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5 Mistakes Beginners Make in Chess

Updated on June 9, 2008

One of the great misconceptions about playing chess is that sheer intelligence is the only factor in winning games. This is not true, otherwise, computers would have beaten human beings in chess way before Deep Blue beat Kasparov in early 2000s.

This article assumes that you know all the basic moves of every piece on the chessboad. You also know how to castle, and understand that if a pawn reaches the eighth rank of the board, it can be promoted to a queen. If you know these rules, and avoid the beginner mistakes listed below, I guarantee that you will become a better chess player. You will consistently win against other beginner chess players, and intermediate chess players will find it much more difficult to beat you. So, without getting into too much theory, here is the list:

The Patient Chess Player
The Patient Chess Player

The List

1. Don't touch the Queen until at least 7 moves have passed.

This is by far the most common mistakes that newbies make, they bring the Queen out to attack in the second and third move of the game. When I am playing somebody and they do that, I immediately know I am going to win the game. Why? Because there is no way they are going to successfully attack me with the just the Queen. But I can attack the Queen and chase her around the board and develop my pieces. When you see experts play, they never bring the Queen out until at least 7 moves have passed. Tattoo this rule on your forehead, and you will be a much better player.

2. Aim to castle on king's side within 5 moves. Again if you watch the experts play, they castle as soon as possible. Bring out the knight and bishop on the king's side and shuffle the king out of harm's way. A bonus to this tactic is that for some strange reason, beginner players are fascinated with trying to attack the king after it's castled, at the expense of developing their pieces and trying to control the center. So they launch a fruitless attack on one side, you successfully defend by developing your pieces to the center, defending against the attack (which is not hard), and then launching an attack through the center and crushing your opponent.

3. Don't move the rook and castle pawns until the end game. Basically, here are the pieces you should be touching in the first 10 moves of the game. King's pawn, Queen's pawn, knights, bishops, King and rook to castle, and maybe bishop's pawn. When I play somebody and they start to move knight and rook pawns early in the game, I'm pretty sure I'm going to win. As a matter of fact, I can't remember the last time I lost against somebody making such weak moves.

4. Don't isolate your pawns. An isolated pawn is a pawn that cannot be supported by another pawn. Take for example the king's bishop pawn. If you lose the King's pawn and the King's knight pawn, then your bishop's pawn is isolated and is very vulnerable. A successful attack on a isolated pawn usually means the game is won, not only because the player is up one pawn, but it usually leads to "passed" pawn situation which means that the player's pawns can be advanced without facing attack from enemy pawns. A experienced player plays instinctly to avoid isolating pawns unless absolutely necessary.

5. Don't allow your opponent a "forepost." When faced with an aggressive opponent who is fond of attacking with pawns, the experienced players developes his knights and bishops and waits until a "forepost" develops. That occurs when a players push his pawns too far forward allow a player to place a supported piece behind the pawns, creating a "forepost." Almost immediately the opposing player find his options for movement to be severely hampered, as the "forepost" cannot be attacked by his pawns. If the forepost is protecting by pawns of its own colour, then taking the "forepost" with a piece results in "passed" pawn for the other player. Again, in my own personal experience, I don't ever recall losing a game against an opponent when I have successfully placed a "forepost."

In conclusion, a great many people learn the basic moves of chess but give up playing the games as they consistently (and lose quickly) against opponents who seem to defeat them with ease. But I guarantee if you avoid the mistakes listed above, you will immediately become a better player.


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    • profile image

      ChineseChessGuy 6 years ago

      Hahaha yes, very true, very true, especially the first rule.

      I remember I was on a chess forum, with some rep as a fairly experienced player. This newbie comes up to me and asks for a mentor. I accept and play a few games with him to see his style.

      I tell him that the problem is he's too passive. I tell him he must become more "shiong"(it's chinese for fierce, and slang for a very powerful person), attack more, develop at lightspeed etc. etc.

      This is not his fault, but I was laughing when he decided that the Queen would be best to play first!

      I eventually explained that in the opening game, most of your opponent's pieces are either developed and strongly protected or still in the first two rows(what I like to nickname the fort, because unless everyone else is dead it's virtually unattackable).

      But I must also add something-the Queen is very useful as suicide bomber. Personally, I play a fast game, moving in quickly. Sometimes the Queen and her long range threats impede this, blocking pawns and what not, so I just exchange with the opponent's Queen, which is a big threat to me. I got rid of a useless piece in exchange for a powerhouse, and the other guy didn't even realize it.

    • profile image

      Mark 8 years ago

      Forgot to mention that beginners can always visit my site at if they wish to learn what each piece does, how castle and so on. There are plenty of examples and a couple of videos to explain the hard to understand concepts.

    • profile image

      Mark 8 years ago

      Great tips.

      I have developed a website for the absolute beginner player as all the current internet content appears to be based at progressing the intermediate player, and forgets that people need to learn chess to start with. This makes sense though due to the popularity of the online chess sites... many "backyard" players now need to polish up their skills.

      Thanks for sharing,

    • FunFacter profile image

      FunFacter 9 years ago from Canada

      Voltair this is really one of the best chess hubs I have ever seen. The reason being is that you have layed out the foundation so well. And it is true that newbies really tend to move their queen at start.

      But castling is not an issue. I think better be safe than sorry and I woud also like people hwo loved this article to also read my article of 50 strategy tips..