- Learn the rules of chess.
- Learn how to play chess openings.
- Master chess tactics.
- Study chess endgames.
- Improve your attacking skills.
- Discover how to play positional chess.
- Work heavily on chess strategy.
Your Journey to Chess Mastery Begins Here
We have put together this chess video guide to give you a clear route from chess beginner to chess expert.
In a world where the abundance of information can make it hard to know what to work on first, this chess video guide should help.
Firstly, you will find specific suggestions on what to study based on your current rating. Secondly, you can watch instructive videos that will improve your game right here on this page.
You will probably want to jump to the section for your current level, which makes sense, but also look at lower-rated sections to make sure there’s nothing missing from your game, and feel free to look ahead to see what the future holds!
There’s no better time to get started on your journey from chess beginner to chess expert. Use this chess video training guide to help you stay on track.
From Knowing Nothing About Chess to Nothing Stopping You! (0 – 1000)
Every chess beginner starts at the same place – learning the rules. While chess can get complicated, the rules are easy enough to learn.
This section will show you how to set up the chess board and how the pieces move. While learning how the pieces move, think about the type of positions they would enjoy.
For example, because a knight can jump over another piece it will do well in a crowded (or closed) position. A bishop is a long-range piece that can take advantage of a more open board.
The king needs to be protected so is safer if it is surrounded by its own pieces, especially pawns. The queen is the strongest piece so is more likely to be used in an attack.
In the video below, former Women’s World Champion Susan Polgar explains how chess pawns move. You will learn how they advance, how they capture, and what happens if they reach the other side of the board.
This is just one chapter from GM Polgar’s brilliant 7-hour course for absolute chess beginners:
Susan also explains more unusual chess rules – like en passant, castling, and how to deal with checks.
Ending a Chess Game
There are three possible ways for a game to end:
- Draw – a draw can be agreed upon by the players at any point. The game will also be declared a draw if one or both sides have insufficient material to deliver checkmate. There are also a couple of rare situations that lead to a draw, namely the 50-move rule and 3-move repetition.
- Stalemate – where one player is unable to make a legal move but is not in check. The game is declared a draw.
- Checkmate – when the king is under attack and unable to avoid being captured. The side whose king is attacked loses.
“Every chess master was once a beginner.” – Irving Chernev.
The Chess Opening
As a beginner, you don’t need to spend too much time studying chess openings. However, it certainly helps to understand good chess opening principles.
There are three principles to keep in mind during the opening. They are to control the center, develop your pieces efficiently, and safeguard your king.
Most games at this level are won by a player gaining an overwhelming material advantage. This makes keeping your pieces safe your #1 priority.
In particular, you should keep your king safe at all costs! Here’s another useful lesson from GM Susan Polgar on how to protect your king… and attack your opponent’s:
One way to make sure you don’t lose your pieces is to check that each one is protected. Remember this piece of wisdom from chess grandmaster John Nunn, “Loose pieces drop off”. (“Loose” meaning “unprotected”).
Before moving your piece to a particular square, check that your opponent isn’t attacking that square. Simply avoiding making the mistake of hanging your pieces will net you plenty of wins at this level.
At this stage, you should learn how to attack and checkmate your opponent. After all, checkmating your opponent is the aim of the game.
You will learn a lot about chess from studying how to attack. You usually need at least three pieces to launch a successful attack, so you should develop your pieces quickly.
Working on your attacking chess will help you spot opportunities to win the game. It will also help you understand how the different pieces work together.
Here is another great video from GM Susan Polgar. In it, Susan explains some of the principles of the chess attack. (To help your chess improvement, you can get the rest of Susan’s course for half-price here).
Forks! Skewers! Pins! (1000 – 1400)
As you cross the 1000 Elo mark, continue watching chess videos with an emphasis on learning chess tactics and attacking chess. Attacking is a lot easier than defending, so keep pressing your opponent.
A successful attack might include some of the following tactics:
- and undefended pieces.
At this level, you should know basic checkmates like a back rank mate (or corridor mate) and smothered mate. Knowing how to win the game with these checkmates will also keep you safe from losing to them. Your opponent is also trying to win, so don’t ignore their threats.
One of the easiest ways to tell if your attack will succeed is to count the number of attacking pieces and the number of defenders. While there are exceptions, it is usually an advantage to have more attacking pieces than your opponent has defenders.
A good rule to remember is to count a piece as a defender if it’s in the same quarter of the board as the king. For instance, if the king is on g8, that quarter would be from e5-e8-h8-h5.
Of course, every rule has its exceptions. The queen, rook, and bishop can defend along an open line from the far side of the board.
Look out for those distant defenders too. Many players forget that, in chess, the pieces can move and capture backwards. Also, it can be easy to get lost looking at only one section of the board where all the action is, and forget about long-distance pieces elsewhere!
Chess Endgames for Beginners
“To improve in chess, you should in the first instance study the endgame.” – Jose Raul Capablanca.
Many players neglect the study of chess endgames. This creates a weakness in their play that you can take advantage of if you follow the advice of the 3rd world champion, Jose Raul Capablanca.
First, you should learn how to checkmate your opponent in the endgame with a queen, rook and queen, and two rooks.
