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How to think in Chess – Discipline is required…

How to think in chess and to be able to find high quality chess moves. That’s what we all like to know, don’t we? I try to think about this problem on a more theoretical level first.

You don’t get the results you want?

  • Then there must be something wrong with your actions (chess moves).
  • If your actions (chess moves) are wrong, look at your thoughts and emotions.
  • If your thoughts and emotions are wrong, look at your beliefs.
  • If you can change your beliefs:

  • This will automatically change your thoughts and emotions.
  • And this will automatically change your actions. (chess moves)
  • And this will change your experiences and results!

What you believe is important

You probably think that belief is a term used in religion and has nothing to do with how to think in chess. In many tactical chess positions this is right. You just calculate the variation and that’s it. But your whole situation in general is affected by belief to a certain extent when you play chess.

Example: Let’s say you believe that you are an attacking player. This idea is deeply ingrained within your mind. When you reach a chess position where just patience and positional play is required you often try to attack and you might sacrifice a pawn just to satisfy this idea to attack. In the end you lose the endgame because you are a pawn down as the attack has been defended successfully.

Example: You believe that you must win this game because you have lost the last one. Your opponent has a lower rating and you must win. This belief might cause you to overextend your position and you lose. Your chess thinking is blurred and you can’t evaluate the position objectively anymore.

Example: You believe that you should stick to a certain opening because you think it’s strong. In reality this opening is inferior and not played by grandmasters because Black can equalize quickly. To stick to this opening will cost you points in the long run, but you just don’t want to realize that. This is like to believe that smoking cigarettes can’t do you any harm.

Endless Chess Thoughts…

How to think in Chess effectively?
Don’t think the same thoughts on and on in endless circles!

how to think in chess

How to think in chess

Check his last move and find out what’s going on? But don’t get paranoid!

  • Has he prepared a fork next move?
  • Can he move his knight to a strong square?
  • Does he want to trade off his inferior knight for my bishop?
  • Can he sacrifice a piece successfully next move?
  • Does he want to trade off his dead bishop for my good bishop?
  • Does he want to start a strong attack at my kingside?
  • Can he castle long?
  • Can he damage my pawn structure and is this really bad. What do I get in return?
  • Can he get the bishop pair by trading off my bishop for his knight and does this really matter in this position?
  • Do I have a weak square and how can he use it?
  • Is my kingside weakened and can he use this to start an attack against my king?
  • Can he check me somewhere?
  • Can he close the position and make my bishop dead?
  • Can he penetrate with his queen into my position?
  • and more…

How to think in chess when it is your move and you have completed the above questioning procedure?

How to think in chess

After you have checked your opponent’s move you have to think about your next move.

  • Do I have misplaced pieces at the edge of the board?
  • What is my worst piece and how can I improve it.
  • Can I prepare a kingside attack?
  • Can I improve the position of my bishop somehow?
  • Can I trade off my inferior knight for his active bishop?
  • Can I sacrifice a piece now and get good attacking chances?
  • Do I have a dead bishop and how to get rid of it?
  • Can I close the position to slow down his attack?
  • Can I castle long?
  • Can I damage his pawn structure. What does he get in return?
  • Can I get the bishop pair by trading off my knight for his bishop and does this really matter in this position?
  • Does he have a weak square and how can I use it?
  • Is his kingside weak and can I use this to start an attack against his king?
  • Can I check him somewhere and is this good?
  • Can I close the position and make his bishop dead?
  • Can I penetrate with my pieces into his position?
  • and more…

How to think in chess? Your thinking requires constant questioning. But it is necessary to know the right questions first. This will help you to ask them repeatedly all the time! This helps you to penetrate deeper into the position and to find the right move. After some time this becomes second nature and it happens on a more subconscious level.

To learn the right questions you have to study commented chess games. You try to follow the thinking process of a chess master. This will help you to understand and to adopt a similar thinking procedure in your own chess games.

How to think in chess the right way? I doubt that there is right or wrong. Some talented players read a chess position like a newspaper. They just glance over it and good moves spring to their mind. Every human being is different and the way how chess players understand the ultimate truth of a chess position (if they reach it at all) is different too.

How to think in chess might be a question that you should answer for yourself. After all, only you know how your mind works and how strong you think on a more intuitive level. But it is very useful and necessary to study commented grandmaster games to enter the world of chess thinking.

How to think in chess efficiently – learn the following steps

  • Find alternative moves. Look at candidate moves and don’t play the first move that pops up in your mind.
  • Analyze candidate moves and calculate the continuations of each. Then choose the best one.
  • Evaluate the position objectively and find out who has the better position and why. You can do this only if you know what to look for in a chess position.

    Those elements are: weak squares, disturbed coordination of pieces, running behind in development, weak kingside, attacking mark to rip apart the pawn structure, damaged pawn structure, bad bishop, better knight, piece activity etc.

    You have to evaluate the whole lot of elements and come to a final conclusion.

  • Make a plan or adjust an existing plan to the position and stick to it. Don’t play here and there, but follow your red line of play, even if you have to sacrifice material.

    Example: If you attack on the kingside then keep going and when you lose materal at the queenside then try to accelerate the speed of your kingside attack to be faster than your opponent at the queenside. Whoever comes in first wins. There is nothing about this you can do. That’s one of the laws in chess.

    If you pull back your forces from the kingside and start defending your queenside where your opponent is stronger, you will still lose most of the time as you have violated this principle. Better is to speed up your own plan and keep going and sacrifice the whole queenside if necessary. In the end you might checkmate his king with your last resources and win.

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