Chess For Novices - A Guide for Fresh Beginners and Aspiring Novices

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Becoming a Strong Chess Tournament Player (Part 2)

Thought Process and Time Management

In chess, your thought process is the method you use to select a move during your turn. Most novices have a random thought process. Almost all strong players go through careful and rigorous thinking while choosing a move to play.

Many advanced player's go through this process subconsciously. For novices, we recommend first implementing a simple conscious thought process. As you improve over time, this method will become second nature.

You'll find the details in our article on Improving your Chess Thought Process. Read it and follow the advice.

Time management in chess refers to how long you take to make each move. Typically, novices make the mistake of moving too fast. For these type of players, time management is about learning to slow down and play carefully. More advanced players often have the habit of taking too long, and getting into time trouble. For these players, time management is about practicing and sticking with a time budgeting system.

In tournament chess and competitive online play, the clock is a critical part of the game. Learning to effectively manage the clock and make the best use of your time will help you become a strong player.

Read this great article by NM Dan Heisman: Time Management During a Chess Game.

Playing Games

This is the fun stuff! In order to improve, you must play lots and lots of games. If you're truly interested in becoming a strong player, you need to start playing longer/slower games. G90 (both players start with 90 minutes on their clock) games or longer are ideal. The reason for playing longer games is that they force you to practice deep calculations and visualizations. They also provide a better opportunity to put your tactical and strategic knowledge into use. Rapid and blitz games are still good, but nothing will help your chess more than slow games. Ironically, the best way to improve at blitz is to play slow chess! The best blitz players in the world happen to also be the best slow players. And they all got good by playing slow chess!

It's usually difficult to find long games online. This is why OTB (over the board) play is important. If you're new to OTB play, it can be intimidating to get involved. But it shouldn't be! OTB chess clubs and tournaments are truly what chess is all about. We've put together an article here to inspire you to take the next step: Getting into Over the Board Chess.

But you can't always be playing live games. The convenience and anonimity of online play makes it ideal for training purposes. Check out our article on Places to Play Chess Online

At this point, we don't recommend focusing your play on computer chess. Despite their calculation abilities, computers still can't properly immitate human play. If you want to be able to beat other people, then you need to focus your practice on games with other people.

It's important to play frequently in order to stay sharp and build upon what you learn. We recommend playing 1-2 slow (ie G90) rated games per week. If you take part in weekend tournaments, you will obviously have weeks with more slow games. You can also play as many rapid/blitz games as you like - but don't get too addicted! Remember: long games will help you improve much faster than blitz or rapid games.

Analyzing your Games

You must record all of your slow games for review afterwards. This will allow you to systematically identify and eliminate your mistakes.

There are several ways you can analyze your game. Try the ideas out below and find out which ones work best for you.

Analyzing your games is essential in order to identify and correct your weaknesses. Through analysis, you can turn a painful loss into a great learning experience.

As you review, spend a bit of time analyzing the specific opening/endgames that occur during your games. In this way, you can expand your opening and endgame knowledge in the areas that will have the most effect on your play.

Back - Next
Chess Improvement - Table of Contents
Beginner Level
Novice Level - Board Vision - Part 2
Tournament Level - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Thought Process
Best Books for Novices - Part 2 - Part 3