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I've learnt chess only about 1 month ago. Of course, my first game was terrible. But with reading some tips I've proceeded a little. Learning basics of few openings (like Spanish, Vienna and Urusov) increased my level and so did learning a bit about tactics (I can do a fork or a pin when possible) but now I don't know what to do?

Should I read books on opening Theory? Or on endgame? I don't know how to make a plan. Sometimes in the mid-game, I don't see a good move. There is no great attack against me and also I did not make an attack but I'm not sure how to launch one so sometimes I tend to do a random move or just proceed to get my peaces more connected and controlling more place but I feel lost. So what would be your advice?

Is it better to focus on tactics and so? (Which resources do you recommend? text? app? etc ) or the ability to make a plan? (resource?)

Thank you in advance

  • General rule of thumb: Middlegame > endgame > opening and tactics > strategy should be the priorities when allocating training time. – Annatar Aug 16 '17 at 6:21
  • So, do you know any resource to improve my middle game? – Fawzy Hegab Aug 16 '17 at 7:31
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    Study the endgame first. Get a book on basic endings. Also study tactic puzzles daily. – Ywapom Sep 22 '17 at 23:07
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A bit of everything, really.


Observe

Subscribe to a few youtube channels, turn up to tournaments, do something where you can analyse players who are better than you and try to understand their moves. This will give you a general idea of how to play, but won't teach you much compared to just playing.

Openings

Try to learn some basic opening ideas and maybe even a few more lines. Learning specific openings is only useful when you play exactly those openings, so you could either learn every opening in theory, or learn the main ones and a few opening techniques which would work across many openings.

"Opening ideas" Includes things such as piece development and centre control, but also subtle things too:

Learning the ideas behind openings means, rather than memorizing long theoretical variations it is important to know where to put your pieces and make a pawn formation and build a long term plan accordingly. Every opening is unique and has its own ideas, some openings require fast and aggressive ideas and motifs and some openings it is important to play slow and just maneuver your pieces to a good square.

This post by GM arunabi is a great material that looks into opening ideas.

Middlegame

Try to brush up on things like positional play and trading. Learn a little about pawn structure and when to castle. You can set up your board to the end of an opening line and play against someone else or a computer to acheive this. Watching GM games on YouTube helped me a lot, since you begin understand how trading works and how the value of pieces can change. @Bad_Bishop wrote an amazing answer to my question about trading minor pieces which you should read.

Endgame

Practise a few endgames and start to calculate best moves in difficult endgames. Playing an endgame as the losing side and trying to draw may even be more beneficial to your learning. You can easily do this by playing against a computer and starting in a losing position. You can take these positions from famous games, your own games, or random games from a chess database where there was a clear winner, and starting ten or so moves from the end.

Review

If you have records of your games, go and find out where your mistakes were. After every new game you play, run back through it and find where the turning points of the game were. Try to pinpoint mvoes which caused the play to shift. Identify the tactics used and go and learn those, so you can spot them next time.


The most important part is to keep playing games and reviewing them to find your own weaknesses. Once you find them, stamp them out and repeat.

  • Great Answer, thank you. I've some more questions: Can you give some example for opening technique that you advise me to learn? do you mean the general ideas like developing pieces and controlling the center? Do you have any resource that I can learn from the basics of pawn structure? A resource to practice endgame and calculating (specially in losing situations)? Luckily, I've a record of almost all games I've lost so I can apply your advice (I've applied it already few times and I will do that more often if not in all games) – Fawzy Hegab Aug 16 '17 at 8:07
  • @FawzyHegab I think it's time to pull out the essay writer. Be back in a sec. – Aric Aug 16 '17 at 8:08
  • I was told many times that I should focus in 'the opening idea' but I don't see this written anywhere, almost all openings I know try to get out the forces or deploy space or so but I don't see any other deep idea besides that. Do you know any resource to know more about that? – Fawzy Hegab Aug 18 '17 at 3:28
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It sounds as if you are well aware of what you need to do next. There are many ways to set about it and you need to find the ones that work for you.

