Want to improve your thought process in chess? Start by studying Chess University’s Analytical Thinking Method. As you consider making your next chess move, you must perform a reality check. Look at the whole board to analyze forcing moves (checks, captures, and threats) for both sides. Evaluate your opponent’s key responses to the moves you are considering. Choose your move after evaluating your options.
Ask yourself these questions each turn to prevent simple mistakes:
- Did my opponent’s last move contain a threat? Is the threat real and if so, does it require an immediate response? Or am I able to safely proceed with my own plan?
- Are my pieces sufficiently protected? Do I have a piece that is hanging? Does my opponent have an under-protected piece?
- Is my king safe? What about the opponent’s king? Can I take advantage of my opponent’s king by, for example, preventing him from castling?
- Did my opponent’s last move prevent the threat posed by my previous move?
- Do I still need to develop my pieces?
- Can I bring my rooks to an open file or in general, make them useful? Can I double up rooks on an open file? Do I still need to open files for my rooks?
- Does my opponent have any weaknesses? What are the targets I should considering attacking (undefended pieces, under-protected pieces or squares, open king, etc.)?
- How can I attack the target(s)? What weaknesses can be exploited? What’s the plan?
- After looking away for a few seconds and revisiting the position with a completely clean, unbiased mindset, does the move I am about to make appear to be a mistake? Am I hanging a piece? Am I falling for a forced checkmate? Did I analyze all forcing moves (checks, captures, and threats)? Are my thoughts consistent with what I am calculating?
By applying this analytical thinking method, you will manage to examine positions more thoroughly and better organize your thoughts.