A Fresh Start

Dec 12, 2015
  Katerina
StaffCoachWGM 2263
Game Viewer » Widget

Hello Chessity Friends! I am delighted I was brought on the board of the Chessity Team and I can now engage more within the blogging platform and other chess related content. My main goal will be to help you with the beginning of your chess career. I will also advise coaches with tips and resources to help their students advance. Chess is a remarkable game and I hope you will enjoy learning more about it.

              

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So let’s start.

There are 4 key groups of principles that differentiate between chess players who have a certain level of chess understanding and between beginners. If you know these principles and actively apply them in your chess games, you certainly have many great victories on your chess record and your rating must be above 1200-1300 level. Ehm… what principles are we talking about?

Well, let’s test where you stand. Try to answer these questions before you go ahead reading further.

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1. What’s the most important aspect of a chess game? (Hint: I don’t mean checkmate)

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Example

                                       White to move. What to do?

                              BD_9973_329_0.png

2. What are the five basic principles of chess game development?

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3. Which moves do we label as “candidate moves” and when should we generate them?

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4. What are the so-called forcing moves and why are they important?

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Example

                                      White to move. What to play?

                              BD_9973_329_5.png

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ANSWERS

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Q1: What’s the most important aspect of a chess game?

(Hint: I don’t mean checkmate)

Did you say development? Strategy? Cooperation of pieces? Although these aspects are important, the trophy for the most important aspect of a game goes to MATERIAL (meaning pieces). Why? Well, chess is about a battle between two armies and simply, the one that has more material, or we can say more soldiers, has naturally a higher chance to checkmate the opponent. This is truly a very important understanding. It is not uncommon to see players sacrificing pieces without a direct gain, forgetting about their attack pieces, or simply not capturing the opponent’s’ pieces. When we put the highest priority to our material, we start to value our pieces more and take a better care of them. Additionally, we look for more opportunities to capture our opponents.

Solution:

1.Qb7! is the best! Very strong move that wins material. No one can protect both rooks that are attacked.

                              BD_9973_329_1.png

1.Qh3+ A move that also makes sense. Check! 1... Kg8 But what is our follow-up? Can we win anything? It does not look so. Black is totally fine. Therefore - a point to remember - check is a good resource but when there is no follow-up, we should also look if we have other better moves in stock.

1.f4 Another very logical move - we open a file for our rook so it can attack our oponnent's king. Great! But what if there is something better? Remember material has the highest priority.

Q2: What are the five basic principles of chess game development?

These principles are probably the first thing one was taught after learning how to move with pieces. They are:

1. Control the center with your pawns: With the initial moves, eachplayer should aim to squares of the board (e4-d4-e5-d5) to have good prospects for the future.

2. Develop your pieces as soon as possible toward the center: Especially we mean knights and bishops. Rooks and queen can wait.

3. Get your king safe: Castle soon so you don’t have to worry about your king being vulnerable.

4. Finish your development: Find a good square for your queen and connect your rooks.

5. Attack and have lots of fun!

Don’t worry if you are not sure about one of these principles. In the upcoming posts we will explore them deeper. On the other hand, beware! If you think you know these principles well, make sure that you follow them in your games. It often happens that when we learn early on something so simple, we tend to forget about it or neglect it. It’s like with car seatbelts – we all know we should wear them every time we travel in a car; yet, many people underestimate these basic rules. There are consequences of these actions. The same with chess, make sure that you keep this simple principles alive in each and every game you play!

Example: (on the right top of the interactive board, click on the third dot and a new position with comments will appear)

Q3: Which moves do we label as “candidate moves” and when should we generate them?

Before we play each and every one, we should look for possible moves to play. And those moves that grab our attention are called “candidate moves.” Basically they all are candidates of being “elected” and played on this move and now it’s up to the player to decide. It’s a mistake to think just about one move and then play it. If you have this strategy, most likely you are missing on something great. So, in your next game, try to widen your creativity and search for more opportunities on each and every move. Don’t worry, it will pay off.

Example:

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Q4: What are the so-called forcing moves and why are they important?

This is an advance question, I know. However, forcing moves are very important. By their definition they anticipate “forced” responses of your opponents, and thus have the potential to transform the game into concrete gains. They are also quick to find so consequently they can save valuable time on your clock. Do you know now who are they? They are checks, captures, mating threats and attacks on pieces. We will also talk about forcing moves later as they conceal enormous power.

Solution:

1.a4! The best move! If you searched for forcing moves, you definitelly spotted that you can attack the knight. And the problem for Black is that the knight has no place to go to and consequently will be lost.

                              BD_9973_329_6.png

1... Rb8 2.axb5 and by capturing the knight, White has material advantage and higher chances to win the game. There is still a long fight ahead but it's definitely better to have an extra knight for the fight.

It is challenging to understand these 4 key groups of principles and apply them in every game. Therefore, don’t worry if it seems difficult now. We will discuss and analyze them more deeply in the following posts.For now – try to focus on the first two key groups: (#1) The Importance of Material and (#2) The Basic Principles of Chess Game Development.

          Chess is sometimes simple, who has more pieces wins!

                                     rooktori-ac48f429.png

Tips For Coaches:

1. Take one principle at a time and explain it to your students. Try to be as clear as possible and spend as much time as needed until they have no more questions. This is the most important time for them. First strong connection is for lifetime, when you need to keep adjusting it along the way, it won’t be as powerful.
2. Relate chess to a battle between armies, make them feel their pieces are “part of their family,” or any way try to communicate the chess understanding in a more familiar manner. It’s easier for them to understand that a lazy rook sleeping in the corner needs to be awaken and brought into the game, or that the “soldier knight” should not hide at the edge of the board but should occupy a more powerful spot. Chess pieces needs to stand for more than a wooden art.
3. If children don’t want to follow these principles, don’t force them. Have patience. Chess is ultimately their game and they need to feel they’re in charge. Yet, make sure they know these principles. One day they will level their stubbornness and follow them.

