Planning Your Chess Game: Step-by-Step Guide

Planning Your Chess Game: Step-by-Step Guide

Today we will talk about the ideas your need to keep in mind in order to be successful while over the board playing chess or even a day or two beforehand. Chess is definitely a sport; it means that even if you are a weaker player you can still win the game if you are ready for this challenge.

The more information you have about the opponent you are paired up against, the better. Maybe you saw him play before, maybe you have played against him yourself, in any case you may have some idea about the openings he plays and his “level of aggressiveness”.

Here is is a simple 3 step guide that will help you to win more chess games.

Step 1: Home Preparation

Doing your homework can yield great benefits in the short and long run for your chess career. Let’s say you know that you are going to play against a particular opponent in the next few days. The best thing you can do in advance is to find out what openings does he play as white/black and make sure you have sufficiently good lines against it. It makes a lot of sense to open up a chess opening book and analyze the positions you expect to arrive to during the game.

By doing so, not only you will refresh your opening theory by booking up with couple of new lines you weren’t aware of before, but also you will feel more confident playing that opening. When you will face the opponent in this or a similar opening line you will think that it’s your territory and you will most likely play a better overall chess. Remember, psychology and self-esteem plays a huge role in chess (you can read more about psychology here).

While you go over the opening lines I recommend setting up a chess database, where you can put variations you study along with a brief description and comments. Doing so will save you a lot of time, when you would like to go back and review that opening again. You should add new lines and variation and grow your opening tree bigger and deeper.It doesn’t really necessary to memorize 20 moves of the opening theory for the line you excepting to play. The main idea behind studying the openings is to understand main themes, pieces placement and strategic and tactical possibilities. It simply means that you should know where and when to develop your pieces, what to be aware of and how to attack your opponent.

Remember the better you prepare at home the more comfortable and easy the game will go for you!

Step 2: Playing the game

You should feel and look confident when you arrive in the playing site. All the thoughts about losing should be eliminated, if you are well prepared the chances that you will face the familiar lines are quite high. You should remember your basic opening preparation, even if the game doesn’t go exactly as you planned try to find similarities in the position over the board and ones you have seen at home while going over the theory. Spend time wisely, do not waste 30 minutes thinking about which of the two identically good moves is better; you might want to save these precious minutes for the endgame.

It is very common that when a weaker player is playing against a stronger one, the first tends to get into the time trouble since he doesn’t believe in himself and double or even triple checks his moves. Do not do that, time is an important aspect of the game; you cannot win a game with no time on your clock.

Playing perfect and first line of Rybka moves is almost impossible and not necessary if you are not playing against players of Topalov’s caliber. Just play good, solid moves and avoid blunders, wait for your opponent to make a mistake or an inaccuracy you can exploit. When you get an advantage try to keep control over the position, keep your pieces active and try to finish up the game. In this stage of the game you need to play extremely accurately, since you don’t want to be the one who lost a won game. Remember, the game isn’t over until you have checkmated your opponent or he has resigned. There is always a plenty of possibilities to lose a won game. Stay focused and you will win.

Step 3: Post game analysis

Hopefully you have won the game, but regardless of the outcome it is very important to analyze the game and make objective conclusions about your own play as well as about the play of your opponent. Enter the game into the computer database to keep things organized. Do the analysis by yourself fist and only then consult the chess software. Make brief comments about the crucial moment of the game, about the initiative changes, mistakes, good and bad moves. Compare the opening with the opening tree you have setup during the home preparation stage and see where the game went into a different direction. Your goal is to find what you did right during the game and also what you need to work on, to improve your chess.

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Updated 01.07.2024


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Thanks for this article. Great stuff.