Is chess a hard game?

Chess is not as difficult as most people think

Or, I should say: it doesn’t have to be.

Just about anyone can reach the 99th percentile of chess skill. Yes, really.

A common image of a chess master is of some kind of “genius.” Not exactly.

Most people struggle with chess because they do not understand chess strategy.

Also, beyond a certain point, the time and effort to improve doesn’t justify the rewards of reaching expert or master. There’s no expected reward akin to, for example, graduating professional school.

On the surface, strategy is complicated because of all the books that have been and continue to be written about it. But appearances are deceiving!

Want some help? Here’s a crash course in chess strategy

  1. The ultimate goal of a chess game is to trap the enemy king so that he has no escape (checkmate), while keeping your own king from being checkmated.
  2. In order to reach the enemy king, your army needs to overpower the enemy army over the course of many battles. The larger army nearly always wins in chess.
  3. To win battles, your forces need superior positioning and mobility. On our battlefield (the chessboard) having our forces in the center of the board provides them with the positioning and mobility they need.
  4. Until you get more experience, never give up stronger pieces for weaker pieces unless you see a follow-up that wins outright.
  5. When your forces are well-positioned, attack the point in your opponent’s position that they will have the hardest time defending with their army. This should give you either an advantage in material (army force) or a dangerous attack against the enemy king.

Author: Andre Harding

Since 2003 I've taught chess to thousands of students in public, private, and charter schools in the New York City area, and have given countless private lessons. I also direct USCF- and FIDE-rated chess tournaments.

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