Chess Tips for Beginners

Disclaimer: I’m a mediocre chess player, I do not consider myself a chess expert. These simple tips are for beginners looking to surprise intermediate players during games.

This post assumes you know basic chess rules and some chess terminology. If you are unfamiliar with Algebraic chess notation, I suggest you read this.

Setting up the board. Queen on her colour.

h8 should be a white square.

Knights are next to rooks, don’t put them next to the king and queen!

Advance your pieces in the opening so you can protect your king without blocking your attacking pieces.

Search for traps, don’t be too eager.

Use a rook/queen to protect an advancing pawn.

Castle queen-side. You will throw your opponent off, if only for a brief period of time. This a lesser known alternative to the typical king-side Castling.

Queen-side O-O-O

King-side O-O

Pawn structure, pawn structure, pawn structure. A forward V is far more powerful than a backward V. Don’t underestimate a well-protected wall of pawns!

Ja! Gut!

For Fischer’s sake, don’t stack your pawns unless you have a sneaky plan.

d2 and d3 are stacked

Fianchetto It is my understanding that to fianchetto means to develop your bishop to an extreme rank.

There are two steps (and two options) for a simple opening queen-side fianchetto (you can also fianchetto on king-side, or fianchetto in midgame)

Step 1) b3 (or b4) to clear the diagonal for Bc1
Step 2 - Option 1) Ba3
Step 2 - Option 2) Bb2

Fork your opponent. Forking is when a single piece attacks two (or more) pieces simultaneously. This is typically done with the knight, but can be done with any piece.

For example, in this endgame:

Nf3+ threatens Qd2 and Kg1

Both white and black are forking.

However, white’s pawn fork (b5 threatens Ra6 and Rc6) isn’t a stable fork, for taking either rook would entail a trade (2. bxa6 Rxa6 or 2. bxc6 Rxc6).

Additionally, the white king is under check, and the white side is at a material disadvantage. From here, assuming it’s white’s move: 1. Kg2 Nxd2 2. bxa6 Rxa6 3. Kh3 Nb1 4. Kg4 Ra3 and then they dance. I predict 0-1.

Playing black? Confused during openings? Use the Sicilian Defence.

1. e4 c5


1. e4 d6

All black’s moves proceeding this are generally considered Sicilian Defense variations. In the latter case (1. … d6), a common white response is 2. Nf3 … 2. d4

  1. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4

This is a common black opening, so experienced players are likely to have prepared white responses.

Play often. As with other skills, playing often is key to increasing your skill level. Your ability to pick up patterns and accurately evaluate the board increases as you play more.

Written on April 11, 2013