There are loads of different types of mistakes people can make in a chess game, but some of them are more prevalent than others. They occur game after game after game, sometimes the same player making the same mistake, sometimes many different players making mistakes. These are typical mistakes and can easily be fixed by using your brain and common sense in a game of chess. The following are some of the more typical and the worst mistakes that players of all ages and of all levels make.
- Not Having a Plan
- Underestimating the Threat from Your Opponent
- Failure to Convert Your Winning Position Because of a Lack of Concentration
- Giving the Game up Too Early
- Bad Time Management
- Making Random Moves with Your Pawns
- Moving the Same Piece Twice in the Opening Phase of the Game
- Not Castling
- Leaving Your Pieces Unguarded
- Not Having Any Kind of Plan
- Counting on a Bad Game from Your Opponent
- Making Blunders
- Not Bringing the King into Play in the Endgame
Not Having a Plan
A plan is the central, most important part of any game of chess. It is vital that you choose the right plan for the situation because play that is not systematic simply allows your opponent to punish you, unless of course they make a mistake or blunder on their turn. The biggest problem is correctly evaluating the position and that is something that you must do to play the right game.
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Underestimating the Threat from Your Opponent
Never forget that there are two of you playing this game. Your opponent has their own game plan, their own set of goals, and you are both in it to win. It is up to you to anticipate or spot the threats that they pose to your game and prevent as many as you can. Whenever your opponent makes his or her move, ask yourself why they did it. What are they planning? Is there any way that I can put my plan into play and thwart their attempt?
Failure to Convert Your Winning Position Because of a Lack of Concentration
It does not matter how large your advantage may be, you have to stay focused on the game until the very end. Thousands of possibilities are lost in chess because a player thinks they are far enough ahead to never be caught. The game is never over until the king has fallen or there is no possibility for either side to win outright.
Giving the Game up Too Early
Even beginning a game with little to no interest in it is a downfall. Both of these are fatal to your game. Chess requires a certain amount of resistance from you, and the more resistant you are, the better your chances of stealing a point or two away. Even if you think that you are going to lose, remain focused and look for a way to redeem the game. Do not forget: your opponent is human too, and there is a good chance that they will make a mistake somewhere along the line and that’s when you take your chance. You cannot do it if you have lost interest because you think you are losing.
Bad Time Management
This is a typical issue for beginner and top players. By not leaving yourself enough time, you are not playing properly, and will begin to get nervous. That leads to mistakes and blunders. The best way to subvert this is to learn as much as you can about chess and get to work on your own intuition, have some trust in your thought processes, and you will get better at managing time.
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Making Random Moves with Your Pawns
When you are at a loss with what to do in your game, the very worst thing you can do is to just move a pawn. Do not forget how these pieces move. They cannot go backwards, and where your pawns are positioned will determine any weaknesses or strengths in the game, as well as destroying your plans. Instead of moving a pawn just because, look for a way to improve on the position of your active pieces.
Moving the Same Piece Twice in the Opening Phase of the Game
When the game is in the opening phase, you need to get your pieces out into play. Do not leave them sitting where they are; if they are not out in the center of the board, they are not attacking. A game of constant defense is no fun!
One of the riskiest things you can do in a game of chess is to leave your king sitting in the center because you have not castled; it leaves you very open to a checkmate. Castle as early as you can, and keep the pawns in place in front of your king. Do not push them out unless you have an excellent reason and a solid plan. Not having that plan and not being able to formulate one is not a good enough reason for moving your pawns out.
Leaving Your Pieces Unguarded
When you have an unprotected piece, known as a loose piece, you are running a high risk of losing it. An old saying in chess is “loose pieces fall off” and, more often than not, your opponent is going to find a way of taking it away from you. If you spot that your opponent has loose pieces, look for a way to capture them with little to no risk to yourself.
Not Having Any Kind of Plan
Even having a terrible plan is better than not having a plan at all. Your plan does not have to be complicated. In fact, the simplest of plans are very often the best ones. You could plan to be castled or plan to get your rook onto an open file, one that does not have any pawns on it. If you still have a pair of bishops in play, you could plan to trade pawns and open the position up – this works because the bishops move on diagonals. You could plan to get your knight onto an outpost so it cannot be attacked by a pawn. Each of those moves must be backed up by a long or short-range plan, one that changes with each move made. Never move pieces for the sake of moving them, especially pawns. Always have a plan behind every move.
Counting on a Bad Game from Your Opponent
When you are considering your moves and the responses your opponent might make, never assume they are going to move the way you want. You should always look at the game from your opponent’s viewpoint. Think what moves you would make if you were in their position, think of the absolute best move that could be made and assume that they will make it. Assuming that they will play badly will result in a potential loss of the game for you.
Blunders are slip-ups, not something you went out with the intention of doing but it happened anyway. Perhaps you forgot that your opponent had their bishop staring your queen in the face and you moved a pawn to some area of the board that is totally unrelated. Then you lose patience with yourself because you made a thoughtless blunder. Every chess player makes these mistakes, and the only thing you can do is check and double check before every move to see if there is anything you could be missing. As time goes by and you gain more experience, you will make fewer of these blunders.
Not Bringing the King into Play in the Endgame
Once the board is mostly clear of pieces and the pawns begin their race to the opposite side of the board, it is time for the king to come out to play. Leaving him where he is, unused, is the easiest way to lose the endgame. The king has a relative strength of three pawns and, assuming you do not walk straight into a checkmate, he is a useful fighting piece. Many players are scared of being checkmated when there are many pieces on the board, and they tend to keep this fear going into the endgame when the danger is mostly passed.