After that, you can learn more complicated checkmates, like the mate with bishop and knight, explained by IM Anna Rudolf in this video:
Anna has a best-selling course dedicated to chess endgames. To encourage you to take this important step and improve your chess endgames, you can get Anna’s Essential Endgames Course for half-price by clicking here.
The most important endgames to study at this stage are king and pawn endings.
Learn about the opposition, triangulation, shouldering, and the rule of the square. These form the building blocks of nearly all endgames.
Know Thy Enemy
While it may seem obvious, many chess players forget they are playing an opponent. Someone trying to attack them and win material.
Just as you have attacking plans you are trying to implement, your opponent is working hard to launch an attack of their own.
This makes it important to develop the habit of asking, “Why did my opponent play that move? What is his aim?”
Similarly, you must know the reason behind your own move and ask, “Why am I playing this move?”
First, look to stop or slow down your opponent’s plans before pushing your own plan forward. Of course, attacking your opponent is one way to keep them from continuing with their plans.
Yesterday Nada! Today Naroditsky! Chess Strategy (1400 – 1700)
At this level, it’s important to keep working hard on your tactical and attacking skills. There are plenty of online tactics trainers that can help you here.
When it comes to improving your attacking play, you should look to seize and profit from the initiative every chance you get. The player with the initiative in chess is the one making threats, asking questions and forcing their opponent to react.
GM Daniel Naroditsky does a fantastic job of explaining the concept of the initiative in this video:
Working on your pattern recognition is a big part of getting better at chess. This is the ability to notice how elements of the position are similar to positions you have seen before.
For instance, if you see that your opponent’s king is trapped on the back-rank by its own pawns and has no rooks protecting that rank, you might recognize the potential for a back-rank mate.
Pattern recognition helps you put your pieces on their best squares and spot tactical opportunities fast.
A basic example is understanding the importance of a defending knight on f6 (or f3 for White).
If your opponent moves this knight away, this should alert you to a possible attack on the h2 or h7 square. It might not be possible immediately, but you should keep in mind this weak spot in your opponent’s position. You might remember it as “No knight on f6? Weak h7.”
In this game from 1985, Anthony Miles (playing Black) waits until Dizdarevic moves his knight away from f3 to launch a devastating attack on the kingside:
This is the value of pattern recognition.
Learning to recognize a tactical combination is useful but understanding why it works is even more powerful.
And while attacking is lots of fun, make sure you’re not vulnerable in defense. We have all heard that the best form of defense is attack. Don’t get so focused on what you’re doing that you neglect your opponent’s chances of counter-attack.
Chess Endgames for Intermediate Players
Working on your endgame is the next most important thing you can do. The endgame might not appear glamorous, but it has its own beauty and will improve both your tactical and strategic play.
It’s also perhaps the most rewarding phase of the game in terms of winning points. A player with superior endgame knowledge can often win “lost” positions by repeatedly capitalizing on the many subtle mistakes their opponent makes.
At this level, you should seek to master king and pawn endings and become proficient in rook endings too. The Lucena and Philidor rook endgames should be learned as they occur frequently in practical games.
Queen and pawn endings are tricky endings that you should be familiar with too.
Remember, in a queen and pawn ending, one far advanced pawn can be more valuable than four or five pawns on their starting squares.
This kind of endgame insight can help you decide to trade pieces and go for the endgame even if you’re way down on material.
You should also expand your knowledge of your chosen opening by learning more about its strategic ideas.
“Pawns are the soul of chess.” – Philidor.
Are you playing for a position where you have an isolated queen pawn (IQP) or hanging pawns? The placement of your pieces depends on the pawn structure of your opening.
Once you know which pawn structures occur most often, you can focus your middlegame studies on learning how to play with them.
In an IQP position, you have more space to set up a bishop and queen battery attacking h7, making it a dangerous tactic you can use. Hanging pawns give you space and the flexibility to change the shape of the position – but you have to prevent your opponent from blocking them.
Add another element to your chess game by developing your positional play. Learn about:
- Isolated, doubled or backward pawns,
- Weak color complexes,
- Open lines,
- The seventh rank, and
- Good and bad bishops,
Anatoly Karpov, one of the best positional chess players in the history of the game, explains how to handle middlegame strategies in this instructive video, a chapter from his 15-hour Master Method video series:
If you want to learn more on positional chess, you can get The Anatoly Karpov Method with 50% off.
Another key positional concept to start learning about now is centralization. This was a favored strategy of chess world champion Anatoly Karpov and won him many games.
I Don’t Have Bad Pieces… Mine Are All Deadly! (1700 – 2000)
Firstly, congratulations on reaching this level. You’re already stronger than most regular players!
But you’re ambitious and know you’re capable of more. So what should you be doing to improve your chess quickly and get to the 2000 Elo level?
You still need to be working on your openings, tactics, endgames, and positional play… just taking everything up a gear.
Solving chess puzzles should be part of your daily routine. It will keep you sharp, improve your chess calculation, and you will be absorbing a ton of new tactical patterns too. It’s the quickest way to improve your pattern recognition and chess intuition.
