How To Calculate The Best Moves In Chess
In this article you'll going to learn how to get better at chess by learning practical calculation techniques. Let's dive in into amateurs mind and compare the thinking way of amateur against strong player. Calculation is not just tactical puzzles and after few minutes you'll understand why!
Let's start with a fact. The number ONE chess ability is to calculate variations (correct continuations). You already know that or you understood it during your chess games. Your opening theory will end at some point because your opponent is going to play a new or an unexpected move. At this point you need to start calculating correctly. You need to foreseen the future actions.
How do the best chess players in the world always seem to find the right moves? Let's talk for a very common difference between strong and weak players. Strong players doesn't play moves and simply hope they will work! This means that you need to find your next move based on logical conclusions and in the same time try to predict your opponent's reactions.
Yes, you are right. Strong players use tactics effectively and this is a key difference. There are ton of different tactical motives; for example you can take a look at LiChess website → https://lichess.org/training/themes You can try learn them for free on lichess but it could be a problem...
How can you apply the tactics in your real games?
I know many players with hight rating on puzzles but very low strength on blitz or rapid. Is this happened to you? Don't worry. I'm going to give you the solution! In order to use effectively tactics into your games you need a simple thinking system.
Your Thinking System
At this point please let me share with you a simple but highly effective Thinking System! First things first please let me ask you this: How do you win a chess game? The answer is simple; by attacking. Even if you have King and Queen against the enemy King you need to attack him in order to win, right? Of course this is a simplistic example but it can work even from the first moves.
The next important question is what you should attack? Again there is no hard to separate the enemy army. Thus, we can attack the enemy king, pieces, or pawns. However, why we separete the enemy pieces like that?
The king is rather a static piece and we can attack it easily. Thanks to it's nature can move only one square at time, so it is slow. Moreover, if you manage to capture (checkmate) the enemy King you'll win. Our task could be easier if there are not much friendly pieces around him.
If we just attack one piece it can run away; for example as we can see in Alekhine Defense (1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. c4 Nb6). White is attacking the Knight with the pawn but the Knight can escape. The idea behind this opening is to challenge you win more space and then counter-attack your pawns with his army. Thus, you need to be carefull and not advance too much.
Here you may wondering how can I win the enemy pieces? In order to do that you need more advance techniques! For example double attacks or the pin. Pin is the tactical motive that immobilize (stop) the enemy pieces in order to attack them later.
Chess Tactics | The 5 Most Amazing Pins in Chess" in order to help you understand all the tactics and how to apply them in your real practical games.
Check the games below (there are more than one game)
Last but not least, we can attack the pawns. Intermediate to advance chess players are protecting their King , by casteling, and know how to control their pieces. Usually they are overprotecting their pieces and know the basic tactical motives. In the light of that it is more difficult to attack their king directly or win a single piece. In this case you need to attack their pawns.
The pawns stand next to each other and we call their formation pawn structure. Players has to move their pawns in order to free their pieces and for that reason they create weaknesses. Weaknesses are weak pawns, for example isolated, backward, etc. Your task is to find the weak pawns and attack them. They don't have the same value as the king but they are very slow on movements and if you have an extra pawn you can try to promote it into a new Queen. In this way you can get a material advantage.
Everything is nice and cool isn't it? We should ask ourself why we should attack first? What is this key factor tha gives us the right to attack? We can answer this with the activity! Yes, if we have more active pieces comparing to our opponent we can, and we should (!), attack him.
How can I understand an active piece? There are 5 different factors that can underline a piece activity. Today I'll share with you the most important that works approximately in 60% of the cases. This is how many squares they are controling. As you can see in the diagram below I have far more active pieces, because mine are controling more squares.
My opponent is an intermediate level player and right now I cannot neither attack his king nor capture any of his pieces. Thus, I'm focusing on his pawns. He manage to defend stubbornly but finally I manage to perform a cool checkmate. I recommend you go thought the entire game.
In order to master skill, on how to get active pieces, you're welcome to follow Kesaris Training Program, which starts from 800 ELO points and goes up to 2000 rating.
Know Opening Theory
Another factor that will help you get active pieces is the opening knowledge. Choosing good openings and know them by hard will give a fantastic boost. Again you're welcome to check LiChess free opening tool, LINK: https://lichess.org/analysis#explorer but if it's complicate to you and you'd like to understand every single move you're welcome to study my opening package. You can take a look by clicking here.
Is this everything that I need in order to calculate correctly?
There is another one very important skill. You need to VISUALIZE the future actions that will take place on the chess board. What is visualization? Is another ability which will help you to imagine the chess board into your head, without moving the pieces! And at this point you may wondering... Can I improve that skill?
Defianatly yes! The World Record made by GM Timur Gareyev who manage to play 48 boards simultaneously blind (his his eyes covered). Maybe it's impossible for you and me to do the same, but in the other hand it's easy to play only one game blind. I can do that easily and I can teach you how to have success and fun with it.
