If you are like thousands of players out there, you are looking to improve your chess game. Maybe you are trying to sharpen your openings, or maybe you are working on endgames and tactics. Whatever area you choose to study will probably help you, but sometimes we tend to forget basic chess rules that can net good games. Meathead chess, as one player in my club calls it, absolutely wins games.
Develop all your pieces, and castle!
While this may seem like obvious advice to some of the more seasoned chess players, it is good for everyone to keep in mind when playing a game. Unless your opponent makes a very obvious, game losing blunder in the opening, please just develop and get your king to safety! Chess masters rarely launch two-piece attacks in the opening stages of a chess game.
Control the center!
Whether you prefer hypermodern style chess, where players control the center with pieces instead of pawns, or whether you prefer the tried and true get your pawns in the center technique, always remember that center control is vital. Yes, tactics should always be looked for, but if a tactical shot means breaking down your central control, make sure it is a game-winning risk. Pawns are often sacrificed for an attack, and even center pawns are acceptable collateral damage at times. Almost every available chess opening will aim at center control to some degree; just follow its theories!
Defense! Defense! Defense!
It is a great amount of fun to attack in chess, it’s true. However, your opponent probably thinks so, too, and therefore you must learn to defend. Once you have defended all your opponent’s threats, they are likely to be too far out of position to defend your counter-attack, and lose the game quickly! Remember, attacking is a vital part of the game, but sometimes defending is attacking! Chess games are lost by the last person to make a mistake, so try and make as few as possible.
Kings can attack in the endgame!
A common amateur mistake in chess is to push pawns without thought in an attempt to queen them once all the pieces are off the board. Without the king’s help, however, success is unlikely, or simply a case of luck. Masters know to have their king escort pawns down the board, or to centralize them in order keep the opponent’s king out of their side of things.
These are just some of the simple rules that if followed rigorously, are sure to raise your chess rating quite a bit. Chess is not an easy game, but the basic principles are easy to learn and remember. Once you have those down and are able to execute them in most of your games, 1800-2000 should not be hard to reach. After that, aggressive study and a good amount of time are needed to advance further in chess.