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  1. #1
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    Jan 2005
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    Richard J vs b1_ - Some tips for you Richard.

    Richard, just read through this and hopefully we can get you playing better.

    STEP 1 - TACTICS
    First you need to get familiar with tactics.

    Some tactics are:
    Forks (my knight forked your King and Queen)
    Pins (plenty of those were hanging around in our game also)
    Discovered attacks
    Skewers
    Deflection
    Decoys
    X-rays
    Windmills

    A little practice and you'll be on your way. For some tactics practice go here: http://www.chessville.com/downloads/..._exercises.htm. (If you're short for time look at Forks, Pins and Discovered attacks, they're always popping up in play).

    For me, tactics are the magic of chess, and a lot of fun, so I urge you to get good at tactics!

    STEP 2 - POSITIONAL PLAY
    This is a large subject but I'll try and communicate the basics.

    Most chess players are aware of the basic values of all the pieces. ie. Queen=9, Rook=5, Bishop/Knight=3, Pawn=1. What they don't know is there is another level of values above the basic values, and these values change as the pieces move around the board and interact. This second level of values are governed by principles that are asigned to each piece, and they are:

    KNIGHT
    1. Knights need advanced support posts to be effective. Knights are slow movers and take a while to hop up the board to attack the enemy. Therefore, getting them into an advance supported post is important if they are to be active participants in the game (if they're stuck on the first or second rank they won't be doing much). Pawn holes are perfect knight outposts. (all pawn definitions below).
    2. Knights are good blockers of isolated pawns.
    3. Knights like closed positions with locked pawns because they just jump over everything, so if your apponent has two Bishops and you have two Knights, lock the central pawns and close the position.

    BISHOP
    1. Bishops can be good or bad, active or inactive. A bad bishop is one that has its side's central pawns (d-pawn and e-pawn) on it's colour. A good bishop has its side's central pawns not on its colour. Good and bad bishop designation becomes more important when the central pawns are locked or blocked. An active bishop is one that plays an active role in the game (guards a piece, stairs down an open diagonal; it's gotta be doing something in other words). If it's, for example, buried on the first rank behind a pile of its own pieces it's probably inactive. Obviously it's preferable to have active and good bishops.
    2. Bishops like wide open positions because they can shoot across the board in one move, so if you have two bishops and your appoent has two knights, exchange off the central pawns and open the position up.

    ROOK
    1. Place rooks on open files and ranks.
    2. The ultimate goal of the rook is to reach the seventh rank, where it will cut off the enemy King on the eigth rank, and gobble up all his pawns.
    3. Rooks like open positions also.

    QUEEN
    1. Don't bring out your Queen too early otherwise it will be attacked and you'll fall behind in development
    2. Queen's are good at leading attacks against the enemy king but must be supported by your pieces

    KING
    1. Get your king to safety in the opening.
    2. Get your king centralized in the endgame

    PAWNS
    This is a whole'nother subject in itself. Pawns are important because they move very slowly so it's highly likely that when you push one of your pawns it will stay on that square all the way to the endgame. This makes pawn structure important. Get this wrong and you'll have a hard game. Get it right and play will seem easier.

    Pawn Holes - a square that cannot be attacked by a pawn, because, for example, they've advanced too far. In our game I created a pawn hole on d5 that you're Knight naturally jumped into. Pawn holes are intimately linked to knights. If a pawn hole opens up in your apponents pawn formation you should immediately be thinking how to get a knight into it.

    Doubled Pawns - when two pawns are on the same file, one ontop of the other. This is considered bad, but in some circumstances is actually a good thing to have (usually the closer the center doubled pawns are the healthier they are.

    Isolated Pawns - an isolated pawn is a pawn that has no pawns to either side of it to support it. Mostly considered a weakness.

    Backward Pawns - a pawn that has fallen behind and so once again cannot be supported by another pawn.

    Pawn Islands - at the start of the game you have one pawn island, as the game progresses pawns are removed from certain files creating pawn islands. To attack a pawn chain you must attack it at it's base, so the more pawn islands you have, the more pawn chain bases you have, the more weak points you have that can be attacked.


