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

"Excellence at chess is one mark of a scheming mind."
— A. Conan Doyle (in the mouth of Sherlock Holmes)

  from Stanton Nesbit