The answers to that question would be so varied:
- Some would recommend drilling those basic tactical motifs in yours head day in and day out.
- Other would say start with chess endgames...claiming that doing so will help you realize the pieces' full potential and how to coordinate them.
- Some chess coaches believe that the key to play better chess is to master the positional side of the game and develop your eye for plans and long term strategies.
- There are players, mostly amateurs, that believe that it all boils down to your opening choices and chess opening repertoire. Pick the right openings and you should be on your way to playing better chess and even mastery.
- And there are some who don't really care about what you read and insist on playing more games and analyzing those to help you improve chess playing skills.
And we haven't touched even the tip of the iceberg fellas!
All are valid points. You can't take that away from them. HOWEVER, these solutions to the question: "How to play better chess?" forget to tackle one important factor: that chess is a thinking game.
And if you want to succeed in chess, you should know how to think properly - whether you are facing a position that requires long term planning, one that needs forcing moves to be resolved, or a combination of both.
Surprisingly, the subject of having a good chess thought process is hardly tackled in today's chess books and resources.
You will find a wealth of books on chess combinations, on basic endgames, on how to play the Sicilian Dragon or some obscure and tactical 1.e4 opening...BUT you will have a hard time finding a good book on how to think in chess!
BUT don't worry: there are a couple of guidelines that you can use to help you device a good chess thought process. One that you can practice over and over again in your training sessions and games until it becomes automated. And one that allows you to understand the position in front of you.
How To Play Better Chess - Thought Process Guideline 1
Always take a closer look at your opponent's moves and opportunities. The primary reason why chess amateurs blunder away pieces, allow back rank mates, allow double attacks (and basically, remain amateurs) is that they don't consider the possibilities that the opponent has.
Get this: you and your opponent has an equal 'say' in the game. Appreciate your trumps but learn to respect what your opponent have at his disposal. Be aware of what moves he may be threatening and that should help you eliminate blunders and play batter chess.
How To Play Better Chess - Thought Process Guideline 2
There are many factors in chess - development, initiative, open files for your rooks, diagonals for your bishops, outposts for your knights, paths for your queen, king safety, pawn structures, and those are just to name a few.
We are NOT even discussing the MORE advanced factors in chess success that are common in top level play like psychological motives, maximum resistance and defense, etc. I hope you see the point by now. It is impossible to cover all of these with your chess thought process. If only it was, then we would all be masters by now.
HOWEVER, to improve chess playing skills, you need to consider the main driving forces...the primary principles in a chess game when you are thinking of a move or a plan.