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Strategic Notes on Traditional Chess Openings There are many openings that can be studied and memorized, but more important, you should learn the theory behind them to the point that you see what weaknesses are developed by your partner making or not making those responses. As a matter of fact, I listened to a brief lecture by one master who said that the beginner has no use for studying openings, which is really a false notion. Though openings need to be studied, first, one should pursue a basic understanding of strategy and tactics before one will really need to do so. In Jeremy Silman’s book: The Complete Book of Chess Strategy, it is recommended that the study of theory is what is important and that without that, the memorization of openings is useless; though the first section of his book is entirely devoted to those very openings that will need to be memorized, and with very little theoretical explanation for these openings. Learn the principles of each class of openings; the King pawn openings, the Queen Pawn openings, the Gambits, the Reti Opening—Hypermodernism and irregular chess openings. While it is true that the opening focuses on the development of your pieces, it is very important that you understand the opening is more about creating a difference in your position from your opponent’s position that you then can exploit. He then bids you to go straight into the memorization of a few openings. In Discovering Chess Openings, by John Emms and Ideas Behind the Chess Openings by Reuben Fine, I’ve developed the following set up guidelines: So in the beginning, it really is about playing games: whether you start with a King or Queen opening or you open c4 or Nf3 (the only openings the grandmasters will use)…or maybe, you decide to attempt to confound your opponent with a different lead (b3, g4; et al) and even that you get to some position that is identical to the more common openings; say at about move 6 or move 10…you need to follow but certain rules: 1. Choose first to study either the King’s Opening or the Queen’s Opening (the other ‘irregular’ openings used by masters should be left for later). Note that King’s openings are for making ‘open center’ games and in ‘middle game’ exchanges, one should attempt to exchange Knights for Bishops. Bishops can more easily move through open centers. Conversely, in Queen’s openings, in ‘middle game’ exchanges, one should attempt to exchange Bishops for Knights as Queen’s openings tend to be closed center games that Bishops can’t move through and Knights can get around more readily. 2. Make one or two pawn moves in the opening; not more. Next, in general, develop the Knights before the Bishops. The opening is completed and middle game engaged when the rooks are connected (through castling); meaning that they can directly see one another on your back row. Both players should attempt to castle by move 10; better players casting by move 7 (Kingside castling is preferable). Don’t bring the Queen out before minor pieces (Bishop & Knight) are developed and you’ve castled (Rooks & Queens are major pieces).
3. Develop, develop, develop…pieces are at their strongest in the center and it is the center of which your are striving to control. Indeed, develop pieces towards the center and always try to maintain one pawn in the center, as the one who does will have more freedom of movement while his opponent’s position will be more cramped. Never move a piece twice before move 10. Pick the most suitable square and develop it there with the intent to fix it there for the duration of the opening. Develop w/a purpose; a) grabbing the center & b) to attack or defend pieces. And ask yourself before every move: 1. How does it affect the center? & 2. How does it fit in with the development of my other pieces and pawns? Further, in general, Only send your Bishops to the g5 or e5 squares if you intend to pin the enemy Knight and if you think the pin will prove bothersome to your opponent. Note also that the Bishop should have the ability to back out after your opponent moves a6 or h6. 4. Watch for your opponent’s moves and threats, beyond your own goals or principles. After each of your opponent’s moves, look for the direct attack of the pieces moves and look for any ‘discovered’ attack that might have been created by opening the square of the piece that was just moved. Look to see if you can figure out your opponent’s plan of attack. What square or squares is your opponent targeting.
Setting Up Pawn Formations
One of the first noticeable results of any Opening sequence is the pawn structure that defines the real estate and how it is controlled by both players. Weaknesses in the pawn structure, such as isolated, doubled or backward pawns and holes, once created, are usually permanent. Care must therefore be taken to avoid them (but there are exceptions — for instance see Boleslavsky hole below). The pawn formation determines the overall strategy of the players to a large extent; even if arising from unrelated openings. Pawn formations symmetrical about a vertical line (such as the e5 Chain and the d5 Chain) can be deceptively similar, but they tend to have entirely different characteristics because of the propensity of the kings to castle on the kingside. Pawn structures often transpose into one another, such as the Isolani into the Hanging Pawns and vice versa. Such transpositions must be considered carefully and often mark shifts in game strategy. Andrew Soltis, in his book Pawn Structure Chess, classifies the major pawn formations into 16 categories, discussed below. It is to be noted that for a formation to fall into a particular category, it need not have a pawn position identical to the corresponding diagram, but only close enough that the character of the game and the major themes are unchanged. It is typically the center pawns whose position influences the nature of the game the most. Structures with mutually attacking pawns are said to have tension. They are ordinarily unstable and tend to transpose into a stable formation with a pawn push or exchange. Play often revolves around making the transposition happen under favorable circumstances. For instance, in the Queen's Gambit Declined (QGD), Black waits until White develops the king's bishop to make the d5xc4 capture, transposing to the Slav formation (see below).
Initial Main Lines for the King’s Pawn Opening
A note on these openings: Reverse engineer the lines presented in order to gain an understanding of the logic behind them. Do this by analyzing and comparing each move against all other possible moves. But follow the lines and their variations into the Middle Game that the best practice at realistic scenarios becomes intelligible. The King's Gambit The King's Gambit begins with 1. e4 e5 2. f4. With White's offer of f4, Black is given two options which is either to decline the gambit or accept it. If Black accepts (KGA) the gambit then the reply should be 2 ... exf4. And in this, White will eventually play d4 in order to achieve the classical center, as the threat of Black's Pawn on e5 is now gone. A sample continuation for this gambit (which eventually takes us into the Muzio Gambit) would be the King’s Knight Gambit (develops the Knight and prevents 3. … Qh4+): Classical Variation: 3. Nf3 g5 4. Bc4 b5 5. o-o bxc4 Fisher Defense: If: 3. … d6, then : 4. d4 g5 and 5. h4 g4—White cannot continue w/6. Ne5 (Kieseritzky Gambit). 6. Ng5 is also unsound; due to 6. … f6! So, 6. Ng1 is correct move. Muzio Gambit: If: 4. … g4, White to play Muzio Gambit: 5. o-o!? gxf3 6. Qxf3—White gambits a Knight, but has 3 pieces bearing down on f7. If: 4. … Bg7 & 5. … h6, Black avoids Muzio Gambit, but White can initiate Double Muzio Gambit after: 6. … Qf6 by following with e5 Qx e5 and White can then initiate a Triple Muzio Gambit with 8. b3?— instead of8. Bxf7+!?; offering the Rook on a1. If Black takes the Rook w/8. … Qxa1, then: 9. Nc3 and Black Queen is stalemated. If Black doesn’t take the Rook, it can be forced to do so w. 9. Bb2 (hoping Black does not know about Kd8 defense to 10. Bxf7+). Becker Defense: 3. … h6 (Black intends to make pawn chain: h6-g5-f4 and avoids Kieseritzky Gambit, as Black will not be forced to play … g4 when White plays h4. White can play 4. b3 (after 3. … h6), but the line for this defense is: 4. d4 g5, which transposes to the Classical Variation w/5. d4 d6 and 6. Bc4 Bg7. Modern Cunningham Defense: 3. … Be7 (Black’s most aggressive option) 4. Bc4 Nf6 5. e5 Ng4 Paris Attack: 4. h4—followed by 5. Ne5 for the Kieseritzky Gambit.
Other Lines for KGA 3. Bc4 Nf6 (Bishop’s Gambit) 3. Be2 (Lesser Bishop’s Gambit or Tartakower Gambit) 3. Nc3 (Mason Gambit or Keres Gambit) 3. d4 (Villemson Gambit or Steinitz Gambit) Qf3 (Breyer Gambit or Hungarian Gambit) KGD: If Black declines then Black can either go for a counter-gambit, as in the Falkbeer Counter Gambit (2. ... d5); that by doing so will give Black the initiative in exchange for losing a piece. This aggressive counter-gambit takes advantage of the weakness presented on White's kingside. But the classic way of declining a King's Gambit is to play 2. ... Bc5, as in doing so, White is prevented from castling on the King's side. The Bishop becomes such a nuisance that White often expends two tempi to eliminate it by means of Nc3-a4 to exchange on c5 or b6 in order to castle w/o concern. After 3. Nf3, Black should respond with d6, which keeps a solid position in the center and places the dark-squared Bishop on the c5-g1 diagonal. White’s plans should then center around the creation of a big center with 4. c3 (and later, followed by d4) or 4. Bc4; leading to 5. d3,which will then lead to the taking of Black’s c5 Bishop—via Nb1-c3-a4xc5. If White plays 4. Bc4, Black can respond with Nf6, which can lead an attack that prevents White from castling. The line goes: 5. c3 o-o 6. d3 Nc6 7. Qe2 Re8 8. f5 d5 9. Bb3 Falkbeer Counter Gambit: 2. … d5 3. exd5 e4* (Black sacrifices a pawn for easy development) 4. d3! (White obtains some advantage) * Nimzowitsch Counter Gambit: Instead of e4, Black plays c6!?—aiming for early piece activity. White gets better pawn structure and prospects for a better endgame. 4. Nc3 exf4 5. Nf3 Bd6 6. d4 Ne7 7. dxc6 Nbxc6 Both positions are analogous to the Modern Variation of the Gambit Accepted. Other moves Other options in the KGD are possible, though unusual, such as the sharp countergambit 2...Nc6 3.Nf3 f5, advocated by Tony Miles; 2...d6, when after 3.Nf3, best is 3...exf4 transposing to the Fischer Defense (though 2...d6 invites White to play 3.d4 instead); and 2...Nf6 3.fxe5 Nxe4 4.Nf3 Ng5! 5.d4 Nxf3+ 6.Qxf3 Qh4+ 7.Qf2 Qxf2+ 8.Kxf2 with a small endgame advantage, as played in the 1968 game between Bobby Fischer and Robert Wade in Vinkovci. The greedy 2...Qf6 (known as the Norwalde Variation), intending 3...Qxf4, is considered dubious. Also dubious is the Keene Defense: 2... Qh4+ 3.g3 Qe7 and Mafia Defense: 1.e4 e5 2.f4 c5.
