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How to avoid blunders: Top 5 Tips for Beginners and Intermediate Players

December 16, 2021December 16, 2021No comments

As a chess coach, out of all the questions I receive every day, the most asked one is “How do I not blunder” – and you might also have the same question!

It is important to note that blunders happen at all levels. You will be surprised once you realize how many blunders happen every day at the Grandmaster level.

A good example is the recently concluded World Championship Match between Nepo and Magnus Carlsen, in which the former blundered in the last three rounds. Yet, I would still speculate that the odds of a strong played blundering into a loss are less than 10% under normal circumstances.

The reason why I wrote the above lines is to make it clear that blundering is normal and happens to the best of us. But, if the (close) majority of your games are being decided by blunders, then that is something to work on.

For example, there are many thinking methods available in the chess world, like Dorfman’s Method In Chess, Kotov’s Candidate Moves, and many others, but what is clear about this, is that these complicated methods are usually used in “critical positions” only, since using any method in every move would make you lose a lot of time.

Many strong and experienced players trust their intuition to find the best move. This, however, is not the recommended way for a beginner or an intermediate player since a strong chess player’s intuition is built around years of chess practice, experience, and also talent.

The method I propose below has worked very well for beginners and intermediate players (at least those I train) – this usually works for players below 1800~ & after that, other important factors also come into play. But, the method described below is still something that a player must take into account in their decision making.

1) For every move, take a glance at all the pieces on the board and see if anything is unsupported or hanging (you get better and faster at this automatically as you improve, for stronger players, this is something they don’t even consider as everything is almost intuitive).

2) If something is hanging, defend it (obviously, if there is something even better like a tactic or sacrifice, do that – but at least you are aware of what is hanging)

3) If you spot an undefended piece of your own, see if any of your opponent’s pieces can capture it. If it is your opponent’s piece that is undefended, see if you can capture it.

4 – If nothing is hanging or undefended, trust your intuition and think about playing that move.

5 – How to think properly? I recommend that instead of blitzing out your intuitive move, think about what you would do if you were playing from your opponent’s viewpoint after the move in your mind. Begin by considering a single variation and one move each (more if you can, but don’t push yourself too far because time constraints may arise). If you’re satisfied with the position that arises after this process, go ahead and play that move.

What I am critical about the well-known methods that have been public is the fact that they are mainly written about Classical Chess, when most of the Chess Fans usually play Rapid, at least online. Time Management is a huge issue when it comes to following such methods and, maybe in a critical position it is plausible to implement such complicated methods yet thinking too much can also become an issue.

The method described above is something that you can implement in your games, however, i am not saying that this is the “Perfect Method” even if performed for my students to improve. I must point out that I mean no disrespect to other authors I talked about in this article (In-fact, I use Dorfmans Method myself in OTB IRL games) – Remember that there is no “one fixed method” – what increases your rating and gives you result, is the best method. If there would have been one best-fixed method, We all probably would be GMs by now 😉

Best of Luck, Thanks for reading.

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