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6 elements of a good move in chess

As a chess payer you should always strive to find the best moves. But how can you distinguish between a good move and a mediocre one?

To answer this question, here’s a list of 6 things that characterize good moves.

1. The move is not a mistake

Ok this sounds obvious but lets think about it for just a moment. When you make a move that isn’t a mistake, your opponent is under pressure to find a useful move since they can’t immediately exploit your position.

It is quite natural for us to want to make amazingly good moves. But let’s be honest here – how much importance do you give to the fact that you should, first of all, be sure that your move isn’t a mistake? Avoiding mistakes should be your priority since one bad move can instantly destroy the value of many good moves.

2. The move limits your opponent’s options

A move that forces your opponent to retreat their piece or to defend their position in a passive way is almost always a characteristic of a good move.

Forcing your opponent to defend means that you made a little progress whilst in the same time they couldn’t use their move to improve their position. In chess this is often referred to as grabbing the initiative – continually putting pressure on your opponent and forcing them to find defensive moves.

3. The move achieves a clear objective

Amateur players often make a move simply because they couldn’t think of anything else to do.

When you make a move – are you able to tell exactly the objective you achieve with that move? If yes, great. If no, you really need to try a bit harder to find a move that serves a clear purpose.

4. The move doesn’t weaken your structure

When your move creates a weakness it can sooner or later become a target for your opponent to attack.

Having weaknesses in your position is a liability. On the other hand, not having any weaknesses in your position makes it very hard for your opponent to find a plan. Avoiding weaknesses is a strategy in itself and since your opponent might become desperate to create a weakness in your position they might make a mistake which you can exploit.

Note that I say “attackable weaknesses”. If a weakness cannot be effectively attacked, then it isn’t really a serious weakness.

5. The move increases the overall activity of your pieces

Activity is a big word in chess. The objective of many well known chess strategies can be summarized in a few words –increase the overall activity of your pieces.

Moves that increases the mobility of your pieces are generally good ones. Similarly, moves which restrict the mobility of your own pieces are usually not ideal. Of course all moves need to be checked and backed up with calculation.

Ok so all these things makes a move a good move. But what then makes a move a great move?

6. A great move achieves multiple objectives!

This is the greatest skill of the masters – their ability to find moves that achieves multiple objectives. The moves improves their position, forces their opponent to defend, helps them gain initiative and of course the move is almost never a mistake.

Your ability to find a good move in a reasonable amount of time relies on your experience, knowledge and skill. If you work on these three areas then you will be able to find good moves that serves the need of the position. You can explore the rest of this website to further develop your knowledge and skill.

All that matters on the chessboard is good moves.” – Bobby Fischer