Chess is a complex game and it takes many games to become a stronger player. However, for a new player to improve, where to begin?
Whether at home training or playing at tournaments, many young players like to move pieces around, hoping for something that favors them to happen. But moving aimlessly will not help you improve.
Instead, start to ask questions on any given tasks. For an example, when playing practice games, ask the question what is the purpose of each move.
As you practice, it will become easier to ask good questions, and sooner it will become second nature.
Let’s discuss Chess Questions from three perspectives.
- Stalemate prevention when winning
- How to avoid blunders
- What to look for in a puzzle
Beginners often lose half-points (wins become draws; draws become loses) due to simple mishaps which are often avoidable.
Stalemate in an endgame with many more pieces is a common occurrence.
In the puzzle above, black is up a queen and a rook, but plans to make the highlighted move. With a bit rush, the game became a draw (stalemate) immediately!
How can we avoid it?
Practice asking questions!
Before you make the move, ask yourself does the king have a square to move? If not, then we need to change our move to avoid stalemate.
Similarly, if there are pawns or other pieces, asking yourself if there are any legal moves by opponent will help avoid stalemate when you are up materials in endgames.
Black to move
Should black take on the e4-pawn? If that happens, we’ll be have a oh-no moment of simple blunder.
What’s the problem? It looks like after Nxe4, black wins a pawn after the trade of knights.
However, if you look closer, after white captures back black’s e4-knight, the d4-knight is actually protected by the rook, and thus is not free anymore.
Practice asking what your opponent will do after your move. Then you’ll start looking more than one move and avoid simple blunders.
What are you looking for?
White to Move
This is the famous Reti’s puzzle.
For many beginners, the first instinct is to find a way to win black’s queen.
With further inspection, we can see white is down a queen and a knight. Hence, even if white wins the queen back, s/he will still be down a knight.
If you have not seen this puzzle before, try to solve it yourself. Hint: If you are down a queen and more, it’s time to look for checkmate.
Once you know the question, the answer often appears more straightforward.
As you get stronger, these question and answers will become a second nature, and you don’t even need to ask to know the answer. But to start off, you have to practice.
Now go play, and write down a few questions you want to ask!