One of the skills any new chess player envies is the power of experienced players to seemingly predict what their opponent is going to do. They get destroyed when they go up against advanced players because their every move appears to get countered. Is there some sort of psychic connection required to be an expert chess player? Not really, and we’ll explain how you can plan for your opponent’s moves to make sure you aren’t being outmaneuvered.

Look Before You Leap

Before you make any move, you should look at what your opponent is doing. Don’t just look at where their pieces are, but try to figure out where they are headed. You may be able to determine their strategy just by watching where they move their pieces. This is really just guesswork, but there’s more to it than blindly guessing, and we’ll get to that in a minute.

For this first step, you need to focus on paying attention to your opponent before you make your move. Don’t just act like you are the only one on the board and your opponent’s moves don’t affect your strategy. You have to be willing to develop a fluid plan of attack. As your opponent moves one way, you move to intercept or defend another way. You should have an overall plan, but you should also be able to adapt and counter attack where necessary.

Play as Your Opponent

The way pro chess players get inside the head of their opponents and figure out what move they are going to make is that they pretend they are the opponent. They consider what their options are from that viewpoint. Looking at all the options, they pick out the very best ones, which are usually forcing moves.

A forcing move is one that forces the opponent into making a certain choice or that really limits his ability to do much. Those are the moves that their opponent is likely going to make. So, the advanced player will look for those specific moves and plan to counter or avoid them.

They don’t actually know which move is coming next, but they simply plan for the move that will hurt them the most. They assume their opponent will make the best move possible, and if you want to beat your opponent, you’ll have to do the same thing.

You can’t just kind of wander across the board without a clear goal in mind or make your moves and hope for the best. You have to be actively anticipating your opponent. You may not be able to read his mind, but you can make some reasonable predictions as to what move is coming next.

The more you play and the more you use this technique, the better you will get at it. It helps if you have a good working knowledge of chess strategy and if you know your opponent and how they play. Just put yourself in the mind of your opponent by looking at the board through their eyes. Once you do that, you can make decent predictions as to where they are headed next.