Why do you lose at chess?

Want to improve your chess? Start here! I have watched and analysed and commented on many junior chess games over the years, and I am pretty clear now about the most common reasons for losing a game [or drawing a game you were winning]. They are:

* missing basic tactics
* not sure what to do in the opening
* not sure what to do *after* the opening
* mistakes in finishing off and endgames

Here are some cures:

TACTICS

Make sure you know all the basic tactics
http://www.exeterchessclub.org.uk/x/FTP/tactics6.pdf

Practise spotting tactics
http://www.exeterchessclub.org.uk/x/FTP/tactics6b.pdf

Sign up and rate your tactics at the Chess Tactics Server

Practise checking whether your tactic is a hit a miss or a trap
Easy:
http://www.exeterchessclub.org.uk/x/FTP/mixedpuzzles.pdf
http://www.exeterchessclub.org.uk/x/FTP/mixedpuzzlesanswers1.pdf
Harder:
http://www.exeterchessclub.org.uk/x/FTP/mixedpuzzles2.pdf
http://www.exeterchessclub.org.uk/x/FTP/mixedpuzzlesanswers2.pdf

A course in chess tactics: [PDF] [PGN]
Tactical ideas illustrated with short games in the Italian Game and related openings.

OPENINGS

Know an opening system for White (starting either 1.e4 or 1.d4)
http://www.exeterchessclub.org.uk/x/FTP/JuniorRepertoire.pdf

Know TWO defensive systems for Black (starting either 1.e4 or 1.d4)
http://www.exeterchessclub.org.uk/x/FTP/JuniorRepertoire.pdf

Know how to play as White against odd black defences (starting either 1.e4 or 1.d4)
http://www.exeterchessclub.org.uk/x/FTP/JuniorRepertoire.pdf

[DOWNLOAD all these games in a PGN file for your chess software or play over the examples here]

MIDDLEGAME PLANNING

Know what sorts of squares your pieces like
http://www.exeterchessclub.org.uk/x/FTP/strategy6.pdf

Know how to attack and how to defend

Know how to make a plan
http://exeterchessclub.org.uk/content/planning-0

FINISHING OFF and ENDGAMES

Know how to finish off a game by swapping off pieces
http://www.exeterchessclub.org.uk/x/FTP/finishing.pdf

Know the basic mates
http://exeterchessclub.org.uk/content/essential-checkmate-patterns
http://exeterchessclub.org.uk/content/vukovics-mates

Practise simple endgames
http://www.exeterchessclub.org.uk/x/FTP/iec.pdf

[Updated with links]

Chess Quotes

"When it is so freely asserted that Morphy's style was all genius and inspiration ... Morphy possessed that most profound book knowledge of any master of his time, and never introduced a single novelty, whereas since his day the books have had to study the players...

 We may all learn from Morphy and Anderssen how to conduct a King's side attack, and perhaps I myself may not have learnt enough.

— Wilhelm STEINITZ