Playing Chess to Win
Playing Chess to Win
Playing chess involves more than memorizing the rules. To hope to win one must learn both tactics and strategy, and have a command over the beginning, the middle game, and the end game. Getting to the end game and shifting to inferior play is a good way to lose a game that should be won. Read, and practice!
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Playing Chess, an Overview
The mechanics of moving pieces is mastered after playing a few games. The ability to win at chess is another matter. It is often said that one must see several moves in advance to win at chess. But there are often many options for moves. Seeing several moves does not mean knowing what an opponent will choose, it means forcing the opponent's choice.
Studying chess requires breaking the game down into the beginning, the middle game, and the end game. While it may sound wrong, start your study of chess with the middle game. The strategies of the opening and the middle game are the same, and the tactics of the middle game apply whenever you can utilize them. Study both strategy and tactics.
The study of the beginning is not that different from the study of the middle game, except much of the work has already been done by others and published.
When there are few pieces, the approach is much different. The end game is one of the most difficult parts of the game to master.
Know the rules. It is inconsequential if you have a great material advantage if you allow your opponent to find a place where there is no move. If your opponent is not in check, the game is a draw. Always be careful.
In tournament play be mindful of the clock. Even if you can force checkmate in one or two moves, once your time expires you lose.
It is recommended that you purchase a minimum of five good chess books, one giving the official rules, one on modern chess openings, a tactics book, a strategy book, and an end game book. The details are so great that one book is insufficient.
The Middle Game
The middle game is often the last part of a chess game. Few games enter the end game phase. Here, the battle is fought.
Strive for weaknesses. Doubled pawns, two pawns on the same file, is a weakness. They are difficult to defend. Pawn defense is often assigned to pawns, not more forceful pieces. The problem of doubled pawns is magnified if they are isolated. Isolated pawns are those with no pawn on any adjacent file.
The strategy of the middle game is to have the pieces work in harmony from a vantage point in the center of the board. Overworked pieces are not good strategy. If one piece is assigned to protect two other pieces, a trade for one may pull the defender from the other, making it venerable. Multiple defenders are often the way to proceed.
Entire books are devoted to strategy, which starts in the opening and transfers to the middle game.
Tactics are the fun part of chess. Tactics like the fork, skewer, pin, and discovered attack must be mastered. The fork is the attacking of two pieces at once with a single piece such as a pawn attacking a knight and a rook. The skewer is the attacking of one piece which, if it moves exposes another to attack. The pin is preventing a piece to move because the king or a valuable piece is in the path of fire. The discovered attack occurs when moving one piece that was screening another allows a piece to suddenly come under attack. Not only must these be mastered, but must be seen from both sides of the board. Never allow an opponent to utilize a tactic that is costly.
It is recommended that a book or two be studied on tactics. Looking at game positions and seeing the devastation these tactics can render make them part of the student’s game.
Checking an opponent because it is possible is not recommended. Save the move for a time when it will cause damage.
Beginners usually try to sneak up on pieces. Assume the opponent sees this, and devote the moves to bettering a position. Games are won or lost because of isolated pawns more frequently than because of a sneak attack.
It is a good practice to release pieces early. There are only two pieces that should ever be moved first, the king pawn or the queen pawn. The movement these release the bishops, allow the queen some freedom to move, and occupy the critical part of the board, the center. The only exception is when one is playing the black pieces against a very strong opponent, and a draw is desired. A response to pawn to king four may be pawn to queen bishop three. This causes a closed position that often results in a draw.
Modern chess openings take the game through about eight to ten moves for every reasonable response by an opponent. These sequences of moves are then evaluated as to which opponent has the advantage. Never give an opponent an opportunity to take the advantage if it can be avoided. Assume every opponent knows these sequences, and will do whatever is necessary to steer the game into one that is best for that opponent.
The opening should concentrate on seizing the center of the board from which an attack can be launched. Early attacks are usually defeated, since too few pieces are available for support. Poising pieces for a future attack from the center allows the attack to be directed towards the king after castling, regardless of which side the opponent chooses. Another advantage of concentrating pieces on the center is that they can be recalled for defense if necessary.
Never use the queen early. Every time the queen must move away from capture it costs a move. If the opponent moves pieces towards the center in such attacks, the center may soon belong entirely to that opponent. Develop pieces as quickly as possible without allowing them to require second moves. Pieces that move more than once unnecessarily allow the development of the opposing force.
Castle before it is too late. Once the king moves, castling is no longer an option.
After the king is safely castled, and the knights and bishops are placed so as to control many spaces, the opening is finished.
A good book on modern chess openings is a must.
Books on the End Game
Playing the End Game
The end game occurs when the game has resolved itself to pawns and perhaps one or two other pieces on each side.
In the end game, pawns are potential queens. Their value is usually greater than a bishop or a knight. Trading a piece for a pawn is not only occasionally desirable, it is sometimes a necessity. If the piece is being used to hold pawns at bay, eliminate opponent pawns, on balance against an opponent’s piece, it may be best to keep it as long as possible. If comes to saving a bishop or a knight, or saving a pawn, opt for the pawn.,
Moving a pawn across the board is no easy matter. Passed pawns, those that cannot be stopped by an opponent’s pawn, are invaluable. Your passed pawns should be pushed, passed opposition pawns must be stopped.
The easiest pawns to stop are the rook pawns. A king in front of a rook pawn makes it impossible to force the pawn across the board, unless there are other pieces involved.
Getting a pawn across the board requires it remain protected in the journey, unless it is so advanced as to be uncatchable. Maintaining an odd number of squares between the two kings when it is the opponent’s move is the correct strategy. This includes squares diagonally. When the opposition king moves, go to a square that retains this situation. This is true whether attacking a pawn or defending one. This is called having the opposition.
In the end game it is sometimes desirable to have the board essentially remain the same, except for the side about to move. Incidental moves that leave the dynamics the same accomplish this. This is the exception to not wasting a move.
Because the end game is played differently, it is a special skill that must be mastered. Reading good end game books and following game positions is vital.
Practice is good, but not against weaker players. So, what if there are no games to be found? You still have two options. One is to go online, and the other is to solve chess problems. CYes, books and magazines abound with chess problems.