Professionals‘ Best Chess Tips




“One of the fundamental principles in chess demands quick piece development. Every piece must be brought into the game as early as possible, while the necessary actions for each and every particular opening strategy must be taken into consideration. An undeveloped piece neither contributes to a player’s offense nor defense. The player with a number of underdeveloped pieces is literally in substantive disadvantage, which appears especially when the opponent was able to develop his.” (Max Euwe)

“One has to take into account that thorough knowledge of openings is impossible, when the player lacks a satisfying end game cleverness in evaluating the variance of possibilities.” (José Raoul Capablanca)

“Even in the very first opening moves we do not only strive for developing our pieces and Pawns quickly and reaching strategically beneficial opening positions, but at the same time we constantly strive for hampering our opponent’s development and limiting the activities of his abilities to take away important squares from him.” (Alexander Koblenz)


Strategy & Tactics

Once a player has realized that the moment of decision has come, he must thoroughly observe the positioning from all angles. He must weigh his own strengths and weaknesses against those of the opponent and evaluate all details of the positioning – the arrangement of Pawns, location of the opposite King, existence of open and semi-open lines, etc.. Who misses the opportunity of making a plan, aimlessly wanders from move to move or relies on tactical chances of the moment that can be advantageous for himself.. It is important to have goals, and a plan to reach these goals.(Max Euwe)

“Not results shall be kept in mind, but methods. Methods are flexible, they provide basis to all situations in my life.” (Emmanuel Lasker)

“It is a common rule that one should open a position when better developed than the other; moreover, it is applicable for almost all positioning that one should attack advanced Pawns.” (Max Euwe)

“A far advanced open Pawn can disarray the opponent’s entire game. If the Pawn has come forward to the sixth (or third) row even, it is so strong that in combination with two other figures (especially when a Rook is involved) it is superior to the Queen.” (Siegbert Tarrasch)

“The initiative is a meaningful element in chess. Sometimes it is worth two Pawns, and sometimes even more than that.“ (Max Euwe)

Dominating an open line with a Rook or even both is a significant advantage, especially when it is the only open line and the opponent cannot position his own Rooks on it. Once a player has occupied an open line, he certainly seeks to avoid occupation through an opposite Rook by introducing another heavy figure into the lines.” (Siegbert Tarrasch)

„A Pawn is called isolated when the Pawns around him are not on the board – in other words, when he is not protected by any Pawns. An isolated Pawn can be a serious weakness due to two reasons: Because it is not protected by Pawns, it must be covered by other figures which limits their mobility. Furthermore, the opponent is often able to occupy the square in front of the Pawn with a figure that the Pawn can’t attack. This is a meaningful square for the opponent.” (Max Euwe)

Maintaining the maximum number of physical forces is in the interest of the one dominating the larger space at a given moment.” (Alexander Aljechin)

“A captivation occurs when a figure cannot move because it would cause the King to be in threat of check or it would mean losing an important piece. Captivation is an effective weapon, as it hinders the captivated figure to freely participate in the battle.” (Max Euwe)

“A very general rule that is of major importance in all stages of the game: One strives to obtain the highest capacity for action for all own figures and to hinder the opposite figures as much as possible.” (José Raoul Capablanca)

“If both players have castled in different ways, they most often aim for attacking the King on both sides. Who manages to attack first is in substantial advantage.” (Max Euwe)

Pawns are by no means equal to one another. Close to the center they are strongest, and lose importance the further away from the center and closer to the edge of the board they are positioned. If one is able to beat two Pawns with one figure, it is most desirable to do so in the center.” (Siegbert Tarrasch)

“A player combines all his general goals to an overall strategy; it gives him a guideline for his actions. Through tactics he will take advantage of opportunities that every single move of the opponent offers him.” (Ma Euwe)

