Chess Winning Tactics

Chess is a complex game and there are several ways to win. Sometimes it depends on the position, and sometimes it's a matter of style and personal preference. Do you prefer to win quickly by attacking with overwhelming force, or maybe you want to win slowly and carefully?

Simple Tactics: How to Win

I want to win, but don't really know how. How do I win?

To win a game of chess, there are a few basic ways to try:

  • Go for the King: You can try to checkmate your opponent straight away. It can be a very short game. There's a very well-known checkmate with a Bishop and a Queen that takes 4 moves. This strategy can work against beginners but isn't very good against better players.
  • Play "Chomp"! Collect more pieces: A slower, safer strategy. Just try to chomp all your opponent's pieces, and don't let them take any of yours. You can just play harmless moves (carefully), and wait for your opponent to leave a piece for you to take. Or you can sneakily line up your bishops or rooks onto an enemy piece from a distance. Or jump your Knight around to where it attacks them. Or you can move up a pawn to attack one of your enemy's pieces and hope they don't notice. (And once you've done this for a while, and then got lots more pieces than the enemy, you start Phase 2; see below.)
  • Queen your Pawn: You can't do this idea straight away, because all of the pawns are blocked by each other at the start of the game. But about half-way into a game, there's often a pawn with clear space in front of it. And at the end of a game, when there's not many pieces left, there's almost always pawns that are free to run. You can just slowly "push" it down the board, one square at a time, until you can turn it into a Queen at the end. Sometimes you can do this more than once!

Winning: Phase 2

So I'm winning now. I didn't get their King, but I'm way ahead on pieces. How do I finish off the game?

Well, this means either you chomped lots of their pieces, or you Queened a pawn, right? So you have extra pieces now. Basically, now it's time for Phase 2.

Phase 2: There's actually multiple ways to finish things off. There are actually 4 basic choices:

  • (1) go for their King with your extra pieces, or
  • (2) more ruthless chomping: go attack all of their few remaining pieces and pawns until they have just a King left, or
  • (3) swap pieces instead of winning them. If you are ahead, you can just swap equal pieces, so that the enemy runs out of pieces, and you still have some pieces left, or
  • (4) make lots more Queens from your remaining pawns.

It's a nice choice to have.

Winning: Phase 3 (Actually Checkmating)

Phase 3: Eventually you have to actually give checkmate to the enemy King, right? Yes, that's true. After a lot of chomping or a lot of Queening pawns, what you do is surround the enemy King with all your extra pieces, and start checking their King until it's checkmate.

But watch out for stalemate, which is only a draw, no matter how many extra pieces you have!