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Mervin R. Smucker, Ph.D., is an Experienced Psychologist

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Mervin Smucker’s Chess Tips for Beginners

Mervin Smucker is an internationally known psychologist and one of the many millions of people all over the world who plays chess as a hobby. Compared to most board games, chess offers an exceptional depth of strategy, with thousands of entire books having been written on the subject. For novice players, it can all seem a bit overwhelming. Mervin R. Smucker provides some general tips sure to help hone any new player’s game.

1. Play as much as possible. The advice might seem like a no-brainer, but with the wealth of chess-related materials available, including puzzles, books, records of famous games, it is easy to forget that the best way to get better at chess is to simply play chess whenever the opportunity presents itself. Look critically at finished games players in order to understand what worked and what did not.

2. Start with a broad overview. As a player’s skill begins to come into focus through playing dozens of games and trying to learn from past mistakes, a book or two on the subject of chess becomes a logical next step. Rather than examining any particular aspect of the game, start with a general overview that can impart a better sense of the flow of the game as a whole.

3. Cultivate strong thinking. Making a cursory examination of the game board and following up with the first move that looks good may be tempting. However, an initially obvious move may not seem so advantageous a few turns later as the board develops. New players especially should not be afraid to take a lot of time considering each move. Thinking deeply and clearly about the game at hand, sustaining focus on the game, and visualizing possible outcomes are vital abilities that can be strengthened with practice.

4. Play lots of computer chess. It can be particularly instructive to play against a highly skilled computer. Although you will likely never win when playing against the computer, you can learn a lot about the strategies of various openings and then transfer what you learn from the computer to games played with humans.

5. Analyze chess games played by experts: analyze the strategies used, including a close-up look at the moves and counter-moves of each player.

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