Chess is a game full of creativity and fantasy. If you play it long enough, sooner or later you’ll be able to experience its beauty. But in order to create amazing masterpieces, there are some basic tips and rules of thumb you should first be aware of. So buckle up, because here come 8 useful examples of chess strategy for beginners.
Build a Solid Foundation First
“Every chess master was once a beginner.” – Irving Chernev (Russian-American chess player and author)
These 8 examples of chess strategy for beginners will help you to more easily visualize some of the most important strategic issues most beginner chess players face.
- Important note: if you haven’t read Chess Strategy Tips for Beginners – The Definitive Guide, we highly recommend you do it before continuing with this article.
Some of the examples might be familiar to you if you have dedicated some time to learn how to play chess properly.
All the situations and diagrams below will show you how to react in 8 scenarios you will likely find yourself in during your games.
If you commit to really trying to understand these positions and the reasons why some moves are better than the others, we guarantee you will get more good results and soon be an intermediate chess player instead of a beginner.
Let’s get to it!
Example 1: Good Pawn Structure vs Bad Pawn Structure
It’s no secret that the pawns help you win games.
Sometimes, beginners underestimate their power, but that’s a huge mistake.
A good pawn structure usually means that you have a solid position.
But how do you identify a good pawn structure?
- Most of the pawns are connected with each other.
- The pawns are occupying and controlling the center.
- The pawns are putting pressure on your opponent’s position.
- The pawn structure hasn’t created holes or weak squares in your position.
Let’s see a diagram in which White has a good pawn structure:
White’s pawn structure is good here due to the fact that almost all of the pawns are connected, the king is safe, the center is really strong with the e5 and d4 pawns, and even though the white squares that go from c2 to f5 are “weak”, White’s queen and bishop are working together to avoid any problems there.
Now let’s see what a bad pawn structure looks like:
All white pawns on the queenside (left) and center are weak because there are no other pawns supporting them!
Also, the center is now in Black’s control.
White pawns will start to fall one by one over the next few moves and Black will get the win.
Example 2: Get Rid of your “Bad” Pieces
A “bad” piece is a piece that is not contributing to the position.
There are many reasons for this.
For instance, a piece can be “trapped” in your position.
This white knight on b1 has zero activity and no influence over the position. It just can’t move anywhere.
That’s why as soon as you get the chance to exchange your bad pieces, go for it.
The knight saw its chance and captured the bishop. Now White’s position has improved.
Example 3: Control the Center. Always.
During the opening and middlegame phases of any chess game, your pawns and pieces have one clear goal: control the center.
There’s really nothing more important they should be doing. Seriously.
If you want to learn the best chess strategy tips for beginners, this one is a must.
There are many ways to fight for the center with your pieces.
Here are some easy examples of good centers:
This is the absolute center. White’s pawns have domination over all the central squares and the pieces back up the pawns.
Here, White’s center is also good, because both of its central pawns are occupying important squares (d4 and e5).
Black is challenging the center with the queen on b6, knight on c6 and pawn on c5, but White will be able to hold on without major issues.
This center is slightly different than the previous ones.
Even though White is not occupying the center with his central pawns, they still have control over the most important squares and will sooner or later move their pieces there.
This is just a slower but safe approach to control the center in the opening and middlegame.
Example 4: Keep Your King Safe
Your king is the most important piece of the board.
You should protect it at all costs.
When the game begins, the board is full of pieces, and there are tons of attacking opportunities for both sides.
That’s why it’s of critical importance to get your king safe as soon as you have the chance.
This means one thing: castling.
Of course there are exceptions to this, but they are rare.
If you are starting at chess and you want to improve, castle early. It’s that simple.
Generally, you will want to castle to the kingside (short castle). Like this:
If in that same position we’d castle to the queenside (long castle)…
Even though our king would still be safer than it was in the center, this position gives Black the chance to attack heavily on the queenside, advancing the a- and b-pawns and bringing over the rest of their pieces.
Example 5: Make Your Rooks Count
Rooks shine in the endgame, when there are few pieces on the board.
However, you can make the most out of your rooks in the opening and middlegame phases of the game by following certain easy guidelines.
For instance, if a file is open (this means that there are no pawns in the way), one of your rooks should take control of that file where it can be most effective.
The White rook sits on the e1 square where it controls the whole e-file, putting extra pressure on Black’s position.
Another good idea is to place your rooks on the same files as your opponent’s queen and king.
By doing this you are indirectly attacking both of your opponent’s most important pieces.
Example 6: Naughty Queen
Our queen is the most powerful piece that we have at our disposal.
She moves like a rook, a bishop, a pawn and the king.
The queen is the most suitable piece to use when launching killer attacks.
Being such a powerful piece, our queen is a clear target for our opponent. We have to be careful when and where we move it in the opening and middlegame.
We don’t want our queen to be trapped, because that would mean we have basically lost the game.
As a general rule, you should move the queen very little in the opening phase of the game. As soon as you find more space on the board, your queen can start doing her thing. Even if our queen doesn’t get trapped, we don’t want to give the opponent the chance to develop their pieces quickly and gain tempo on our queen – we’d be left moving the queen several times to get it back to safety instead of getting our other pieces into the game!
Here, the black queen is trapped. The white knight on c4 is attacking her, and she has no good square to escape to.
Example 7: Develop, Develop, Develop
Your have surely heard about this one.
Develop your pieces, and develop them quickly.
This is one of the pilars of the best chess strategy for beginners handbook.
This means you should place your pieces on squares that control the center and make it hard for your opponent to develop his pieces.
This is an example of good development:
Absolutely all the white pieces have been developed to relevant squares. The central pawns are strong, the king is safe and the rooks are connected. Perfect!
On the other side of the board, Black has only developed two pieces, the king is still in the center, the rooks are still locked in on their starting squares and there’s very little fight for the center.
Example 8: Your Pieces Need to Rest a Little Bit
This is related to the previous example.
Even though you should develop your pieces as soon as you get the chance, it’s not advisable to move your pieces several times during the opening and middlegame phase.
The best thing to do is to move each piece only one time, develop the rest of your pieces, and only then move again some of your pieces.
The reason behind this rule is to complete your development as soon as possible, without delays.
In the example above, Black is planning to move the knight several times, but none of the other pieces are yet developed! What a waste of time!
Avoid these kinds of pointless maneuvers. Develop your pieces naturally and you will be a step closer to mastery. Why have the pieces on the board at all if you aren’t going to use them all!?
If you are a beginner at chess, there are some general rules you should follow in order to improve.
These 8 examples wil help you to better understand chess and play with more precision.
We have shown you the most common positions and situations you will encounter during a chess game.
However, this doesn’t mean you won’t find many other different setups, positions, and structures.
Rest assured that these general rules and examples will help you to successfully navigate your way through those situations.
Fight for the center, develop your pieces, and keep your king safe… Never forget that!
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