Thoughts? Leave a response below! I will be glad to learn from your insights and answer your questions.

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6 Comments

HvdL 12:51 - 14 Dec 2015
Thank you so much for this very clear explanation. The seperate points arent new to me, but it does help to see them together ...... almost as a path to guide my students along.

I am also very familiar with students who don't want to follow these principles and have learned not to pressure them ..... sooner or later they will find out that other students who do follow these principles are more succesful.

I really enjoyed reading your article and look forward to the next one.
arunjchess 18:09 - 15 Dec 2015
Welcome to the team!
Nice blog! I also love the formatting, which makes the blog easy to read and understand.
Katerina 20:09 - 16 Dec 2015
Thank you guys for nice comments! I am happy you liked it. I also agree that those points aren't new inventions, but when perceived from a more structured way - they can make a huge difference in games. And hopefully they will.
To Huub, since you were brave to make the first comment, you can choose a topic and I will write about it. Just let me know it is :).
HvdL 20:45 - 16 Dec 2015
Thank you for your very kind offer to let me choose the next topic.

I give lots of chesslessons at a primary school. Often kids start with the perception that chess is a lot about "thinking". Some children dont see themself as "great thinkers". Because of that I have choosen a new approach where I present chess as a game where "seeing" is the most important thing. And because I can tell to all of them that they have two eyes that allow them to see just as good as every other kid they are again more open and willing to give chess a try. I try to learn them to see what is important on the board, then to find options, think about them and decide what to do. Well, this is the very short version :)

One kind of excercise I have tried the past few months is showing a position and let them look at it for a few minutes, then take the board away and let them write down what they have seen ...... I let them free in what they write, but have mentioned some subjects to look for, so for instance they write what pieces were attacked or they could take, or what pieces where good or badly placed. It was amazing to see how after even a few times trying this they quickly got better at it.

So, if you allow me to choose a topic then my choice would be "how to look in chess". How to learn to look at the key elements in a position on the board.

I would really love to see your insights to this topic.

But if you feel you can't do so much with this subject then please feel free to choose your own topic. I will be looking forward to your next article anyway.
Katerina 06:34 - 20 Dec 2015
Wow! That sounds like a very interesting and challenging topic. Well, challenge accepted!
Also, I like the way you teach. I believe in the same strategy. Society indirectly pressures children to think about chess as a difficult game; as a game that only smart people can play. That's why I stress that MATERIAL is what matters and chess is about capturing opponent's pieces and protecting our own. The good part is that when children learn chess, they can always refer to themselves as "chess players" and feel the status of super-intelligent people. :)
HvdL 10:08 - 20 Dec 2015
Thank you for your response. Material does matter indeed a lot but i also learn them in an early stage that even more important is what you do with your material and that even though you have less material you can still seek your chances. This not only teaches them not to give up immidiatly when they are behind in material, it also slowly teaches them to think different about chesspieces then the static values (queen = 9 , rook = 5 , bishop = 3 etc.) ánd it is a way of bringing under there attention a lesson for there daily life ......... not just material posessions decide if you will succeed in daily life, seek your chances with what you have and you can be just as or even more succesful.

For this i often give them chesspuzzles with one side being far behind in material and still being able to win :)

Of course i try at the same time to prevent them from falling behind in material ....... approach there pieces indeed almost like they are living creatures where they should take care of and protect them by not letting them be taken for no good reason. That brings me back to the "seeing" part, because i try to teach them to first look what pieces are under attack or are in danger ...... then let them find/see there options to help/solve it ...... then choose the best option in there opinion ..... then move.

And yes i do know this may sound wonderful, but requires a lot of work and attention. If you only let kids play eachother in your chessclass then they will just play .....and of course there must be plenty of time for that, because above anything else they should see chess as a fun game to play.

You have to make everything you want to teach them just as much fun as playing a game with eachother. For this I often turn my way of teaching into a "game". Well, at least i make them feel it that way :) For instance i can make couples of two players at a board and let them find what they think is the best move in a position, after a few minutes i collect from all couples the move and show on a demonstation board the solution ánd keep score of how the did .......they love to see these kind of little competitions while it also gives me valuable information about who is doing well and who requires a bit more attention. Next year i will use this even more because love these little competitions ...... i will add badges for them for reaching 25 solved, 50 solved ...etc.

Last Friday I had the final chessmeeting for this year at the school where i am giving chesslessons and I played a final with little prices for the winners (home baked chess-cookies and a little magnetic chessboard) and one overal winner who became for one year "Chesspuzzlechampion 2015" and got a special with gold printed shirt :)

But back now to MATERIAL ..... yes it is all about material ..... to take care of it and not let it be taken for no reason ..... to place it at squares where they can be most effective and safe ..... and to know that it is not the number of material one has but what you do with the material you have :)

I do know the subject i offered is a difficult one and a challenge but i honestly believe that it will be an eye-opener for many. To see that before the thinking part there will allways be the "seeing". That it makes eyes even more important because they will decide where your brain will think about.
It isnt a matter of how true or not true this is ...what matters is that it works in an amazing way for children who feel or know they are not the smartest of there class.

As you can see I am already closely following your writings even if they are only comments :)

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