One excellent move is to find yourself a guru. A strong player (from any era) who games you admire. Get hold of a collection of their games, preferably with their own notations, and play over those games, again and again and again.

Two books that I like. "Rethinking the Chess Pieces" by Andy Soltis, and "Simple Chess" by Michael Steen. These will give you things to think about in the situations where right now you don't know what to think about.

  • @scrounged Thank you. I am confused because deleting does not, I think, make anything disappear. – Philip Roe Aug 16 '17 at 17:16
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Do a mix of everything:

Tactics

Solving tactics puzzles on websites like chesstempo, lichess,... and many others is the easiest and best way. Make sure to understand the idea behind each puzzle, whether it is a fork a pin, etc. Chesstempo is good in this respect as it will show you (after you solve or after you fail to solve) the theme(s) of the puzzle.

Endgames

At this point you should focus on simple topics like mating with king+queen, king+rook, basic pawn endgames. Lots of books written on endgames, but the basic ones you should be able to find online as well.

Opening

The importance of openings is often overestimated by beginners. I'd recommend not to focus on any specific opening, but instead learn and follow basic principles such as: occupy the center by pawns, develop pieces (bishop, knight) to active squares, don't move pieces twice in the opening, castle. Chances are that if you follow these guidelines you are going to follow (more or less) an "official opening". Don't learn any opening lines by heart so far. It is unlikely that your typical opponent is playing an opening for more than a couple of moves and also at this point in time you are not in a position to punish your opponent for deviating from the accepted best line, because you do not understand the ideas behind the openings yet.

Middlegame / developing a plan

This is the most difficult part. Once you stop blundering pieces in one move and falling into basic tactical traps, this is one of the most important ways to improve.

Finding a good plan requires lots of experience which you will gain through playing and analyzing your games. Essential to developing a plan is an evaluation of the current and of potential future positions. There are many factors that go into such evaluation, such as:

  • material (learn about the value of the pieces); this is usually the most important factor
  • activity of pieces (good pieces usually have lots of space to move and can attack enemy pieces; poor pieces are often hindered in movement by other pieces, particular by their own pawns)
  • king safety (how many defenders, particularly pawns around your king)
  • open lines (it is usually advantageous to occupy these by your rooks/queen)
  • weaknesses, particularly isolated and/or doubled/tripled pawns can often be a good target for attack; also think of how you could create such weaknesses

Start by evaluating the position on the board for your and your opponent's side. This should give you ideas for a plan. For instance if you find that one of your pieces does not do much, think of ways to activate it. This could be for instance through moving the piece somewhere else, but also through opening lines using pawn moves. Likewise for the other factors. Did your opponent neglect king safety? Perhaps it is time for an attack.

Learning all this by yourself is very hard. Ideally you'd have a stronger player look through your (or other people's) games and discuss the evaluation of positions (and resulting plans) with you. If you don't have somebody to do that, second best would be to read annotated master games or watch commented games (chess24, youtube...) on the internet.

Playing / analyzing

Play lots of games at longer time controls (avoid blitz) giving you enough time to think about your moves. If you do this online (e.g. on lichess) you have your game automatically saved. Once you finished a game, run a computer analysis (can be done on lichess among others) on it which will point out major mistakes. Analyze the mistakes look at the recommended best move and try to avoid the same mistake next time you play. Repeat...

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A beginner should focus on simple yet powerful techniques which is a life long algorithm for Chess from novices to Professionals .

  1. Focus on the Entire board after every move . This sounds easy but on many occasions even the best Players falter .
  2. Should practice puzzles for pattern recognitions .
  3. Should focus on the opening aspects and the Principles . He/She should select easy openings and should avoid Sicilian/KID and other complex openings .
  4. Learn from Chess Videos .Free Chess videos from Matojelic King Crushers and many others from Youtube encourages deeper insights of the game and they make the Top games look so easy . It exuberates confidence and lessen the scariness of GMs .
  5. Should play/Practice online Chess with better Players .

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