The Center Game The Center Game offers us a chance to exercise the fundamental principles behind the opening; particularly in helping us to understand the ‘classical center’ –White placing pawns on d4 and e4. The Center Game starts with 1. e4 e5 2. d4. Given this opening Black has either of two choices; either maintain a Pawn on e5 or give up that position, but at the same time force White to do the same and abandon e4. If Black decides on maintaining his station on the e4 center position, 2. ... d6 is not a good choice, as doing so will limit the movement of Black's Bishop on the King's side. It also allows White to play 3. Nf3, which becomes terribly favorable for White since it can be transposed into other openings; including the Scotch Game with Black playing 2. …d6 (Strong Point Method) for Philidor’s Defense—3. d5. One possible disadvantage to playing the Center Game for White is that it brings the Queen out into the open a tad too early and gives Black great opportunities to regain and maintain an overall balance; moving into the middle game by threatening the exposed Queen while developing his other pieces. Typical play would be the following: 2 ... exd4* 3. Qxd4 Nc6 4. Qe3** Nf6*** 5. Nc3 After such array of threats to the White's Queen, Black now has a couple of options. The first one is to charge like a bull and go for an early exchange and see who outlives whom after the loss of material has been counted, or give the same dose of pressure on White’s Pawn at d4. If Black opts for a charge his moves may continue as 5. ... Be7 then ... d5; then castling on the Queen's Side. But if Black opts to give White a fair share of pressure then a continuation of 5. ... Bb4 to castle on the King's side; followed by Re8. These lines are as follows:
5. … Be7!**** 6. Bd2 d5 7. pxp Nxp 8. NxN QxN 9. Ne2 Bg4 White must not castle because his QRP would be left undefended) 10. Nf4 Qd7 11. f3 o-o-o 12. o-o-o Bf5
5. … Bb4 6. Bd2 o-o 7. o-o-o Re8 8. Bc4***** d6 9. Nf3 Be6 10. BxB RxB 11. Ng5
*Black must work to take action against White’s King’s Pawn. Black surrenders e5 and works on getting White to surrender e4; Black to play d5. If Black wishes to keep the e5 pawn, he must play 2. … d6 (Strong-Point method), which cramps his pieces a bit and allows White to play Nf3. Black’s goal would be to play d5 to get equalization. ** Paulsen’s Attack (White intends o-o-o) *** 4. … g6 & 4. … Bb4 have also been played successfully. **** Black intends d5; (sometimes even after White lays 6. Bc4), which opens up lines asap for Black. ***** If White plays 8. Qg3, White’s looking to complicate things with a pawn sacrifice and is hoping for 8. … Rxe4 9. a3!—Black’s best reply is 9. … Ba5.
… d6 or 3. a4 o-o 8. After 1. but takes away White’s positional advantage. Consequently. e4 e5. which may also include taking Whtie’s e4 pawn. Bc4 6. The Scotch Game The Scotch Game presents a study of the counter attack versus the strong point method for Black. If instead. d4* Nxe4 4. The Strong Point Method means the “retaining” a piece. o-o Nf6 7. Bd3 d5 5. then the strong point method has been chosen (cf: Philidor’s Defense. the following line was played: 4. … exd3 4. as it is also for the Center Game. h3 Kh7 11. d4 and the lines are then as follows: Counter-Attack I Main Line 3. Danish Gambit On move 3. Ne2. … d6. d4 The classic line for this defense has White playing d4 on move 3 and goes as follows: 1. regarding White’s ‘classical center’ position. … Nd7 4. … Nc6 5. … Nf6 3. … Bc5 5. Black plays 3. The Goring Gambit mainline is: 1. Nxd3 Nf6 Counter-Attack II 3. above). Instead. … dxc3 and then these three variations of the Goring Gambit follow: 4. the counter-attack method has been chosen. … Qe7 or 3. … d5 5. Alekine recommended White to play 4. Bc4 Bxc3+ 6. White can play 3. Black then must decide which of the two defense strategies to pursue. Nf3 4. Nxc3. Nxe5 Bd6 * As a variation. In the Center Game. Bc4 c6 5. Black plays 3. d4 d5 6. Alekhine-Pommer. Rad1. e4 e5 2. … Nc6. Nc3 Be7 6. we find a line that shows a graduated transition from the Center Game to the Scotch Game. Black follows with 2.Petroff’s Defense (a counter attack): 2. Nxd3 Bc5 . White plays 2. Bxc3 d6 7. Qe2 h6 9. which will transpose to the Scotch game with either Black omitting Nc6 and/or White omitting Nf3. This helps White to avoid the Goring Gambit by playing Bb4 and developing the King’s Knight to e2 rather than f3. If Black follows with 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. White follows with 3. Bd3—d4 is simply played later. … exd3 4. If Black decides to decline the gambit. Bb3 Qc7 10. Bc4 Nc5 6. Bce3 g6 12. Nf3 and the Scotch Game is initiated. Nxe5 d6 4. Either way. The line goes: 3. where White would play d4 at this point. If Black chooses to accept the gambit. d4 exc4 4. Nxc3 Bb4 Philidor’s Defense: Holding d4 until move 3 by White with Black having played d6 and choosing the Strong-Point Method. c3 dxc3 5. Black is choosing to retain his e5 pawn by playing d6. White plays c3. … d5. Nf3 In 1943 ev. Nf3 4. Qb3 Qe7 8. … Bb4 5. Bc4 Nc6 6. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Nf3 Nc6 3. the Counterattack Method finds Black giving up the e5 pawn. The strong point method actually proves inapplicable. we depart from the center game. e4 e5 2.
Black’s main line defense being Bc5. gxf3 Bxf3 11. o-o o-o 5. b4—Evans Gambit. … Nf6. o-o o-o 11. d3. R31 Nd8 Black gets 8. Main Line Two Nights Blackburne Rousseau Hungarian Defense Defense Shilling Gambit Gambit 3. Nc3 Bb4 6. Off the Scotch Game: White deviates from playing 3. … Nf6). … Be7 4. Be7 Bd6). Bd3 d5 5. d4 d5 6. plays Bc4 for the Giuocco Piano. we get the Four Knights Variation (followed by 5. Nbd2 d5 Petroff Defense Or Black may choose to ignore the attack to his pawn with 2. White plays this to get a big lead in development and a strong grip on center (if Black is not prepared). … Bc51 3. Nd3 Bb6 however. White then has a choice of two lines: Line 13. c3 Nge7 7. c32 Nf6 4. Bb5 Bb4 4. cxd4 Bb4+ 6. Nc3 (Black replies 4.Qf3 Bbe7 12. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Nf3 (or Nd3) Bg4 9. if Black plays 6. 2 If White plays 4. … d6). which are the weakest squares in the opening position (before castling). Bfd3 d5 8. … o-o. exd5 cxd5 9. Nxc6 bxc6 7. Nxe5 Qg5 Tarkatovier Variation 5. Rae1 Rab8 13. Qe1 Nf3+ 10. e5 Ne4 1 If Black plays this main line move. Nxe5 d6 4. h3 Bce6 5.5. d4 Ne6 equal chances 9. d4 exd4 Main Line Two Nights Blackburne Rousseau Hungarian Defense Defense Shilling Gambit Gambit 6. d3 d6 6. Rf1 Qxe4 5. it is better for White. … Nd4 3. If White plays 4. 8. Be2 Nf3 6. it is better for Black (6. . Ng5 d5 4. Pxc3 Qe7* 8. Nc3 and Black can follow with 3. White can choose to play 4. This opening attacks f7 for Black and f2 for White. Bce3 Qf6 6. Nxf7 Qxg2 4. dxc6 bxc6 7. d4 Nxe4 4. exd5 Na5 5. we get the Dubois Variation that is then followed by 5. but if followed by 4. Nc3). … f5. Ndc2 Bxe3 8. c3 Nf6 7. or he can play Nf6. Bxf7. d4 exd4 5. Bd3 (Black has three choices here: Nc6. 7. Nd1 Rfe8 14. Bg5 Bxc3 7. Ng5 f4). … Nf6 3. Line 23. Nxe5 Bd6 If Black answers with 2. … Nc6. … Nf6 and the Four Knights Opening is established with the rest of the line going: Main Line 4. e5 Ne8 7. … Nd4 (does better for Black) 5. Bb5+ c6 6. White then plays 3. Ba4 Bc5 6. the Two Nights Defense. Bc1 * Prepares Knight maneuver Giuocco Piano (also called ‘Italian Game’)—widely used at the ‘club level’ of play. the Jerome Gambit is initiated. we have the Giuocco Pianissimo (followed by 4. d4 (Scotch Game) and instead. Nxc3 o-o 9. o-o o-o If White plays 6. If White plays 4. Nf3 and play the Petroff Defense—2. … Nf6. Nxe5. … f5 3. Be2 d6 11.
pxp Bb6 8. d4 exd3 12.. Rxe4 d6 12. Rfe1 d5 Nxd5 Nce7 o-o c6 8. … d6 or Nge7 are better. o-o Bb6 (Black defends Bishop) 9. d5 Bf6 10. exd5 and Black responding with 8. 7. d4 pxp 7. Ne5 Bd6 11. o-o pxp* * Double pawn sacrifice that is the key to the Evans Gambit that gives White a 8. fpxp Nxp White in good 10. Nbxd2 9. Qb3. h3 o-o 14. gaining roughly equal chances. then White castles with 9. … Nxd5. *** If White delays castling and plays 7.Two lines open up from Main Line: 7. … Ng7 (White loses advantage***) 8. . e5 However. o-o c5 Evans Gambit 4. … Na5.. c3 Ba5** 6. … Ba5 (as shown). … Bxb4* 5. Nf3 e4 10. Qd3 Ne6 shape but still White in deep trouble down 2 pawns ** Black can defend better against Evans Gambit by playing 5. … Qg6 7. cxd4. Qe2 hxg5 15. … Bbe7 and 6. then White can attack the e file by playing 8. o-o Be6 and the line continues: 10. Nxc3 Nge7 8. Qb3 Qf6 serious attack. Black is prevented from playing 7. Qb3 11. if Black plays 7. 11. Ba3 9. o-o3 Bxc3 9. d5 9. . 7. 3 If White delays castling here. Re1 Ne7 11. Nc3 Nxe4 8. dxe6 f6 Two Nights Defense (cont’d) 8. Bxd5 –with White to carry out a series of exchanges to keep pressure on the e file. 9. Bd2 Bxd2+ 7. White can then castle 8. exd5 10. Bg5 Bxg5 13. … Nge7 and may instead play Qf6. Nxg5 h6 14. Nxd3 Qc7 13. d6 7. pxp d5 (messes up White’s ideas) White well set up 9. Re1 Be6 16. Be2 h6 9. … Bg5 Be7 (?)—found in the example of this situation. … Qg6. o-o 12. not good. e5 Qg6 10. Black can defend against this by playing 5.
