Simple Tactics: How to Play Well
What sort of things should you do to start playing better chess? Here are some ideas:
Openings: Move a center pawn, then bring out some pieces: There are many chess openings, but a simple plan is to move a center pawn (one in front of your King or Queen), and then bring out pieces like Knights and Bishops (to squares where they cannot be taken!)
Take pieces: If you can take an enemy piece, it's usually a good idea to do so. If they take you back, and it's the same type of piece, that's an exchange (which means you both got the same piece, so it's equal still).
Don't let pieces get taken: A lot of beginner players leave their pieces where they can get taken by enemy pawns or pieces. Watch what your opponent's doing. Can they take one of your pieces? Or your Queen?
Don't give up! In beginner chess, everyone makes mistakes. Even if you've lost your Queen, don't give up! Try to get your opponent's Queen! Or just try to gradually get more and more of the Pawns and Pieces of your opponent, and soon you'll have won more stuff than a Queen is worth!
Aim for a stalemate draw. If you're down, even by a lot, and if you can't win anything back, you should at least try to get a draw, such as by stalemate. You can still get a draw by stalemate even if you've only got a King, and your opponent has 5 Queens (in fact, it becomes quite likely then!).
What are the pieces worth? There's a simple calculation of the value of pieces in terms of Pawns. A Pawn is worth 1 Pawn, obviously. A Knight and Bishop is worth 3 Pawns, a Rook is worth 5 Pawns, and a Queen is worth 9 Pawns. So if you can take an enemy Rook with your Bishop, but they'll take back your Bishop, you still win 2 pawns, because you get a Rook worth 5 Pawns, and they only get a Bishop worth 3 Pawns. (Note: In very advanced chess, the Bishop is considered a little more than 3 Pawns, like 3-and-a-half Pawns, but in beginner chess that doesn't matter much.)
What is the King worth? Because if you lose the King, the game is over, the King is often considered to be worth infinity. (Note: in very advanced chess, when the King starts being an attacking piece, which occurs only in endgames late in the game, the King is considered to have the attacking power of about 3 Pawns, like a Knight or Bishop.)