Thinking in Chess
Tournament Preparation: How do you prepare for a tournament? Every chess player hopes to show their best in every game, but more often it happens they perform below their abilities. Why does that happen? There could be many reasons, but most likely they did not do their best before the game started. Confucius said: “Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation, there is sure to be a failure.”
Thinking in Chess is something not very well covered in the chess literature. There are plenty of materials on the openings, tactics, and endgames.
Yet, when it comes to something as fundamental as chess thinking there is a huge gap. In today’s article, I will cover the seven must-know tips when it comes to thinking in chess.
This will put you one step closer to thinking like a Chess Master.
How to calculate in chess? First, let me ask you… How many chess positions can possibly arise on the board? Well, let’s count. White can choose between 20 first moves. Black can reply in 20 different ways too. This already creates 400 possible positions. White’s next turn can increase this number approximately up to 8 000. Black can make, for example, 100 000 from it. Next, it is millions already. Let’s stop here.
Attacking Chess players have always been admired in the chess world. Their bravery, aggressive play, brilliant combinations, and stunning results have always attracted many fans. Some players have never achieved any significant results over the board but went down in chess history thanks to their outstanding courageous games.
Chess is a versatile and beautiful game. There are many aspects of it that people find interesting, but the attack is the most notable one.
Chess Master title might be thought of as something unachievable by many people. It is understandable: they constantly see high-rated players making brilliant decisions, knowing all the possible openings, and seeing tactics in no time. This creates the wrong impression that these masters were too talented initially, making them get to such a level. Of course, talent would make things easier, but it is still nothing without hard work. To become a chess master, you should invest much time for sure. But what if that is not the only requirement? Are there any more secrets?
Many people think their results depend only on how much time they had invested in studying chess. They can learn openings, solve tactics, analyze masters’ games, and all of that is, of course, extremely useful and necessary for improvement. But many players still perform in real games worse than they should have. Quite often the reason lies in non-chess skills.
Pattern Recognition and Calculation Skills: Everyone knows how important it is to be good at tactical play. It helps to find beautiful combinations and avoid blunders. Apart from that, excelling at tactics often helps compensate for other chess weaknesses.
When you have a bad position, you can exploit the opponent’s tactical inaccuracies to eventually come up on top. Contrariwise, if you have a winning position you need to be careful not to miss any tactical ideas (for both sides!) to finish the game positively. But how do you get better at it?
Back in the 18th century, the famous chess player Francois Andre Danican Philidor was underlying the importance of the pawns and “playing them well”, concluding that “pawns are the soul of chess”. In the coming years, more and more strategical concepts were put together and nowadays we have a whole set of guidelines that help us understand important positional ideas.
BEWARE: this may change the entire trajectory of your chess career!
When you think about studying chess tactics—also known as chess puzzles—you may imagine a set of moves that transform some initial losing/neutral position to a significantly more winning one.
Though that is true, the reasons you should study them are not only to help you find those winning combinations of moves. In fact, thinking solely in that way will ruin your chess improvement and strategic thought by making you more prone to find “cheap tricks” to win.
Chess studies and mating problems are composed of positions – they have been made up and have not actually happened in a game, as most puzzles – where you will need to discover the only way for white (usually) to win or make a draw.