Chess Openings · Tactics · End Games
Pay Attention to the Opening Lines
This is probably the single hardest thing to do for a club player. With the opening theory evolving very rapidly, Grandmasters dedicate most of their preparation time to the opening analyses. Hours and hours of their time is spent to understand the feasibility of one or another variation, and to search for the tiniest positional advantage. No wonder it is so hard to follow the theory during a live game.
However, there is a trick that can be used to help you to understand what's going on in the opening stage, as well as to learn something new for yourself.
You should pay specific attention to the opening lines of the Grandmaster’s whose opening repertoire is similar to your own. After the start of the Grandmaster's game you can input the first 10-15 or so moves into a chess database of previously played high level games, to search for ideas and to understand the opening line better. You can use the Online Game Database to do so and from the Eco Code in the Game you can make a search (bottom corner) on Master Chess Openings to find the Main lines with variances. For some Openings you'll also find articles and videos here.
Try to understand the plan
After the end of the opening stage of the game, do a complete analysis of the position. You may ask, how do I know if the opening stage has ended? You have to judge by the development of the pieces, castling and so on. After all of these preliminary steps are completed, you may safely assume, it's a middle game. Often after move 10 or after one of the Recognized Chess Openings. Analyze the position thoroughly and try to come up with a most reasonable plan you're capable of, based on the positional elements of the position, tactical motifs, pawn structure, activity of the pieces, etc.
Next, you need to compare your plan with the Grandmaster's plan. If yours is completely different you may re-evaluate the position and change the plan.
You may be able to practice a plan in different Middle Game scenarios and Train Tactics to win more Games and increase your rating. That is a very useful skills for a chess players of any level.
Place yourself in Grandmaster’s shoes
If you smell tactics, try placing yourself in the Grandmaster's shoes. Doing calculations of lines that can occur after a pawn push, exchange or a sacrifice. Try to find the best possible defensive move for your opponent and evaluate if the tactics you found would still work.
Another great method that can be used to improve your own game while observing your favorite player is 'guess the next move'. You take a piece of paper and write down the predicted moves (or better else series of moves) for the side you're playing on. Then compare your moves with what actually happened in the game. Don't worry if you cannot guess the correct moves and combinations right away. If you practice often, your thinking process will adjust and you will be able to guess the correct moves more and more often.
Analyze the key positions over the board
If the game has approached a critical point it is a time for a deep evaluation of the position. You may judge if the position is critical or not by a few different factors:
- There is a tactic, sacrifice or an Attack option
- Nature of the position dramatically changed or is about to change
- There is an important decision to be made that will affect how the game will progress
It may be a little difficult to analyze a complex position in your head if you’re at club player level. Feel free to setup your favorite board or Analysis Software (with the chess engine 'off' of course) and shuffle the lines and variations.
Observe the endgame technique
Endgame (check out our End Game Courses) is mathematically simplest part of the game, though can be very tricky to play in real games. Observe how Grandmasters play at this stage of the game, especially, the positions where they are a pawn up or a pawn down in Rook endgames, two Rooks vs. Queen Endgames, Knight vs. Bishop, or in other common chess endings.
If it comes to an endgame. First evaluate the position again and come up with a plan where the pieces, pawns, and the King should be located to achieve a desirable result. Then, see what your opponent can do to prevent it.
If you go through the games you observe on a regular basis using this approach you will definitely pick up plenty of ELO points in your own games.
Improvements and updates are done here frequently. It's recommended that you take a look at some of the pages again after a while.
160 Countries that study Openings, Tactics and the End Game here (Blue Areas - December 2016)
You'll find the 500 Main Openings with Games and option to play them. Plus the 3.636 Variances shown on Chess Boards, Sorted alphabetically, by name, eco code and category. The Eco Code (Encyclopedia of Chess Openings) is your Key to the World of Chess Openings, which you'll find explained under Chess Openings. Here's some good examples of why you should study Openings. Checkmate in two ? Yes. Eco Code A00 Barnes Opening: Also called Fool's Mate 1.f3 e5 2.g4 Qh4#
A special Section is made for Opening Traps. Use Categories to find special areas within Chess. Train at your own rating level and step up in rating.
Learn a Good Defence Eco Code C50 Blackburne Shilling Gambit - Checkmate in 7! 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4 4.Nxe5 Qg5 5.Nxf7 Qxg2 6.Rf1 Qxe4+ 7.Be2 Nf3#
A good Attack Eco Code C44 Scotch,Sea-cadet mate. Checkmate in 10!
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.c3 dxc3 5.Nxc3 d6 6.Bc4 Bg4 7.O-O Ne5 8.Nxe5 Bxd1 9.Bxf7+ Ke7 10.Nd5#
Eco Code C89 Ruy Lopez: Marshall, Main line, Spassky Variation (The Longest Recognized Chess Opening) 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 O-O 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5 c6 12.d4 Bd6 13.Re1 Qh4 14.g3 Qh3 15.Be3 Bg4 16.Qd3 Rae8 17.Nd2 Re6 18.a4 Qh5 The amazing thing is that the position is equal after 18 moves. Insert notations (Ctrl+c and Ctrl+v) in the Chess Analysis Program to see evaluations, study and learn.
You'll find the 3.636 Recognized Chess Openings. Learn and Play the Openings at 8 Rated levels from 1350 to 2500.
Middle Game Tactics
The tricky part of the Game. You'll find more than 100.000 Tactics in the Tactical Trainer at all levels, Chess Combinations and 2.000 Puzzels for Intermediate/Advanced Players.
End Game Tactics
Take the Ultimate End Game Course to become a Master in End Games. Checkmate Training from Basic Checkmate patterns to solve more than 4.000 Checkmates going from 1 to 3 moves (You'll find up to 8 moves in the Middle Game Tactics Section) and learn Quick Kills also called Miniatures.
Besides all this you'll find Chess Tools, Chess Books, Weekly Updated Top Games by Grand Masters, Weekly Chess Newspaper, Articles and Videos from Beginner to Master Level. At first Glance it doesn't look much. However you have Access to 2.500 Pages with 14.000 internal and external links on Chess and Tools + 4.000 Chess Photos, so enjoy it and good luck with your chess!