Chess Mistakes that Beginners Make

Chess is a tricky game. Learning the whole of the rules is a lot of work, and getting good at playing chess is a lifetime's worth of work! Here's a list of some of the common types of mistakes made by beginners and kids learning chess.

Mistakes that Kids Make

Common mistakes made by juniors in chess include:

  • Don't let your pieces be taken! When learning, kids just don't see all the attacks. Pieces get taken. Kids move their Queen onto a square where it can get taken. And then five moves later, they get their opponent's Queen in the same way.
  • Take your opponent's pieces: You have to look to see if you can take any of your opponent's pieces. That's the main way to win: capture anything that isn't nailed down!
  • Incorrect knight moves: The Knight move is tricky. Kids often move it 1-1 to an adjacent square, or 2-2 to a diagonal square.
  • Incorrect diagonal moves: As that Bishop or Queen slides along a diagonal, it quite often strays onto a square of a different color...
  • Your King is in Check! Kids just don't notice that the other player has checked the King. And often, neither player notices. Sometimes it lasts for a dozen moves! Sometimes both Kings are in check at the same time!
  • The 4-move checkmate (Scholar's Mate). There's a 4-move checkmate with Bishop and Queen. Tricky to avoid, always happens.
  • Incorrect castling: Beginners will often castle 1-square or 3-squares, which is incorrect. The King must move exactly 2 squares toward the Rook.

More Advanced Mistakes

Player's who have learned the piece moves pretty well, often still don't know the whole of the rules.

  • Stalemate is a draw: Countless beginner games end in stalemate, with the player who has made 3 Queens accidentally stalemating the other player's lonely King.
  • Cannot Castle Out of Check: Kids who are in check will often try to escape by castling. Not allowed in the rules of chess. (There's also the even more obscure restriction of "cannot castle through a checked square".)
  • Which way are the pawns moving? In a position where the pawns are together, or in an inter-locking pattern, kids often get confused about which color pawns are going in which direction.
  • The King can take! Kids will put a Queen right up against the King and claim checkmate. But Kings have bite! The King can just take the Queen, unless the Queen is protected by another piece.
  • What is my opponent doing? Kids often are lost in the world of their own grand plans, and don't notice what their opponent just did. Why did they make that move? What's it attacking? Is my King in danger? Is my Queen attacked? It's a 2-player game, not a 1-player game!
  • The Bishop and Knight fork trick: Player's who are good enough to avoid Scholar's mate with the Bishop and Queen, will often still fall prey to the same type of trick with a Bishop and Knight.
  • The Bishop and Knight fork trick on the Queenside: The same type of Bishop and Knight forking trick also works in reverse on the Queenside. Less common, but just as effective!