Have you ever wished to improve at chess and tried and found it hard and abandoned? Don’t worry, many people have done this and for those who enjoy chess, they spend their expereince of living trying to improve at it!
In theory, improving at chess is simply a case of learning to find the best move to play in each position for every player. The player who finds the least good moves usually loses.
However, even this model is flawed. In chess you have to think and look ahead. In lots of positions the best move around in that position will never be the best after at the very least two or three 3 more moves from the opponent. This means, that for every position, once you decide the probable best move for that position, you must consider at least two or three 3 moves ahead with best play from your own opponent. That’s where calculation gets harder.
Also, to start with, you must be able to assess and evaluate each position for strengths and weakness and rate which side stands better or if there is equality. If this evaluation is not correct then subsequent move calculations and considerations will not be correct either! To generate a sound evaluation you need to understand the nature of chess, which include chess principles, tactical, positional and strategical chess play factors.
All these areas that define the game of chess can be learnt from playing and with advice from other chess players and from books videos and chess courses.
Once a player learns the basics of the areas and plays regularly, then your importance of the 3 distinct chess game phases, the opening, the middle game and the finish game, become apparent. All of the chess factors described above, apply in each of the game phases. Each game phase though, has special considerations.
In the opening, the aim is to develop all pieces with focus on king safety with castling and also with attention to control of the centre of the board.
In the middle game, players improve the position of these pawns and pieces and likewise attempt to weaken the opponents’ position (by capturing pawns or pieces and making good piece exchanges and creating damaged pawn structures).
In the end game, king activity becomes important alongside achieving pawn promotion and getting passed pawns to market. Checkmate patterns become important to know and understand. The end game should end with checkmate but beware stalemate when you are winning. If losing, then you may want to play to get stalemate and a draw.
However, it is vital to see a chess game all together, consisting ideally out of all the 3 parts. Moves and strategy and tactics made in the opening, greatly influence the middle and end game in fact it is important to plan ahead, to account for this. Short term gains, can be overturned by longer term strategy (for example, exchanging a bishop for the capture of a knight, perhaps a poor decision according to the kind of game, open, semi open or closed, that results) bringing more advantages.
A great way to improve, would be to study well-known and famous chess games and try to learn the tactical and strategic and positional elements they use. There are so many to pick from, but try to find some that use your favourite opening or defence. The “Night at the opera” game by Paul Morphy is a very famous game, that shows how good understanding from one player can overcome average moves by the other player.
Also, studying any games from chess world champions can help enhance your game. Bobby Fischer is thought by some to possess been the very best player ever and he liked to play 1.e4 as White. Studying his games, will enhance your chess. Likewise, Garry Kasparov is thought by many to have been the very best chess world champion of the present day era and he liked playing 1.d4 as White.World champion Mikhail Botvinnik played 1.c4 with much success.
Good chess players, understand basic chess principles really well and so are comfortable playing any opening or position, since they have a good knowledge of all factors involved in making good chess moves. Less strong players, usually do not have that basic chess understanding and so often make more mistakes, especially in unfamiliar openings and positions.