I’ve always said, “The best way to get better at chess is to lose games.” It’s true. The more you lose, the more you learn. And the more mistakes you make, the less likely you are to make those mistakes again in future.
This is how I’ve developed my own chess game. But to take the game seriously and develop your skills, there are many other things you can do. I’ve listed 12 of them below. If you can think of any more, let us know in the comment section.
Play Against a Computer
My go-to site for all things chess related is Chess.com. This site allows you to play chess against 10 different levels of AI. So if you’re a beginner, the AI will purposefully make mistakes if you play it on level 1. The higher the level, the fewer mistakes the computer will make.
Playing against a virtual opponent is a great, no-pressure way to hone your skills as a novice chess player. It will also prepare you to play live chess against real people who enjoy playing online.
Play Live Chess Against Other Players
Once you get your confidence up, it’s time to play real people. Chess.com allows you to do this without paying a fee, and it’s an excellent way to see how good you are. This can be a bit daunting at first. Just remember; there’s no shame in losing. It’s the only way you will get better. Plus, the thrill of a win is something you will get addicted to quickly!
The site works on rankings. Every time you lose a game, your ranking will go down. If you win, it goes up. The site will pair you up with players within your rank range, so you’ll continually go up against opponents that are either a little better than you, or a little worse.
There are player etiquettes to abide by when playing other players, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the rules and fair play policies before you take on real players.
Learn at Least 6 Chess Openings
I learned to play chess from a book. But that was before the internet exploded with so many chess resources. There are thousands of blogs and videos on the web that will teach you various chess openings.
Learn at least 6 chess openings to prepare yourself for chess games. Learn 3 openings for when you play as white, and 3 for black. Soon you will memorize these openings, at which point you can tweak them to suit your own style—or the style of other players.
Register with an Online Chess Tutor
Chessacademy.com is a user friendly chess tutor designed especially for novice chess players. It starts you off with the basics of chess such as:
– How to set up a chess board
– What moves each piece performs
– Basic openings
– Tips and tricks for winning
Once you’ve got the basics down, you can move up the levels and get more advanced tutoring. The site also provides easy, moderate and hard levels of chess scenarios that you will have to resolve in order to move on.
You can ask for coaching at any stage of the tutoring. It’s easy to learn this way because of the easy to-follow video tutorials that make up each level of your advancement.
Set Up a Chess Tournament at Home or at a Chess Park
Have some fun with your friends and family by setting up a chess tournament during family time or when you have visitors over. Offer a prize for the winner and use this opportunity to play against your nearest & dearest.
You’ll be surprised how many of your family members can play chess. Many of them probably haven’t played in a while, but they can still teach you a lot about the game. This is a great way to bond with your family while having a few laughs.
Alternatively you can frequent a chess park and play against some of the regulars there. Yes, you’ll probably lose a few games, and most of those players like playing against the clock. But there are a few who will humor you with a slow game or two.
Helpful tip: Playing timed games is a good way to condition your brain to think fast. If you can learn to play faster, your game will generally improve over time. As you get better, you will get bored with 30 minute games and opt for 10, 5 or even 1-minute games.
Play Chess Against Yourself
This has always been one of the most challenging ways I’ve used to improve my chess game. Playing chess against yourself may seem pointless at first, but it really is a great way to get better. Set up your chess board and try outsmarting yourself by playing both sides.
The challenging part about this is that you always know what each side’s strategy is. So learning to counter attacks while outthinking yourself each time will expand your mind and prepare you for games against other players.
Do Chess Puzzles
Most chess websites have a chess puzzle variation that provides you with chess scenarios. These are games that have been fast-forwarded to mid game or end game status. You will sometimes have to stare at these puzzles for long periods of time before you can figure out the next best possible move.
There are also phone apps designed for solely this purpose. Chess puzzles develop your chess skills because they make you think of ways to get out of tough situations. They also teach you the best ways to attack your opponent when doing so seems impossible at first.
Teach Someone to Play Chess
Teaching people what you’ve learned is the best way to retain information. Look for someone who wants to learn the game and become the tutor! If you have kids, set aside some time each day to teach them the basics of chess. As you learn more, extend that knowledge to them and you will soon see how much you can learn from them and yourself.
Read About Chess Every Day
Blogs like this one are super helpful at giving you tips on how to improve your chess game. On this site we discuss various chess openings to help you develop your skills. We also talk about tips and tricks that will give you an edge over your opponents.
Chess books are also very helpful in explaining the nuances of chess. As time goes by you will learn to think one, two and three steps ahead of your opponents. Books like these usually start off giving you the basics, and then move on to more advanced skills. The great thing about reading on chess is you can develop your game at your own pace. Slow and steady wins the race!
Watch Chess Matches on YouTube
Professional chess matches are riveting to watch if you love chess. The big players are always coming up with great winning strategies to flatten their opponents. The commentary on these videos are also very informative because they discuss the game as it’s happening. You will get a chance to see inside the minds of some of the best chess players in the world, which will inevitable improve your own chess game.
Join a Chess Ladder and Start Climbing
There’s a site that’s been around for along time that I still visit years after registering. It’s called itsyourturn.com. There are multiple games one this site, but chess is the dominant one. One of my favorite sections on the site is their chess ladder.
When you join a ladder game, you will start at the bottom with the opportunity to work your way up. It’s a very slow moving gameplay, allowing you 36 hours to make a single move. So it creates a habit where you log in every day to make your move. If you win, you take your opponent’s place on the ladder. If you lose, you simply move down one notch. This is an excellent way to take your time and really think about your move every day you log in.
Play Other Variations of Chess
Itsyourturn.com also makes other chess variations available to those who are a little bored with regular chess. At first I thought this was pointless, but after playing a few I learned that chess is a really expansive game.
Playing these versions of chess has taught me to think of the game in a different way. Here are some of them:
– Anti-chess: Where the objective is to actually LOSE the game
– Grasshopper chess: All the pawns are replaced by knights, so you learn how to thinkcarefully about moving each piece
– Horde chess: This is a favorite of mine. One opponent has the regular chess pieces, while the other has over three rows of pawns that make their way up to the other side—hoping to become queens
Try a few and watch your regular chess game improve in ways you never imagined.