Are you learning to play chess? Do you want to improve your chances of victory in your training games? Or even in tournaments? You are in the right place! Here we have the best chess strategy tips for beginners. We’ll help you get to know and understand basic chess tactics.
Estimated reading time: 16 minutes
Here Are Our Best Beginner Chess Tips:
Chess Tips for Beginners: Control the Center of the Board Throughout the Game
Control the center is one of the most critical chess strategy tips for beginners to learn. The center is the most critical section of the board since your pieces have access to the whole board when correctly located in the center.
That’s the reason this strategic principle is so important. The best chess players in the world have proven this time and again. These players always try to keep their pieces, adding pressure to the center.
This guiding strategy is why people say, “a knight on the rim is dim.” Instead of Nh3, a better move is Nf3 or even Ne2 because, from these squares, the knight can control the central square d4.
On f3, the knight also attacks the central square e5, which is why Nf3 gets played more often, and 1.Nf3 is even a recognized opening (the Reti Opening).
- Wait! One of the hardest things for beginners is to resist grabbing material in the opening. GM Axel Delorme addresses the dangers posed by grabbing material in this video.
Central Control Is Crucial in All Phases of the Game
This strategy will serve you well throughout your entire chess game. Bringing your king to the center is one of the best ways to activate the king.
Remember, for short-range pieces like knights placing them in the center means they can reach other areas of the board faster.
Even long-range pieces like bishops become more powerful in the center because they control more squares in more diagonals.
A bishop on e4 covers the h1-a8 diagonal and b1-h7 diagonals (or 15 squares), but if the bishop is on c1, it only covers b1-h7 diagonal and the a2-square (or eight squares).
About half the number of squares a centralized bishop covers.
Want to improve your chess tactics today? Sign Up for our FREE Master Class here!
Chess Tip for Beginners: Always Develop All of Your Pieces as Quickly as Possible
Developing your pieces rapidly is also a critical chess strategy tip for beginners since your pieces are like your army; they are the ones that will help you dominate the board, attack the enemy, and eventually help you win the games.
Not developing your pieces quickly can be a grave mistake. By not developing your pieces rapidly, you might be allowing your opponents to take more space on the board.
When you wonder if you should play a pawn move or move a piece in the opening, place a higher priority on moving the piece. Pieces control more squares than a pawn, and they can cover the squares behind them.
IM Ekaterina Atalik advises no more than six pawn moves in the first fourteen moves of your game.
Develop your pieces, get your king to safety, and connect your rooks is what you must focus on a lot more than pawn moves in chess openings.
Combining Chess Strategies Leads to Powerful Play
One of the most important chess tips for beginners is to remember that a chess game is a blend of different strategies. Constructing a winning position means using all the ingredients that go into a good position.
We mentioned how important controlling the center is to winning a chess game. Combining centralization with development means developing your pieces towards the center.
Centralization does not mean they have to be on central squares. A bishop on b2 or g2 can control central squares from a distance.
A rook on e1 controls e4 and e5, and if you have a bishop on g2, you also have control of the d5-square. Although these pieces are away from the center, they take part in the fight for central control.
Chess Tip for Beginners: Try Not to Move the Same Piece Multiple Times in the Opening
Not moving the same piece multiple times in the opening goes along with the concept of developing your pieces quickly. Moving the same piece multiple times allows your opponent to develop several pieces much faster.
A good idea in chess for beginners is to practice “One and done!” in the opening. One move and I’m done with that piece unless it comes under attack.
There are occasions when you need to move the same piece multiple times to avoid losing the piece or something else. But this principle still needs to be kept in mind at all times.
GM Irina Krush reminds us there are three vital elements in chess:
- space, and
Many chess players will tell you it makes no sense to let your opponent gain a material advantage by capturing your pieces. What chess players often overlook is that by moving the same piece multiple times, you give your opponent a time advantage.
Winning in chess is hard enough for beginners and professionals without helping opponents by wasting time. When you play your next game, make saving time a crucial chess strategy in your game.
Learn the Value of Time in Chess Strategy
An excellent chess tip for beginners to learn the value of time is to play or study games with opening gambits. Look for games with the King’s Gambit, Danish Gambit, or Scotch Gambit and see how strong chess players make efficient use of time.
If moving the same piece twice costs you time, a good strategy is to play moves that force your opponent to move his piece again.
For example, in the Sicilian Defense, a standard move for Black is …Qc7, and if you can play it while attacking White’s bishop on c4, you get more value from the move. All chess players enjoy getting more value whenever they can – at and away from the chessboard.
- Interested in chess strategy? Check out these 8 useful examples!
Chess Tip for Beginners: Castle Early Whenever Possible
One of the essential rules in chess strategy, especially for beginners, is always to keep your king in a safe position while trying to create weaknesses around your opponent’s king if possible.
