Learning how to develop an effective chess strategy is the key to mastering the game. What makes chess so mentally stimulating is that you have to constantly be anticipating your opponent’s next move, and be willing to adjust your strategy accordingly.
While you can be successful by focusing only a strong offensive game plan, to truly master the game you have to be able to play defensively as well. You have to learn the difference between strategy and reaction.
You’ve got to be anticipating your opponent’s next three moves and building a strong strategy in response. This may mean you are not able to forward with your initial strategy.
Here are some key concepts to keep in mind when learning how to develop an effective chess strategy:
If you focus only on moving your pieces vertically across the board, you become too predictable. Spread your pieces out horizontally which will leave your opponent guessing what your next move will be.
While you want to spread out as suggested above, you want to maintain a bit of balance on the board. For example—In the early part of the game you want to stay within the first four squares on the board, until you have a minimum of two pieces surrounding your forward piece. The reasoning behind this is that your opponent will hesitate from attempting to take a piece otherwise.
Take One For The Team
If you see that your opponent may be setting up a play to place your King into check, sacrifices one of your lesser pieces. This give you time to get your King in a more protected position.
You have to be thinking about multiple pieces and multiple strategies at once. Most importantly, you need to constantly have a “Plan B” with each move you make and each move your opponent makes. For example—if you find a great opening to capture an opponent’s piece, check to make sure this won’t leave an opening for them to then capture one of your pieces. Don’t abandon your defense for an unexpected offensive opening.
One At A Time
During the open of the game you only want to move each piece once or twice. This is beneficial for two key reasons. First it will make your game plan less visible and secondly moving multiple pieces forward will push a wall towards your opponent. For example—Move one piece out two spaces, then on your third turn alter to a second game piece, then move a third piece.
While castling with a rook places your King into safety, you want to save this move as a last resort. Only castle when your opponent is one move away from a check or checkmate. Always having a rook on standby for a castle can squash your opponent’s strategy.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
The next method in learning how to develop and effective chess strategy is referred to as the French Defense. What you do is to mirror your opponents opening move. This gives you the upper hand, because now they have to devise a new strategy. Keep in mind that this means you have to be extremely adaptable as you will not create your strategy until you know what move your opponent is making.
Master the Sicilian Defense
This defense strategy comes into play when you counter an e4 move with a c5 move. While this may seem initially counterproductive as you are sacrificing a pawn, it gives you an edge. Once your opponent takes your pawn, they are now pulled into your defensive line, leaving them more vulnerable.
Learning how to develop an effective chess strategy takes time, practice, and patience and these steps will get you heading in the right direction.