I am a bit of a new blood when it comes to Chess. Oh I know how to play but before I started getting more serious it was more like flailing about and hoping for the best. Recently I came to the conclusion that a game like Chess can be quite beneficial towards my cognitive development and I simply love the elegance and depth of the board.

But I was hoping to get some advice from the more advance players. (Which from my experience level would be about everyone, lol.) As in,

What would you wish someone told you when you first started getting into playing? How do you resist stagnation? Is there some etiquette that players are expected to know but don't necessarily teach?

  • 1
    tactics is everything at novice chess (well, not above from knowing the rules of the game). From there, I recommend studying at least 3 openings for each color, endgames (mate with k+r, etc) and some positional play.
    – ajax333221
    Feb 21, 2014 at 17:17

5 Answers 5


1) Study the games of masters. I would recommend earlier masters like Morphy, Lasker, Capablanca, etc. Studying their "simple" games will better your understanding to study more "complicated" games of Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov, Anand or Carlsen.

2) Study the endgame. I recommend Understanding Chess Endgames by John Nunn.

3) Practice and improve your tactical skills. There are many online tactics websites that can help you in that regard, like chesstempo.

4) Enjoy playing chess! Without enjoyment, it's difficult to learn. But don't waste time playing useless 2 or 3 minute blitz games. These won't help you to improve much. Play games with longer time controls, especially in tournaments if possible.

5) Get a good chess engine to analyze your games. I would recommend Stockfish, which is a free engine. However, if you're willing to spend more money, I recommend a powerful engine like Houdini with Chessbase 12. Note that you can also use Stockfish with ChessBase 12. I often use it myself. It's a very strong engine and Houdini is just very sligtly better (for beginners, that shouldn't make much of a difference).

6) Never leave any of your games unanalyzed. That's a serious waste of the time you have spent playing those games and also a loss of the things you could potentially have learned. Never put off analyzing a game for more than a week. My experience is that you remember the lessons learned from your games the earlier you analyze your games. Of course, you need to make good notes on your games.

7) Watch this inspiring video! :) Bobby Fischer - Anything to Win. Caution: I'm asking you to be inspired only by the way Bobby Fischer trained to play chess and win; not to be inspired by his paranoia or his other questionable activities!

8) Study the openings and opening principles. Although this isn't that important for beginners compared to the other things I mentioned, it is nevertheless very important to play good openings to have good positions to play.


Okay, here are some points: 1) Don't follow dogma religiously and without understanding. You may hear a lot of dogma such as 'develop knights before bishops', 'dont move the same piece twice in the opening', etc. IMO such 'rules' are better learnt the hard way after playing some games and there are always exceptions.

2) Play lot of games! This is the only way to improve.

3) Avoid playing the computer. Though some computer programs can adjust their level according to the human player they would typically make mistakes which no human being would make. So playing a computer would typically not prepare a person for playing against a human.

4) Your opponent is your best teacher! During your game you may find your opponent uses some nice tactics or strategies. Though you may have lost that particular game you could use those same tactics and strategies in your future games!

5) Analyze games which you lost. Former world champion Capablanca famously said that you learn more from the games you lose than from the ones you win. This is quite true. You need to know why you lost. Was it a blunder, a mistake in the opening, or was it simply a case of being outplayed?

6) Play with people who are higher rated than you. If you play with the same crowd you will not learn anything new. Typically playing with somebody who is about 200 points above would be ideal. However, it may be difficult to find such a person to play with you as he would also aspire to play with people higher rated than him!

7) Look up some theory occasionally. I know I mentioned earlier that lessons are best learnt the hard way. But if the game improvement is stagnating, it may be the right time to look up some theory. If you are serious about chess then you should get a chess book which atleast covers all the important openings. You don't need to read it all at once, nor is that recommended but you need to have a book which you can refer to from time to time.

8) Don't play too much blitz. This could hurt the regular games.

  • I like all of these. I would only add to study checkmates first (learn how to win a won game), and then other tactics. Jun 20, 2015 at 4:26

Here are a few words on chess

  1. Chess is decision making under pressure.
  2. Learn to counter-attack (including prophylaxis).
  3. Keep "asking questions" - keep making new threats and problems.
  4. Study endgames. All the major types of endgames. Many players are weak in this area.
  5. Many go for a knock-out in the opening and middlegame. Be ready for this.
  6. Control the center and understand why this is important.
  7. Learn how pieces collaborate and find "strong teams" among them.
  • how can "prophylaxis" appear on the same line as "counter-attack"? I understand prophylaxis to be a supremely defensive maneuver, even to the point of losing a counter-attack opportunity or at least not carrying the initiative. Feb 25, 2014 at 21:49
  • @MarcusJuniusBrutus prophylaxis is about foreseeing the opponent's idea and placing the pieces in such a way that they counter-measure this idea. It doesn't have to be passive at all. My point was to use prophylaxis and when the opponent fails to grasp this and goes for the idea anyhow, then the prophylaxis will allow a nice counter-attack.
    – user2001
    Feb 25, 2014 at 21:58

What I did in the beginning was I went to my library which had weekly sessions of chess, and we would play other people that went there and after a while I was invited to competitions. After doing that for a while instead of going to competitions I went to chess.com and played people on there. You can go and find chess books and review what pieces are which piece. Such that the pawn moves one square at a time, and only forward. And on their first move they can choose to move 1 or 2 spaces forward. Etc. Hope I helped!

  • 1
    Chess playing circles are excellent places to absorb things by osmosis. I initially thought I was quite decent because I could beat most people in high school/college but until I visited my first chess club and played an actual "rated" Expert player, I really never appreciated the depth/nuances this game presented. (The Expert silently let me know that I was nothing more than an advanced beginner!) So playing in a city club provides an excellent vignette of how fun/hard this game can be ... and allows you to decide how/when/if you want to invest in getting better or just play for fun.
    – shivsky
    Feb 20, 2014 at 14:48
  • I would echo @shivsky in saying that chess.com is a great place to learn. In addition to just playing the game online, they have all sorts of other ways to learn strategy and tactics. And, no, I am in no way affiliated with chess.com
    – Nick Allen
    Feb 21, 2014 at 0:20
  • @Nick: I never said anything about chess.com in my comment :)
    – shivsky
    Feb 21, 2014 at 12:50

The above advises are absolutely good in almost all cases . My advice would be first to treat Chess as a Study and just not a game between two Players.

Please analyse some Chess games , understand the openings , the Middle games and the End game .

The best Algorithm is that Start with the End games first . You will understand the value of Pieces better , their Activity & Coordination . Then gradually you understand the Middle Game and then the Openings .

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