Middlegame Tactics

Don't make any silly mistakes

Most of the games we see have silly mistakes in them, and they usually decide who wins the game. But you can do a lot to make sure you don't make blunders.

Here are three tips:

  1. Play slowly and carefully – don't reply to a move straight away
    • You don’t get any points for finishing quickly! Even if you win, you can easily miss something by playing quickly, and if you lose – well, you might not have lost if you had played slower!
    • You should aim to use most of your time in every game. This is hard to judge, but, if you have 50 minutes for the whole game, you will probably have an average of a minute to spend on every move. That’s time enough to write down your opponent’s move, spot their threats, think of your own move, check it and play it.
    • If your opponent plays quickly, ignore it!
  2. Practise spotting tactics
    • You should know all the basic tactics (mates, forks, pins, skewers, discoveries, nets, undermine/overload) and be able to find them quickly in puzzles and over the board in their one- and two-move versions.
    • So, solve puzzles in books and on websites: there are new free puzzles every day online!
    • Once you have finished a book of puzzles, do it again! The point is to make sure you spot things quickly while you are playing a game, and can use your thinking time to best effect.
  3. Get into good habits of thinking – most importantly...
    • After your opponent has moved, ask yourself:
      • i. what threats does my opponent have right now?
      • ii. what threats do I have right now?
    • and after you have chose a move, but before making it, ask yourself:
      • iii. does my chosen move give my opponent a new threat?