9. … f5. Ba4 Nf6 5. Re1 Qh4 (Black has a lot of attacking chances) 14. followed by: 8. But should Black want to consider a strong point defense. g3 Qh3 (starting position of the Martial Gambit) 3. Bb3 d6-if Black castles. it is called the Schiemann Defense. d4 Qc7 ** If b5. PxP Nf5*** 8. b4 Strong Point Steinitz Defense 3. followed by: 4. PxP NxP 10. RxN c6 (defends Knight) 12. he can play d6— Steinitz Defense. Bbf1 Counter-Attack If 3. try to break with Pe6 at some point. (If Black plays f5 here. o-o Nd4 5. o-o NxP 5. d4 Ned6 6. o-o Be7** 6. 9. … Nf6. it attacks the f2 and f7 squares. Nc3 White is looking to get direct attacking chances on King. another modern variation: Nb8 to get to d7 11. a4 is better play for White and gives White a chance to play for the initiative & avoid gambit. Bxc6 dPxB 7.Ruy Lopez Off the Scotch Game: White deviates from playing 3. the Closed Breyer Defense is initiated –andIf Black plays Na5. followed by 6. the Chigorin Defense is initiated. he can play a6. … Bc5 4. Black’s classical defense being Bc5. 11. 8. … o-o. Re1 b5 7. followed by: 10. h3 * * If Black plays Nb8. Re1 exd4 8. d4 Bd7 5. d4 and plays Bb5 for the Ruy Lopez. … d6 4. Nc3 Nf6 6. Moeller Defense . Martial Gambit. Berlin Defense. *** If 7. of which this is the only book move. … a6 4. o-o Be7 7. Schiemann Defense If 3. Bc2 c5 –adds support to center. QxQ KxQ 9. Bb3 Bb7 –andIf Bc5.) This opening is widely used in master level play and like the Italian Game. c3 d5 (the actual gambit) White aims to play d4 after this move. Classical Defense Zaitsev Variation 3. Nxd4 o-o 9. NxP NxN White is undeveloped at this point and Black has some attacking chances.d4 Bd6 13. Or if Black should prefer a counter-attack. c3 o-o loses e pawn. Archangel SK (counterthrust) Variation.
PxP f4 (every capture is bad for Black). c6-c5 and e6-e5 breaks. c4 Bbc6 (Ne7 is a better move) 10. e5 Bf5 4. The latter break is usually preferable. Themes for Black: Weakness of the d4 pawn. Black is aiming to distract White’s center. Nc3 Nf6 (or-Nc6) 3. f4 (or Bc4) d5 4. Be3 Be7 11. … c6. e4 e5 2. Be2 c5 6. Nf3 e6 5. Scandinavian and QGD): 2. Be3 PxPd4 7. Nc3 Nc8 10. Nxd4 Bg6 8. possibility of queenside majority in the endgame (typically after the exchange of White's d pawn for Black's c pawn). o-o Nge7 9. d4 d5 3. but harder for Black to achieve. e4 c6 2.These lines are used to avoid the more complex Ruy Lopez and to sidestep the line of choices that started with the Center Game. Character: Slow-paced game. d3 Nc6 4. Pawn Formation (also used in French. White can respond to Caro-Kann by playing: 6. Vienna Game 1. d4-d5 break. o-o cxd4 8. Nc3 Be7 Themes for White: Outpost on e5. Rc1 o-o With 1. cxd4 Ne7 9. . fxd5 Bishop’s Opening 1. Bc4 Nf6 3. kingside space advantage. c3 Nc6 7. e4 e5 Caro-Kann 1. Nc3 Ne5 (Black’s center is now under siege) 11.
Novices often lose to the sparkling Greek gift sacrifice. theoretically balanced position) Character: Closed/semi-open but sharp game. White gets an outpost on d4 and the possibility of exploiting the dark squares while Black gets an overextended e5 pawn to work on. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 6. because it is harder for white to defend the head of the chain than in the d5 chain. PxP Nh6 bad for Black and c4 makes it difficult for White to get 8.Be2 or g3 for White and followed by Bg2. Due to White's kingside space advantage and development advantage. For Black. Be2 PxP 6. putting pressure on d4pawn) 6. In response to exf6. f2-f4-f5 break. Na4 Qa5+ 8. Nxe4 5. Bd2 Bb4 8. Bd3 e6 d5 dxe4 Bd7 Bc6 Advance Variation (White’s reply to French Defense) 3. e4 2. Also maneuver 11. Attacking the head of the pawn chain with f7-f6 is seen as frequently as attacking its base. Nf3 Qh4 (strong variation. The rest of the line goes as follows: -Nc3 is better for White 7. Nbd2 Na5 9. Black must generate counterplay or be mated. as PxP is 7. Themes for Black: Exchanging the hemmed-in QB. 10. Bc3 (creating a Knight to Queenside.French Defense 1. e5 c5 (puts pressure on White’s pawn chain) 4. a3 is traditional move. c7-c5 and f7-f6 breaks. … c4. Pawn Structure: Themes for White: kingside mating attack. o-o Nf5 to b4. Black accepts a backward e6 pawn in exchange for freeing his position (the b8-h2 diagonal and the semi-open f-file) and the possibility of a further e6-e5 break. … Bg7 or o-o-o are possibilities. d4 3. . followed by 6. If White exchanges with d4xc5 it is called the Wedge formation. Nc3 4.
d4 d5 3.The Greek gift sacrifice or classical bishop sacrifice is a typical sacrifice of a bishop by White playing Bxh7+ or Black playing Bxh2+..Bxf8 Qxf8 .Qxg7#) 10..Qh7+ Kf8 13.e4 e6 2.. but due to poor king safety..Qh3 Kg7 11..Kh8 9..Qg4 Qe7 10.exf6 Nxf6 15.Ng5 g6 9.Bxh7+! Kxh7 8. winning the queen 8. White can play 7.Qh5+ Kg8 12.Nf3 Bb4 6.Re8 10.Bxg6+ Kd8 17. The position above..Nge4 f6 13. though the outcome is not always so clear-cut.Qh7# 8...h4 and there is no satisfactory way to meet the threat of 10.h5+ Kh6 (10.Kh8 8.Kf5 11.Bxg5 wins the queen 8..e5 Nfd7 5...Qf3#) 11.. Black could play 7.Qh5+ Kg8 10.Qh5 Qxg5 (9..Nxf7+..Qxf7+ Kh8 11. which might occur after the moves 1.Kh8 instead.Qh8+ Ke7 14.Kg6 9.Kh6 9.Nxe6+ wins the queen 8.Nc3 Nf6 4..Ng5+ Ke8 16. also leads to a lost position: 7...Qxg5 9.Bd3 O-O(?) is a simple case where the Greek gift sacrifice works.Bh6+ Kf7 14.Bxg5 wins the queen These variations are typical of many Greek gift sacrifices.O-O Nc6 12.Kg8 9.Ng5+ to force black to give up the queen to prevent mate: 8.
his pieces will suffocate to death. Bg5 Qa5+ 8. d6-d5 break (prepared with e7-e6). Nc3 is better for White. Qxd4 e6 6. d4 cxd4 4. e4 c5 (Black risks tempo) 2. the Maróczy hop (Nc3-d5 followed by e4xd5 with terrific pressure on the e-file). Conversely. Bc4 is the “correct” move. o-o-o o-o Character: Semi-open game. f7-f5 break (especially with a fianchettoed King bishop). White gains a tempo. And by playing 3. the formation takes time to set up and limits the activity of White's light-squared bishop. e5 Nd5 4. kingside attack. c4 Nc6 [ 6. White is accepting Open Sicilian. If Black plays 2. Nxd4 Nf6 6. Indeed. Pawn Structure: 5. Black is attempting to prevent White from castling. Nxd5 exd5 6. which Black follows up with 3.Sicilian Defense Classical line (Black aiming to capture pawn on ds4 with flank pawn): 1. With 4. … e6 5. named after Géza Maróczy. Fianchettoing one or both Bishops. Black is asking for Open Sicilian (2. Bd2 Ng6 9. d4 d6 7. … cxd4 and has 2 to 1 center pawn majority. Qe2 Qc(?) 4. … d6. **By playing 2. if Black does not quickly make a pawn break. d3 dxc3 10. The line follows: 3. … Nf6.] 7. which can buy Black some breathing room to accomplish this break. c4-c5 and e4-e5 breaks. d4. Nc3 Nc6*** Themes for White: Nd4-c2-e3. * See c3 Sicilian on next page and Grand Prix Attack after that. d4 cxd4 5. c3 cxd4 9. with Black responding: 4. Qd2 (this might be a recording error) Bd7 8. The Maróczy bind. Nf3* d6** 3. Themes for Black: b7-b5 break. Bg5 e6 7. Qd1 Nde7 8. o-o cxb2 . Chess masters once believed that allowing the bind as Black always gave White a significant advantage. has a fearsome reputation. NxP. … Nc6 would be real bad for Black).
e4-e5 break (often prepared with f2-f4). f2f4-f5 push. It is often unwise for White to exchange a piece on c6 allowing the recapture bxc6. storm or White -orcan play 7. … Bfe7 7. Bc3 b6 11. g2-g4-g5 blitz (see Keres attack). e6-e5 transposing into the Boleslavsky hole (see below). f3 White is looking White plays for Kingside for pawn attack. Rb1 dxe5 12. Bc4 o-o 9.) 11. … a6. d6-d5 break. minority attack (and counterplay in general) on the queenside.10. Pawn Structure (for straight Sicilian and Najdorf Variation): Themes for White: Pressure on the d file. because the phalanx of Black's center pawns becomes very strong. sharp middlegame. Themes for Black: Pressure on the c file. Nf3.) ***If Black plays 5. f3 b5 8. Nb3 Bce6 8. space advantage. pressure on White's pawn on e4 or e5. Be3 e5 7. exd6Bxd6 (Black is no better developed and is more powerful in the center. Najdorf Variation is initiated with the following two lines: 6. Qxh5+ sacrificial assault must be followed up by aggressive action that doesn’t allow opponent to consolidate position. … e6 follow by 7. h4 d6! 12. 6. . Nxe5 Bd6 13. dynamic. o-o Character: Complex. any 14. Nxf7! Qxf7 (White decides game with this move.
The Tal attack is defined by Bc4 and 0-0. Black almost always equalizes. if the d6-d5 break can be made. Pawn Structure: Themes for White: taking control the d5 hole. Other variations are: The Classical Dragon where White plays Be2 and 0-0. When white castles queenside. queenside minority attack. Black has another option: 5. These less common variations lead to less tactical positions. the c4 square. dynamic game. and might even obtain a slight edge. f3. with a potentially technical endgame. Qd2 and 0-0-0. It is a paradoxical idea that Black can strive for equality by voluntarily creating a hole on d5. The entire game revolves around control of the d5 square. . Bg2 and 0-0. Black often delays castling because his king is quite safe in the center. and Black usually prefers to give up his queen bishop rather than a knight in exchange for a white knight if it gets to d5. and the Fianchetto Defense where White plays g3. Unusually for an open formation. Themes for Black: d6-d5 break.The Boleslavsky Hole Character: Open. … g6 (the Dragon) Character: Either a razor sharp middlegame with opposite side castling or a moderately sharp game with same side castling. bishops become inferior to knights because of the overarching importance of d5: White will often exchange Bg5xf6. Black has two options for his queen bishop: on e6 and on b7 (after a7-a6 and b7-b5). The Sicilian Dragon requires a high level of opening memorization to play properly. f2-f4 break. exploiting the backward d6 pawn. Black must play very carefully or White will place a knight on d5 and obtain a commanding positional advantage. This is especially true when it comes to the Yugoslav Attack in which White plays the moves Be3.