“A Rook`s Pawn that is advanced to h6 (h3) or a6 (a3) is a persistent threat in the midst of the game when one has castled to that particular side. It appears like an Officer and supports check-attacks, and often even offers the opportunity of check-attack in combination with the Queen. The Pawn is especially strong when there is no Bishop to cover him.” (Siegbert Tarrasch)

“Make your opponent nervous and force him to use his pieces to cover your Pawns. Once he reveals a weak spot, try to make it grow or provoke a second weakness in a different spot to cause the opposite positioning to fall apart. If the opponent is able to fix one of the weaknesses, make sure that he will face another weakness instead.” (José Raoul Capablanca)

“The most common way to undermine a line a Pawns is to attack the basis with one Pawn. If the opponent wants to maintain his line of Pawns (which is the usual case), he will make it stronger by supporting it with another Pawn. The attacker then has the option to either extend his own line by advancing his Pawn, or to switch Pawns at the basis which will cause a weakness in that spot and give a target opportunity. As it is usually desirable to break up the opposite line of Pawns, attacking the peak can even be auspicious at times. In such cases, the line is broken up when switching Pawns; if it is supported by own Pawns, on the other hand, it might lead to line opening with significant opportunities to attack.” (Max Euwe)

“The most important element in mid-game is tactics. It is important to see everything that is more or less hidden. To exploit the opportunity to create combinations, when they occur! There is a fake defense, there is an uncovered figure, there is opportunity for a captivation or a double-attack and so on..” (Siegbert Tarrasch)

“The advantage of paired Bishops lies in the fact that a harmonic interplay of the two can significantly hamper the opponent’s freedom of movement, can help control the diagonals, and in a given (advantageous) moment, can help one to easily let go of the pair. The pair of Bishops has no significance in the game when the positioning of Pawns is blocked.” (Alexander Koblenz)

Narrow positioning is the seed of all failure.” (Siegbert Tarrsch)

“The combination is a sequence of moves that may not make sense individually, but aim for a certain purpose all together. Combinations usually include a sacrifice. There are combinations without sacrifice, but instead one has to work with threats, to limit the possible number of opposite reactions. In any other case, the number of variances to calculate would be too large.” (Max Euwe)

“All pieces must be covered if possible. The safest of covers is provided by Pawns. Uncovered pieces often come along with trouble. They are attacked while another threat is developed, get stuck in uncomfortable captivation, or even face a double attack.” (Siegbert Tarrasch)

“Focus on physical successes. Take what your opponent offers you, unless there is a good reason not to do so.” (Robert James Fischer)



“During a Rook endgame, the weaker party often has the chance of a tie until the very end.” (Siegbert Tarrasch)

“It is usually a good strategy to attack the opposite wing with a fianchittoed Bishop. Executing this plan, though, is ties to many preconditions.“ (Max Euwe)

“The battle for an open line is often crucial for the final outcome of a duel. The main value of dominating an open line lies in the opportunity for the Rook to advance to the second-to-last or second row. Once a Rook has penetrated this row, the player scores a major advantage during mid- and end-game, as he attacks Pawns on the left and right and threatens the opposite King. Other forces to support the Rook and when only a single light piece is left to provide protection, checkmate is near. Therefore, the defending player must try to counteract the opposite Rook with one of his very own in the occupied row as soon as possible.” (Siegbert Tarrasch)

“Statistics of many tournaments prove that 50 percent of all endgames rely on Rook endgames. For this very reason, studying these end games has such great practical value.” (Vassili Smyslov)

“During the entire game, as well as during the endgame, the Bishop is generally slightly superior to the Knight – with one exception: A Knight in the center, covered und impossible to banish, is stronger than a Bishop. Even in blocked positions the Knight often proves to be handier than the Bishop.” (Siegbert Tarrasch)

“To improve your game, you must look at your endgames first. While the endgame can be studied and solved apart from everything else, openings and mid-games must always be studied with regard to the endgame.” (José Raoul Capablanca)

Find more tips to improve your game in Chessimo’s 101 Chess Tipps – short and to the point and presented in graphics!

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe