instead use the 20/40/40 rule.

Achieving a balance in your chess study is essential for improving your game. One approach to achieving this balance is to use the 20/40/40 rule. This means that 20% of your time should be spent on tactics, 40% on strategy, and 40% on endgame concepts. This approach can help you to balance your study and improve in all areas of the game. By dedicating a significant portion of your study time to each of these areas, you can ensure that you are working on both short-term tactics and long-term strategy, and that you are developing your endgame skills. Additionally, this balance will help you to avoid becoming too focused on any one area, which can lead to neglecting other important areas of the game.


people playing chess

Take it easy and remember to have fun and find pleasure in the process of learning and improving at chess.

Do not lose sight of the fact that chess should be enjoyable. Obsessing over your rating is not a good idea. While it is important to take your studies and training seriously, it is also important to find pleasure in the process of improving and to enjoy the game itself. Taking breaks, playing casual games and not getting too upset over losses are some ways to keep the game fun. Experimenting with different openings, playing different variants of the game can also help to keep things interesting.