That’s the reason why you should always castle your king as soon as possible. That way, it moves away from the center, which is the area of the board where most of the action usually takes place. It also helps you bring your rooks to the center more quickly.
However, you do not want to castle into an attack. Generally speaking, it is usually safe to castle on the same side as your opponent.
This video, by GM Axel Delorme, shows the dangers of castling too early. In this example Black castles too early.
Delaying castling means developing pieces or bringing your pieces closer to the center while waiting to see which side of the board he castles. Sometimes you can delay castling to castle on opposite sides and launch an attack.
When studying an opening, pay attention to the correct time and side for castling. Black can play it safe with a short castle in the French Defense Exchange Variation or spice up the game with a long castle.
When Is Your King Safe in the Center?
One way to tell if your king is safe in the center of the board is to look at the pawn formation. A blocked center makes it almost impossible for your opponent to attack your king.
Sometimes your king is safe when the center is more open, but only if you have such excellent control of the center, your opponent has no counterplay.
Yes, you get control of the center by developing your pieces quickly towards the center and not wasting time by moving your pieces more than once. Chess becomes much easier when you include a sound strategy or several sound strategies in your game.
GM Susan Polgar is one of the best coaches you can have when it comes to learning how to play chess. In the next video, she explains the importance of king safety.
If you are looking to move on past the beginner stage then Susan’s 13 volume course provides the essential training you need.
Chess Tip for Beginners: Don’t Move Your Queen Too Soon
Not moving the queen too early in the game is a vital chess strategy tip for beginners. Most beginners try to move the queen too early to create mating threats on f7 or f2.
These threats are usually not real, and the player who moved the queen usually loses several tempos while trying to get the queen back to a safe square.
You’ve probably heard this many times before. But “don’t move your queen too early in the game” is a rule you can ignore sometimes. For example, if your opponent makes a huge mistake that you can punish immediately by starting an attack with your queen.
As with any move in chess, it is essential to know the purpose behind your move. Bringing the queen out early if you can win material is a valid reason.
Another valid reason for developing the queen early is to force your opponent to put his pieces on bad squares. When Black develops with …Bf5 or …Bg4, then Qb3 is often a good move for White.
Qb3 attacks the undefended b7-pawn and forces Black to defend the pawn. Notice that it is not easy for Black to attack the queen on b3.
Black might respond with …Qb6, but since it is a piece of equal value attacking the white queen, White can ignore the threat and allow the exchange, thus saving himself the loss of a tempo.
Chess Tip for Beginners: Connect Your Rooks and Place Them on Open and Semi-open Files
The rooks are usually the most difficult pieces to activate. The reason for this is because they can only move horizontally and vertically. It’s not easy to move these heavy pieces when there are no open files.
That’s one of the reasons why castling your king early is very important. It helps you bring one of the rooks closer to the center of the board.
You should also always try to anticipate which files are the ones that are most likely to be opened during the game so that you are the first to take advantage of the open files with your rooks.
Rooks Are Excellent at Defending Central Pawns
Although rooks can be extremely powerful on open files, do not discount their impact in defending vital central pawns or supporting other pieces. Sometimes it takes time to open files, and you do not want your rooks standing idle for a long time.
Excellent use of your rooks is to support pawn advances that gain you space. The space-gaining pawn advances frequently played are the b and f-pawn advances.
In the English and Reti openings, White often plays Rb1 and b4 to gain space on the queenside and create weaknesses in Black’s position. This strategy works well with the fianchettoed bishop on g2.
We often think of open files when we consider where to develop our rooks, but rooks can also make good use of ranks. You will often hear mention of “the rook swinger,” which uses the third or fourth rank to bring a rook over to attack the king.
Moves like a4 and f4 are helpful not only for gaining space but for giving you the option to bring the rook into play on the third rank.
We can learn a lot from excellent games of the past. Pay close attention to how Larry Evans positions his rooks in the middlegame and keeps his rook extremely active in the endgame.
Larry Melvyn Evans – Haakon Opsahl, 1950.08.30, 1-0, Dubrovnik olm Round 8, Dubrovnik YUG
Chess Tip for Beginners: Think Twice Before Moving Your Pawns Because They Can’t Go Back
As you already know, pawns can only move forward. That’s the reason why this is a fundamental chess strategy for players of all levels, not only for beginners.
Another essential chess strategy tip is that pawns are the pieces with more limitations regarding mobility. So pawns are always very important for determining the nature of the position and the plans that each player should follow.
Memorizing theory is a poor way to go about learning an opening. The biggest problem with this approach is that your opponent might not have remembered the opening and played a move you never studied.
It is not uncommon for chess players to select an opening because of the opportunity to enter unfamiliar territory. Some players will accept a slightly inferior position in return for taking their opponent out of book moves.
A deep understanding of the strategies involved in your opening repertoire will help you cope with unusual moves played by your opponent.
Apart from leaving your king terribly exposed advanced pawns can become targets for your opponent to attack. Nicolas Rossolimo took advantage of the weak pawns in his game against Leonard Barden.
