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What is the most effective way of reducing blunders?

Many people suggest that tactical exercises as the best form of study
for this purpose but I find that it only attacks the problem from one
dimension (not making the strongest in a position). Analyzing my own
games I find that I'm much more likely at losing a game by making a
dumb blunder rather than missing a winning combination so solving
more chess puzzles doesn't seem very effective at improving that.
Any other forms of exercise that could help with this?
learning psychology best-practice blunder
this question

edited Mar 12 '14 at 21:10 asked Jul 21 '13 at 9:48

Rauan Sagit




When you blunder, you overlook a tactic. Solving puzzles

7 sharpens your tactical skill, so it should help you see tactics from
opponents side as well; hence, you should make less blunders.
Akavall Jul 21 '13 at 18:48
Consider learning a systematic method for analysis. If memory
serves, Kotov's Think Like a Grandmaster may be helpful. Tony
Ennis Jul 29 '13 at 0:12
1 Sit on your hands!! I learned this as a kid and I still do it today. :)
JP Alioto Aug 1 '13 at 21:35
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11 Answers 11
active oldest votes

If you want to avoid "dumb blunders" - i.e. just dropping a piece

you've left hanging on the other side of the board - a simple method
is to take an inventory of the position before you do anything else on

each move. Checking which of your pieces are attacked and which of
your pieces are hanging would be a good start. The brain will
catalogue this information into 8x8-grid punch-card type patterns in
your head that act as a warning system against stupid errors.
It can however be surprisingly difficult to take a regimented approach
like this even if on the surface it seems quite a trivial task to
complete at the start of each of your moves. The brain has a
tendency to immediately want to investigate interesting lines and
will wander sometimes never to return. Even harder if you're an older
player who has never applied such discipline.
But if you stick at it over time it becomes second nature and you just
see better and don't blunder as much.
share|improve edited Jul 23 '13 at 19:39 answered Jul 23 '13 at
this answer

I feel as if there could be useful exercises to practice this ability
to inventory check the position fast. For example you are asked
to look at the position for 10 and then name pieces that are
undefended. What do you think about such an exercise?
rgrinberg Jul 23 '13 at 15:22
Certainly such an exercise would be helpful. I imagine a simple
1 chess training computer program could be created to hone a
students visualisation skills in this area for sure. b1_ Jul 23 '13
at 19:19
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n vote

Tactics cover a broad area that doesn't only concern mistakes that your
opponents make. The pattern recognition faculties that you improve
through tactics also help you realize the blunders that you yourself
make. I don't recommend trying to change your style of play at all - I
tell my students that at an early level, one of the most important things
is to not hang pieces and to take advantage of your opponents' hanging

pieces. Thus, before you make your move, specifically ask yourself if
you see any potential tactics for you opponent. Likewise, do the same
after every single opponent's move.
share|improve this answer

answered Jul 21 '13 at


Andrew Ng

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n vote

As a human you are intrinsically self biased. This is hypothesized to be

an evolutionary adaption and it is impossible to suppress it, or more
accurately to think objectively about yourself. Until you are accurately
able to gauge and control the degree to which your self-bias affects
your own thinking,this will be the primary cause of blunders in your
chess games.
How can you be so certain that self-bias is the primary cause of
Well, lets examine the definition of a blunder more closely
Especially among amateur and novice players, blunders often occur
because of a faulty thought process where they do not consider the
opponent's forcing moves. In particular, checks, captures, and threats
need to be considered at each move. Neglecting these possibilities
leaves a player vulnerable to simple tactical errors.
The fragment
blunders often occur because of a faulty thought process where they do
not consider the opponent's forcing moves.
implies that blunders occur because a lack of diligence on the side of he
who blunders. Excluding time-control troubles, there are only a few

remaining possible reasons for not considering the best moves of your
opponent and most of them deal with the self-bias:
Too focused on attacking to see that your opponent has the stronger
attack and you are better served by defending
Fail to evaluate a tactic to a quiescent position because you feel like
you're better than your opponent so it must work out in your favour
You are several points up in material, you don't have to work anymore
your opponent should just keel over and give you your well-earned
victory, why must they insist on fighting on?
How can I overcome this?
Short answer: you can't. By definition, it's part of you, unless you are
born with some weird genetic mutation. Luckily, there are all sorts of
ways to "trick" your brain into avoiding a thought process that is
controlled by the self-bias. My favorite trick is simplest of all and it
comes from an old adage:
Before you judge someone walk a mile in their shoes, that way you are
a mile away and you have their shoes :)
To make it clear, what I mean is simply look at the game from your
opponents perspective, and search for that "killer" move to win the
game, but on his side. That way, you can spot it and direct the game
away from it.
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answered Jul 23 '13 at



