11 Chess Tips From Magnus Carlsen That Every Chess Player Needs to Know
You want to get better at chess right? I mean, come on, who doesn’t.
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- 11 Chess Tips From Magnus Carlsen That Every Chess Player Needs to Know
Well getting better at chess takes time and lots of practice. I mean, I played chess for about 8 years before I got to about 1900 rating, which is pretty decent for club level tournament players:
But wait a minute…
Well, I assume that some of you who are reading this post may actually be rated higher than 1900.
Recently, World Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen, gave his top 13 tips on how to become a better chess player.
I have decided to elaborate and discuss some of Carlsen’s advice on chess.
Read along and enjoy! :)
Chess Tip #1. You can learn from almost every game and everyone. Play against people from all different levels at different time controls from all around the world.
Thats right. The more varied your playing portfolio is, the better usually. You can learn from the good and the bad players. Learn from the good chess players on what to do…
And, well, from the bad players…just pick the stuff you do not want to do. But either way, you are seeing more patterns and recognizing them when you learn from others.
This is what drives chess players to be able to come up with good moves instantly, as in a blitz chess game, for example.
Chess Tip #2. My best tip of all, challenge yourself by playing against Play Magnus app.
The guy is insane. Now he has launched an app also which lets you play him in various ages of his life. So you can play an 11-year-old Magnus or a 13-year-old Carlsen…
The app is available for Android devices.
But, do not be fooled…He was really really good even at that tender age!
Don’t believe me? Watch this video of Magnus playing his own app set to age 20 and actually only settling for a draw!
Chess Tip #3. Take regular breaks from chess. Train your body as well as your mind.
Yeah, because if you do anything too much, you can experience burnout. Same is true for chess.
This is especially important in chess actually because chess uses so much of your brain’s CPU.
If you do not take regular breaks from the game and enjoy sports and other physical activities, your chess game will actually suffer as a result.
But most importantly….you don’t wanna be dubbed as a chess nerd…
So, go out there and also play some soccer, or tennis, or something else like Magnus does!
Chess Tip #4. Now it would appear that I have to go back on naming tip #2 the most important one, because this is the most important one. Have fun playing chess.
Magnus clearly lets us know that ultimately, chess is a fun game, and the entire purpose of playing should be to enjoy and make new friends.
If you start to take chess too seriously and in the process make the game less fun for yourself and others, you are kind of missing the point.
Some people become pretty serious about chess and focus too much on winning.
While this may actually work. They may actually get better at chess and win more games as a result of this more serious approach, but…it can also lead to a chess burnout…
You could get “chessed out”….
So, the best thing I can suggest is to not take chess to seriously. Instead, use it as a medium to have a great time with friends and family and exercise your brain! :)
Chess Tip #5. Expand your horizons. Try different openings, different ways of playing in order to broaden your understanding of the game.
I have to admit, I am definitely a victim of not doing this one.
I ALWAYS open with 1. d4 simply because I know those lines very well and can gear the direction of the game in the way I want it to go.
But, here is the deal:
IF YOU PLAY THE SAME OPENINGS OVER AND OVER, YOU WILL NOT GET BETTER AT CHESS!
Its that simple. Playing the same moves over and over only exposes you to those types of positions. But what if you get into a game and someone starts with 1. g4?
You will be totally confused. But if you are already used to playing a few different types of openings, chances are that you will probably have some familiarity with even some of the most bizarre potions.
Speaking of weird games…Check out this ridiculous game between 2 crazy players…
I mean what were they thinking??
This HAS to be an April Fool’s joke…considering it was played on March 30th…
[Event “FIN-ch U18”]
[White “Antti Lehtinen”]
[Black “Tuomas Simola”]
1.Nh3 Na6 2.Na3 Nh6 3.Ng5 Nb4 4.Nb5 Ng4 5.Ne4 Nd5 6.Nd4 Ne5
7.Nc3 Nf6 8.Nf3 Nc6 9.Nb1 Ng8 10.Ng1 Nb8 11.e4 c5 12.Nc3 Nc6
13.g3 g6 14.Bg2 Bg7 15.d3 e6 16.Be3 d6 17.Qd2 a6 18.h4 h6
19.f4 Nf6 20.e5 dxe5 21.Bxc5 exf4 22.Qxf4 Nh5 23.Qe3 Qa5
24.Nge2 Nb4 25.Bxb4 Qxb4 26.O-O-O O-O 27.a3 Qd6 28.Ne4 Qe7
29.g4 Nf6 30.g5 Nd5 31.Qf2 h5 32.Nf4 Nxf4 33.Qxf4 Ra7 34.Nf6+
Kh8 35.Bf3 b5 36.Bxh5 gxh5 37.Qf3 Bxf6 38.gxf6 Qc5 39.Qf4 Qf5
40.Qh6+ Kg8 41.Rdg1+ 1-0
But, really though, as Carlsen said, if you wanna get really good at chess, you pretty much have to try out various types of openings.
Like for example, if you see there is a particular opening which throws you off every time, next time, play that opening yourself! Try it out and see how you do.
Because playing different positions that you are not used to will make you more familiar with those positions and increase your knowledge of chess as a whole, which can be very powerful.
Playing the same openings over and over again will only familiarize you with certain positions. But as a high level chess player, you pretty much have know how to play all types of positions.
Chess Tip #6. Challenge your brain with other puzzles. It will improve your problem solving skills.
Chess is pretty much mostly tactics at the end of the day.
Being able to play chess well depends on your pattern recognition skills in chess.