The only thing that you need to do is to follow my Training Chess Program, you can start from the very-very basics and move on to more advance techniques and exercises. The fist step is to learn the color of the squares; for example what is the color of e5? Even a four years old child can do that.
One Very Common Mistake !
As we mention above you can use the thinking system. You need to attack. You need to attack either the king, the pieces, or the pawns. In order to attack you need activity. However I should mention here a very typical mistake that usually happen. I played many people that try to use the above system of thinking unsuccessfully! The system is OK but the way that they are use it is wrong.
You need a balance between activity an attack.
Many people try to start an attack instantly by sacrificing material in the opening or using traps. Indeed it has fun and it can work with beginner players. Opening traps are the number one topic on chess YouTube videos and I do a lot of them. For example the one famous is the Blackburne Schilling Trap, 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nd4 . Black sacrificed a pawn and move the same piece twice.
We should ask here, has he the right to attack? And the answer is NO! Why? Because he doesn't have active pieces. Black's strategy based on the trap, Nxe5. However, after the best move 4.0-0 Black will face real problems because White has true development and more active pieces.
First you need to build your game, by activating your pieces and only then start attacking. If you mixed these things you'll not be an attacker but a fool...
Top 10 Chess Traps || Chess
Question: I know by hard the thinking system you mentioned above but still some players have better results comparing to mine. What is wrong?
This is another very important question. Knowing the thinking system is the base. Thanks to the internet, YouTube, and thousand of chess courses almost all of the players know this system. Similary, every good coach is teaching it to their pupils.
In order to be succesful you need a lot of different motives. For example, you need to master different motives in order to be succesful, like double attack, pin, skewer, mill, etc.
How can I master a skill?
The solution is easy. (a) You need to see a good theoretical lesson, a lesson that a teacher had prepared very well, with illustrative examples. (b) You need to solve approximately 10 test positions in this particular skill. (c) You need to apply this new knowledge to practice, into your practical games.
Selecting the Best Moves
There are endless moves, hundreds of possibilities and responses, right? Plus you have a chess clock so you need to calculate in limited time. We are not computers with endless brain power, so we need to select the best moves only. Similarly we need to select them fast. Here I'd like to share with you two ideas that can help you.
Idea no 01 | Strategy
By improving your strategical understanding will help you to find the "right" moves. For example, conquer the center of the board, attack weak pawns, deal flank attack with center counter-attack, Knights on the rim are grim, etc. Similary you can learn more advance strategy, for example the best placement for the pieces at Carlsbad - Karpov structure.
In order to improve your general strategy and enrich your techniques you're welcome to follow Training Chess Program, LINK: https://www.rules-chess-strategies.com/en/all-course/product/135-beginner-package The idea that you can use in your future games is this. Try to control as many squares as possible and if you have grater activity comparing to your opponent, then attack him-her!
Tip – Idea: Strategy minimize your options; you can select sound moves.
Idea no 02 | Tactics
In order to limit opponent's replies you need to force him-her play something! Checks, captures and very strong threats can force your opponent to react.
So you need to finding such moves first and make this skill your second nature! This is a key point which I decided to create the course on tactics and calculation in order to give you more tactical motives, powerful tools that you can use against your opponents.
Tactics is the only training that can boost your performs 200%! Of course many things are important like strategy, openings, endgame knowledge, etc. However, then number one ability is tactics. Without them you cannot play good chess.
Please here let me clarify that I don't mean to play super sharp lines or try to find the only move when 3 of your pieces are hanging... You need tactics for three reasons.
- 02 – a) You need to know in advance what your opponent would like to do and try to avoid his tactical possibilities.
- 02 – b) When the game is about equal, a sudden tactical blow can dramatically change the evaluation of the game by giving you a winning advantage.
- 02 – c) When you played a cool strategical – positional game and your opponent is on the ropes you need to deliver the final killing blow. You can do that by tactics and forcing moves.
Tip – Idea: Tactics will widen your horizon; you can select very forcing moves.
What is the Good Calculation?
Can You Find The Winning Tactical Blow?
How to Solve Chess Tactics | Puzzles Training
Chess calculation is the ability to foreseen the moves ahead. Your don't play the present, you play the future! You need to foreseen what will happen after some moves. In my opinion this is one of the key abilities that categorize chess players. For example 1000 rated player can see only one move ahead, his own. A 1100 player can see one clear move ahead, his own and his opponent's reply. 1200 can see 2 moves ahead, and 1900 player can see approximately 9.
Similarly this is a way that you can rate the chess puzzles. According on how many moves the puzzle requires from you to find, you can categorize it as easy, intermediate, or difficult. For example please let me share with you a 1400 elo points puzzle. You need to calculate at least 4 moves ahead and assess the final position.
One idea to rate the puzzle is how many moves you need to find and the second idea is how diffiuclts the moves are. For example in the below game you can calculate 6 moves ahead but they are easy because we need to calculate only one line.
Tip – Idea: Frequently train your skills by playing and by solving puzzles // training positions Here are some tests for you: