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Fairly new to chess, but have fallen in love and want to increase my strategies and techniques. All the reading and videos I’ve read and watched tend to overcomplicate to the point I get lost in the details.

Any suggestions on materials that keep strategy/technique teaching extremely simple and easy to understand would be greatly appreciated!

Approximately, how much can a player improve their winning percentage by reading and watching books and tutorials, versus, learning through playing repeatedly and learning from the mistakes made? Just curious to hear different opinions on this...

Thanks in advance for any positive feedback provided!

Cheers

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  • As usual, the most efficient way is to take the best of both worlds. Without practice, you won't get anywhere, so playing a lot of games (and analyzing them yourself afterwards! Very important.) is key - but you can speed up the learning process a lot by guiding your efforts in the right direction, i.e. absorbing input from outside sources (books, videos, better players). – Annatar Feb 14 '18 at 11:46
  • And in which would you place more emphasis? Subjective I know, just curious what Works best for others – BeepBopBoom Feb 14 '18 at 11:50
  • @BeepBopBoom Depends, of course, but I'd say that roughly fifty-fifty is best. – Annatar Feb 14 '18 at 13:59
  • @Annatar thanks for your feedback on what worked best for you. Much appreciated. Cheers – BeepBopBoom Feb 14 '18 at 20:38
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In order to improve you need to 1) study theory, 2) play games and 3) analyze those games. Repeat until you are world champion.

Specifically to these steps....

Study theory

As a beginner your biggest concern should be tactics. Start training yourself to always be aware of which pieces/squares are attacked, so that you don't blunder pieces in one move. You don't need to scan the whole board each and every time to check this. Use a gradual approach: since a move will only affect part of the board, update (in your memory) the information depending on which new squares/pieces are attacked (and which are not attacked anymore). For the long-range pieces (rook, bishop, queen), it might help if you imagine their range as some kind of "shooting range"/no-go zone,... whatever helps you to visualize it. For instance for a rook on h4 don't imagine that it attacks the squares g4, f4, e4, ..., a4, but imagine it as a piece which covers all of the 4th rank (giving it options to capture everywhere on this rank but also options to move everywhere on this rank). As you improve this will come naturally.

Also at this stage you want to learn and practice simple tactics, such as pawn and knight forks, pins, etc. There are many websites (lichess, chesstempo...) giving you tactics puzzles depending on your strength. For a beginner I recommend chesstempo, because each puzzle is tagged with the tactical motive(s). When solving puzzles (or fail to solve) make sure you recognize these motives in the respective puzzle.

Besides tactics, you need to learn some basic principles for the opening such as: develop pieces quickly, occupy the center, keep your king safe/castle, attack something.

Also learning some basic endgames such as mating with queen, rook, bishops, King+pawn vs king, ... will teach you a lot.

Don't bother learning any opening theory yet, because you are not in the position to understand the ideas behind the openings and will not be able to take advantage if your opponent plays a move you did not learn.

Play games

Avoid short time controls which don't give you enough time to think. I'd recommend at least 20 minutes or more.

Analyze

If you play online (e.g. on lichess) you have the option to automatically have the game analyzed by a computer engine. Do this and look for the main mistakes/blunders (where the evaluation jumped a lot). Understand why that was a bad move. Try to find a better move and compare with the computer suggested move. This will only teach you tactical mistakes.

Figuring out positional/strategic problems in your play is much more difficult and just about impossible if you are on your own. Ideally you'd have another, better player look over your games and point out some problems with your strategy.

For passive learning of strategy, reading/watching annotated games could be an option. Nowadays there are lots of streamers out there commenting while playing games online. Some of the chess24 streamers seem suitable for beginners.

Ideally you'd join a chess club where you can play, get tips from other players, etc.

  • “Avoid short time controls...recommend 20 minutes or more” great advice thanks so much for all the info in your response! Cheers – BeepBopBoom Feb 14 '18 at 16:03

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