(Image from CNN.com)

(Image from CNN.com)


Chess is a game of strategy and smarts, so it doesn’t actually matter how experienced your opponent is: If you can out-think them to the very last move, you can claim a victory every time.


Here are just five questions to ponder during your next chess game.


Which Game Are You Playing?
Chess actually has three games in one. The opening game involves your first few moves and can immediately establish yourself as an offensive or defensive player. You can also win or lose in the opening. So be watchful! The middle game’s when pieces are captured and the pawns form the battle structure. The endgame’s when you’re closing in on your opponent or when they’re closing in on you. If you can develop one of these games into a specialty, you’ll have a much greater chance of becoming a chess champion.


How Important is your Queen?
As the most powerful piece on the board, it’s an understandable impulse to protect your queen at all costs. And you should, so watch every move your opponent makes in case a tactic threatens her. But a well-timed “trade” or giving up your queen for the capturing of your opponent’s at the same time, could be a good choice if it leaves you with a slightly favorable positioning for the rest of your pieces as you enter the endgame. You’ll both be short your most versatile piece, but you won’t have to worry about tactical prowess any longer. Entering an endgame with superior piece placement can be one of your secret advantages.


Are You Controlling the Center?
Statistically, the center of the board is where most captures are made. Players that develop their pieces towards the center of the board will make the most of their pieces’ power by controlling more space, being closer to the action in any corner of the board, and attacking or defending more squares with the same pieces.  As they say, “a knight on the rim is dim”.


Are You Playing The King Properly and Strategically?
Do you play it safe or join the fray? Remember, your whole goal is to mobilize your forces to overpower your foe’s King. While you do so, you must remember two things. Your King shouldn’t only have a safe haven behind pawn barricades, developing pieces, and the castling move, it can join the action too! While it can only move a mere step at a time, it can play in any direction and wreck your opponent’s psychology when you play the powerful King in support. Many endgames have been won with a King placed one square closer to a rank of pawns than the opposing King.


Are You Counting Your Chickens Before They Hatch?
Have you played checkmate yet? If not, don’t fall for the common trap of inexperienced players and sometimes the skilled. You can’t ever relax in Chess, not even if you have nine pieces left to your opponent’s three. Amazing strategies can be hatched by those backed into corners, and if you let yourself get too smug, you might just find your egg cracked and yourself checkmated by surprise.

These are just five important decisions you should be making during every chess game. You don’t have to be a grandmaster to enjoy a streak of wins, not if you play carefully and plan ahead!