Chess can be a difficult game to get into. With so many strategies to learn and the quick decision-making required for success, progressing from a beginner to an intermediate player can seem like a daunting task to approach.
However, it doesn’t have to be!
If you’re a beginner chess player looking to step up your game to an intermediate level, you’ve come to the right place. In this handy guide, we’ll teach you all you need to know about getting better at chess.
We’ll take you through the strategies and techniques you need to learn, as well as the best ways to go about improving your chess skills.
So read on, and follow this guide to getting better at chess!
How Do You Become An Intermediate Chess Player?
Before we get into becoming a better chess player, let’s go over what it means to be an intermediate player.
There isn’t a specific ranking or defined ‘Intermediate’ level in chess, but there are some general standards for classing intermediate players.
Intermediate players have an FIDE or chess.com rating of 1500-2000, but your score isn’t everything. You also need to be able to put your chess skills to good use in play.
As an intermediate player, you need to know a good range of openings and be strong with at least one White and one Black opening.
You should also be able to recognize and avoid most traps, though there might still be some trickier and unfamiliar gambits that you aren’t familiar with.
Intermediate players aren’t expected to be top class, and losing to a stronger player is more common simply due to less experience and knowledge of chess.
However, they’re still able to hold their own and are more skilled than beginner players.
How To Advance From Beginner To Intermediate: Tips And Tricks
So now that we’ve outlined what an intermediate chess player actually is, let’s take a look at how you can improve your chess skills to reach an intermediate player!
Here are some of the best tips and tricks to help you step up your game and progress from beginner to intermediate in chess:
1) Learn Your Openings
A wide range of openings is one of the best tools in your arsenal and is a great way to improve your skills as a player.
As mentioned earlier, intermediate players should know a varied selection of openings and should be strong with at least one opening for each side.
However, it’s a good idea to become skilled with at least two openings for Black and White, as this will help you improve your early game and give you a strong start in most games.
Most standard openings aim to take control of the center of the board, and some openings are more aggressive than others.
There are advantages and disadvantages to every chess opening, but a good knowledge of the more common openings and how they can progress is crucial at an intermediate level.
The most common openings involve the king pawn or the queen pawn. For White, the two most common openings are the King’s Pawn Opening or 1.e4 (which can lead to plays like an Open Game or the Italian Game), or the Queen’s Pawn Opening or 1.d4 (which opens up the Queen’s Gambit or the Bishop’s Opening).
For Black, some popular first-move defenses are the Sicilian Defense (which involves 1.e4 c5, moving your queenside bishop pawn forward two spaces), or declining a Queen’s Gambit.
Once you’ve memorized a wide range of openings, you can start learning to transpose them. This means being able to switch up strategies as you go, changing from one opening to another depending on your opponent’s following moves.
2) Learn Your Gambits (And How To Avoid Them)
Gambits are one of the more complicated parts of chess theory, and are what really separate the beginners from the intermediate. This includes knowing how to use them, as well as how to recognize and avoid them.
Gambits are plays in the opening of a game where a player deliberately sacrifices one of their pieces in order to gain an advantage in the long run.
The most popular and well-known gambit in chess is the Queen’s Gambit, a play that involves White giving up the queenside bishop pawn on the second turn in order to gain an advantage over the center (this is notated as 1.d4 d5 2.c4).
Learning about gambits will help you improve your chess skills and let you trap unsuspecting players. This isn’t the only advantage, though, and being able to recognize an opponent’s gambit will keep you from falling victim to them in the future!
3) Play Practice Games
Practice makes perfect, and no amount of theory will help you improve if you don’t put your knowledge to the test.
Playing plenty of practice games is what will really help you get better at chess, and will let you develop your skills against an actual opponent.
While learning chess theory is definitely helpful, being able to test your chess skills will help you form your own strategies and become more skilled at putting the techniques you’ve learned into practice.
Practicing against chess programs is a great way to learn the skills you need to know at an intermediate level, but playing against human opponents is just as valuable for helping you learn how a human player responds to certain strategies.
This is also where you’ll be able to see the most tangible improvement. Practicing for too long without noticing yourself getting better can be disheartening, especially if you have a string of losses in a row.
However, keeping track of your FIDE ranking will help you see your skills improve as you get more practice in!
4) Lock Down The Endgame
One of the trickiest things to learn when advancing to an intermediate level is how to secure a win in a game of chess.
The tables can easily turn if your strategy falls apart at the end of a game, and knowing how to reach a decisive ending will help you secure your victory.
Figuring out how to checkmate your opponent can seem tricky at first, but it’s actually fairly simple once you know what you’re doing.
Your best attacking pieces – rooks, bishops, and the queen – all have a wide range of movement that far outclasses the king.
By learning the best formations for trapping or cornering the opponent’s king (while avoiding the threat of their other remaining pieces), you can lock down the endgame in chess without much hassle.
Don’t think that only these pieces are valuable in the endgame, however; pawns can play just as crucial a role as a rook or a bishop, and are great at cornering a king or blocking an opponent’s piece.
But while knowing your endgame strategies is important, it’s just as crucial to remember ways these strategies can come undone.
Always remember not to get sloppy just because you’re in a stronger position, as any blunder can turn the tide against you in an instant.
5) Prepare To Lose
It might seem counterintuitive, but the reality is that you’re going to lose a lot of games while you’re learning the finer details of chess. This can be hard to deal with, but it’s okay not to be perfect straight away.
Improving at chess can be difficult, but persistence is one of the most important parts of progress. As long as you keep at it, you’ll develop your skills and become more consistent.
It’s also important to remember that you’ll be facing more skilled players as you improve yourself.
While losing can be disheartening, it’s a natural part of progressing in chess. So prepare to get a few losses under your belt before you start to see major improvement.
How Long Does It Take To Reach An Intermediate Level In Chess?
There’s no exact timeline of how long it takes to become an intermediate chess player, and everyone’s progress is different.
One thing is for certain, however – if you want to be an intermediate chess player, you’d better be in it for the long run.
Getting better at chess doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes a lot of practice and work to see real progress; with that said, though, as long as you’re willing to put in the effort you’ll be able to see your chess game improve in no time!
Becoming an intermediate chess player isn’t easy, but it’s definitely an achievable goal if you’re willing to put in the work necessary.
As long as you follow the tips and tricks in this guide, you’ll be able to step up your chess game and improve your skills in no time at all.
So while getting better at chess might seem like a daunting task at first, you can use this handy guide (and plenty of practice) to work on your skills and become an intermediate chess player.
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