Themes for Black: Pressure on the long diagonal. Nf3 Nc6 advantage. PxP QxP (Dangerous move for White) delayed it for Nf6. giving this line: (en passant) 8. Bc4 Nb6 –or. retreats. c3 Sicilian By playing 2. o-o 9. Nc3 e6 8. (a slow move that allows Black to play aggressively) White initiates c3 Sicilian and foils Black’s attempt at gaining a central majority. as follows: 2. queenside counterplay. c3. kingside attack (either f2-f4-f5 with kingside castling or h2-h4-h5) with queenside castling. Bb5 PxP 5. Nb5 Qb8 12. the rest of the line. o-o Be6! 9. weakness of Black's queenside minority (of pawns) in the endgame. PxP QxP 3. Bb5 Nb6 Black could have played PxP. Nc3 Qd6 This is the position White was hoping for White gains tempo and Black by playing c3 Sicilian. o-o Nc6 11. PxP Be7 13. Be3 PxP 12. Also. the line goes as follows: 3. d4 cxd4 White gets space 5. e5 Nd5 4. … d5 —If Black plays—2. d4 Nf6 4.6. Black has not yet castled. Bb3 d5 7. Qe21 BxB 11. NxB QxN 7. 7.Pawn Formation (other is English Opening [with colors reversed]): Themes for White: Outpost on d5. … Nf6. PxB 10. cxd4 d6 –or-5. but this will prove to 6. Nf3 Bg4 9. NxP Bd7 6. but 8. Be2 e6 10. Na3 PxPc3 10. PxP d6 be a weakness as game moves on. . exploiting White's often overextended kingside pawns in the endgame.
e5 d5 8. d3 Ne7 7. o-o o-o 5. d4 PxP 11. f5 gxf5 (f5 is a gambit that sets up a positional pawn sacrifice)6. playable for both. d3 Nge7 7. … Nd4 6. The final position is unclear and If White thinks Black will not fall for trap. . QxP BxN 12. White can play this line: 6. Bc4 (Grand Prix Attack). d3 Nf6 10. Nc3 Nf6) 9. Nc3 Bg4 10. PxP PxP 8. PxP NxN 10. Qh4 Instead of 5. Bb5 in order to exchange Bishop and damage Black’s pawn structure. PxP a6 will gain equality for White. Qe7 will get Black into check. Qe1 8. … Ne7 Variation for Black (gambit refused): 7. … exf5 8. o-o d6—beter for Black is: 6. … Nc6. d3 o-o 6. Nc3. White can play 5. Qd4 (sets trap for Black. Qe1 d6 ok for both sides. Nf3 Bg7 (Starting point for Black’s Grand Prix Attack) 5.Grand Prix Attack By playing 2. o-o o-o Unclear position. White abandons d4 and is working kingside strategy. 9. 10. Bb3 B5 A trap is set up with the 6. … 36 and the line goes as follows: 6. Bc4 e6 (White’s Bishop is vulnerable. d3 d5 (Black sticking it to Bishop) 9. f4 g6 (White is asking for Grand Prix Attack) 4. Black follows with 2. but puts pressure on f7) Gambit Refused: 6. QxQ+ KxQ 11. PxP QxP 9. o-o (with the idea of bringing Queen to g3) 8. forcing Black to trade Queen and gives White advantage. f5 gambit. Black responds with 5. e5 a6 9. Be3 Nd4 8. … Nge7! 7. BxN PxB –a better response for Black is: 7. d3 Nge7 9. 9. d4 NxP (see below for better move for White) (8. RxB e6 13. o-o NxB 7. the rest of the line is as follows: 3. NxN d5 8. PxN BxP Better move for White: 8. Qe1 d5 7.
a1-h8 diagonal . complicated position. Pawn Structure (also used in Closed English [colors reversed]): Themes for White: kingside pawn storm.Closed Sicilian ? Character: Closed. c2-c3 and d3-d4 break. Themes for Black: queenside pawn storm.
One of the goals of White in many Queen’s Pawn openings is to get a Pawn (specifically the King’s Pawn) to e5. . …dxc4.Initial Principles Behind Queen’s Pawn Openings We can classify Queen Pawn openings as the chess openings that begin with 1. if Black plays 2. Black can mainly defend along the lines of a strong point method or a counter attack. PxP 11. However. outpost on e5. e3 5. trading pieces for a favorable endgame. the King’s Indian Defense is being applied.. White should not initially try for the classical center. a4 8. rather. though not all Queen Pawn openings have Black replying with 1. … f5. one worthy goal for Queen’s Pawn openings is to obtain the classical center. Pawn Structure (also used in French Defense): Themes for White: d4-d5 break. d4—this being called the Queen’s Gambit. sacrifice of the isolani. Nc3 Nf6 e6 c5 a6 Nc6 PxP Be7 o-o Character: Open game. Themes for Black: Blockading the isolani. The Queen’s Gambit is the first study of the Queen’s Pawn Opening. … Nf6. then he is accepting the gambit (QGA—Queen’s Gambit Accepted) with the idea of liquidating the center. Qe2 9. If Black responds 1. White must retain as many pieces as possible. Black must free up his game by making good exchanges and in order to secure an advantage. kingside attack. o-o 7. Generally overall. c4 after 1. d4 d5. And as in the King’s Pawn openings.. BxP 6. . The rest of it’s main line runs: 3. Like that of King’s Pawn openings. Rd1 10. Nf3 4. d5. play 2. he is applying the Dutch Defense to his strategy and if 1.
Pawn Structure (also used in Karo-Cann [colors reverse]): Themes for White: Minority attack. Nc3 Nf6 4. Themes for Black: e4 outpost. her positional strengths and threat of exchanges give her the advantage. … e6. the initial line runs: 3. and the isolani can sometimes be sacrificed to unleash the potential of White's pieces. this being a strong point method that is referred to as part of the “Orthodox and Allied Defenses” in Reuben Fine’s Ideas Behind the Chess Openings.The isolani leads to lively play revolving around the d5 square. then he is declining the gambit (QGD—Queen’s Gambit Declined). Kasparov is famous for the speculative d4-d5 sacrifice. Bg5 Nbd7 5. Nf3 Bfe7 6. . e3 o-o Character: Semi-open game. enabling White to whip up a whirlwind attack. If not. If Black plays 2. kingside attack. e3-e4 break. the threat of the d4-d5 break is ever present. Starting out with the Orthodox and Allied Defenses. If Black can clamp down on the pawn.
Themes for Black: e4 outpost. with an advanced pawn. Pawn Structure (also used in Queen’s Indian): Themes for White: Line opening advance in the center. Pawn Structure (also used in Caro-Kann. Alekhine Defense and QGD Tarrasch Defense): Themes for White: Exploiting the dark squares. It’s line continues: 7. White's overextended pawn. queenside majority in the endgame. c5 Ne4 8.Character: Semi-open. conversion to isolani. e6-e5 and b7-b5 breaks. Themes for Black: Forcing a pawn advance and blockading the pair. The first of these is the Queenside Bind in which White must strive to get his pawn to b5 and Black must be ready with his pawn to get to e5 to stop White. Bxe7 Qxe7 9. bxc3 e5 Character: Open game. Bfd3 Nxc3 10. kingside attack. White’s game is freer at this point and he has five types of superiority that he can strive to turn his temporary plus into. dynamic game. kingside attack. .
dxe5 4. Black can play 7. dxc5 9. o-o 9. he’s playing a counter-attack method. the hanging pawns are a structural weakness and must not be entered into unless the piece position offers some compensation. White must employ a Queenside “minority attack”—though Fine does not explain this. Bd3 9. … c5 or c6—these two lines shown here: c5 line 8. And if Black plays 2. trying to generate a kingside attack leveraging off of their superior center control. For the second type. c6 10. known as Albin’s Counter Gambit. … e5. For the third type. Nf3 5. Ne5 dxc4 Ndb3 c6 line 8. b3 d4 Ne6 Bce3 Bfc5 Nge7 a5 o-o . f4 16. White aims to keep the pawns hanging. Nxe5 15. On the other hand. White uses what is called Superior Development. Rxc3 13.Bb3 17. Qh4 dxc4 Nfd5 Qxe7 Ndxc3 e5 Nxe5 Qxe5 Qe4 Bf5 g6 Rad8 Fine again says nothing directly about the fourth (Kingside attack w/pieces) and fifth (Kingside attack w/Pawns) types or approaches to gaining superiority. The play revolves around Black trying to force one of the pawns to advance. 3. o-o 12. Qh5 18. He simply shows that it is a Queenside attack that Black should counter with a Kingside counterattack. dxe5 14. Qe2 11. Ba6 dxc4 c5 b6 Bb7 Rather than play 7. Bxc4 10. Bg2 8.Like the isolani. o-o 10. If Black can establish a permanent blockade the game is positionally won. Other themes for White include tactical possibilities and line opening breaks in the center. Bxc4 9. the main line being: 7. g3 7. … dxc4. Bxe7 11. Rc1 8. Nbd2 6.
Bg2 4. Black is playing the Dutch Defense. … g6 4. Nc3 5. weakness of Black's c pawn (either after Black's b7-b5 or after d4-d5xc6 in response to e6-e5). … c6. it’s line being: 3. the d4-d5 break. Black is using the Slav Defense. And by playing 1. a4 6. Ne4 12. Ne5 7. … f5.10. Bxc4 Nf6 dxc4 Bf5 e6 Bb4 Character: Slow-paced game. g3 3. c5 Neg6 Bca7 And by playing 2. Themes for Black: e6-e5 and c6-c5 breaks. o-o Nf6 e6 c6 o-o d6 Leningrad Variation: 3. as follows: 2. Bb2 11. c4 5. c4 d6 . o-o o-o 6. Grunfeld and Colle System [with colors reversed]): Themes for White: Pressure on the c file. Nf3 6. Nf3 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Pawn Formation: (also used in Catalon.
