11 Ways to get Better at Chess as a Beginner

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1. Play against the computer on the chess.com app.
Play short games against the computer on the chess.com app. Start out with the computer level set low (250 – 500). When you can beat it almost every game at level 500, reset the computer’s level to 600, and so on. Be sure to practice as BOTH black and white. You are not playing on a clock, so you can take plenty of time to study the board before you make each move.

2. Do chess puzzles on chess.com
These puzzles are a great way to learn about chess patterns and tactics. You can do several puzzles for free every day. You will get a “puzzle rating”. If you join chess.com at a higher paid level, you can do unlimited puzzles every day. The more puzzles you solve, the higher your puzzle rating will be. The puzzles get more difficult as you solve more of them. This is an excellent way to learn how to recognize patterns on the chess board.

3. Play online games on chess.com or Lichess against random other people. 

You can set the time control. (10 to 30 minutes per person is good to start out.) You will be paired with someone within 200 points of your rating. It’s free and a great way to practice chess from your own home, or on the school bus, in the car, etc. at any time of the day. 

4. Watch short YouTube videos about chess.
Specify chess topics for beginners in a Google search bar to start out. For example, you could google “YouTube chess lesson on how to move the chess pieces”. Usually the videos are 10 or 15 minutes long.

5. Sign up for chess club at your school. 
Chess clubs usually meet after school once a week. At some schools it is free. It is really fun and a great way to improve your game. At other schools, parents pay for one quarter or semester of weekly lessons at a time. Your school chess club may eventually register to play in “scholastic tournaments” which usually take place on a Saturday or a holiday.

6. Sign up for a summer chess camp. 
Most summer chess camps are a week long, half a day, Monday through Friday. Some chess schools also have one day chess camps on a school holiday, such as President’s Day. This is another great way to improve your game in a short term, intensive setting. It is a lot of fun and you get to meet lots of other kids who are also learning the game of chess.

7. Learn “chess variants” such as “Anti-Chess.”
These are fun for beginners and also good for learning chess skills. Variants include Bughouse, Anti-Chess, and several others. For example, in Anti-Chess, the winner is the player who can give all of their pieces away first, including the King. All pieces have the same value. The pieces capture the same way they do in regular chess. You learn a lot about how to capture in regular chess, by figuring out how to give away all your pieces!

8. Parents can hire a private chess coach for zoom or in-person lessons. 
Some coaches will come to your home to do an hour in-person lesson. Or your parents may arrange to meet the coach at a coffee shop, Taco Time or another restaurant for a private lesson.The Seattle Chess School has several great coaches for beginners, both one-on-one lessons and small group Zoom lessons. (In- person small group lessons will be starting up again soon as the danger of Covid continues to drop.)

9. Practice end-game patterns.
This is something you can work on with your coach, or at your chess club, or even by watching YouTube videos. There are many ways to checkmate with different combinations against your opponent’s King. Here are several patterns to learn about.
You have: 
R+ R + K

R + K

Q + R + K

Q + K

1 passed pawn + K

2 passed pawns + K

2 connected passed pawns + K

Q + B + K

Q + N + K

10. Do chess puzzles in a book. 
It is a good idea to set up an actual board and pieces when learning to do chess puzzles as a beginner. You set up the board just like the diagram in a puzzle book. Then take your time and try to figure out the solution. (The answers will be in the back of the book.) Most puzzle books have many puzzles in each chapter, with a different theme for each chapter, such as: checkmate in one move; checkmate in two moves; back rank checkmate; smother mate. It is a good idea to write your answers in a separate notebook, not writing in the puzzle book. That way you can do them again later. Or others can use the book later.

11. Play chess against higher level players. 
This could be a parent or grandparent, cousin, aunt or uncle, neighbor, older friend, etc. You will lose most of the time, at first, but this is one of the BEST ways to get better at chess. GM Yasser Seirawan says “You have to lose 1000 games before you get good.”

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