Thats why you need to play lots and lots of games of chess in order to know the good moves quickly in any given position.
This uncanny ability to know the good moves from the bad ones only comes after years of practice and a very keen sense of patter recognition skills.
Also, a great author by the name, Malcom Gladwell, points to chess and says that 10,000 hours of practice are needed in order to achieve mastery in anything and chess is no different.
Curious about the 10,000-hour rule??
I was too. Here is more on Malcom Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule and how it also applies to chess mastery.
My recommendation is that you buy a puzzle book or get a membership on chess.com and do the tactics trainer. Seeing 100’s of tactical positions and trying to solve them will help you in recognizing those same patterns when they actually occur in your real game.
Just for Kicks and Giggles, here is my tactics summary on chess.com (I give my account to some students to play sometimes, hence the super low rating!) : – )
But always remember: No matter how good you are at tactics, if you do not have a solid understanding of strategy, you will not be able to figure the correct tactical motifs in many positions.
Therefore, we say that: TACTICS ARE SLAVE TO STRATEGY!
Chess Tip #7. Get enough sleep. From when I was young till the age I’m now, I always try to get at least nine hours of sleep everyday when I’m playing tournaments. It’s vital to keep a clear head.
It is actually very true that when you are running on less sleep, you brain is not functioning at its peak.
Your brain is not fully alert.
And…you brain is likely to miss a lot of small and simple tactics!
Getting sufficient sleep is crucial to playing sound chess for long periods of time. Otherwise, after a few hours, you will start to feel sleepy or very tired and your eyes will be seeing things on the board which does not even exist.
Coffee or energy drinks can help but not always. Eventually you will crash.
I remember, the famous Grandmaster, Leonid Yudasin, once told me one of his tricks when he gets sleepy over the board:
He simply goes to the bathroom and splashes some cold water on his eyes and comes back to the board, refreshed.
But still, just make sure to get enough rest. Don’t get so anxious the night before a tournament. Don’t stay up all night studying your openings.
Just relax and have fun and get enough sleep. You will crush your opponents, don’t worry.
Chess Tip #8. Eat and drink well. My favorite drink while playing is orange juice mixed with water, as probably most of you know.
At least its non-alcoholic…
Drinking a lot of fluids and staying hydrated can help you stay attentive during your game. Without water in your system, you might feel lethargic or tired. Personally, my favorite drink is mango juice.
If I can have this during my chess game, I will win against anyone ;)….well not really, but you get the point.
But…don’t make the mistake of drinking too much water! You don’t wanna have to go pee every other move!
If you get up from the board too often, your opponent might get suspicious and think you are cheating or something by going to the bathroom and plugging in the position into your phone chess engine and getting an answer.
Just make sure you stay properly hydrated in a normal manner, and you don’t have to worry about all of this stuff.
Chess Tip #9. Learn from watching others. I have put a few movies in the app that you can learn from.
I constantly review the games of the masters and analyze their moves. Its a really powerful way to get better at chess very quickly.
What I like to do is play throuh the GM games and try to guess which move they made next. This strategy is very helpful and helps you a lot with your positional and tactical game.
Also, you can watch lectures and read chess books of course. I like Jeremy Silman‘s course books on How to Reassess Your Chess. I also like watch the many helpful lectures on chess.com by masters such as Sam Shankland and Daniel Rensch.
You can also try to go to some local tournaments just to watch the games of the masters. Also, many international chess events are sometimes broadcast LIVE. You can watch those (which often come with LIVE commentary of the game) and learn a lot of new tricks.
Chess Tip #10. Sit at the chess board and play against yourself. It will improve your feel for the game.
I know this sounds kinda weird, but just try it out. Playing against yourself is a good way to better understand your own style of play.
When you do this, try to be impartial and play the best moves from both sides. Do not get bored and quit in the middle of the game.
Instead, finish the entire game.
Let me tell you why:
Because this shows that you can stay focused on the game for a long period of time without getting bored or distracted. These skills are highly essential in order to become a top player. National tourmament time controls are usually over 4 hours per game for long games. Some games can even go for as long as 6 hours!
Chess Tip #11. Study past players. Learn from their games, and incorporate their techniques into your own play.
Similar idea to chess tip #9.
But, the idea here is to make sure you are learning from the greatest players of all time. These guys have ruled the chess worlds during their times and have set concrete examples of how to play solid chess.
In fact, these people’s styles are original and often fun to watch and learn from.
But…don’t just stop at watching and learning from them….
APPLY THESE SKILLS INTO YOUR OWN GAME!
Chess is one of those games where you need both knowledge and also application.
Just one without the other won’t make you a great chess player.
So as you learn from these greats, see if you can start to incorporate some of their ideas and moves into your own game.
If they play a certain opening you have been wanting to learn, awesome! Try it out in your next game.
I mean, if you can really start to play like some of these people, you know for a fact, you are on your way to becoming one of the greats also!
In this article, I have taken 11 Chess Tips from Magnus Carlsen that Every Chess Player Needs to Know and sort of broken them down and tried to explain a little bit better.
My hope is that you will take these tips into serious consideration, not because I am telling you they work for me, but because the great Magnus Carlsen himself is telling you they work.
And ultimately, he is still the best chess player in the world right now.
So…if you do not take my advice on these tips, at least take Magnus Carlsen’s!
Anyway, so, after you have tried some of these techniques out, let me know how they do for you!
I want you comment below and tell me your experiences with these tips.
Is there any particular tip shared in this article that you really LOVE or HATE?
Let me know!
I am looking forward to reading all your comments.
Thanks and ADIOS! ;)