Half of the blunders and mistakes in chess are avoidable if you think about the outcome of placing a piece on a certain square before moving it. It’s simple as that.

But sometimes playing the simple moves is the most difficult thing to do and it becomes the biggest hurdle in improving your chess game.

Beginner and intermediate level players do think before moving their pieces, but that thinking is not always conscious. It lacks the vision of what’s coming next.

Creativity is good for them but if it exceeds the level of play, it’s a blunder most of the times.

Modern chess demands a more solid base of thinking before moving a piece. So in this blog we will share all the tips that can be helpful in improving your moves and the overall chess thinking.

How to Improve your chess thinking and become a better player as a beginner or intermediate player?

Beginner and Intermediate players need to work on their chess strategies and concepts time and time again. This is where most of your chess thinking should go. Plus you need to play a lot of games. Only studying will not help.

When you play games, you make good and bad moves, even after a lot of thinking. Those games are your gold mines, if you analyze them with a chess engine and improve on a few of your errors every time, not all of them, you will see a lot of improvement in your chess.

What should we think while playing chess?

Every chess game has 3 phases. The opening, middle game and end game. The type of thinking involved in each phase of the game is different.

Opening is more about development, middle game is strategy while end game mostly is theory.

But nothing in chess is fixed. All your development and strategy can vary depending on what your opponent is playing. For example, an early queen attack can be easily avoided by bullying the opponent’s queen away. How? Check out the video below:

Similarly, if your opponent is playing too passive, not developing his pieces or playing a bad opening like the Englund Gambit, you can refute their lines by simply playing the known refuted moves.

In short, if you have the knowledge of chess, you can plan better. Your chess style also matters in how you deal with different situations.

How much time should be spent thinking about your moves in Chess?

Generally, for players rated below 2000, 20/40/40 is the recommended rule. Spend 20% of your time in the opening, 40% in the middlegame and 40% in the endgame.

But that’s just a recommendation. Better practice it in your practice matches.

In an actual game, focus more on what is happening on the board. Don’t divide your focus on other things and try to plan your every move right after the opening phase.

A bad plan is always better than no plan at all.

Also, it is important to know that the game doesn’t end at a point where you gain an advantage over your opponent. Keep your focus till the end.

Sometimes the game most difficult to win is a won game.

Tips on how to get better at chess:

1. Play a lot of Games

Playing many games a day means there will be a lot of games to analyze. Positions where you stumbled, took a while, and still played a move that was not accurate or a blunder. These games are the biggest gold mines to analyze and improve in bits and pieces.

The next time you fall into such a position, it won’t drain your time and save you from a lot of thinking which can hamper your on-the-board vision and make you vulnerable to blunder.

2. Analyze Your Games And Make Small Improvements

Do a full game analysis but never try to memorize the analysis of each game because it’s not possible. Small improvements mean finding the critical move that you blundered or positions where you took too much time to make a decision. Those are the areas you can prioritize and improve your game in.

3. Solve Puzzles

Start with the easy ones and try to solve up to 3000 rated puzzles. She which themes are difficult for you to solve. Practice the tricky ones a lot. These tactics will come in very handy during the games because there are tactics in all three phases of a chess game. If your brain is used to solving a certain pattern, it will pick it during a game if the pattern ever appeared on the board during a live game.

4. Study the Chess Studies

Chess studies are the famous games and positions either created by coaches and instructors or positions from the grandmaster games. They can also be studies on sites like chess.com or Lichess where they have listed each study piece-wise, some are odd games while others are games where you have an advantage and you have to convert it by playing a precisely accurate game.

You can make those studies more challenging by playing it against top engines like Stockfish at the highest difficulty level.

5. Practice different Tactical Themes

Each chess puzzle falls under 1 or more themes. When we solve puzzles online, the theme name is always given at the end after you solve that puzzle. You can even submit a list of tactical themes to show up more often in your puzzles practice.

Practice the puzzle themes that you feel are the most challenging ones.

6. Study games that are played by top Grand-Masters in your favorite Opening Lines

When you study games, it reduces your on-the-board thinking time and spares you time to invest in strategizing or finding better moves. It also makes you comfortable to play certain lines in chess and when you are paired against an equal rated player having an edge of already knowing the line to a certain extent, it increases your odds of winning.

7. Change the plan if it isn’t working

It is very difficult for beginner and intermediate players to go against their initial plan or re-plan when the 1st one is blocked. Sometimes things don’t work and you have to bring back your pieces and plan something else.

It might feel like playing passive but things change very quickly during a chess game. Your opponent might make a 1 move blunder in the process and you can start another attack very quickly or you can just hold your defenses and constantly plan newer ideas to get an advantage.

That’s all in how to improve your chess thinking. Below is the list of summarized important pointers from this post.


  • Think about the outcome before moving any peace
  • use the 20/40/40 rule in your practice matches
  • study openings
  • see how top players are playing your openings
  • solve tactics and studies
  • a bad plan is better than no plan
  • change a plan if it isn’t working

Bilal Ahmad

Hi, my name is Bilal, i'm playing chess since i was 5 and over the years played it just for fun. I took the game seriously for the 1st time when i participated in Uni tournament and finished no where in top rank. Ever since it's a matter of RESPECT ! Football on the other hand is love of my life. I'm a huge fan of Real Madrid but you will mostly see my football content on Fantasy Premier League, a game I'm playing since 2012/13 season of the Premier League.


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