Ah, chess! The ancient game where warriors are made, legends are born, and everyone’s desperately trying not to be the first to lose their queen. If you’ve read our article on what we think are the most important tips to remember for making smart chess moves and have that mental checklist ready to go each time you sit down to play, you’ve made it past the basics. And now it’s time to dive deeper. These tips are a little more involved and we don’t want to get them confused with the five main tips in the first article, so you won’t see any pithy phrases to remember. That is, you’ll need to really get the gist of these in your bones. But if you’re hungry for some pro tips that’ll elevate your game, you’ve come to the right place!

1. Improving the Worst Piece:

  • Main Point: If one of your pieces isn’t actively participating, consider how you might bring it into the game. All of your pieces should be contributing to the effort as much as possible.
  • Deep Dive: Imagine your chessboard is a school dance. That knight sulking in the corner? He’s not doing the Macarena, that’s for sure. Every piece should be strutting its stuff. Therefore, taking some time to focus on identifying and improving the weakest piece helps improve your position overall. If your bishop’s stuck behind a wall of pawns, it’s time to give it some room to move. Get those wallflowers dancing!

2. Pawn Structure:

  • Main Point: Avoid creating pawn weaknesses like isolated pawns or doubled pawns. On the flip side, target and exploit such weaknesses in your opponent’s position.
  • Deep Dive: Pawns are like the bricks of your chess fortress. But let’s be real, not all bricks are placed perfectly. Sometimes, they stack up awkwardly or stand alone, like that lone Cheeto left at the bottom of the bag. Strengthen your structure and keep an eye out for those “lone Cheetos” in your opponent’s position – they’re delicious targets.

3. Open Lines:

  • Main Point: Rooks and queens become more powerful when they have open or semi-open ranks and files to operate on.
  • Deep Dive: Think of open lines like the express lanes on a freeway. Your rooks and queens are those luxury sports cars, just waiting to zoom ahead without any traffic in their way. Don’t get stuck in bumper-to-bumper when you could be flooring it down an open road!
Opening lines for your queens and rooks are smart chess moves.
Queens and rooks are most powerful when they aren’t blocked by your other pieces.

4. Maintain Initiative:

  • Main Point: Keep up the pressure and force your opponent to respond to your threats, rather than creating their own.
  • Deep Dive: Ever played a game of hot potato? Having the initiative in chess is like making sure the potato is always in your opponent’s hands. Keep them juggling, keep them reacting. The more they’re busy catching, the less they’re plotting their potato toss back at you.

5. Build Endgame Knowledge:

  • Main Point: Knowing key endgame techniques, like the Lucena position in rook endgames or the square of the pawn rule, can be the difference between winning and drawing (or losing).
  • Deep Dive: The endgame is the grand finale, the last song of the concert, the dessert after dinner. And just like not knowing the lyrics can ruin a karaoke performance, not mastering endgame techniques can fumble a winning position. Get familiar with classic endgame scenarios. The Lucena position, for instance, is like the “Bohemian Rhapsody” of chess endgames – epic, classic, and a crowd-pleaser.

And those five additional tips round out 10 top of the line tips that will help you make smart chess moves every time you sit down at the board.


We have two additional tips that are next level ways of thinking that can take your chess game even farther.

Bonus tip 1. Flexible Thinking:

  • Main Point: Be adaptable and don’t become too fixated on a single plan or idea.
  • Deep Dive: Chess is like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube that your opponent keeps twisting. Just when you think you’ve got it, everything changes. Stay adaptable, be ready to switch tactics. Remember: in chess, as in life, it’s okay to change your mind (just maybe not every other move).

Bonus tip 2. Calculating Variations:

  • Main Point: Before making a move, especially in complicated positions, it’s important to calculate potential sequences of moves and their outcomes.
  • Deep Dive: If chess had a mantra, it’d be “Think before you leap.” Or, in this case, “move.” When I was younger, I received some of the best advice I’ve ever be given – to sit on my hands. (Thanks Mrs. McDaniels!) The message was basically slow down and think before you move. Chess is like plotting the twists and turns of an epic adventure story. The protagonist can plan their attack, but will there be an unexpected plot twist? Dive deep into your imagination, anticipate your opponent’s moves, and craft a plan that applies to as many outcomes as possible!

There you have it, with these additional strategies in your toolkit, you have 10 (well, 12) of the most important chess principles in check. So take these guideline to heart and may your every move bring you closer to a triumphant checkmate!

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