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How to get good at chess

How to get good at chess
You don’t have to be a polymath like Beth Harmon in The Queen’s Gambit to improve your game


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How to get good at chess

How to get good at chess

We can only get good at chess by loving it.

Every game should teach you something. Play people better than you and be prepared to lose. Then you will learn.




The beginner chess player

Start to set out the pawns, then add the pieces. Understand how a pair of bishops can dominate the board, or how rooks can take pawns in an endgame.

Once you know the basics, start using computers and online resources to play and analyse games. Don't just play against the computer - find human opponents online or in person.



Study the games of great chess masters

Find a player you identify with and follow their careers, such as Bobby Fisher, Morphy, Alekhine, Capablanca, Tal, Korchnoi, Shirov, and other legendary figures.

They also have fascinating life stories you can get familiar with.



Joining chess clubs

A serious player should join their local chess club. Players can also keep their brains active online, but beware that some online players are likely to be cheating, making it hard for you to assess your play.

If you want to start playing over the board tournaments, you will need to join the chess federation in your country. After a certain number of official games, you will get a rating and can then start being paired with players of your own strength.




Early European chess players changed the game

Early European chess players changed the game

Early European chess players turned the chess game to reflect their society's political structure.

  • Originally, chess was a game of war. Horsemen, elephant-riding...

Chess: The transformation of the queen

  • Initially, the chess queen could only move one square.
  • In the 15th century, the queen gained unlimited movement in any direction.
  • The queen's elevation to the strongest piece appeared first in Spain during the time when the powerful Queen Isabella was on the throne.

Chess is 'life in miniature'

The 13th-century Dominican friar Jacobus de Cessolis described the ways each chess piece contributes to a harmonious social order.

  • He distinguished paws by trade and connected each to its royal partner.
  • The first pawn is a farmer and tied to the castle because he provides food to the kingdom.
  • The second pawn is a blacksmith who makes armour for the knight.
  • The third is an attorney who helps the bishop with legal matters.

Jacobus's allegory becomes the central message of the mini-series "The Queen's Gambit." Beth becomes a figurative queen after she learns to work with other players. Just like the pawn, she converts in her final game.

Chess Is More Than a Game

Chess Is More Than a Game

Chess first originated in its early form more than 1,500 years ago in India or China, but the modern variant has been around since the 15th century.

Chess played by the ave...

Ask the Right Questions to Narrow Focus

  • When novice players play chess, they focus on what to do with the pieces. They may try and visualise a few steps ahead, but mostly just react to the board without considering the reasons behind the pieces.
  • Professional chess players focus on how their opponents think. They seek to ask the right questions to understand their opponent's process.

Whether in chess or life, don't be fooled by what's on the surface. The best approach is to have a framework in place to trim the fat and focus on what matters. Ask enough pointed questions to lead you to clear answers.

Balance Calculation with Imagination

In chess, students learn famous patterns and tactics. If an opponent does one thing, you are expected to react with another.

While it is good to recognize appropriate cues and employ the tactics you have learned, sometimes it is good to look towards where you want to end up and fill the gaps in a new way rather than using the past to move in a predictable direction.

one more idea

Hack the 10,000 hour rule

This rule was developed by Anders Ericsson and popularized by Malcolm Gladwell and states that we need  10,000 hours of deliberate practice to succeed at anything.

This may create f...

Plus, Minus, Equal

  • Plus: Find mentors, real (maybe someone from your work) or virtual (from books).  Learn from someone with more experience than you.
  • Minus: Explain what you are learning while you are learning it. Teach someone with less experience than you.
  • Equal: Find people who love what you love and spend as much time talking about this shared area as you can.


Every skill worth learning has dozens of micro-skills.

List the micro-skills. Figure out what you are good at, what you are bad at, and how you can learn to be better at each.