Chess Advice from Coach Fpawn

Top 10 Tips for Tourneys
Fine's 30 Rules of Chess
20 Middlegame Questions
Books and Software

Top 10 Tips for Tournaments by Fpawn

#10   Make sure every move has a purpose. A good move performs two functions (e.g. double attack). A great move has a three-fold purpose.

#9   After each move by your opponent, ask yourself:   �Is he threatening anything?

#8   Kids attack better than they defend.   A-T-T-A-C-K!

#7   If you don't know the opening, remember the opening rules.

#6   Don�t give up after a blunder. Play hard, look for tricks, and your opponent might mess up too.

#5   Look at all CHECKS and CAPTURES. Find moves that gain TEMPO.

#4   Look out for TaCtIcS!

#3   C-A-S-T-L-E early and often..

#2   When winning, trade pieces but not pawns. Conversely, when losing, try to avoid piece trades.

And the #1 Tip:   T*A*K*E   Y*O*U*R   T*I*M*E !!!

30 Rules of Chess by GM Reuben Fine

  1. Open with a Center Pawn.
  2. Develop with threats.
  3. Play Knights before Bishops.
  4. Castle as soon as possible.
  5. Avoid developing the Queen too early.
  6. Do not move the same Piece twice without a good reason.
  7. Use your Minor Pieces to fight for the Center.
  8. Maintain at least one Pawn in the Center.
  9. Make as few Pawn moves as possible.
  10. Avoid Sacrificing without a clear and adequate reason.

  1. All of your moves must fit into a Plan suggested by a Weakness in the position.
  2. Combinations are based on Double Attack.
  3. When ahead Material, exchange Pieces (especially Queens) but not Pawns.
  4. Avoid serious Pawn structure Weaknesses.
  5. In cramped positions, free yourself by trading Pieces.
  6. Do not bring your King out with your Opponent�s Queen on the board.
  7. If your Opponent has one or more exposed Pieces, look for a Combination.
  8. In superior positions, Attack the enemy King by opening lines for your Pieces.
  9. In even positions, Coordinate the action of all of your Pieces.
  10. In inferior positions, the best Defense is a Counterattack.

  1. Activate your King.
  2. Avoid passive Pieces that merely Defend.
  3. Passed Pawns must be Pushed.
  4. The easiest endgames to win are pure Pawn endings with extra Pawn(s).
  5. When ahead Material, exchange Pieces, not Pawns.
  6. Do not place your Pawns on the same color squares as your Bishop.
  7. Bishops are superior to Knights when there are Pawns on both sides of the board.
  8. Rooks belong behind Passed Pawns.
  9. A Rook on the seventh Rank is often worth a Pawn.
  10. Blockade Passed Pawns using the King.
Some chess websites offer different rules. For example, check out the San Diego Chess Club for the principles espoused by IM Cyrus Lakdawala.

20 Middlegame Questions to Ponder

While your opponent is thinking...
  1. If my opponent does nothing, do I have any threats?
  2. What are my weaknesses? Opponent's weaknesses?
  3. What is my opponent's plan?

After your opponent makes a move...
  1. Did my opponent make a threat?
  2. Who has the initiative? Who is attacking/defending?
  3. Do I have a forced response?

While calculating your reply...
  1. What is my plan?
  2. What is my biggest weakness? Can I defend it or should I ignore it?
  3. What is my opponent's biggest weakness? How can I attack it?
  4. Can I seize (or increase) the initiative?
  5. What is the most obvious response for your opponent? Is there a second choice?
  6. Who is better after a series of moves?

If you don't know what to play...
  1. What are my candidate moves?
  2. What minor pieces are good and which ones are bad?
  3. Which pieces, if any, do you want to trade?
  4. What is my worst piece? Can I find a better square for it?
  5. Can I change the pawn structure to make my pieces better?
  6. Have I finished developing?

After you decide on a move, but before you play it...
  1. Am I hanging anything?
  2. What can my opponent play in reply to my move?

Recommended Books and Software

TACTICS PUZZLES (practice, practice, practice)
LIBRARY OF BOOKS (good to read and learn from) Also check out the reading lists suggested by other experienced teachers. 
COMPUTER SOFTWARE (all serious students should own a chess playing program) Print a chess notation sheet to record your games! LARGE and SMALL versions. 

© 2015 Michael Aigner