If you are reading this you are likely fairly new to the club and online chess, even if not, do read on as I've found that a lot of players aren't aware of the free (and rule legal) aids available to them in the game.
When you play Daily Mode, it’s a bit like old fashioned correspondence chess, where you would play a mate who was doing a shift for the Empire in India or on a grand tour bothering locals. This means there's plenty of time to study the board and little room to hide, blunders are game changing and you need a good game plan thinking a few moves ahead to get an advantage.
So what helps?
#1 - The Notepad
This sounds a bit nerdy, but trust me, at some point you will find yourself with more games on than you wished for and it can be a nightmare keeping track of your game plan.
Taking notes is a great way to solve this; after important moves just quickly jot down what you were thinking or what might happen next, even just note to help yourself if you want to revisit the game later.
”If they do this next, I might do this”
Use question marks if you are not sure. I find this helps so I don’t over rely on myself when I’m half a bottle of wine down and start taking my notes for granted.
You do not need to know chess notation or shorthand for this. If “Move left Knight up left” works for you, it is just as effective as Ng4.Here’s a messy example from one of my recent games:
If you do want to learn notation it will save you a lot of time, every piece has a letter, pawns do not (which tells you it’s a pawn). You can always see exactly what move is noted if you understand this.
Here’s an example, each number is a move and a response:
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Bg4 4. d4xe5 Bxf3 5. Qxf3 d6xe5 6. Bc4 Nf6 7. Qb3 Qe7 8. Nc3 c6 9. Bg5 b5 10. Nxb5 c6xb5 11. Bxb5+ Nd7 12. 0-0-0 Rd8 13. Rxd7 Rxd7 14. Rd1 Qe6 15. Bxd7+ Nxd7 16. Qb8+ Nxb8 17. Rd8#
N is Knight (as K is King), + is check and # is mate. Fairly self explanatory. You don't need to know it all to take notes.
This guide on chesshouse.com is straightforward if you want to master it. As you can see, jotting a quick note is a bit easier than having a conversation with yourself. Whatever works for you.
#2 (of 4) Use Analysis!:
This is not cheating on Daily Mode, as long as you use the analysis within the current game and not externally, where you might be provided hints and tips. If you do do it externally Chess.com has a very clever AI and will likely catch and ban you.
It’s a great way to learn chess, you can extrapolate and play as many moves ahead as you want and see all the possible outcomes. Make sure you go to settings so you can see all the possible moves available to you (sometimes this isn’t on automatically). Keep in mind that if you over rely on this, you will be terrible next time you play on a board or play Blitz online, but eventually you will find the best of both and have enough game knowledge to know what moves are best "IRL".
#3 Use Explorer on openings:
Like Analysis, this is another tool to show you the probability of you winning the match based on all previous chess.com games (billions). It’s a great way to learn opening strategies and will give you all the names for them. This tends to go blank after 5 or 6 moves and that means you are playing a unique game. There are over 9 million possible board set ups after move 6, so it will disappear fast.
Do not take this for gospel, what happens next very much depends on your opponent. It may tell you you have a 60% chance of winning, but no two games are the same and you can be heading down a path to defeat.
Note, I believe this feature is limited to a certain amount of free views without a subscription. Worth it though if you play a lot and like the puzzles and other bits.
#4 Manage your brain cells like a pro athlete:
Chess is very demanding on your noggin, players can burn up to 2,000 calories per day in real world tournaments just sitting on their backside and thinking.
Don’t play just after waking up, late at night, or after too many sherrys (unless you have good notes). You will miss things.
When it’s too much it’s too much, put the phone down and go back to watching Love Island. You won’t play your best chess stressed out or drained. Just come back to it later.
I find that playing in short focussed bursts helps if I have a lot of games on.
If you have more games on than you would like, manage how much attention you give them. Drag out openings and focus on the games that are in key stages or end game and use the time limit. Clear a few of those and then go back to the games you are playing slowly.
Hope these tips help!