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Personally I have noticed many of my worst blunders seem to come

from trying to play on a square I don't control. Basically I'll get so

n vote

focused on trying to attack a particular target that I will hang a piece

trying to get at it. If I see myself starting to do that, I'll stare at the
square I'm likely to blunder on and tell myself "NO" (not out loud unless
I am trying to freak my opponent out...) or imagine a big red X over it.
Seems to help a little.
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answered Jul 21 '13 at


Nathan Monteleone
+1. Similarly, moving a piece that was helping defend a square, but
is no longer. lkessler Sep 1 '13 at 14:47
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n vote

always ask yourself what is your opponent trying to achieve with his
last move.
make your move in your head without submitting it, then find the best
reply for your opponent (if he can do something serious, undo your
move and try to stop it, if it is too late to stop it, then consider
This will greatly cut down the direct blunders by a lot, however, as you
play with stronger opponents, you will need to do #2 several times to
see more than 1 move into the future, but it gets pretty hard depending
on how good you calculate and what time settings you play with.
Also, like a bonus, study lots of tactics, learn how they can be used
against you, the most common ones I think are:
having overloaded pieces
leaving pieces hanging
not seeing that he just did something sneaky like a discovered attack or

preparing a fork
But one can never do enough calculations, it would be unfair to say
white blundered in this game.
this answer

edited Jul 24 '13 at 3:41

answered Jul 24 '13 at



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n vote

From my own experience, and i'm not a highly rated player or anything
like that, the best way to eliminate blunders is not to play aggressive
openings, defensive players commit less blunders, they may lose
because they don't have the space advantage but they don't make
blunders as much as aggressive players.
Why do players make blunders usually?
They start to attack without counting how many defenders are there.
They exchange pieces trying to open up the game or to counter an
attack, without counting how many defenders they have.
They start to attack without securing the king safety.
They rush into the middle game, without having completed developing
their pieces.
They rush into the end game, trying to finish the opponent too early.
They play complex positions, they don't even understand.
From my experience, the majority of the blunders is simply because the
players fail to count the defenders or because they rush to attack. Of
course failing to understand your opponent opening will result in
blunders but this is usually isn't the main cause with average players.

So take your time, develop all the pieces, try to control the pace of the
game, space advantage is so important but don't rush it, and keep your
game simple, don't play positions you are not familiar with.
share|improve this answer

answered Jul 21 '13 at


The suggestion that defensive play trumps aggressive play should
1 be taken with a grain of salt. It's true that overreaching can lead to
tactical mistakes, but the same could be said for playing too
passively. Andrew Ng Jul 22 '13 at 13:36
@AndrewNg very true, but playing passively and defending well
could get you a draw at the very least, besides if you're playing
against an average opponent, he could make blunders if he thinks
he has an advantage on you, and you counter attack Lynob Jul 22
'13 at 13:50
I disagree. Your answer is a generalization based upon your
interpretation of "defensive" and "aggressive" approaches to chess.
Playing passively certainly does not get you a draw at the very
least, and the same can be said for playing aggressively. Your
3 examples of why players make blunders isn't specific to aggressive
players, but rather inexperienced ones. Playing styles are
established after a player has a firm grasp of the understanding of
the game that leads him or her NOT to "start to attack without king
safety" or "playing complex positions they don't understand."
Andrew Ng Jul 22 '13 at 13:55
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n vote

