Coronado Chess Club

Choose your move carefully in chess as in life. -unknown
Tournament Tips - Common Mistakes

Paraphrased (Colorado Chess Informant - October 1994)


Record your move before moving the piece.  Write your move down on the score sheet and cover it up. Now spend an extra minute to check to see if there are any mates, or pieces hanging of yours or your opponents. This should eliminate most obvious blunders.


Moving too fast.  This is especially common in the lower rated sections of a

tournament. Make the quality of your move as high as it can be.


Sacrificing pieces prematurely for initiative. - Don't do it unless you can see the future gain of material, a mating attack, or some other significant benefit to the sacrifice. "Hope chess" doesn't work.


Memorizing openings.   Do NOT study openings. Learn the game.


Not having a plan.   Even a bad plan is better than no plan. If you can't think of anything to do, improve the position of one of your pieces.


Moving pawns in front of one's king for no reason.   Every time you move a pawn in front of your king, you are creating a weak square. Pawns can't move backwards to cover up weaknesses.


Don't play for cheapos (or don’t play Hope Chess).   Always assume your opponent will make the best response.


Don't take won games for granted.   Your opponent almost always has cheapo possibilities and he is surely going to look for them once he is behind. Be mentally tough and take your time until the end. Every time I let my guard down, I get an unpleasant surprise.


Putting pieces on bad squares.   If a piece is on a bad square, try to get it to a better one. Always strive to put pieces on the best squares in the least number of moves. It is extremely important to have active, well placed pieces.


Don't give check for the purpose of giving check.   The object of the game is checkmate! No rating points or tournament points are awarded for the number of checks. Use checks to get tempo, force moves or buy time.


Passed pawns shouldn't always be pushed.   The goal, of course, is to promote them. Passed pawns generate a lot of pressure with your opponent, but remember to make sure you aren't pushing them to their death. Many times, the closer they get to promoting, the closer they are to the attack of the enemy king and may be dangerously behind enemy lines.


Don't exchange pieces for no reason.   (Especially good pieces for bad ones)When you are behind in material don’t exchange pieces (only pawns), when you are ahead in material, exchange pieces, not pawns.


Don't psyche yourself out (or in!) by your opponent's rating.   Frequently, a higher rated player takes a lower rated player for granted and gets careless. More commonly though, a lower rated player psyches himself out and loses the game mentally before making his first move. On any individual game, anything can happen. Play the board not the player.


Resigning too soon. - Never surrender!!!