6 Simple Chess Tips For Beginners

Written by Renée Borcas

September 14, 2021

So, you’ve learned the basics. You know how the pieces move, the rules of the game, and most importantly, how to win. But you’re not Bobby Fischer quite yet. And let’s face it, it’s probably going to be a long time until you reach that level. In the meantime, here are six simple chess tips for beginners. They can help you level up your game, and get you one step closer to becoming a grandmaster — or, at least, just help you beat your peers. 

Control the Center

If you aim for no other strategy in chess, at least work to control the most important part of the board — also known as the center. When your pieces are located in here, they can easily reach other sections of the board. Plus, they are in a strong position to initiate or take on attacks. 

The e4, d4, e5, and d5 squares are especially valuable real estate in chess, whether you’re an amateur or professional. If you don’t have control of the center, continue to put pressure on these pieces. This will help you work towards gaining an upper hand in the game.

Castle Early

Castling is a tool to protect the king. When it’s done, both the king and rook move at the same time. In this move, the king can move two spaces to the left or right, and the respective side’s rook jumps over it.

This play can be made if the king and rook in question haven’t moved yet, if the king is not in check, if the king will not pass a square that would put it in check, and if there are not any pieces between the king and the rook. 

By castling, you are able to protect your king and develop your rook all in one move. The earlier you do it, the sooner your king is brought to safety.

Don’t Move Your Queen Too Early

If you’re familiar with chess, you don’t need to be told that the queen is the game’s most valuable piece. That’s why it’s important to keep it protected until you are fully prepared to bring this piece into the game. 

Beginners can fall victim to moving their queen too early in attempts to put pressure on their opponent. Of course, there will be exceptions to this strategy. However, to avoid losing your queen or tempo, it’s best to save your queen until the match’s opening has passed. 

We recommend waiting until you’ve brought out at least two pieces from the back row before breaking out your queen. 

And if you catch your opponent brining their queen out too early, take the opportunity to put pressure on them.

Consider Your Opponent

When it’s your turn, it’s easy to rush into thinking how you can give yourself an offensive advantage. But don’t forget to consider what your opponent is doing.

Before making your move, take a moment to look at their previous move. Think about what your opponent is trying to do. Are they trying to capture your pieces? Did they leave an opportunity wide open for you?

Then, take a look at the move you’re about to make and examine how your opponent may respond. Attempt to keep one step ahead of them so you can make the best move possible.

Checkmating for Beginners

Nothing is worse than when you’ve played well, but the game ends in a stalemate because you can’t checkmate. As you become more familiar with the game, it’s valuable to learn the different ways to put someone into checkmate. 

This can help you both offensively and defensively in the long run. Knowing mating techniques can give you the foresight to keep you from losing and ultimately help you win the game.

To checkmate, you can rely only on your pieces or manipulate your opponent’s pieces to work against them. It’s easiest to start learning how to checkmate with your own pieces. The following combinations of your pieces can checkmate:

  • Two rooks
  • The queen and king
  • One rook and the king
  • Two bishops and the king
  • A knight, a bishop, and the king
  • A rook and knight — also known as the Arabian Mate

Players can easily get caught up in the game. But by planning for the endgame, you will be in a better place when it arrives.

Make Every Piece Mean Something

Each piece has value, and it’s each player’s job to make sure they use them to the best of their ability. This applies to all pieces, from pawn to queen. 

While chess point values don’t determine who win the game, they can give players an advantage. A queen is worth nine points, a rook is worth five points, a knight or bishop is worth three points and a pawn is worth one point.

But that doesn’t mean a pawn is without value. These control the battlefield. Good pawn structure can set you up to win the game, and blundering a queen can easily make you lose.

Avoid moving pieces “just because.” If every piece has a job, your play will be stronger.