Twenty tips to improve chess in 5 minutes

Idea stimulation drawing with a chess piece

That chess is growing is not a surprise to anyone. Many people who did not know our sport are discovering the wonderful world of the 64 squares. But one thing is to play and another to move the pieces. Therefore, this article is aimed at people who want to improve without having to study or invest a lot of time.

In this post we are going to give some tips that can be applied to improve our games. It will only take you 5 minutes and you can get many valuable concepts.

We will divide the tips into four categories: openings, midgame, endgames and some general tips on how to improve in tactics.

Five tips to improve openings

The opening is the first phase of the chess game. In it, players take out their chess pieces and try to place them in ideal positions. There are multiple chess openings, but all of them are based on the premises of taking out the minor pieces, occupying the center and castling. Here are five tips to improve when playing them:

  • Castling. Castling is a move where the king moves two steps to one of its sides and the rook passes over it to position itself next to it. Castling allows our king to have more security and to protect himself from the opponent's attack. Therefore, it is also interesting to prevent the opponent's king from castling to facilitate an attack on him. There are several criteria to be met in order to castle:
    • Not having moved the king or the rook that we are going to use in the move.
    • Not pieces between the king and the rook.
    • Not being in check or being a square threatened by the opponent's pieces.
    Example to eliminate castling in chess
    In this example, white moves, the move Bishop a3 is a good chess strategic move, it disallow the opponent's castling, leaving his king in the cente of the chessboard, which is a serious problem for his security.
  • Develop the major pieces (knight, bishop, rook and queen). Having the chess pieces without moving them does not help, so the center is the ideal place to place them and improve their activity. Italian Opening with piece development and center control
    In this example of the Italian opening, a complete development of parts and control of the center is shown.
  • Occupy the center of the board. One of the biggest fights in chess games is the center of the board. Occupying it will allow us to have more space and control in the position in most cases.
  • Watch out for the surprise opennings (moves in the opening to make an advantage). If an opponent sacrifices a piece it is advisable to suspect. Do you want to know about this oppenings? Tell us in the comments or on social networks and we will make a post about the most common surprising opennings. Example of a Damiano Gambit move
    In the Damiano Gambit in this position, Knight capture e5 pawn, where black recapture the knight with the pawn and plays Queen h5 check.
    Example of a Damiano Gambit move
    If the opponent moves the g pawn to avoid the check, white capture the e5 pawn and then the h8 rook.
  • Suspect premoves (moves that opponents make before moving so that they are performed automatically). Premoves are used, especially, to recapture a piece that is going to capture you. However, in the opening it is very common because they may be playing some scheme that will almost always involve certain moves. Therefore, we must be attentive, because they can make a mistake or set a trap without us realizing it. In addition, it is important not to stop thinking no matter how fast they play. The premoves can make us fall into the temptation of playing as fast as our opponent and that, generally, is not good.

Five tips to improve mid-game performance

The chess middlegame is the phase of the game after the chess opening. Once all the weapons are already on the 64 squares, the pieces are outlined attacking ideal points and the pawn structure takes great importance. This concept refers to how our pawns are placed in the position because, although as there are 8 pawns they are often given little importance, they are the key to the game.

  • Try to seek important squares for the pieces. Example of strong/weak squares
    In this example white moves, the square where the queen is located is a very good square for our knight, the opponent cannot capture it and controls many squares (taking the knights to the center is usually good), thus, withdrawing the queen to the starting square to place the knight is a good strategic plan.
    Example of strong/weak squares
    A very similar example where white moves, imagine what happens if we put a knight on the d5 square? In this case, the capture of White's knight on f6, Black recaptures and the move Bd5! It avoid remove the controlling square pieces and we can put the white knight on the strong square.
  • Doubled pawns. Doubled pawns occur when there are two pawns of the same color on the same column. It is advisable to avoid this structure, as sometimes two doubled pawns count as one. Therefore, it would be advisable to provoke the opponent.
  • Take advantage of isolated pawns. An isolated pawn is one that has no support from other pawns on adjacent columns. If the pieces are exchanged they can become a very attackable weakness to the point of being able to tip the balance in a game.
  • If we have more material, changing it is good. It is a question of mathematics. If we have more pieces than the opponent and we exchange all of them, we have more material to win. In case we have less material we should generally try to avoid exchanging it. Example of how, in case of more material, change it avoid to finish earlier
    In this example, White moves again and has an extra pawn, in this case, having extra material, if we change the pieces we can win the game in a safer and easier way, so Q*f8+, Q*f8, B*f8 and K*f8 would be a good solution.
  • The fianchettos. A fianchetto is when a player takes out the bishop on the squares b7, g7, b2 and g2. In these cases, it is advisable to try to exchange this bishop, as it usually controls a large number of squares that are difficult to defend by other pieces.

