Chess Psychology is a very interesting subject. That is because the key to winning more games is to understand the psychology behind why the opponent thinks the way he/she thinks. The opponents way of thinking will determine whether he/she will make many tactical, strategical or calculation mistakes. Without understanding why these concepts matter, it will be impossible to formulate short and long term strategies to help you win those games you deserve! Chess is as much about thinking at the present moment (as in what move will I make next) as it is about the consequences of making a move 4,5,6 moves down the line over the course of the game.

What is a Tactical Mistake?

A tactical mistake is one where you make a move and then you lose a piece (material) and have nothing to show for it. I have an example below where in one of my games, I lost a piece for nothing due to either a calculation mistake or just being under bad time pressure. The bishop is skewering my queen and knight and subsequently, will have to lose a piece. After my knight is taken, my rook falls.

What is a Strategic Mistake?

A strategic mistake is one where you make a move and while it isn’t a bad move, it is one where you didn’t take full advantage of the position given to you. Other forms of strategic mistakes include being too impatient with gaining space without regard for piece movement, fixing your opponents weaknesses without realizing it, and giving your opponent unnecessary tempos. An example is shown below. The reason why the example below is an example of a strategic mistake by black (after playing b5) is that black thought his attack was faster than white’s but that proved opposite after white played Bxh7+! thereby starting the process of weakening the g and h-files around black’s king.

How did I Miscalculate?

Miscalculation is one of the biggest problems you can face playing a very strong opponent. I want you in the comment box to give an example of how you thought a certain move would benefit you only to have it backfire due to not realizing that your opponent didn’t respond you thought the way he/she. I can’t even tell you countless games I have played where I thought I had an attack and thought I had any counter plays devised by my opponent under control but instead, vastly underestimated just how powerful my opponents own attack was! And then I lost the game! Instead of going into a deep analysis of a game I played, I want you to comment which move I miscalculated based upon the link to my game.

Conclusion-What are the Next Steps And What You Need to Do Now!

These are the steps you need to take to greatly reduce the probability of you making strategic, tactical and calculation mistakes.

  1. Stop and think! Unless you are in severe time pressure (or just playing blitz where you literally only have seconds to think), there is no reason as to why you need to think so quickly in making a move. Take the time to really figure out where you are at the present moment and then decide what your plan of action will be.
  2. Is your opponent thinking slowly or quickly? If they are thinking quickly, what can you do to use time to your advantage? Go head in your comments and think about how you would do that! If they are thinking very slowly, is it because you are playing very good moves that give the opponent an interesting dilemma as options are sometimes not your friends?
  3. Visualize the space your opponent currently occupies and from there, think about whether the opponent is trying to build an attack, create a spatial advantage, or playing for defense. This will prevent you from making strategic mistakes because by visualizing the strategy, you will know whether to play defense, counterattack, or to simply ignore what the opponent is doing because their strategy is all hot air.
  4. In order to stop tactical mistakes, assess the squares that your opponents pieces’ currently “own” and from there don’t invade the pieces’ territory! In the diagram below,
    it was clear that I pushed a pawn on a square controlled by white’s light squared bishop and was clear I lost material for nothing.

I hope you enjoyed this post and if you have any questions, feel free to comment below and i will be more than happy to answer!



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