This structure also appears in one of Botvinnik's treatments of the English. But Black should become over-confident as White can bring the Pawn forward at almost any point. e4 c6 4. Black is given an opportunity to quickly obtain equal chances. Another question that Black should address is how to position the Knight on the Queen's side. Even chess masters have committed positional errors when encountering this line of openings. The Colle System The Queen Pawn game is worth looking into when one desires to consider the possibility of not playing a gambit as one of the chess openings of choice. though your opponent may be well used to it. Black should counter by developing rapidly and play e5 as soon as possible. The two viable options for that Knight are c6 and d7. uncomplicated strategy. Adding the typical White fianchetto of the king's bishop to this structure provides significant pressure along the long diagonal. d4 d5 2. when White defers playing c4 on the second move. d4 Nf6. and usually prepares the f2-f4-f5 break. White's next move should not be 2. This simply means that after playing 1. However. Note. Nf3 Nf6 3. first question is if it would be possible for White to establish a Pawn center? The candidate Pawns to establish such a center . breaks on the c and g files. not d5. Black replies with 1. d4 d5.Character: Closed game. this in contrast with the d7 square. … Nf6. e4/e5 outposts. The c6 square is the natural and normal choice. The Colle System avoids the Queen’s Gambit as follows: 1. which is an inferior position. Players must carefully consider how to recapture on the e4/e5 square. c4 making a marked difference from a Queen's Gambit opening. which has proven to be one of the most difficult of the openings to understand. c3. since it alters the symmetric pawn formation and creates strategic subtleties. Pawn Structure (also used in Colle System and English): Themes: Exchanging the bad bishop. but may have the advantage of less well researched by your opponent. There are three strategic questions that lead us to the principles of these openings. The Indian Defenses The whole complex of the Indian Defenses starts with 1.
Nxd5 Bf5—or—---11. c7-c6 break. Bxe4 Nf6 g6 Bg7 d6 o-o c5 –or----6 . Bb3 13. The theme is a race for a breakthrough on opposite flanks – Black must try to whip up a kingside attack before White's heavy pieces penetrate with devastating effect on the c file. Black focusing on the c7-c6 break and White often trying to play on the kingside with the f2-f4 break. f2-f4 break. … Nf6.would be positioned on e4. Nf3 7. is there a way for Black to get away with it? By playing 1. Black is using the King’s Indian Defense. Rf7-g7. Nc3 4. Its line is as follows: 1. Be2 PxP Nc5 Nfxe4—or—10. The position was thought to strongly favour White until a seminal game (Taimanov-Najdorf 1953) where Black introduced the maneuver Rf8-f7. The chain arises from a variety of openings but most commonly in the heavily analyzed King's Indian Classical variation. since Black starts the game by not building a center. e4 5. fxe5 9. Nf3 e6—or—7. Bg7-f8. d4. … 2. play is much slower with tempo being of little value and featuring piece maneuvering by both sides. Be3 Bxe4—or—-12. Nxe4 12. . The second question is that if White does succeed in establishing that center then is it possible to maintain these positions? This takes into account the fundamental principle behind Pawn centers. c2-c4-c5 break (optionally prepared with b2b4). c4 3. Qc2 11. BxP f5 Na6 e5 c5 PxP Character: Closed game with opposite side activity. Pawn Structure (also used in Benoni and Ruy Lopez): Themes for White: Massive queenside space advantage. f7-f5 break. When the chain arises in the Ruy Lopez. prophylaxis with c6-c5 or c7-c5 transposing to a Full Benoni formation. g7-g5-g4 break (after f2-f3). Third question. d5 10. which cramps your opponent's position on the board. and c4. Themes for Black: kingside attack. f4 6. d5 8. prophylaxis with g2-g4 (after f2-f3).
. a1-h8 diagonal. because White has no real way to improve his position while Black can improve by exploiting the d4 square. the guardian of the hole. White appears to have a development lead while Black's position appears to be riddled with holes. The Rauzer formation is named after Rauzer who introduced it in the Ruy Lopez. If the black king's bishop is fianchettoed it is common to see it undeveloped to f8 to control the vital c5 and d6 squares.Character: Semi-open game. c4-c5 push. f4 square. or remove White's dark-squared bishop. Pawn Structure (also used in Ruy Lopez and Ruy Lopez [colors reversed]): Themes for White: d6 weakness. trading pieces for a superior endgame. It can also rarely occur in the Ruy Lopez with colors reversed. a3-f8 diagonal. It is considered to give Black excellent chances because d6 is much less of a hole than White's d4. In the position on the left. In reality. kingside attack. it is Black who stands clearly better. queenside pawn storm. The Rauzer formation is often misjudged by beginners. Themes for Black: d4 weakness.
Pawn Structure (other structures-English. … 3. c4 …). Nf3 4.. Variations arise with Black's second reply (1. g3 5. Included in this branch are Tchigorin (3. Pirc. Ruy Lopez): Themes for White: exploitation of d6 weakness. d6-d5 and f7-f5 breaks. e4-e5 and c4-c5 breaks. c5 4. King's Indian with a variation of the Ruy Lopez (3. Ne1 8. The Old Indian defenses would have 2 . Nxg2 e6 b6 Bb7 Ne4 Bxe4 Bxg2 d5 The Bogoljuboff Variation continues at 3 . as his first reply induces White back to playing c4 on his second move. Nf3 g6 4. d5 b5. The Queen's Indian variation goes as follows: 2. Nc3 e5). e4). d4 Nf6 2. minority attack with b2-b4-b5.. The wall is yet another structure that leaves Black with a d-pawn weakness. Nxe4 7.Boleslavsky Wall: Character: Semi-open game.. slow buildup.. d6. The Blumenfeld Counter Gambit follows through with 3 . queenside play with a7-a5-a4. . Nc3 6. Bb4+. Themes for Black: attacking the e4 and c4 pawns. but prevents White from taking control of the center and gives Black active piece play and an opportunity to play on either side of the board...
Nimzo-Indian Defense 1. d4 2. Nc3 4. e4 6. Nf3 Nf6 e6 d5 dxc4 (Open Catalan. the idea being that the center would then become prone to attack. Generally. c4 3. PxP 11. Pxc3 7. PxP 5. the opponent is invited to occupy the center with pawns. Nc3 4. Qc2 5. QxB Nf6 e6 Bb4 o-o BxN b6 (followed bhy Bb7) or d5 (to capture on c4 7 get B to a6) or d6 (to finish development) Grunfeld Defense 1. d4 2. g3 4. o-o The Catalan Open 1. a3 6. Nf3 8. c4 3. Black doesn’t take the Pawn on his fourth move. the Hypermodern approach advocates rapid development and controlling the center from a distance with pieces rather than the occupation of the center with pawns. . which is eventually followed by … b5) Be7 Nf6 g6 d5 NxP Nxc3 Bg7 c5 Bg4 PxP o-o Qd7 In a closed Catalan.Hypermodern Lines Several of the defenses to the Queen’s Pawn Opening are Hypermodern. d4 2. Bg2 5. e5 10. White’s goal is not to occupy the center with a Pawn until it is favorable to do so. c4 3. Bce3 9.
Pirc The Pirc is a hypermodern response to the King’s opening that goes as follows: 1. . c4): first.... c5 and then inevitably by . c4 2. f4 English Opening 1. Second is 2. Black may reply to the Reti Opening in the following four ways (the next logical move for White is 2. and shares the strategic ideas with that formation.. d4 3. . Nf3 4. Nc3 3. The Hedgehog is a formation similar to the Maróczy bind. which may also be followed by .. Semi-open game.. Nc3 4. though that does shut out the Queen's Bishop. which avoids a lot of possible complications. cxd5 6. but: 1. Bg2 7.. is 2. . Or yet. which is a reversed Benoni Counter Gambit. d4 e5 Nf6 Nc6 d5 Nxd5 Be6 f6 d6 Nf6 g6 Character: Closed. e4 2. dxc4. Nf3 d5. d4.. o-o 8. Another is 2 .. c6 that maintains occupation of the center. Black may opt for the orthodox reply of e6.. g3 5. Pawn Structure (also used in Sicilian): The Reti Opening The Reti Opening starts with neither a King nor a Queen’s Pawn opening. e5.
as in this diagram -. White has sacrificed a Pawn for rapid development and an open f-file. Here. . White will advance the g.& b-Pawns. Avoid weakening the pawn structure around your own King and launch the other Pawns against the opponent's King. but obviously. Who has the better of the deal? White's plan will be to take advantage of the lead in development.& hPawns. Here are some typical positions typical of a game at the end of the opening and the start of the middle game. Black will advance the a. Black's plan will be to consolidate the material advantage. the middle game follows from the opening. Black on the Kingside.the plan of the opponents is the same. or perhaps give it back to neutralize White's pressure.White on the Queenside. Opposite side castling Black to move The choice of when and where to castle sets the stage for plans based on an attack against the King. Gambit! White to move In this position from the King's Gambit.Transitioning to Middle Game There is no definite point at which the Middle Game starts. The player who does not follow this plan will probably lose. When the players have castled on opposite sides -.
The subsequent play will depend on which lines have been opened by these variations. Black will play fxe4 or f4. The plan then revolves around attacks on the head and base of the chain. White will play cxd6 or c6 as required.& e-Pawns. Black threatens fxe5. as in this diagram. The c.& f-Pawns have become the most important Pawns on the board.Blocked center White to move In this diagram. Black will reply gxf6 planning to attack the chain again with e6-e5. If White pre-empts this with exf6. . both players have immobile d. Pawn chain White to move A blocked center is often associated with a pawn chain.
axb5 2. but they are attacked easily. d4... and e4. if Black captures 1.bxc6 bxc6 will leave a weak Pawn on c6. so every position has its own corresponding plan. Your task during a game is to formulate that plan in the time available to you and to play your unforced moves according to that plan. If Black doesn't capture. creating a weak square in front of the other. c4. Black has used the moves to take a strong position on the e-file. White will try to make one of them advance. Black's plan must consider this threat. It is by no means an easy task.Hanging pawns White to move Are the Black Pawns on c5 and d5 strong or weak? They control key squares at b4. Just as every position is different. the Black Pawn on b7 will be weak. . After b4-b5. 1.axb5 cxb5. Minority attack Black to move White has used the last few moves to threaten the advance b4-b5. The preceding diagrams are examples of various plans which are familiar to many players. Black will try to reinforce the slight space advantage by placing the other pieces appropriately.