Five tips to improve in finals

Endgames are the final phase of a chess game. There are several ways to define it, but the most accurate one refers to the moment when there are only a few pieces left (a rook for each side, a bishop and a knight for each side...) together with pawns and it is, in short, the moment where the result is decided.

  • Activate your king. As there are few chess pieces on the board, the king is no longer in so much danger of being attacked. This piece is one of the most important in endgames and activating it is very important.
  • Keep your active pieces. An active piece is one that has the ability to move across more squares of the board. These pieces are much more useful than other pieces that can barely move. This is precisely why a queen is better than a knight, because of its ability to move. Therefore, it is better to have an active piece than to have another piece pending to protect itself and unable to generate threats. Example of pieces activity
    White moves again, sometimes the material is not so important, in this example they threaten the pawn on a2, but there is a move that puts the rooks on the seventh row with a lot of activity, this move also threatens to attack f7, with a great activity of the pieces.
  • Get to know the finals that are draws and use them to obtain advantages. Do you know what they are? If you don't know them, comment below and we will make a post about them.
  • Create passed pawns. A passed pawn is one that is in an advanced part of the board, close to promote, and has no opposing pawns on adjacent columns. A passed and supported pawn is usually a great advantage in endgames, since it prevents the activation of the opponent's king and makes him watch for the crowning of these pawns. Example of passed pawn and doubled pawns
    This example shows that having a passed pawn in an endgame is very important, it allows the opponent cannot activate his king, you can see the weakness of the passed pawns in some positions and how thanks to the passed pawn our king can be activated and win the position, since the opponent cannot separate his king from the passed pawn or it will promote.
  • Know the basic checkmates with minor pieces. It is useless if we have many pieces and do not know how to checkmate. There are some basic checkmates that everyone should know (mate two rooks, queen, rook), although there are some more complex checkmates such as two bishops or bishop and knight. If you are not sure how to give them, let us know in the comments and we will make a post about them.

Five tips to improve tactics

Tactics is an aspect of chess that is present throughout the game. In chess we usually refer to it as the moments where there are positions in which we can take some kind of material advantage after them. Most chess exercises are tactics (checkmate, capture the queen, capture a piece). We have a tactics section where you can work on these exercises.

  • Think first of the checks, then the captures and then the threats. The exercises will be easier for you. Tactical problem with check, capture and threat technique
    As in all problems, first see the checks with all the pieces as rare as they are, if the oponnent have a unique move is better, in this case Knight capture f7 (being check and capture) the only move of the opponent is to capture the knight, once we capture our knight we analyze again checks, with the Knight on g6 we would have a check that is mate and we can finish the analysis without thinking more moves.
  • Swap the order of the moves. One thing that happens to us chess players is that, when we think of a position, there are times when we see that the exercise is not solved. Therefore, thinking the moves in the reverse order of the first sometimes works. Tactical problem, technique swaps chess moves
    White moves, very similar to the previous one, in this case the check that we have is Knight g6 and Queen capture h7, if Knight g6, we capture with the knight and we can capture with the bishop, if we change the order and first capture with the Queen the pawn on h7, the opponent can only capture with the Knight the Queen on h7, in this case Knight g6 is checkmate and swapping the moves along with applying the technique of check, capture and threat we solve the position.
  • Practice and more practice. Many times the problems are solved with intuition and most of them use similar techniques, similar to the driving license theory exams. The key is to do several problems related to some tactical theme (such as double attack or dive) and learn them all. Do you want an article with all the types of problems?
  • That the opponent has to make a single move can be very positive. A single move is when a player can only make one legal move in the position. This makes thinking much easier and is usually a sign that there is a tactical problem.
  • Sometimes tactics is not just about winning. Tactics is not only about winning, but you can also get a valuable draw with it. In some positions, when we have less material, we can sacrifice what we have left so that we cannot move (producing what is called "drowned king") and get the draw. Tactical problem of the mad rook, achieving a draw.
    In this example Black moves, if Black did not have the rook, it would be a draw. How can we remove the rook from the board, if we give check to the opponent without stopping or let out second, we can get the famous crazy rook where if the opponent captures us we get a draw, so the solution would be: Rook a1 check, King g2, Rook a2 check, King f1 and Rook f2 (over the king), all the other moves are check over the king being a draw.

If you have any other tips that we have not told here, leave them in the comments. Surely it will allow us to update the post and, with it, help new players to improve their chess.

If you have found these tips useful, share them on your social networks to reach more people.

In addition, next week we will present a surprise related to these tips and with which you can continue to improve your chess.

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