Learning how to play chess can be fascinating as well as frustrating depending on your approach or disposition towards the game. Yes, like any other sport or activity, one has to invest a lot of time and exercise utmost discipline if your efforts are to come to fruition.
Several readers have asked me how one becomes adept at chess, so I figure it is about time I attempted to lead them to the land flowing with milk and honey. Indeed chess is a great game to learn and play at a recreational level, but it gets more interesting as you plunge yourself onto the competitive stage.
As a beginner, moving the pieces around as you weave a mating (checkmate!) net around your opponent’s king brings much gratification. At this level, one hardly knows the intricacies involved in controlling the center of the board, castling as soon as possible, avoiding bringing the queen out too early in the game or moving the same piece more than once before developing others to active positions.
There then comes a time when one indulges into studying chess as you make progress, and even enlist the services of a coach or trainer. Only then do you realize that there is more to chess than what initially met your eyes! Suddenly you learn that pawn formations or structures are a critical facet of the game, and how you position them could spell doom or victory.
You also come to learn that you need a plan or strategy to overcome your opponent and that there is no room for ‘hope chess’, that is making weak moves hoping that your opponent doesn’t see through them then you pounce like a tiger on the loose! And as the game progresses, so do plans keep changing, for better or worse until checkmate do you part!
It is a great idea to study games of accomplished players so that you can develop the art of pattern recognition and understanding emerging themes from different positions that arise in the course of the game. Solving several puzzles per day also helps one in spotting tactics easily, a major component in playing winning chess.
Needless to say, your pieces must be working together in harmony, just like platoons in war. And practice and more practice is the key to success.