I see a lot of responses recommending looking at the game from the

opponents point of view and I can see why ever since I started adopting
this technique in my games. It really works. Until very recently, I always
used to look at my game from my view, my plan, my killer tactic, my

decisive blow -- which theoretically, if implemented perfectly should be

sufficient. But recently one of the approaches I use is to analyze every
move my opponent makes with a "Okay, so what's his plan?" or "Why
did he do that?" before I start working out my plan. If I see his idea
easily and feel its not threatening enough, I proceed with my plan. If I
can't seem to find his idea easily, I conclude that either I need to look
harder because there's a killer attack coming on or that it's a
weak/aimless move. I do dismiss activating pieces, like I used to do
earlier, as aimless moves, but instead look for ways to stifle this. The
downside of this approach is that you have be good at time
management since first working out your opponents plan, assessing the
threat, and then formulating your own plan usually takes more time
than if you were just thinking from your perspective.
share|improve this answer

answered Jul 31 '13 at


Sean Bernardino

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n vote

Blumenfeld's Rule: Once you have decided on a move, stop thinking

about your analysis and look at just that move as if you were reading it
in a book, or having it played against you.
The "full monte" on this is that you write the move on your scoresheet,
but some players started using this to excuse taking notes during a
game (writing 4 and 5 moves down before playing one) so it's now
illegal in USCF events. But just fixing it afresh in your mind will be
almost the same.
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answered Aug 11 '13 at



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n vote

Chuzhakin's System is written in 70 PDF pages. video:Chuzhakin's

System intro
It has 18 Rules to find so called "Hazardous Elements" - HE. Before
making the move which we selected we need to check for blunders. All
be blunders means that we do not see any HE or we do not see a
method how to use HE (about 20 typical methods descirbed in the
System). Thinking algorithm to avoid blunders is in the scheme.

share|improve this answer

answered Jul 31 '14 at


Evgeny Chuzhakin
Hi are you the real Chuzakin? It would be awesome if you are

Brass2010 Aug 5 '14 at 4:48

I am real:) For discussion you can use FB page, blog or official site Evgeny Chuzhakin Aug 6 '14 at 6:16
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n vote

Here's an interesting alternative. Play bullet chess. Bullet chess is all

about seeing your opponents threats and dumb blunders. It helps you
familiarize with the pieces and how they move and helps you to avoid
blunders and see threats quickly. Bullet also improves your ability to
cope in time pressure, and that is where most blunders happen. Of
course, bullet chess should not be the main means of improvement, but
it does improve one's abilities during time pressure.
share|improve this answer

answered Sep 29 '14 at



add a comment |

n vote

New method to avoid blunders is Chuzhakin's System:
share|improve this answer

answered Jul 27 '14 at


Hi Evgeny, answers that only contain links are discouraged without
additional context. Can you elaborate on your system here too?
Andrew Jul 27 '14 at 18:17
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Ways to improve defensive skills


How do I stop blundering my queen?

How to recover from a blunder?

Most effective way to achieve a 2000+ rating in one year, starting as a 1600?

What is the better way to stop blundering all my games?

What to do after losing a game?

What should you do after blundering during a game?

What are good ways to check blunders after the match?

What is a blunder?

What percent of chess games contain a blunder?

How do i prevent blunders?




Concentrate on finding the best move in a reasonable amount of time in every position. It
doesn't matter how well you played earlier if you make a blunder at the end, so when you are
clearly winning or in a dead drawn position, try and find the surest way to win or hold your draw.
Blunders can be strategic as well as tactical. Many strategic blunders involve weakening
key squares with some pawn move or making a bad 'equal' exchange of pieces, so take the time to
judge who benefits more from the change in the position.
Keep a healthy sense of danger. If you lose a lot of time grabbing a pawn and open lines in
front of your king while your pieces are undeveloped, the chances are the pawn grab is unsafe,
and you'd be better off continuing development and castling your king.
To avoid really silly blunders, use 'Blumenfeld's Rule' and double-check the really basic
stuff like whether you are getting mated or if one of your pieces is unsafe.
Another good technique is to check for forcing moves (moves which threaten to win
material or checkmate) in your half of the board.
When you reach the end of a line in your calculations from a fairly critical or sharp
position, check one move further to make sure you haven't missed anything important.
We can improve our concentration by not thinking about the opponent's rating, the result
of the game and other extraneous data not related to finding the best move on the board.


