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Let's see now... where do we begin?

First read this note to parents, coaches, and tutors of beginning chess players.

The rules of chess in summary are important basics for the beginner. Chess has a language all its own. You have to know how to read and write chess notation if you want to know what the great minds of chess have to say. A solid understanding of tactics cannot be over emphasized.

People who are beginning to learn how to play the game of chess are often frustrated by how quickly they lose to expert players. Frequently, they blunder into a lost position in the first few opening moves of a game. Thus, they naturally conclude that memorizing a bunch of opening traps will dramatically improve their score. Not true.

This is the most common question beginners ask, and my invariable reply.

Q: What are the opening traps that I can use to blow my opponents off the board?

A: You will not learn how to play chess expertly until you ask the correct question. The correct question is, "How can I improve my game?"

The answer to that question is, "it depends." It depends on what you don't know, which is unique for each player. The answer can be found by an assessment of a player's capabilities and needs. Such an assessment can be done most effectively by an expert tutor. Self assessment and study, though popular, is less efficient.

The answer is almost never, "Memorize opening traps." In all my years as a chess coach and tutor, I have never heard an expert player give that advice to a beginner.

The answer for most beginners is usually, "Improve your tactical skills, and learn the principles of opening, middlegame and endgame play. These pages are designed to teach those skills.

Understand that you cannot and should not try to learn all these lessons in one sitting. Instead, try to work through these lessons in half-hour sessions with an hour or more between sessions. Keep note of where you stopped, bookmark the page, and return for more when you can give your complete attention to the lesson. Also, keep a chess set handy to set up lesson positions for better understanding of key learning objectives.

Select a Lesson Category

Last but not least you should know how to use a chess clock.


The most effective way to improve your chess skill is to practice solving chess puzzles quickly and accurately.

A chess combination or tactic is a thread of moves that begins with a sacrifice and ends with a positive result. The positive result is usually a decisive material advantage, but can also be a decisive positional advantage. The Encyclopedia of Chess Middlegames categorizes chess combinations in 16 types. You can find examples of all these types of combinations served by our sister site Logical Checks. The website is designed to help you develop this most important chess skill.

Chess is a good way to learn, to keep your brain fit and the ego in check.

Abelard (1079-1142), Dialectician, philosopher, theologian