How to improve your strategic thinking

Strategic thinking isn’t something that can be learned from a guide. While you might learn strategies, the ability to formulate and adapt your own strategies is something that takes time and practice to master:

Start analysing your games and accepting feedback

In order to improve your strategy you first need to find out where it is that you’re falling short. To do this you’re going to have to gulp down a big slice of humble pie and start analysing your games. Record your games and analyse them either by yourself or have someone else analyse your games with you. Bringing in a more experienced player or an opponent to analyse your games is a great way to gain insight into the way they strategize and utilise their tactics. Everyone has their own ideas of what they might have done differently and it’s good to get that alternative perspective to understand what you can do to improve. Also, it’s important that you don’t take criticism personally and learn to take responsibility for your mistakes. The only way to improve your strategies is to at first come to terms with the fact that your strategies need improvement or else your progress will stagnate.

Slow down

Patience is one of the most important tools for mastering chess when you start learning and even after gaining experience it’s an important tool for exercising strategic thinking. Being overly confident or impatient with a game is the fastest route to losing. Take the time to play a game with no time constraints and in between turns take your time to fully study the board. Look at all of your options and all of your opponent’s options. Put aside what you’ve learned about openings, variations and tactics for a while and just focus on how you can improve your position on the board. Improving your strategic thinking requires you to exercise a deeper knowledge of chess rather than exercising what you memorised from guides.

Get to know the basic principles

If you want to really practice your strategic thinking then you need to start from scratch and analyse the foundations of your strategy. The first step to this is analysing the strengths and weaknesses of each chess piece beyond what you know it can and can’t do. In what ways does each piece have an advantage and disadvantage over the others? Which pieces are able to support each other and which pieces hinder each other? This kind of knowledge will lead you to easily adapt your strategies and will give you small advantages that will, overall, improve your chances of winning.

Practice whenever possible

As with any skill, practice is an absolute necessity if you want to improve. Take the time to practice chess often and analyse your games as well as other people’s games. Outside of playing chess it’s also important that you don’t let your strategic thinking degrade due to lack of practice. Exercise it in other ways by practicing problem solving and critical thinking, such as when taking part in an Escape Room in Glasgow or tactical puzzles based on pattern recognition. But, understand that reading books and guides for hours a day is not going to do nearly as much good as simply playing a few a games of chess each day.

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