“Winning is not a secret that belongs to a very few, winning is something that we can learn by studying ourselves, studying the environment, and making ourselves ready for any challenge that is in front of us.” – Garry Kasparov.
By now you probably have your favorite openings. It’s time to specialize and broaden your knowledge. Find grandmasters who play(ed) your opening and study their games to learn new strategies and get a deeper feel for the positions.
Study different variations and sidelines so you know what to do in any situation.
You should already have a good grasp of endgame fundamentals. But don’t let your rivals catch up with you!
Get ahead by studying rook and minor piece endings, rook versus minor-piece endgames, and minor piece endings – the topic of this 40-minute chess lesson by GM Efstratios Grivas (peak rating 2528):
There are going to be times when you come up against a tough player and need to sacrifice an exchange to stay in the game. You better know how to handle the rook vs. bishop endgame otherwise you’ll undo all your hard work.
Become competent at these endgames, however, and your skills will exceed those of most of your rivals – essential for beating them and advancing to the 2000+ level.
You also need to keep refining your positional chess by analyzing master games. You can pick a favorite player and study their games, or perhaps watch some live chess tournaments.
Look for the moves that surprise you and try to understand them. Why didn’t they play the ‘obvious’ move? Why did the player go for a seemingly un-positional move? Asking these questions and being an active learner will open your eyes to deeper truths and really improve your chess.
Leave the Chess Wasteland! (2000 – 2300)
You are now officially a chess expert and on the way to master!
At this point, your abilities as a strong player in all three phases will be put to the test.
You still need to be working on your tactics. You will naturally get stronger with practice so keep up the daily puzzles but also set time aside for solving chess studies.
Chess studies test and develop your creativity as well as calculation. They often feature unusual positions where you cannot rely on your pattern recognition or look for typical solutions.
You will probably find it tougher to take down your opponents in a direct attack at this level. They know all the usual attacking ideas too. Which is why superior positional or endgame play is often decisive.
That doesn’t mean you should give up on attacking play, however. Not by a long shot. You need multiple strings to your bow. You need to be able to win in many different ways.
This video on attacking the king by the 2018 US Chess Champion GM Sam Shankland will be of great help:
Sam has produced a fantastic 15-hour Master Method course on advanced chess tactics and calculation. Check it out here (and get a big discount).
The signs of potential tactics are well-known to you now. You always scan the position for:
- Passive pieces.
- Back-rank weaknesses.
- Pawns that have advanced too far.
- Loose pieces.
- Weak king position.
Endgame play becomes even more important now. Once you cross the 2000 Elo mark, your endgame technique will be essential in converting small advantages into victories.
Improve your understanding of chess endgames by analyzing various types of endings played between two grandmasters.
Bishop endgames, knight endgames, queen endgames, and – most importantly – rook endgames.
The following are some of the best chess endgame players to study:
- Akiba Rubinstein
- Jose Raul Capablanca
- Vasily Smyslov
- Bobby Fischer
- Ulf Andersson
- Anatoly Karpov
- Magnus Carlsen
“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” – Sun Tzu
With all your hard work in other areas, it would be a shame to be let down by your positional play and strategy. Are you going to adopt a strategy of prophylaxis or maintain the tension in the middlegame?
You should be thinking about which pieces are good or bad for both sides, and how the dynamics of the position could be changed with a pawn break or exchange. And, crucially, understand what steps you need to take to achieve your positional aims while preventing your opponent from doing the same.
There’s no doubt getting your rating up to 2000 Elo requires a solid opening repertoire and a fairly decent knowledge of opening play. At this level, it’s time to devote more attention to the opening.
Analyze your favorite lines deeper. Work more on the resulting middlegame positions. Start learning some new openings so you’re not so easy to prepare for.
If you would like to know how to create an opening repertoire, this video by IM Hans Niemann will help you out:
Many players spend all their time switching from one opening to another, changing because they get bored or suffered a bad loss. These are not good reasons to change your opening. After all, you’re throwing away all your knowledge and experience in those lines.
It is better to be objective and consider whether the type of positions you get from the opening suit your style.
If you get better results from closed positions, then you should choose openings like the Caro-Kann, French, or Queen’s Gambit Declined as Black, and the Catalan or Closed Sicilian as White.
If you get better results from open positions, consider openings like the Scandinavian, gambits, and the Open Sicilian.
You might find you’re more comfortable with symmetrical pawn structures, a kingside fianchetto, or openings that delay exchanges. Also, consider the typical endgames that can be reached from openings like the Benko Gambit or the Catalan Opening.
There are thousands of top-quality, well-produced chess videos to help you improve your game. There is no doubt they can help take you from absolute beginner to master.
Make sure you like the presenter’s personality and are comfortable with their talking speed if you’re going to sit through 16 hours of instruction. You won’t get much out of the course if you’re distracted by things you dislike.
Even if the presenter doesn’t suggest it, you will get a lot more from the course if you pause the video, and think about the position in front of you, instead of just passively listening to the solution.
Engagement is everything!
Chess videos are a very useful training tool that can prove both enjoyable and rewarding in your journey to becoming a better chess player. Apply yourself and you will reap the rewards of your effort.