How to Choose a Chess Move: Step by Step

If you want to choose a chess move, or a good one at least, forget about inspiration, luck, or genius. The key is knowing what to look for.

Person looking through a telescope

Finding better moves will improve your game, no doubt about it. There’s a cost, however: you realize “doing whatever you want” doesn’t bring optimal results.

Many casual players enjoy finding interesting ideas in chess spontaneously, and discover that improvement reduces their enjoyment of the game! You have been warned.

The steps to choose a chess move

1. Look to see if you are in check; if you are, play the best move you can.

2. Look for possible captures that win material.

3. Improve a piece while making a threat. The stronger the threat, the more priority you should give the move.

4. Force an enemy piece to a worse position.

5. Improve one of your pieces, even if it does not create a threat.

6. Look for good exchanges. Trade off your opponent’s well-placed piece for your badly-placed piece. A piece is good if it doing something useful or is posted where the action is taking place.

7. Improve your pawns. Especially, exchange off your weak pawns (isolated, backward, doubled).

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