Chess players are sometimes asked by people who don’t know the game how many moves they look ahead. Of course, there is no answer to the question.
But you really do have to look at least one move ahead. The first move in your analysis is the most important move. Don’t miss something on move one.
For beginners and near-beginners , this means checking your move for blunders. Does my move blunder away material? Hopefully, this will become second-nature so that as you get more experience, your subconscious will blunder check without the need to consciously check.
As you get more experienced, you can ask yourself some new questions.
Three good questions to ask are :-
What is my opponent trying to do?
What is the most important thing in the position?
What possibilities are open to me?
Your opponent makes half of the moves in the game. You can’t ignore half of the moves in a game. You have to find out why your opponent is playing the moves he plays.
You have to find out what the most important thing in the position is, It is little use worrying about doubled b pawns if your opponent is about to put both his rooks on your seventh rank.
You have to know what possibilities are open to you. If you don’t, then you won’t even get move one right in your analysis. Why waste effort looking five moves ahead, when you have a much better move on move one?
Sadly, no set of questions is going to be a foolproof way to play chess.
But if you train yourself to ask yourself these three questions, you might get move one of your analysis correct more often than you do now.
And the first move of your analysis is the most important move.