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Basic Chess Tips and Strategies

HAPPY 2023! The main goal of chess is to checkmate the enemy. A checkmate means to attack your opponent's King and leave it with no more legal moves to escape. Strategies help achieve checkmate, but as a warning, if not planned well, they can distract you from your goal in the game. You may find your techniques as you gain more experiences playing the game. As an artist, I utilize a more creative approach to the game and here are some of my elementary tips and strategies:

Be creative. Try being more artistic when analyzing your chess game. Imagine it as a theatrical play rather than a math problem. Imagine the story of war and drama between the queens, the bishops, knights, pawns, etc. Sometimes, I see the rook as a symbol for the archers in your kingdom attacking from the tower's rooftop. The pawns could represent your soldiers in the first line of defence/attack. Sometimes, I imagine dragons instead of a bishop. Maybe the archer infantry (rook) is prepared for the invasion of the enemy's dragon (bishop), but perhaps you have three units of first-line soldiers (pawns) to protect you (the King). The sky is the limit when you are creative, and you will likely enjoy the game with this approach.

Be the King or the Emperor/Empress. This vision can help you be more engaged and vigilant in your moves. Imagine yourself as the leader of your kingdom, and your opponent wants to invade your land. You are the most critical unit in the game because your defeat means the downfall of your land. Your army will protect you and destroy your enemy's King, even if it means death for them. The concept is similar to how the game originated. Chess dates back to ancient India, about the 6th century at the indigenous peoples' age as they learned to map out their territories to strategize against colonizers. The word chess is an archaic word for "King."

Control the centre of the board and understand the chess map. These are staple tips from chess coaches. Consider the chess board a map where the map's centre is the city's capital or the Downtown/Centre-ville. Whoever owns this area is likely to win the game. Depending on the scenario, putting the pieces in the centre of the board can give it more opportunities rather than being on the side. For example, a knight has eight possible moves at the centre of the board versus four possible moves when tucked on the side of the board.


Understand the value of the pieces/characters. The numerical values in the game can be helpful when strategizing. The scoring system is only for guidelines, but again, the fundamental determinant of the game is not solely quantitative. But chances are, if you have more pieces, you are a stronger kingdom, but in some circumstances, fewer pieces can open opportunities to checkmate your opponent. There are many possible scenarios, but a checkmate is a checkmate, and you always keep going as long as your King is alive. Your opponent might blunder; who knows? If you wonder why the King doesn't have a numerical value below, it is because it represents you, so always be vigilant of yourself as the King of your empire while in the game. Some chess players may put a relative point value for the King depending on the combination of circumstances.

Perform SWOT Analysis. This tip might be too advanced for many beginners, but give it a shot, and this technique might work for you. If not, thanks in advance for trying. Sometimes, this strategy can help beginners when they don't know what to do. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Identifying these four areas could help you analyze plans and execute your moves. Strengths mean your inventory of things you can do, while weaknesses are the things you can not do. Opportunities are your future strengths, while threats are your future weaknesses. It takes practice to analyze which of the possible moves will provide you with more strengths and opportunities and which will prevent you from having more weaknesses and threats. You may also examine your opponent's SWOT for a more thorough analysis.

In conclusion, these tips are not exhausted and there are many more out there that might work for you but might not work for me. Joining a chess club allows you explore more games and meet other chess players to practice with. There are also many platforms to play chess with another player online. If a strategy fails and even if your queen got captured, do not give up. The game is not over until there's a checkmate. Not giving up might be challenging in some circumstance but persisting through until checkmate will develop the sportsmanship in you.

About the author of this article:

President of Canmore Chess Club

President of Banff Chess Club

President of Mînî Thnî Chess Club

Director of the Board of Alberta Chess Association

Owner of chessempire.ca (Chess Empire of Canada)

Host of Headstrong - Mental Health Commission of Canada Bow Valley Food Alliance Coordinator

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