8 Basic Chess Strategies for Beginners

How do I improve my chess game as a beginner? Chess is a popular intellectual 2-player strategy board game. To learn how to play chess well, a chess player needs to know and understand the basic chess strategies for beginners and the underlying principles.

The goal of a chess game is to checkmate your opponent’s king, in which case the king cannot escape the threat of capture by the opponent’s chess pieces. To achieve this goal you need to know and apply basic chess strategies

Basic Chess Strategies for Beginners

The following basic chess strategies are needed by beginner chess players to improve their chess game.

1. Protect Your King

The king is the weakest and yet the most valuable piece on the chess board. The king must be protected at all costs because once the king is checkmated, the chess game ends.

It is usually best and safer to castle to the king or queenside as this will remove your king from the centre of the chessboard. The centre of the board is where most of the action takes place, thus you will not want your king to get caught in the line of fire.

After castling, it is also pertinent to check for your king’s safety with each chess move.

2. Don’t Lose your chess piece Carelessly

The game of chess is a war board game between two chess players and basic chess strategies are needed to win a game.

Losing your chess piece carelessly will reduce your ability to defend your king and also launch an attack on the opponent’s king and other chess pieces. The chess pieces have been assigned numerical worth in order to guide the chess player’s decision during a chess game.

The numerical worth of each chess piece stated below will guide a chess player’s decisions during a game of chess

  • Pawn = 1
  • Knight = 3
  • Bishop = 3
  • Rook = 5
  • Queen = 9
  • King = undefined/ infinite value

These numbers are meant to guide a chess player’s decision, when trading a chess piece, for instance, it will not be wise to trade a lower-rated chess piece with a higher-rated piece, for example trading a queen, rook, bishop or knight for a pawn.

However, the position of the chess piece can sometimes increase the value of a chess piece. For instance, a well-positioned knight in the centre of a chessboard may be more powerful than an undeveloped rook.

3. Don’t Trade your Chess Pieces for no Reason

Don’t exchange your chess pieces for no good reason. Beginner chess players make the mistake of trading their active/well-developed chess pieces with their opponent’s passive chess pieces.

This chess strategy also applies to pawns, always ask if it’s more beneficial to capture an opponent’s pawn or to advance the pawn especially to create a past pawn.

It is okay to trade pieces when you have a good position on the chess board and you are a piece up. This will make your advantage becomes more obvious.

4. Control the centre of the chessboard

The chess board is divided into two halves, thus to control more squares for your pieces you need to control the centre of the board.

Once you dominate the centre of the chess board, you will have more squares to control and coordinate attacks on the opponent’s half while defending your half.

To control the centre of the chess board, place one or two pawns on the centre of the board, also other chess pieces such as knights should be towards the centre where they control more squares.

5. Develop all your Chess Pieces

You cannot win any war, without the required manpower, similarly, you can’t win a game of chess if your chess pieces are not developed.

At the beginning of the game, it is best to move each chess piece once, the aim is to develop most or all of your chess pieces rapidly than to move a few chess pieces repeatedly.

Do not advance or move your pawns unnecessarily, because pawns cannot be moved backwards they only make forward movements.

Knights are best placed towards the middle of the board where they can control 8 squares than at the corners where the square they hold is reduced.

The bishops compliment each other meaning a bishop pair is better than one. Bishops are best placed in open diagonals which allows them to control that diagonal than in a closed position where they are blocked by other chess pieces.

Rooks (castles) are also better in open rows or column and their strength equals that of a queen when connected.

6. Plan your Chess Moves Ahead

This requires practice to perfect this chess strategy, however, you need to plan two to five chess moves, in order to avoid traps, stop your opponent’s strategy and execute your attack.

7. Scan the Chess Board after Each Move

When your opponents make a move, try to understand why they made the move. Protect or move any of your chess pieces under threat of capture to a safer square. Also, check if your king is under any threat of checkmate.

In a game of chess, you can give up a chest piece to get an advantage such as capturing a more valuable chess piece or to force a checkmate.

8. Learn from each chess game

Practice they say leads to perfection, similarly regular chess game increases a chess player’s experience and understanding of the game. It is important to analyse each chess game to know why you won or lost the game.

These days computers and numerous chess apps like Lichess and chess.com can analyze chess games easily. Apart from analysing your chess games, you can also analyse other chess players’ games, chess puzzles, chess positions and openings.


Chess is an interesting two-player strategy board game. To learn how to play chess well, you need to know the rules to play chess and the basic chess strategies to win.