King safety 4. the relative amount of material possessed by each player does have associated plans. a time when plans are formulated and direct attack begins. trading.The Middle Game When learning chess you are taught how the pieces move. and rook are long-range pieces. their main goal being to create an advantageous position in the game. Note that different pieces can have identical mobility but different ranges. and the king 4 pawns in attacking strength (though obviously the king is infinitely valuable as far as exchanges are concerned). Note that these are averages. which files are good for the rooks. if you are behind in material. Mobility is inextricably tied to pawn structure: the pawns determine which bishops are good and bad. In some circumstances. Conversely.. simplify the position by exchanging pieces. Perhaps the most important is: If you are significantly ahead in material (especially if there are still pawns on the board).. avoid exchanges and try to complicate the position so that your opponent is more likely to make mistakes. these being: 1. There are five important factors for one’s approach to the middle game. most agree that on average the queen is worth 9 pawns. but rarely given good advice on how to think through the game. pinning and skewering are some of the moves that are present in middle games. Pawn structure 5. In an open game. Often a simple pawn move will free a piece from its prison or give a knight a sweet outpost in the center of the board. bishops are usually worth more than Knights and vice versa for closed games. and coordination. The battle of two armies struggling and planning to gain supremacy marks the onset of the Middle Game. 2. rooks 5 pawns. Importantly. Material 2. The Plan 1. Capturing. where the outposts are for knights. less material overall. sacrificing. bishops and knights 3 pawns. while the Knight is a short-range piece. so that while the subject of getting a material advantage is the province of tactics. Material While there is some debate about piece values. Positional features are the first line of approach to the Middle Game. Activity There are three main dimensions of a piece activity: mobility. The bishop. The most valuable real estate is near your opponent's pieces where you will be able to generate the most threats (typically such squares are on his side of the board). material advantages can be localized (e. especially queens.g. The range of a piece is the distance it can travel on the board. such as when all the pawns are locked together on one . Exchange a relatively immobile piece for one of his highly mobile pieces. all mobility is not created equal. queen. etc. A piece's mobility is the number of squares to which it can move. Activity 3. Also. freedom. but lots piled up kingside poised for an attack).
For example. enabling the attacker to virtually devout the entire enemy while facing no resistance. For the static position. Windmill—consists of discovered checks followed by normal checks followed by more discovered checks. as its moves dictate the course of a game creating time that can be used to mount an attack. The tactician can use many attack styles like capture enemy pieces by means of skewer. one might after the opening. Decrease his Knight's freedom by forcing it to defend a pawn. play short term tactical chess with use of tactical maneuvers to gain advantage over your opponent. If the intent is for the directly attacked piece. an active bishop is a tactical tool and a temporarhy feature in a position. consider using a minor piece or pawn (or King in the endgame) so that your major pieces will have the freedom to carry out other plans. indirectly so that if the former moves. usually completed in a few moves. if your pieces are mobile and free. Such passive pieces are limited in their ability to carry out other useful tasks. A pin against the king leaves the pinned piece with no freedom to move from the line of the pin. Discovered attacks are another useful way to take down your opponents forces. In general. coordination. A player can plays a series of three to four move combinations or Tactical maneuvers in the middle game instead of an all in one master plan. Tactics Tactics appear when one move does two things. Pieces are coordinated when they work toward a common goal. pin his opponent’s pieces or use a fork to attack two pieces at once. The second activity sub-factor is freedom. it is a pin and if for the indirectly attacked piece. Even if a piece technically has high mobility. First. The third sub-factor. one piece may put pressure on an escape square of the opponent's king while another piece is poised to put the king in check. it is an x-ray. then consider how you can increase their coordination. it will be helpful to be able to have a piece that can move long distances across the board. is the most subtle dimension of piece activity. If you need to defend material. Other potential plans include: break the pin against your knight. Its effectiveness is inaugurated when it can get outside the pawn chain. and in such cases Bishops are often preferred. This is called strategic chess. Thus tactics are immediate plans. Pins & Skewers—one piece is attacked directly and the other behind it. When the position is wide-open and there are pawns on both sides of the boards. the latter would be captured. Zwischenzug—an unexpected reply tossed in the middle of an expected sequence of moves. A piece's freedom is the number of squares to which it can move while still carrying out essential defensive roles. A static position is a position that only holds for the specific move one is in and a dynamic position is one that is transforming itself from one static position to another in order to attack the king.side of the board. If your pieces have high freedom and mobility. first assess one’s bishops. or contemplate how to coordinate your pieces so that they will be able to attack the King. Or one may prefer a more long term strategy based style to attain positional dominance. while strategies refer to longer-term plans in the game of chess. There are two broad ways to approach the middle games. This game play can lead to material or positional advantage of some sort. short-range pieces are often preferred. The methods that are used to capture opponent’s pieces are referred to as tactics. then consider starting an attack against the enemy King. but overall. determine whether the structure of your position is static or dynamic. but are not working in concert for an attack. its freedom can be drastically curtailed. . This type of player engaging in tactical maneuvers is thought of as a Tactician.
. and will start examining the most promising continuations. sometimes referred to as a net of variations. the way is made open that another piece is attacking one of the opponent’s pieces. is surprise: the series of moves differs in form from the kind of continuation normally to be expected. All Combinations are based on some form of Double Attack. all of these basic tactical devices. Discovered Attacks—after moving a piece. but really aren’t. Fork—occurs when one piece attacks two or more pieces at the same time. The purpose may be anything from a defensive resource to a mating attack. A master will look at the position. pins. Patterns In an average middle game position there are about 40-50 legal moves. Combinations One of the most fertile areas for beautiful patterns is the combination. 2. A sacrifice is likely to be present and Botvinnik. A combination must not be confused with a forced maneuver. and xrays. Double attacks Forks. Enemy pieces (not pawns) are undefended. a player sees and studies many different types of positions. will see all of the legal moves without even thinking about them. and a reason for their popularity. An intermediate player will look at the position and see all legal moves without too much trouble. and forced. Sacrifice—allows your opponent to capture a piece. from a small positional advantage to a gain of material. (The Oxford Companion to Chess) A combination is a forced variation with sacrifice. Enemy pieces (not pawns) are inadequately defended. It seems to me that this is both an exact and a simple definition. Essential to most combinations. Then what is the difference between a combination and a maneuver? A forced maneuver is a forced variation without sacrifice. On the path to chess mastery.X-Ray—takes advantage of pieces that seem to be adequately defended. This is pattern recognition. a sequence of forcing moves with a specific goal. Every time a master encounters a new position. but will have some problem determining which moves are worth further consideration and which aren't. and grounded in tactics. A beginner will look at a position and work out the legal moves one by one. where one move does two things at the same time and are examples of the double attack. when the opponent's moves are not forced. the previous experience helps to find the right path in the new position. Tactics include the double attack and the combination. among others. There are two kinds of maneuvers: positional. says is always present. 4. The enemy King is vulnerable (loss of pawn cover/centrally placed). Usually takes place with queens and rooks and involves counting the number of moves and countermoves to see who gains the actual advantage. Combinations can only exist if: 1. discovered attacks. leaving it en prise in order to gain a strategic objective. 3. Combination. The enemy King is stalemated. will quickly decide which side is better. perhaps overlooking the most important.
Always be on the lookout for your opponent's unguarded pieces. Capturing more of your opponent's material than they can capture of yours will help you to ultimately win the game and to do so with ease. In case of Queen you should only look to exchange if it can force the king to move like in the diagram. g7 and f6. All moves and plans from this point onwards is based on slowly strengthening his own position while gradually weakening that of his opponent. A solo attack always fails. The strategist works to mould his pieces into a single force of attack rather than several individual attacks by individual pieces. and diagonals which are not obstructed by Pawns. this is where the player on accessing the game situation. files. you can learn to combine by making these constantly recurring maneuvers the object of your study. Tactical Play then uses those well-placed pieces to strike quickly and decisively at the opponent's weaknesses. One of the objectives of Positional Play is to create open lines and then to occupy them with the appropriate pieces: Rooks on open ranks & files. knowing the right circumstances and mastering these exchanges are a big part of the middle game. The cohesive attack of pieces. Learning how to profit from these exchanges is one of the strategies for middle games. The weakest point in the opponent’s armor y or position is sought after by the strategist and completely concentrates his forces there. supporting each other and working together. If you have managed to gain a lead in material exchange of equal value of pieces is preferred as that will hasten the endgame. Also if an opportunity to promote a pawn or if the exchange can result in pulling down your opponents’ pawn structure out of shape queen exchange can be used. Positional Strategy Slow burning positional strategy is another playing style which comes into play in middle games. There are numerous instances which may lead to exchange of pieces. After the openings. Open lines Open lines are ranks. it is often possible to reduce them to certain simple types and therefore you can train your imagination. ponders possible plans or all of his options. Exchanges Through these maneuvers it is possible to gain positional advantages by sacrificing pieces however we have to remember material is important but position is infinitely more so. Kingside Focal Points Most castling is on the kingside and there are five basic focal points to aim at: h7 g7 f7 g6 and the dark-squared complex at h6. their power increases exponentially. Bishops on open diagonals. . and the Queen on any open line. Open lines are often the basis for attacks on the castled king. He then selects and executes his best plan and sticks to it rigidly.In a well-planned game [combinations] appear quite automatically. To work out whether it is indeed worth sacrificing a piece one has to play the scenario over in your head. stopping your opponent from the opportunity to castle. This style of game play and player is regarded as a Strategist. anticipating the opponents moves and your own to work out what advantage is to be gained by sacrifice. Your opponent may gain material by offering your piece but his position may weaken.
Queenside. too. the players typically push their center Pawns to occupy the center and to open lines for the development of the pieces. When to castle Castling occurs once in a game and fixes the long-term residence of the King. For these reasons. In the opening of a game. the other player can castle to that side or to the opposite side. King safety is an important element of positional play. and where to castle. Keeping the King for too long on its initial square often leads to catastrophic problems. so knowing the address of the King helps here. and any open lines that can be used against your King. . keeping a piece or two near the King is also a common strategy.it is risky for either player to launch a Pawn attack against the opposing King.both on the Kingside or both on the Queenside -. the position of your opponent's King is another factor. King Safety Why. becomes exposed to attacks from the opposing pieces. aiming the pieces at the opponent's King is a common strategy. For offense. It depends on the other details of the position. Where to castle When both Kings castle to the same side -. you should be considering where your King will be best placed : Kingside.3. Now the Pawns that threaten the opposing King aren't the same Pawns which protect their own King. both players often wait for the other to castle first. For defense. Queenside. who starts the game on a central file.both players routinely launch a Pawn attack against the opposing King. they move away from the protection of their own King. This is because at the same time the moving Pawns threaten the opposing King. As mentioned in the discussion about castling on opposite sides. Even before you have the possibility to castle. or in the center. when. or not at all? The answer to both questions is. When the Kings castle to opposite sides -. Players are faced with two key questions in every chess game: when to castle? where to castle : Kingside. so knowing the address of the King helps to develop the forces.one on the Kingside and one on the Queenside -. Castling serves two purposes: places the King in relative safety. One consequence of the opening is that the King. 'It depends'. The main elements behind this decision are the pawn structure that will protect your King. This makes it an important strategic decision. and furthers the development of the castling Rook. Once one of the players has committed the King to one side. depending on plans for the next phase of the game.
