10 Top Chess Tips from The Chess Queen


I am absolutely delighted to welcome the 12th Women’s World Chess Champion, ‘Chess Queen’ Alexandra Kosteniuk as the latest guest in my Expert series with her 10 top chess tips.

Alexandra, who started playing at the age of 5 went on to become a Chess Grandmaster and Women’s World Champion in the following 20 years so has a great wealth of chess experience to share with us.

You can learn a lot more about Alexandra, view examples of the fashion modelling she has done to promote chess and read about how she encourages young people to get involved in chess at Chessqueen.com You can also connect with Alexandra on Twitter @chessqueen and on her Facebook page.

1. Play chess with a human, not with a computer!

The goal of playing chess is to have fun, and you definitely will not have fun playing a computer, even if you set the level to be a very low one. You want your opponent to suffer, to wonder about your intentions, to be caught by your traps. Chess is a battle of the minds. You can only do that with a human. For me, chess is only a game to be played between 2 humans.
[note: you can play chess with a human on the internet, on any of the many available chess servers]

2. Play chess not only to have fun, but to get better (and to win!)

Each time you play chess, besides trying to win, you have the chance to learn something. And you learn by making mistakes. So don’t be afraid of losing, that will be a very valuable lesson and you will win many more games in the future thanks to what you have learned from your mistakes. With chess you will learn your whole life!

2b. Try to play someone a little better than you.

Playing someone much weaker is pretty much a waste of time, but playing someone a little stronger than you is best! You should have an outside chance of winning, so if you win you’ll be proud of your result, and if you lose you will learn a lesson, that’s a win-win proposition!

3. Believe in yourself and you can beat anyone!

Never be impressed by someone’s chess “resume”. A chess game starts at equality, so you have as much chance as your opponent to win. Especially if you have prepared a little for the game and are in a fighting spirit.

3b.  Believing in yourself does not mean it is easy to win.

Never be sure of winning! A game is never won before your opponent has resigned. The hardest thing to do is to win a won game. So be very careful to the very end!

4. Don’t study individual openings. Study chess opening principles.

I did not get into detailed opening study until I became Grandmaster. It’s enough to know the top opening principles, such as control the center, develop knights before bishops, castle as soon as possible, don’t take out your Queen too early, make all your pieces take part in the battle . You might have fun memorizing the longest line of your favorite opening but it won’t help you if your opponent deviates and plays something else.

5. The best way to improve at chess is to study Chess Tactics

Chess games are won in the middle game, so studying tactics will be most beneficial. It’s also easy to do, either with a tactics book, or with software from www.chesskingtraining.com . The more you train on tactics, the better your practical results in chess will be.

6. Exception to the previous top 10 rule: Don’t neglect studying chess endgames.

Even though you will rarely get to the endgame when you start playing chess, it is critical to have fundamental knowledge in that area! Beginners will benefit from learning how to mate with 2 rooks, with a queen, with a rook, with 2 bishops, intermediate players need to know how to win (or to draw) with 1 pawn (or one pawn down), or with bishop and knight against king, and experienced players will win critical points in tournaments thanks to a good grasp of the endgame.

7. Just before playing, make a last review

If you are sure of what you want to play, don’t play it yet. Make sure it’s not a blunder, and that all your pieces are safe. Also, you’re trying to make the best move, so even if you have found a good move, maybe there is a better one out there, so be on the lookout.

8. Have a plan, look at your opponent’s move

When your opponent makes a moves, try to figure out his/her plan and his/her intentions. Are there any pieces attacked? Is he/she targeting an important outpost? Only once you know what your opponent is up to will you be able to defend well and at the same time prepare your own plan and attacks. Don’t make any move that does not have a specific goal or target.

9. Don’t play too fast, take your time

You won’t get a prize for playing super fast, on the contrary, playing too fast will make you lose valuable points since you’ll make mistakes. A good rule is to use almost all the time you are given on the clock.

10. Play blitz chess, not bullet chess

Playing blitz chess (5 minutes per game per player) is both fun and useful (as long as you keep record of the moves or at least note which opening you played, so you can review the moves later). However, don’t play bullet chess (1 or 2 minutes per game per player), since the goal of bullet chess is no longer to play the best moves, but the fastest moves. And never play more than 10 games in a row, as it becomes either impossible to remember them all, or too much work to go over the games later on, and it simply becomes a repetition of the same mistakes.

Many thanks to Alexandra for doing me the honour of being a guest and for sharing her expert chess tips.  You can find a lot more chess advice and tips from Alexandra at her Chess Queen website. Please feel free to add your comments and any tips you would like to share below.

I hope you have enjoyed this latest instalment in my Expert Series, please share if you like what I do and subscribe if you would like to see more!

Thank you for visiting The Top 10 Blog.

*Image credits

Alexandra’s images and video by permission of Alexandra.

  • Chessvinit


  • Markdstump

    Looks like a great list to me :)

  • Markdstump

    Looks like a great list to me :)

  • Pingback: chessqueen.com - Chess Queen Alexandra Kosteniuk's Chess Blog()

  • Absolutely Brilliant!!!

  • Absolutely Brilliant!!!

  • Absolutely brilliant…

  • Absolutely brilliant…

  • Ron2010saint

    Good advice, Alexandra.

  • nice post

  • John

    I would add one final tip re chess etiquette which generally applies at master level, masters usually resign when they blunder. Beginners should never resign. Play the game out to see how stronger players win in a won position, and if they can win? You would be surprised how many won games can be lost when the player who is ahead on material blunders, just like you did in the first instance. Remember to err is human, even the best players in the world make mistakes.

    • B Chin

      Nobody wants to play the boring guy who makes you demonstrate mate when you’re up multiple pieces. You should give up and start another one, it’s more fun for everyone that way.