No player is perfect – everyone has made beginner chess mistakes at some point.
Not only the young and inexperienced, but even older and wiser heads commit blunders from time to time. No doubt about that! But the really fundamental questions are about what kind of beginner chess mistakes they make, how many they make and what the consequences are.
A person who starts engaging in something new like a club, a new sport, or any new hobby will never be a master right from the start. To become really good at something, it requires a lot of effort and an ability to reflect on yourself. And one thing that always exists on the route to becoming successful – we should learn how to deal with mistakes, losses and frustrations.
Chess is surely not an exception from that rule. Any master, just like any beginner, makes mistakes throughout their whole career. Magnus Carlsen, the World Chess Champion, can make mistakes just like a kid from your neighborhood who only started playing chess yesterday! And both have to work hard to improve and to avoid those mistakes in order to become a better player.
In the following article, we want to help you avoid those beginner chess mistakes. Let’s show you the most common beginner chess mistakes, so you don’t repeat them!
Avoiding Beginner Chess Mistakes
Before the Game
Immediately after the pairings are published during a tournament, many beginners search for the rating of their opponent. Then – based simply on that rating – either they start worrying and doubt their own skills, or they get extremely self-confident and are convinced of their victory. That’s a huge beginner chess mistake, and it can result in throwing away unnecessary games.
Be aware that a rating is just a number! You and your opponent are people, and he isn’t a computer with a certain rating. So, focus on the game – instead of deciding it before it has started. No need to be afraid of better players – do your best, and learn from your games (both while they are happening, and afterwards, while analyzing them).
Another mistake that beginners often make is that they don’t properly focus on their games. It is extremely important to put all your concentration on the game to perform well. Of course, during tournaments there are many chess friends to meet and various topics to discuss. However, if you aim to perform well, you have to focus!
One thing that can be helpful to achieve good concentration is to sit down at the chess board some 5 minutes before the game starts. Cool down, and get in the zone! If you have to hurry and arrive at the board too late, unfortunately it often ends in rash and quick moves. What’s more, many chess players walk around the playing hall while the opponent is thinking, and chat with others. That’s also a problem, because all the communication during a game distracts you from your thoughts, plans and calculations. Arrive in time and focus as much as possible.
If you want to become an excellent chess player, we have another little tip for you: eat healthy food and get enough sleep before a chess game. It’s much better to have plenty of energy, instead of feeling tired at the start of a game, or feeling drowsy after eating a heavy lunch.
During the Opening
One of the common beginner chess mistakes in the opening is that players tend to make many moves with the pawns and neglect the development of their pieces. Never forget: a pawn cannot move backwards! If you’ve moved the pawn, it’s impossible to undo the move. Be careful with the pawns and try to develop all your pieces right at the start of the game.
A further problem is also that amateurs move the same piece twice in the opening. This loses tempo, and it means that you don’t develop your other pieces quickly enough. Before you know it, your opponent is ready with their development, while your pieces are still passive.
Also, an issue is that amateurs often don’t focus enough on controlling the center of the chess board. This is super important, because your pieces should have as much space to move around as possible.
Additionally, you must never forget the king in the opening! That’s why castling early is essential, otherwise, your opponent might surprise you with an unexpected mate.
In the Middlegame
An all-too-common beginner mistake is simply playing too quickly. Don’t hurry! Not in the opening, not in the middlegame and not in the endgame. One wrong move can quickly lose the whole game, so better to check your intended move two or three times before touching the piece.
Because of hastily played moves, blunders occur frequently in the games of beginners. To avoid blunders, it’s important to take enough time to think. Don’t forget: it’s crucial to train yourself in tactics. If you solve puzzles on a regular basis, the probability that you will recognize certain patterns in your games will increase immensely.
Another frequent mistake is that many amateurs play without a plan – or if they have one, they only focus on their own thoughts, ignoring what the opponent is up to. This can lead to extreme passivity or, on the other hand, to extremely risky play. Both usually lead to a painful result. To develop meaningful plans instead of moving some pieces randomly, you must have good knowledge about the opening that you play. For sure, it’s essential to consider your opponent’s plans and not only your own.
It happens very often that amateurs’ games finish before reaching the endgame – often due to blunders or other beginner chess mistakes made throughout the game. For that reason, many beginners are not familiar with playing endgames and have only very little practice in that area.
That’s why practice is not enough to be successful in endgames. In this stage of the game, it’s crucial to make very precise moves and not waste your time. It’s helpful to become familiar with certain theoretical positions – then you’ll find you can win an advantageous endgame, or save a draw in a unfavorable position.
One factor often overlooked by beginners is that in the endgame the role of the king changes. Many fail to activate their kings in time, hesitating because the king must always be protected. Nevertheless, you need your king as an active fighting unit during the endgame! Don’t underestimate his power and involve him in the battle.
Last but not least, many beginners stalemate their opponents’ kings, despite having a huge material advantage – and that’s frustrating! That’s why you should study simple theory on avoiding stalemates, and take your time to win at the end of the game to avoid such a sad outcome.
After the Game
After you have signed your result on the scoresheet, the game shouldn’t be forgotten. Especially when beginners lose, they let their emotions get the better of them and aren’t able to control them. That’s a huge beginner chess mistake! Don’t be frustrated, but instead analyze your mistakes so that you can learn and profit from them. As they say, don’t get mad, get even – and win the next time!
For example, it is always helpful to analyze the game with your opponent. That way you can find out what they were thinking and planning, and you can learn from them critiquing your moves.
Finally, it is advisable not to throw your lost games in the waste paper basket, but to save them in a database so you can always access them and analyze them at home with a computer chess program – or even better, with a study partner or trainer.
We hope that you’ve learned a lot about the most common beginner chess mistakes from our article and will profit from our advice in your future chess career! If you think we’ve forgotten any other frequent mistakes that beginners make, then feel free to leave a comment.