    So, now you can start to see this second level of values. A good and active bishop is better than a bad inactive bishop even, though they've both still got the basic piece value of 3. An advanced supported knight in a pawn hole is more valuable than a knight on the first or second rank, and if that same knight is on the 5th or 6th rank it is considered more valuable than a good, active Bishop.


    SPACE
    I'm going to mention this because it played a big part in my piece movement decisions in our game.

    When playing a game of chess there comes a time when you must decide on which side of the board you wish to attack. It's no good spreading your forces over the whole board, you must concentrate your firepower in order to be effective. You can calculate where you have a space advantage like so:
    Split the board into two halves, ranks 1,2,3 and 4 (white's half of the board), and ranks 5,6,7 and 8 (black's half of the board). If you're white, whenever one of your pieces attacks a square in Black's half of the board that's counted as 1. If we look at our game after your 11.Qg3 white has a space count of 10 (your d5-knight hits 4 squares in black's half [the knight does not control the square it is on], your c4-Bishop hits 3 squares, your e4-pawn hits 2 squares [your c4-bishop and your e4-pawn both hit d5 but it's counted twice, once for each piece] , and your queen hits 1. Total = 10) and black has 15 (calculate it for yourself). So from this you can split the board into the a, b and c files (queenside), the c, d, e and f file (the center), and the f, g and h files (kingside), and calculate on which side of the board you have the space advantage and heance where you should attack.

    It may seem complicated but it's really just basic arithmatic. In the end it's just a guide to clarify the position but useful when you're confused about how to proceed.

    STEP 3 - THE OPENING
    This part of the game is not important for a beginner to learn. Definately do not go off and try to memorize a bunch of opening moves, it's completely useless for your understanding of chess, and boring to boot. Personally I hardly know any opening systems. I'll be happy to eventually know the first two moves to any opening and that'll do me. Just follow the three opening priciples and you should be okay to the middlegame, and they are:
    1. Control the center - get your two center pawns to e4 and d4, gather all your pieces around them, then use those two pawns to support a push into enemy territory with your pieces (do not push your d4- and e4-pawns any further if possible, because if you push one you weaken the other).
    2. Don't move the same piece twice in the first 8 moves. In other words, do not fall behind in development or you will be swamped. (Of course, there's no need to to follow the 8 move rule to the letter, especially if it means losing a piece - it's just a guide).
    3. King safety - get your King castled ASAP. Castling puts the king behind some very strong defenses, and at the same time links your rooks so they can see aech other.


    Now to our game:

    PGN Viewer
     

    1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 e5

    Here I am aiming for equality. In the opening black should aim for equality while white should aim for an advantage. I didn't want you pushing your d-pawn to d4. But, this creates a big weakness in my position. There is now a pawn hole on d5 - this is the first time I've played this system and I must say that I wasn't comfortable playing it and probably won't play it again.

    4. Bc4

    Getting your Bishop outside the pawn chain before playing d3 is good. ie you've activated your bad Bishop. In this case, however, there is a downside...

    4...d6 5. d3

    ... Your Bishop is activated but it's now locked away on the Queenside. Any good player will immediately be looking to attack the Kingside because you will have effectively one less piece on that side of the board.

    5...Be7

    I'm thinking about playing on the Kingside because there is room to manouvre there, more than on the Queenside (can't play in the center because it's all locked up for now).

    There are actually three ways to look at space.
    1. The space behind your pawns that you control
    2. The space out in front of you and your apponents pawns.
    3. The space count system detailed above.

    There's no point calculating space count in the early opening because neither sides pieces are looking into their apponents half of the board.

    6. g3?

    Uh oh. The 3rd opening principle, King Safety, says you should have castled. It is the most natural move. This move weakens your Kingside and allows me to stop you castling for a while. I think you realised how bad this move was because you spent the next several moves trying to remove the Bishop on h3, as you should have.

    6...Bh3

    Naturally.

