Chess Development is a Marathon

Chess development is a long game. Maybe it is the first true marathon for a child, where multiple delayed gratification will occur before a breakthrough happens.


The chart above is my rating history in the U.S.

We can see there is generally an upward trend but with downward slips from time to time.

This is the history where my chess development has already stabilized  a bit as my chess history before coming to U.S. was not captured, where the rating fluctuations would be  more volatile.

Plus, at the time I was playing, there are roughly one tournament a month, at the most for me. Imagine today’s scholastic chess, where one tournament a week would not be considered as abnormal.

Embrace the marathon, and embrace the ‘slow’ days, take one step at a time, each step will become a part of the journey.  Focus on effort, the results will come eventually.

Learning Chess: Getting Started

Learning chess is not an easy task. There are many concepts to familiarize, and each one will take more than 100s of puzzles and many tournament experiences to fully grasp.

For a beginner, this Wikipedia page  gives a glimpse through all the concepts. But that’s like asking a first grader to take a look of all the math terms to learn from first grade until senior year in high school.


Let’s simplify the process.

As an absolute new player: below are the fundamental tasks to learn before starting play games.

  1. Setting up the board
  2. How the pieces move
  3. Check and Checkmate

Once you have a good understanding of the above, it’s time to play against friends and families.

Have fun playing!

Chess Sacrifice

Generally, before we capture, we want to make sure the trade favors us. That is we gain more points from the trade.

But sometimes, we trade for less but gain much more immediately after. This is called a sacrifice.

Question of the Day: Why is the capture above a good sacrifice for white?

Attack the Defender

In chess, one piece can protect another. And in the position below Black’s knight on f7 is protecting the bishop on d6.

White to Move

Here we know black’s knight is protecting the bishop.

We should consider attacking the knight, forcing it to move away, and then capture the bishop for free.

Question of the Day: What is white’s move to attack black’s knight?

Protect Your Piece

When your piece is under attack, besides moving away, another good strategy is to use one other piece to protect the under attacked piece.

White to Move

White’s bishop is under attack (who’s attacking it?). A good move would be Nc3 (Knight from b1 to c3), which protects the bishop.

Since a queen is worth 10 points, and bishop is worth 3 points, it would not be a good idea for black to trade the queen for a bishop.

Question of the Day: There are four other possibilities to protect the bishop. What are they?

Look at the Whole Board

The chess board is an 8×8 square. But often we are too focused on one part, and forgetting to look at the WHOLE board.

In the diagram above, white is attacking on g7, but black protects it with the knight on e8.

Question of the Day: White to move and win material. Hint: Look on the queenside as well.

Undesired Two on One

In an earlier post, we talked about the favorable two on one.

But are all two on one captures good for us?

Question of the Day: Is the capture good in the diagram above? Why or why not?

Queen vs. Two Rooks

A queen is worth 10 points (some prefer 9 points). A rook is worth 5 points.

Hence roughly two rooks are equivalent to a queen.

Let’s show this with an example.

Can anyone make progress?

Hardly. There’s no way for white to win one of the black’s rooks, as all black has to do is use the rooks to protect each other.

Similarly, there’s no way for black to trap white’s queen.

Therefore, they are roughly equal.

Question of the Day: How do you can compare a Queen vs. a Rook and a Bishop?

Castle Early

The three opening strategies in chess are

The reason for castle early is to put our king in the safety soon.

Question of the Day: Which king is safer in the position above?

Develop Pieces

Pieces in chess are like solider on a battle field. We don’t want them sleep at home all the time.

That’s why we want to develop them as fast as possible.

Question of the Day: Which side is more developed in the position above?