5 Easy Steps to Prepare For Your Next Game

5 Easy Steps to Prepare For Your Next Game

Preparing for a game has become an important factor in today’s tournament practice. In times when the level of the average chess player has increased drastically, the pre-game preparation is considered a key step towards the desired outcome: victory.

Of course, times have changed and nowadays this task is more difficult every day.

The main reason is the overflow of information; the internet has everything about everybody and everybody is using it.

However, some people still prepare for their games better than others so it is not a trivial thing and it does require some sort of imagination, skills, and a bit of luck.

The main objective of preparing your game is:

  • Save time on the clock by playing quickly
  • Avoid being caught in the unknown territory
  • Know your opponent and use the information to make better decisions on the board
  • Prepare a surprise if your opponent is a target

In this article, we’ll shed some light on some valuable things to do. So, we will do our best to prepare you for the next game. Needless to say that this is just a guideline and every chess guru has their own method of doing things. Nevertheless, the following approach has worked for many players.

Step 1: Check his games on the default battle you expect to take place.

For example, if your opponent is a 1.d4 player and you are a Grunfeld player, the first thing to do is to find out what he does against your pet line.

Evaluate his knowledge and his skills in the resulting positions of that specific line. Weigh your chances in that battleground. If this is the case. You feel like you have nothing to fear and your opponent plays always the same. Then, this is where you need to go. It is probably a wise idea to be the first to deviate. Also, you should be the first to try to put your adversary out of his book.

Prepare For Your Next Game – Step 2: Check what your opponent plays against his own openings.

Quite a large number of players do not do this at all. Step 1 is their standard method and they don’t go any deeper than that. However, it is extremely useful to see if your opponent plays the same opening that you are intending to play against him.


Because it is a way to meter his knowledge and performance in that kind of position with either color. If your opponent plays the Grunfeld and also likes to play against the Grunfeld, it is probably because he feels comfortable in the middle game positions arising from the opening and knows the plans and finesses.

Something to consider.

Step 3: If your opponent is the type of player who always plays the same, look for holes in his opening choices.

If there aren’t any, try and find where you can present him with an old almost forgotten line that he might need to remember.

People who these days always play the same have the benefit of knowing a lot about their openings, but the main drawback is that anyone can prepare easily against them and get what they want out of the opening.

Prepare For Your Next Game – Step 4: Know your opponent

This is one great piece of advice. If you don’t know your opponent at all or you are not familiar with his games, it is totally worth it to spend 20 minutes going over his games.

Look for patterns; almost always there will be one. Once you are familiar with your opponent’s playing style, it will be very useful on the board. It will help you foresee his decisions.

Basically, your intuition on what he might play will be more precise.

Prepare For Your Next Game – Step 5: Find the problem

This approach was quite interesting, but I suspect it can only be done by very strong players. I once played against this GM who would only choose his opening based on what was most unpleasant for his opponent.

If your results were poor in the French Defense as white, he would choose to play it against you and so on. It takes certain skills to guess where a player is weakest. But, it can be done if one looks with care into a player’s games.

With this, we finish our small guidelines on how to prepare your games. Thank you for reading and feel free to share your comments with us.

We also recommend reviewing the next articles regarding tournaments: 6 Things to Do Before Playing a Chess Tournament as well as 5 Must-Do Things to Prepare for Your Next Tournament. You also might like 3 Easy Steps to Start Improving at Chess.

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Updated 01.07.2024


There is no info available on any opponent you may encounter in a swiss system tournament. Their games are not published anywhere. You do not even know who your playing until parings put up on board. This usually happens shortly before tournament starts. Your advice on this seems worthless.