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Chess for Beginners: Power of Prophylaxis!



Beginner chess players very often overlook a key component of the game – prophylaxis. I often tell students during online chess classes that unfortunately you are only allowed to make half of the total moves, so you need to pay a lot of attention to your opponent’s half as well. It can be easy to become very engrossed with improving one specific aspect of your game, for example trying to better your attacking ability by solving endless combinational studies. However the best way to get better at chess is to develop a comprehensive strategy that aims to improve all aspects of your game to a high level. Other than taking chess classes and studying chess books, one of the best ways to get better at chess is to simply study your own games – especially fairly soon after they occur so your thoughts during the game are still fresh. And if you find that you are blundering pieces, missing tactics, and being consistently and blatantly surprised by your opponent’s moves – you are probably underestimating the Power of Prophylaxis!

Identify All Possible CANDIDATE MOVES

Prophylaxis - Give It A Shot!

Prophylaxis - Give It A Shot!

If you feel very surprised and confused by your opponent’s moves, you are not paying enough attention to them. By organizing your time during a chess game to become more efficient, you will enable yourself to play more effectively and thus increase results. It is essential to analyze different aspects of your playing style, identify weaknesses, and formulate a plan for targeted improvement. Identifying your candidate moves and all possible responses from your opponent is going to give you the upper hand compared to a player that only focuses on his moves and ignores the opponent. Once you can simultaneously focus on your plans and those of your opponent, you will be able to control the development of the game more – leading to less mistakes and a much more solid foundation to play from. While Tigran Petrosian was certainly the old legend of prophylaxis, in today’s game the #1 player in the world Magnus Carlsen has made a familiar habit of taking away all counterplay from opponents and slowly squeezing them to death via his absolute control of the position.


horn says:

Will, I agree 110%.

But if I could identify all candidate moves and react like Petrosian or Carlsen, I wouldn’t be reading your site…

William says:

haha fair enough – but you’ve got to have some examples to shoot for!

Robin Crowley says:

Yeah, right, piece of cake… O_O

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