or for both. Similarly. there is one tried-and-true piece of advice on when to castle. Pawns defending the stronger pieces on board leads to better attacking options for them instead just defending the strong pieces. Pawn Structure A good pawn structure makes a solid defensive shell and more difficulty for your opponent to break through. whose pawns are more advanced)? Where are the weak squares and potential outposts. With the onset of the Middle Game. one must be especially . Also. But pawn promotion is merely a material consideration and restricting freedom an activity consideration. you need to play another Rook move like Re1 (Re8 for Black) or Rd1 (Rd8) to bring the King Rook into play on a center file. It is advisable to keep the outer pawns and not to advance them without good reason. After O-O-O. as pawns advance. one needs to ask. A player who is attacking may decide to delay castling only because it puts no new pressure on the opponent.Offense or defense? Castling can be done for offensive reasons. Sometimes a player castles because the castling Rook is needed to occupy an open file immediately -. you'll usually have the upper hand. 4. With the Queens on the board. This option usually arises when the Queens are traded early. never back. avoid exchanges as it will become weaker as material disappears from the board (isolated pawns tend to be weakest in the endgame). but things are not so simple. doubled. if you can prevent your opponent from castling. At other times a player castles because the risk of keeping the King in the center is increasing with every move -. Two moves or one? At first glance it may seem that castling Queenside is more efficient than Kingside. This second King move can also be necessary to get the King off the c1-h6 (c8-h3) diagonal. and are they good or bad? Who has more space (i.this is defensive. as an isolated pawn is the last thing you want. the King must often move to b1 (b8) to protect it. and can they be exploited? Examples of goals: Attack his backward d pawn.. After O-O. Move a rook to the half-open file where the opponent has isolated doubled pawns. If you have an isolated pawn. for defensive reasons. To castle or not? Sometimes castling can be dispensed with altogether. they threaten promotion and drastically limit the freedom of the opponents' pieces.this is offensive. or passed pawns. Because the a-Pawn is unprotected after O-O-O. backwards. If they are advanced before the end game please ensure that they form a pawn chain so as to receive support from its adjacent pawns. Also. the Queen Rook is already developed on a center file. who has the healthiest pawn structure? Are there isolated. Every pawn move is a commitment to create a long-term pawn-skeleton infrastructure. Castle before your opponent forces you to give up the castling option. It may seem that Queenside castling gains a move. since pawns can only move forward. Exchange knights. forcing doubled pawns. an infrastructure that establishes the highways and dead ends in the position for a long time to come.e.
And it is critical not to move the pawns in front of your castled king if at all possible. White has played h3 to create an escape square on h2. Bear in mind that although the next few diagrams show the White King castled on the Kingside. the remarks are equally relevant for a King castled on the Queenside. The Pawn structure in the preceding diagram has a serious disadvantage: back-rank mates. Unlike the previous diagram. Black's pieces can move to either square without fear of being attacked by a White Pawn. as in so doing. . The same Pawns that provide protection to the King also restrict its mobility. The most solid formation is when all Pawns in front of the King are on their initial squares. of course. without exception compromises security. as it creates permanent weaknesses around the King.careful of moving pawns in front of the castled King. they also apply to a castled Black King. Let's look at some examples. the move has not created a hole. the move has created one hole on f3 and another hole on h3. g3 h3 In the first diagram. This weakness can provide a target for an attack. The Pawns in front of the King play the main role in its protection. The Pawn on f2 prevents any Black piece from moving to g3. The safest protection against back-rank mates is to move one of the Pawns in front of the castled King. In the second diagram. White has played g3 to create an escape square on g2 against back-rank mates. There's a drawback to castling: the King sitting in a corner behind its own Pawns can be easier to attack than when it is in the center. Many games end in mate because a King has no escape from an opposing Queen or Rook checking on the back rank. At the same time. Which Pawn should you move? As you may have already discovered. And. But this is just an aspect of King safety. when a Pawn advances it creates a weakness.
which can make as many moves as required in a single game. If White wants to move the f-Pawn to create an escape square. when it's an outside passed Pawn.f3 f4 In the first diagram. It has also blocked the square f3 so that White can no longer move a Knight to that square. ignoring the position of all other pieces. The move f3 has created a hole on e3. the move f3 is considered passive. Pawn structure : the position of the Pawns. it strikes Black's center and threatens to move to f5. The b-Pawn in our diagram is an example of a passed Pawn. usually a Queen. When supported by a Rook. A Knight on f3 is a natural protector of the castled King. The two d-Pawns are not passed. It requires constant attention by the enemy pieces. The Pawn structure is one of the most important elements of the position.' A passed Pawn is a Pawn which has no opposing Pawn in front of it or on a file to the side. f4 is a dangerous attacking move at the same time that it creates an escape square for the White King. This may look similar to the position after h3. sometimes for the remainder of the game. but there is a big difference. The Pawns advance slowly and deliberately. as it puts no pressure on Black. it's a big advantage. menacing the Black position. Even worse. Passed Pawn An extra Pawn is an advantage. White has played f3 to create an escape on f2. . The consequence is that the Pawn structure itself evolves slowly and a single aspect of that structure can remain fixed for many moves. As the plan arises from the position on the board. Although it also leaves a hole on e3 (and on e4). as shown in the diagram. Unlike the other pieces. each Pawn is limited to a maximum of five or six moves. f4 is better. The advantage of a passed Pawn is that it constantly threatens to advance to its eighth rank where it will promote to a more powerful piece. because they stand in the way of each other.
Their position is not entirely weak. where each Pawn controls the weak square of the Pawn to its side. These are the two squares diagonally in front where it can capture an enemy piece or guard a friendly piece (one square diagonally for a Pawn on the a. because the b-Pawn guards the c-Pawn. These are Pawns which have no friendly Pawn on either adjacent file. These are called the Pawn's strong squares and weak square. the b.or h-file). are not as strong because neither controls the other's weak square. Isolated Pawns In sharp contrast to the strength of connected Pawns is the weakness of isolated Pawns.Connected Pawns The most favorable position of two Pawns is side by side. In the diagram. They are weak because any enemy piece can occupy the square in front without fear of being attacked by another Pawn. Pawns on adjacent files separated by more than one rank. The c-Pawn would also protect it from attack by a Rook on the c-file. The Black Pawns. Each Pawn.and c-Pawns for both sides are connected (sometimes called united). Both White's a-Pawn and c-Pawn in the diagram are isolated. any Black piece on c5 would attack squares in White's camp. which are also connected. In the diagram. They become connected if the lagging Pawn advances. wherever it is placed on the chessboard. and the square directly in front where it is blocked by any piece occupying the square. . has certain squares which are more important to that Pawn than other squares. The strongest formation of connected Pawns is illustrated by the White Pawns in the diagram. are not connected : this would be the case in our diagram if the White b-Pawn were still on b2.
the White b-Pawn would not be backward. Doubled Pawns Pawns of the same color on the same file. like the White cPawns in the diagram. we would have an example of tripled Pawns. b6. The b-Pawn is backward because it lags the Pawn to its side and can no longer be protected by any other Pawn. especially where its weak square is controlled by an enemy Pawn.Backward Pawn Another example of a weak Pawn is shown in this diagram. and d6 are all protected by the doubled c-Pawns in the diagram. The squares b5. . Backward Pawns are obvious targets for the enemy pieces. This is a particularly weak formation because all three Pawns can be blocked by a single enemy piece. Doubled Pawns have some strength in that they guard a compact area of the chess board. making it difficult for an enemy piece to enter that area. Pawns are only called backward when they are on a half-open file : a file with no opposing enemy Pawn. as in the diagram. are called doubled Pawns. while the Pawns can't protect each other and are vulnerable to attack. Their particular weakness is that they are unable to create a passed Pawn by force. d5. If a Black Pawn were on b7. The single Black Pawn easily blocks its two adversaries. If another White Pawn were on c2 or c3. The backward Pawn is weak because it is easily blocked by an enemy piece and has difficulty advancing.
and c-Pawns are strong. effectively dividing the board into one region behind the White Pawns and another behind the Black Pawns. This formation is called a majority. Pawn chain Connected Pawns on a diagonal are known as a chain.Hanging Pawns Another common example of a Pawn formation having both strength and weakness is shown in this diagram. The Pawns on d5 and b4 are the head of their respective chains. This makes them vulnerable to attack from the enemy pieces. The diagram shows both White and Black Pawns in a chain where each chain blocks the other. Although two Pawns on a diagonal can be considered a chain. transforming the strong connected Pawns into weak connected Pawns. If either Pawn advances. If we remove two or three of the Black Pawns (or even the single Pawn on c5) from the diagram. that player can advance the Pawns to create a passed Pawn. The same formation mirrored on the other side of the board would be a Kingside majority. the connected b. especially the Rooks. the remaining White Pawns would still make a chain. This would be the case in the diagram if we moved the c-Pawn from c4 to b3. Pawn majority A passed Pawn can be a real advantage. the term is usually applied to three or more Pawns. the Pawns on b3 and d6 are the base. but is unable to create a passed Pawn by force. As we saw earlier. The blocked chain makes it difficult for the other pieces to move quickly from one of these regions to another. . the other Pawn becomes backward. but here they sit on half-open files. Where a player has more Pawns than the opponent on one side of the board. Sometimes a player has more Pawns on one side. This is called a crippled majority and is always associated with doubled Pawns. The diagram shows a Queenside majority.