    7. Nd5

    Your Knight is now advanced, supported by a pawn, and in a pawn hole, and centralized - very powerful. In fact, at the moment, the most powerful piece on the board.

    7...h6

    Have fun digging my Bishop out of h3 now.

    8. Nd2 Qd7

    Looking at 9...Bg2 10. Rg1 Qh3 in order to win the h2 pawn.

    9. Qf3

    Coming over to root out that Bishop. Puts a bit of pressure on my f7 pawn also. It's a good move but your Queen needs support - sure would be nice if you could get your c4-Bishop over .

    9...Bg5

    Okay, so you won't take my bad bishop on e7 with your advanced Knight. I'll just move it then, and rack-up some more space count on the kingside. I wouldn't mind taking your good Bishop on c1 with it when your Knight moves out of the way - the central pawns look like they will be locked for a while so it is legitimate to consider removing your good bishop, even though it is very inactive in it's current position. Apart from that it just nice to stare down an open diagonal into enemy territory.

    Why haven't I moved my Knight on g8? I wouldn't be happy if I put it on f6 and you took it straight away with your Knight, even though that probably wouldn't be a good move for you anyway, giving up your best piece for my poor knight. If you took it I would then have to retake it with something which would delay my advance on the Kingside - it was a move that just didn't sit well with me is all.

    10. g4?!

    A desperate move. You had the right idea. It was important to get rid of that Bishop. But this creates more weaknesses on the Kingside for you.

    10...Bxg4 11. Qg3

    Okay, so now look at your Kingside. For starters my space count on the Kingside is now 6, compared to your 2 - you should start to worry when it's more than double. Aswell there are now pawn holes on h4, h3, f4 and f3 - immediately I am thinking of how to get my g8-knight into those holes. You also have an isolated pawn on h2 and a backward pawn on f2. Your Kingside is very sick!

    11...Nd5

    Have I advanced my Knight into a pawn hole? No. The d4-square is not a pawn hole because my Knight can be chased away by your c-pawn (c2-c3).

    I considered this move to be a bad one after I made it. It would be a very good move if you did not have a very strong tactical combination that could remove my Queen! For example, lets say you played c3 next: 12. c3 Nc2+ 13. Kf1 Nxa1 (I take your Rook, but wait...) 14. Bb5! (You've "Pinned" my Queen to my King (this is a specific tactic mentioned above) - I must take your Bishop because my Queen cannot move out of the way) 14...Qxb5 15. Nc7! (Now you've "Forked" (another tactic) my King and Queen) 15...Kd8 16. Nxb5 (and you take my Queen).

    In fact your best reply to my 11...Nd5 was 12. h3. I would have had to retreat my Bishop. A better move for me was probably therefor Bh3. After 11...Bh3 you could play 12. Nc7, forking my King and Rook, forcing me to take your Knight with my Queen, allowing you to take my h3-Bishop, but the resultant position I judged to be good for me as you would no longer have an advanced Knight.

    12. Ne3?

    So you voluntarily retreat your advanced, supported by a pawn, in a pawn hole, centralized knight, the blazing glory of your army! Well thanks for the gift, I'll take that with my bad Bishop. Hooray, all the pressure on my position has been removed.

    12...Bxe3 13. 0-0??

    Uh oh. Just a flat out blunder. Practice your tactics as you're about to be embarrassingly forked.

    This is why it's good to have advanced pieces, because opportunities like this arise when they are. Always look to advance your pieces and attack, rather than retreat and defend. One slip when retreating and defending means you lose the game, a slip when attacking is not usually fatal. Ever heard of Sun Tzu's maxim "Attack is the best form of defense"?

    13...Ne2+ 14. Kg2 Nxg3 15. Kxg3


    There's lots missing here but I think think this is most of the important stuff. I would recommend you pick up some chess books. How To Reassess Your Chess by Jeremy Silman is the chess book to get if you only get one. Everything I've mentioned here is described in that book, and Silman explains it far better than I could.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by b1_; 18-09-2005 at 11:45 PM.

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