What is the most challenging aspect of playing chess?

chess challenges

I have conducted a survey on my website regarding the most difficult part of learning chess or the most significant challenge they have when playing chess. There are many interesting answers, but the one answer that stuck to my mind is that they have challenges of chess calculation.

Calculating chess is a method of seeing three, four, or more moves ahead, the mistake most chess players make when they try to apply this method is that they only think of their moves. The correct way of calculating chess moves is to think about what your opponent’s next move will be. That is the only way to implement this in your game effectively.

In this article, I will share with you ideas on how to calculate chess moves and show you other chess challenges that people mentioned during the survey.

Chess challenges survey of more than 30 chess players 

Out of more than 30 chess players that I surveyed wherein 32% of them are woman, 10% of them said that one of their biggest challenges is “always getting caught in a chess trap”! 26% of them said that they want to “improve their opening, middle game, or endgame strategy”, and 35% were referring to “chess calculations.”

But the most interesting answers from the survey were the ones that were explaining their challenges in more specific details.

In the next section I will share with you some of of their important challenges that I think will benefit you .

4 specific chess challenges of chess players

I went ahead and picked 4 of the chess challenges of individual chess players on my survey that I think are the most important, and we’ll try to answer or give solutions to their problems.

Before that, I want to share the interesting data above regarding the survey. I want to share with you that most of the chess players who are learning or want to improve their game are either under 20 years old or over 70 years old!

That, to me, was really interesting, that showed me that people, even older than 70, are still playing and learning chess. While younger than 20 years old are still interested in playing one of the oldest games in the world, and more people are also already starting to learn about chess at this point! Isn’t it great?!

Alright, below are some of their specific questions, which I will try to help solve and refer to a reliable resource.

1. My biggest challenge is taking risks, playing aggressively, using gambits, etc.

Taking risks in chess is part of the game, and playing aggressively is part of a tactic that the greatest chess players developed throughout their careers.

Mikhail Tal is considered one of the most aggressive chess player because of his amazing Queen sacrifices. So, if you want to play aggressively and take significant risks, you can follow the great chess master Mikhail Tal.

Watch some of the popular Queen sacrifices of Mikhail Tal below;

Now, I want to add that I wanted to play aggressively to make my game more exciting, and yes, learning to play some of the famous chess gambits will help you achieve your goal.

Check out some of the chess gambits I played here.

2. I know how each piece moves, and I tend to think one or two moves ahead but do not have any strategies to checkmate.

Identifying checkmate patterns is an essential skill that you need to develop if you have difficulty winning by checkmate. This is what every chess player needs to study when they have time.

Related article: How can you checkmate in 4 moves? With helpful tips!

If you know how to identify a checkmate pattern, especially those that are not very obvious, are the most satisfying checkmate wins!

I also struggle with identifying checkmate patterns; that is why I will be adding another resource soon about checkmate patterns in my chess resources!

3. I have been struggling to know different threats and when to trade pieces.

I remember one of the chess coaches in chess.com (affiliate link) saying that if you can’t think of a good move, think of creating threats. That is an excellent strategy, and I always keep this in mind whenever I’m playing online.

Threats can be a potential fork threat, a skewer attack, pinning, or a checkmate threat.

Check out related article: Learn important chess tactics .

Study those types of attacks, and you will no longer struggle with identifying different threats in your game. 

Now, regarding the trading of pieces, you must know how to identify the chess pieces that are active and inactive. The rule of thumb is always to trade pieces with your opponent’s active chess piece against your inactive chess piece.

Remember that, and I suggest you pick up this chess ebook that will help you improve your overall chess game.

4. Not seeing moves my opponent can make after whatever move I make.

One of the essential skills you need to learn is forecasting your opponent’s next move. This is the most challenging aspect of the chess game. Learning how to calculate chess moves is like reading your opponent’s mind.

I am not going to claim that the ideas or method I’m going to share with you regarding chess calculation is the most effective method, there are many ways to improve your chess calculation skills. I’m only going to mention what I have tried myself in the games I play.

How to calculate your chess moves and your opponent’s chess moves?

How do super chess grandmasters like Magnus Carlsen, Wesley So, or Hikaru Nakamura, who play their advance moves in their mind even before their opponent finishes their final move?!

I believe it’s years of practice, reading many chess books and playing chess moves inside their head. Learning how to calculate chess moves is a real skill, and it’s not easy.

But this doesn’t mean there is no hope for us who just enjoys chess and those like us who want to win all the time. 🙂

There is not one unique technique that you need to master to learn how to do this; but instead, there are different ideas that you can learn to improve your skill of knowing your opponent’s next move slowly.

Here are some useful ideas you need to keep in mind to calculate chess moves effectively.

  1. Memorize and play popular chess openings
  2. Both players will always try to control the center of the board
  3. Check which of your chess pieces will have the most active move
  4. Check for pieces that you can capture
  5. Identify a check opportunity
  6. Solve chess puzzles or any chess exercises

1. Memorize and play popular chess openings

If you can memorize chess openings and play them well, you can easily calculate your opponent’s chess moves.

I have written some of the most popular chess openings in this article. 

2. Both players will always try to control the center of the board

Another easy way to calculate chess moves is to acknowledge that you and your opponent will always try to control the chessboard center.

Having that idea of controlling the center of the board inside your mind, you can easily forecast what your opponent’s next move is. This happens mainly in the opening game as well.

3. Check which of your chess pieces will have the most active move

Calculating your best moves means checking which of your chess pieces have the most active move. The best active move is a combination of capture and checkmate.

Learn how to identify an active move opportunity during your game.

4. Check for pieces that you can capture

If you can’t find an active move in your game, you should always look for pieces you can capture. Remember you should be careful with exchanges, too; check if it is a trap or check if you will gain material or you’ll be able to advance your pieces.

5. Identify a check opportunity

Having to identify check opportunities is essential to delay an opponent’s move, execute a checkmate trap, or be able to advance your pieces.

If you have a check opportunity, you can forecast your opponent’s next move sometimes quite quickly.

6. Solve chess puzzles or any chess exercises

This should be part of your daily chess learning, and you should have daily puzzles or chess exercises available with you.

Today, it is easy to check online for chess puzzles and exercises that you can incorporate in your training if you want to master calculating your opponents’ chess moves.

Wrapping Up

I have identified that the most challenging aspect of playing chess is chess calculation. I also found useful video resources that you can study chess calculation on Youtube below;

Come to think of it, learning this skill will give you a massive advantage over your opponent and will surely increase your chances of winning most of your game.

I hope this article is helpful to your journey of solving some of your chess challenges! 

Gary Flores

Hi there! I'm a dad with kids who loves to learn how to play chess by learning online - also, this is my way of refreshing my knowledge about this game of tactics & strategy. I created chessdelights.com to inspire people who are also learning, re-learning or teaching their kids the game of chess.

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