The Black d-Pawn might also be passed. leaving another passed Pawn in its wake. you recognize that White's c-Pawns are doubled and passed. This is a very strong formation and a tangible advantage in an endgame. White's formation can be an advantage in the endgame. doubled Pawns If you've followed the discussion to this point. it would be 'United we stand. Here White has connected Pawns where the a-Pawn is a passed Pawn.' Connected Pawns are strong while isolated Pawns are weak. . it depends whether White has a Pawn on the e-file or not. The lead c-Pawn can eventually be exchanged. If Pawns had a motto. Consider the following diagram.Connected Pawns. the White Pawns would become connected passed Pawns. divided we fall. one passed The basic Pawn formations can be combined in different ways to create more complex formations. While nowhere near as strong as connected passed Pawns. Passed. The Pawns provide natural protection for White's pieces to occupy the central squares d5 and d6. If we remove the Black c-Pawn.
but are subject to encirclement and capture. the islands appear. Their advance also gives their own pieces more freedom of movement. Advanced Pawns Advanced Pawns are those Pawns that have moved past their own fourth rank into the opponent's side of the board. If we count the sets of connected Pawns for each side. As they advance into enemy territory they cramp the opponent and restrict the activity of the enemy pieces. hanging Pawns at c4 & d4. and three connected Pawns at f2. but leaves unprotected areas in their own camp which can be invaded by enemy pieces. All other things being equal. The Pawns in each island defend each other and cover the others' weak squares. g2. Each player starts with eight connected Pawns stretching from the a-file to the h-file. As the Pawns advance and are exchanged.Pawn islands White has an isolated Pawn at a2. another sees a disadvantage. White has three Pawn islands. A particular Pawn structure can be either weak or strong depending on which other pieces remain on the board. & h2. Black has one set of connected Pawns at a7 & b7 and another stretching from e6 to h7. Where one player sees an opportunity. As is so often true in chess. because the individual Pawns are easier to defend against enemy attacks. . In other words. each position has to be judged objectively and on its own merits. while Black has two. the player with fewer Pawn islands has an advantage. we have three for White and two for Black.
two pieces lined up (skewers. or consider defensive resources at your disposal. In taking control of the center. you want it to be because you meant to give it away. It is often most efficient to begin your threat scan by considering forcing moves (checks and captures) available to you and your opponent. To see what threats your opponent has available. reason to look for threats first: the longer you look at a position. Under the category of 'threats' I include mating attacks. The primary goal with every move is to keep one’s own material safe while seizing opportunities to attack the enemy King or kill members of his entourage. that being the key struggle in determining the outcome of the game.g. imagine it is his turn to move. After considering forcing moves. If he has dangerous forcing moves. often overlooked. The key is to avoid being surprised by threats you did not anticipate. examine the position for the hallmarks of tactical opportunities: a knight in the opponent's territory (potential forks). consider placing your pawns on light squares where your opponent's bishop can't attack them. assess whether you can take the initiative by finding an even stronger threat in reply. as both players attempt to win control of the center. captures. if there are open (or open-able) lines of attack directed toward the King.Controlling The Centre In most of the openings to be played. tactics. The player who has not gained control or loses the center tends to find pieces forced onto poor squares. combinations. If none pop out immediately.. These results in limited mobility and often finding themselves restricted. look for tactical possibilities for each side. If there are more pieces bearing down on the King than there are defenders. pay attention to the dark and light squares of the chess board. Also. blocking each other thus unable to mount any pressure on the opposition. When you lose material. be sure to consider attacks against the King. checks. There is a second. If your opponent is weak on the light squares because he doesn't have a light-squared bishop and you do. the less likely you are to see tactics. The player who takes the center seizes with it the initiative and the freedom to attack. moving your knight so it can fork the opponent's King and Queen on the next move). and are getting something else in return. knights and bishops support these pawns. the center pawns are pushed toward d4 to d5 and e4 to e5. It is essential to learn and visualize patterns in the board rather than individual pieces. pinned material (pile on the pinned . consider how you might parlay this into an all-out attack (and also determine whether your own King might be vulnerable to such an attack). Also. 5. one’s pieces command more squares than the opponent and gains increased mobility. The five step thought process is: 1) Threat scan: look for threats. This will help to control the light squares on the board. the plan being to obtain the classical center (connected pawns on d4 and e4 for white) and even then passing the e4 to e5. double attacks). Forming a plan A feasible and superior plan needs to be drawn up and executed when required to maintain any possibility of victory. Any threat you can make whose consequences look good or unclear should be put on the candidate move list. Generally. as well as moves that set up such threats (e.
When you have the initiative.. 2) Planning: evaluate the position to generate plans and candidate moves. All else being equal. the less you will see tactically. don't stop your threat scan. It is important that strategic moves be tactically justifiable: if having a bishop on a certain square would increase its activity. a piece with few escape squares (look for a trap). The plan is formulated by visualizing a future position and working toward it. Goals (or from now on. The pawn structure is one of the most important elements of the position.g. create a closed pawn structure and attack queenside with my knights).g. Put that move on your candidate move list. and look for an even stronger threat (e.piece). Positional play is based on the plan. When you generate a threat that must be dealt with. you can fork his two knights). etc. short-term (e. Yes. look for threats before tactical fatigue sets in.g. increase the activity of my Bishop). In other words. so you aim your pieces at your opponent's King... usually piece activity that can be used to mount an attack against the enemy King. For example. your opponent is less able to focus on his own attacking plans. The plan arises from the position on the board. The initial moves suggested by such plans are candidate moves. this is known as seizing the initiative. Looking explicitly for a knight fork will cause knight forks to pop out at you. A plan that is revealed in every move played. even the threats that don't ultimately win material can be a powerful tool.. seize the initiative.g.' When looking for material threats. A common example: you see a possibility to checkmate. Heisman (2001b) calls these tactical signatures the 'seeds of tactical destruction. . For some reason we can't explain. Your individual moves should fit into your overall plan. One-move and two-move tricks often jump to your attention in the first several minutes you spend on a position. this suggests a plan: exploit the isolated pawn by either attacking it or blocking it. if your opponent has an isolated pawn. or anywhere in between. Once you find a viable offensive threat (e.. you won’t put it there if it will be lost to a tactic. But if you don't see them during that time. Such specific plans suggest move sequences to achieve them (e.. just like someone telling you to look for a person with glasses and a red shirt will make that person pop out at you in a crowd. plans) can be long-term (e. that's a plan. Tactical considerations are the constraints within which strategic thinking must take place. Looking for a way to attack enemy pieces should come at the first.g. the mind tends to block out relatively simple tactics that stare us in the face. the plan of blocking the pawn will prompt you to start looking for material to place in front of it). Also there exists functional gambits and sacrifices in which you purposefully exchange material for other compensating factors. Hence. Most plans are short-term and arise from evaluating the concrete position that emerges during the game. it is unlikely you'll see them if you spend another 10 minutes on the position. A 'plan' may be defined as a goal that is used to aid move selection. you might be able to fork his King and Queen or have a mate-intwo). but note this tactical vision carries with it a surprising law of diminishing returns: the more you study the position. you can scan for the seeds and then determine whether the corresponding tactic is available.
The plan starts with the first move White to move The plan for this position is one of the first learned by most players: Push some Pawns to open lines for the Bishops and the Queen. don't worry about performing detailed analysis of what will happen if you play the candidate moves. and do the opposite to the opponent. moving a bishop to an open diagonal might both increase its activity and clear a file for a rook. use four criteria for evaluating the relative strengths and weaknesses in a position: material. But specifically. decrease weaknesses. Note that the same move can accomplish more than one plan. Develop the minor pieces with an eye on the center. and speculative. and it applies to both players. highly dependent on the features of the position. Where do your pieces want to go? You can often get inspiration by asking yourself this question: What . The general goal. below mate. Castle. Yes. Develop the Rooks with an eye on open or potentially open files. imaginative. descending in your mind through the hierarchy of plans until you come up with concrete plans that will suggest candidate moves. At the bottom of the hierarchy we find more specific plans. but safe. Notice that there exists a hierarchy of plans. plans that often involve specific pieces and squares. These specific plans transparently dovetail with candidate moves (see previous paragraph for an example). This is the time to be optimistic. that's a plan. Evaluate the position on the board by determining both players' strengths and weaknesses and use the evaluation to generate plans to improve your position. and pawn structure. It's a very good one. piece activity. For instance. At the top is the most general plan: to mate your opponent. A player who follows a different plan is asking for trouble. is to increase strengths. Place the Queen where it is active. allowing you to entertain moves that may turn out to be unplayable. During this Step. King safety.
But bear in mind we are talking about a minimum number of moves to look ahead. It is a nice feeling to have a long-term plan come to fruition. Some players describe this as playing 'consistently' and place a good deal of stock in its importance. remove them from the board [in your mind]. it is also important to be flexible and willing to change plans in response to the concrete demands of the position. and then reevaluate the game. rooks belong on open files). the calculating quotient declines sharply. The basic guideline is: You can afford to overlook most quiet moves because they're quiet. When the pawn structure is fairly static and enemy counterplay is limited. the hypothesis being "This is the best candidate move" by trying to find moves that kill that candidate move. it is important to assume your opponent will play good chess. In sharp positions in which your opponent is doing the threatening. It is crucial to try to figure out what plans your opponent is trying to implement. Playing with the hope that he or she will not see what you are planning is a recipe for amassing losses. low-calc options are rare. threatening moves demand careful analysis while in quiet positions. Often such moves are setting up tricky tactics or attacks. you should continue looking until his moves have run out of force. consider your opponent's . should the current plan collapse. Be sure to consider long-term plans that started on previous moves. If you have the clock time to spend. that falsify the hypothesis. It is helpful to treat each candidate move as a hypothesis about the present position. In many quiet positions you can go ahead and play the candidate virtually without any calculation because there are no significant replies to worry about [Soltis calls these 'low calc moves']. the most time-consuming and intellectually demanding aspect of the game. In very sharp positions. you should look only so far ahead as you can continue to make forcing moves.. the least bad move is the best move. Look for worstcase scenarios. it is typically safe to think in terms of general strategic principles (e. The price of failing to look two or three moves into the future can be high. In other words. For those lines that demand analysis. Now is the time to be concrete.move do I wish I could play? Another useful tour of the imagination is the performance of 'hypothetical exchanges' in which you imagine an instant trade of a pair of pieces. so don’t assume your opponent will play poorly or make bad choices at certain points. accurate. The exchange may be immediately playable or a distant hope. and objective in your thinking. There are a few mistakes to be wary of when analyzing candidate moves: First. it makes no difference. You must examine all forcing moves because they're forcing. you should analyze the position until you run out of forcing moves--and then look one move further. Visualize a move's concrete consequences and evaluate the resulting end-node in the game tree. and gives a certain aesthetic appeal to your moves. as your best strategy may be to generate counter plans or defensive maneuvers. The amount of calculation required depends on the type of move being analyzed. In general. pick the move that seems least problematic. However.g. This involves thinking ahead in the game tree. because you are searching for ideas first. It is especially important to figure out your opponent's plan if he plays a move that looks illogical or downright silly. There is no need to analyze every candidate move so far into the future. 3) Analyze: consider the consequences of each candidate move and select the candidate with the best consequences. so even if you find problems with all the moves.
you might lose a piece). step. This is often described as striving to be objective in your analysis. As a cardinal rule.best reply to a candidate move. decide which is best and then finally… 4) Blundercheck: Quickly check for one-move disasters. . 5) Move Now. before making it. finally. First. Blunderchecking involves quickly checking for flagrant oversights in your move selection. the position was not actually in front of you. and then move on. When you previously considered the move. once you have analyzed your candidate moves. and try to see what your opponent’s response will be. This Step should not take long: quickly look for one-move disasters. make sure you haven't missed any obvious captures that you can make. to reveal weaknesses in your moves (e. but simple. taking a lot of clock time to find a good move can be a mistake. It is an absolutely crucial. Second.. Consistently blunderchecking will save you many palm-against-thehead experiences. look for a better move on the board in front of you. Also. if you previously planned a good move in the analysis before your last move.g. Another mistake is to make a move quickly just because you thought it would be a good move when you previously analyzed the position. Then. make the move. imagine you have made the candidate move you selected. it was only hypothetical. just try to find a good move and save that clock time for when the position calls for deep analysis.
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