Think Like A Grandmaster

By Michael Hoffer

Common errors in chess are listed on this one page!

There are exceptions to every rule yet ONLY with a good reason:


LOOK for ALL checks first.  This doesn't mean always check.

Losing material is the surest way to lose a game.

DON'T sacrifice material unless you're sure it leads to a win.

Trade pieces ONLY when ahead in material or under attack: Eliminate your opponent's counterplay first, & THEN get the wood off the board!  If the material is equal:  Don't trade your college graduates for their high school dropouts!

If you win a pawn, trade pieces NOT pawns because the game is almost always a draw when there are pawns on only one side of the board, so keep pawns on both sides.  If you lose a pawn, it helps to trade pawns but don't trade pieces.

Don't move the same piece repeatedly in the opening.  It is much better to get your next piece out and well-developed.

The opening is a race to get your pieces out to control the center – the most important part of the board!

Don't make too many pawn moves in the opening, unless they gain tempos by forcing your opponent's pieces to move.

Be careful on aimless pawn moves. They are usually wrong and then you're stuck, as pawns can't move backward!

Don't put pawns on the same color as your Bishop.  Doubled, isolated, & backward pawns lose games.  Avoid them!

When you have a choice of capturing between two of your pawns, it is usually correct to capture toward the center.

Don't bring out your Queen too early because it will help your opponent get his pieces out by attacking her.

When in doubt, bring a Knight out in the center.  Get your Knights and Bishops out rapidly in order to castle quickly.

A Knight on the rim is dim.  Knights belong in the center where they cover 8 squares; imagine the arms of an octopus.

Use your Bishops to pin 'em & win 'em.  Watch out for & try to prevent pins from your opponent before they happen.

Bishops beat Knights except in locked pawn positions.  Two Bishops versus a Bishop and a Knight is a big advantage.

Castle early and often!!!  King safety is essential!

Keep your King & Queen off the same line as opponent's Bishops, Rooks, or Queen to avoid X-rays attacks & pins.

DEVELOP your next piece before starting an attack.  The two piece attack almost never works and only beats a fool.

Control the CENTER before starting an attack. You must always watch what is going on in the center!

A wing attack is best answered by a counter-thrust in the center.

Don't move pawns in front of your King unless the center is closed.

BREAK OR DIE!  You must find the right pawn break when the center is closed.

In opposite side castling positions, throw your pawns at your opponent's King area to pry open lines for attack.

Rooks belong on open files and ultimately the 7th rank.  Rooks are most effective as double trouble on the same file.

Rooks belong behind passed pawns, yours or your opponent's. Rooks must be active and not passive in the endgame.

Passed pawns must be pushed and need attention by the Kings. The easiest endgame to win are those with only pawns.

The King is a fighting piece in almost any endgame.  The first thing to do is hurry up and get him to the center!

Just as in life, you learn most from your mistakes & losses.  "It takes 1,000 losses to become a Master!"  (Anatoly Karpov)

"We are going to chase perfection relentlessly, because in the process, we will catch excellence!"  (Vince Lombardi)

YOU SHOULD NOTATE ALL OF YOUR GAMES!  Besides, you never know when you may create a masterpiece!

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