Notice how Rossolimo also took advantage of White’s bad bishop. He exchanged the good bishop even though it was on its original square.
This game demonstrates that these chess strategy tips are not only for beginners.
Leonard William Barden – Nicolas Rossolimo, 1950.12.28, 0-1, Hastings 1950/51 Round 1, Hastings ENG
Knowing the Pros and Cons of Your Pawn Structure is Essential
When you know the advantages and disadvantages of pawn structures you can find the right chess strategy to use in your game. Learning how great players of the past used this chess strategy saves you time.
Understanding the pawn structures that arise from the opening helps you find the best moves in the middlegame and endgame. You will know the best squares to place your pieces on and why these are good squares.
This is not only helpful in your chosen openings, it can help you if your opponent chooses an unfamiliar opening.
Instead of becoming unsettled, you can focus on reaching a familiar pawn structure, where you know the best strategy. Strategic understanding of a position is more helpful than memorizing theory.
Pawns leave empty squares behind them, which is excellent for developing your pieces. However, this also makes squares deep in your position available for your opponent to use.
Be especially careful when advancing your pawns that your opponent cannot make use of any outposts close to your king. Pawns are great for limiting the power of your opponent’s pieces, especially fianchettoed bishops.
The b2, c3, and d4 pawn-chain is exceptionally effective against Black’s bishop on g7. It is so effective the bishop is said to “bite on granite.”
Chess Tip for Beginners: If you have If You Have a Bad Piece, Try to Exchange It Very Quickly
Identifying when any particular piece doesn’t have a bright future is a vital aspect of chess strategy at all levels. Knowing how to identify good and bad pieces is what separates novice players from masters.
When a bishop is blocked by its pawns because they are on squares of the bishop’s same color, the bishop is usually considered a bad piece. It’s a wise decision to exchange it with another piece of the same value whenever it’s possible.
- Wait! Before you continue, check out The Anna Rudolf Method – Smash the Barriers to your Chess Success.
Bishops tend to be better pieces than knights when the position is wide open. Knights tend to be better pieces in closed positions because they are the only ones that can jump over pieces.
Remember that even though a bishop is blocked by its pawns, it is not always bad.
Sometimes the bishop performs a crucial defensive task supporting a pawn that keeps your king safe.
When your opponent is stuck with a bad bishop, avoid exchanging it for one of your pieces. A simple middlegame strategy when your opponent has a bad piece is to exchange all the other pieces.
How to Avoid Getting Bad Pieces
Exchanging his good pieces allows you to enter an endgame where you are effectively playing a piece up.
Understanding the pawn structures of your chosen opening will help you avoid ending up in positions with bad pieces. An excellent example of this is Black’s light-squared bishop in the French Defense.
When you include the French Defense in your opening repertoire, learning how to activate this bishop is an essential part of your opening study.
Anatoly Karpov is a master at taking advantage of poorly placed pieces. In his game against Joel Lautier, there is an extremely dramatic example of a bad bishop.
Anatoly Karpov – Joel Lautier, 1992, 1-0, Biel Round 1, Biel SUI
Check out the following video in which GM Damian Lemos provides some valuable chess strategy tips for beginners:
Why Is It Important to Learn These Beginner Chess Tips?
Many beginner chess players suffer frustrating experiences during their first chess games. They get mated quickly. Or lose control of their positions without even recognizing what happened. At other times they stalemate their opponents with many extra pieces, throwing away a win for only a draw.
Every chess player remembers the days when they tried to capture as many pieces as possible without any significant clue about how to checkmate the opponent with all the extra pieces.
- Want to learn more about chess openings? Check out this article: Best Chess Openings – A Definitive Guide.
These situations can be very discouraging, especially for children getting started on a chess career. Following the above-mentioned chess strategy tips for beginners can help you avoid them.
Taking into account these beginner chess tactics, the Italian game for White with 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 and the Sicilian Defense for Black with 1. e4 c5 are pretty easy openings that follow very logical patterns. They are easy to understand for beginners.
Chess Strategy Training
Chess tactics often decide the chess games of players of all levels. For that reason, one of our main chess strategy tips for beginners is to start getting to know tactical themes like pins, forks, double attacks, and discovered checks right from the beginning of your chess career.
Remember, every great chess player started out as a beginner. To go further in chess be sure to read this educational guide on what it takes to become a chess grandmaster.
Don’t be fooled into thinking these strategies no longer apply if you aren’t a beginner. Even the strongest chess players in the world get punished when they ignore developing pieces.
The earlier you learn to apply these chess strategies in your game, the sooner they will become good habits.
An excellent way to practice is to choose one chess strategy as the theme for your game. Play every move with this chess strategy in mind.
You could decide to make centralization your chosen chess strategy and bring all your pieces towards the center. Or you might decide to make rapid development your chosen strategy and play gambit openings.