Deliberate practice
Mr. Z. provided the following text:
".... At one point, not long after I started training, my memory stopped
improving. No matter how much I practiced, I couldnt memorize playing
cards any faster than 1 every 10 seconds. I was stuck in a rut, and I couldnt
figure out why. My card times have hit a plateau, I lamented.
I would recommend you check out the literature on speed typing, he
When people first learn to use a keyboard, they improve very quickly from
sloppy single-finger pecking to careful two-handed typing, until eventually
the fingers move effortlessly and the whole process becomes unconscious. At
this point, most peoples typing skills stop progressing. They reach a
plateau. If you think about it, its strange. Weve always been told
that practice makes perfect, and yet many people sit
behind a keyboard for hours a day. So why dont they just keeping
getting better and better?
In the 1960s, the psychologists Paul Fitts and Michael Posner tried to answer

this question by describing the three stages of acquiring a new skill.

During the first phase, known as the cognitive phase, we
intellectualize the task and discover new strategies to accomplish it
more proficiently. During the second, the associative phase, we
concentrate less, making fewer major errors, and become more
Finally we reach what Fitts and Posner called the autonomous phase,
when were as good as we need to be at the task and we basically
run on autopilot. Most of the time thats a good thing. The less we
have to focus on the repetitive tasks of everyday life, the more we
can concentrate on the stuff that really matters. You can actually see
this phase shift take place in f.M.R.I.s of subjects as they learn new
tasks: the parts of the brain involved in conscious reasoning become
less active, and other parts of the brain take over. You could call it
the O.K. plateau.
Psychologists used to think that O.K. plateaus marked the upper bounds of
innate ability. In his 1869 book Hereditary Genius, Sir Francis Galton
argued that a person could improve at mental and physical activities until he
hit a wall, which he cannot by any education or exertion overpass. In other
words, the best we can do is simply the best we can do.
But Ericsson and his colleagues have found over and over again
that with the right kind of effort, thats rarely the case. They believe
that Galtons wall often has much less to do with our innate limits
than with what we consider an acceptable level of performance.
Theyve found that top achievers typically follow the same general
pattern. They develop strategies for keeping out of the autonomous
stage by doing three things: focusing on their technique, staying
goal-oriented and getting immediate feedback on their performance.
Amateur musicians, for example, tend to spend their practice time
playing music, whereas pros tend to work through tedious exercises
or focus on difficult parts of pieces. Similarly, the best ice skaters
spend more of their practice time trying jumps that they land less
often, while lesser skaters work more on jumps theyve already
mastered. In other words, regular practice simply isnt enough. For
all of our griping over our failing memories the misplaced keys, the
forgotten name, the factoid stuck on the tip of the tongue our
biggest failing may be that we forget how rarely we forget. To
improve, we have to be constantly pushing ourselves beyond where
we think our limits lie and then pay attention to how and why we
fail. Thats what I needed to do if I was going to improve my

With typing, its relatively easy to get past the O.K. plateau. Psychologists
have discovered that the most efficient method is to force yourself to type 10
to 20 percent faster than your comfort pace and to allow yourself to make
mistakes. Only by watching yourself mistype at that faster speed can you
figure out the obstacles that are slowing you down and overcome them.
Ericsson suggested that I try the same thing with cards. He told me to find a
metronome and to try to memorize a card every time it clicked. Once I
figured out my limits, he instructed me to set the metronome 10 to 20
percent faster and keep trying at the quicker pace until I stopped making
mistakes. Whenever I came across a card that was particularly troublesome,
I was supposed to make a note of it and see if I could figure out why it was
giving me cognitive hiccups. The technique worked, and within a couple
days I was off the O.K. plateau, and my card times began falling
again at a steady clip. Before long, I was committing entire decks to
memory in just a few minutes...."
I invite you to consider which of the following methods is more in the spirit of
deliberate practice in the light of this text:
Doing easy tactics over and over again untill you have memorized them all.
Focussing on assimilation of low level patterns in huge quantities.
Doing difficult problems and focus on where and why you go astray and
trying to prevent the same mistakes in the future. Changing strategy when
matters are executed on autopilot.