Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Step #3 Determining the best move Pt II

Step #3 - Making the best move - What is the best move in a chess game?

I. Checkmate - Obviously the best move - Check for these! Mate in 1's are very commonly overlooked in amateur games. I've looked through some of my older games and am frankly appalled by the number of overlooked checkmates for both myself and my opponents. And remember that you want to look for Mate in 2's and Mate in 3's (if you're up to it) as well. Mate in 2's and 3's are almost ALWAYS forced mates, so examine any checks you have to see if the followup move could be mate.

II. Protect yourself. If you don't have checkmate, your first duty is to protect yourself. Last time I talked about checking to see if the opponent has the ability to checkmate you. I'm reiterating that here. After that, check your pieces, see if any of them are unguarded, or under-guarded. Count out possible exchanges, and beware of 'discovered' pieces that would suddenly be in the fray when the exchange takes away intervening pieces.

III. Check for unprotected pieces. Has the opponent left a piece hanging without protection? Good! But DOUBLE CHECK! Before accepting a 'gift' from your opponent, make sure that it's not a trap.

  • What will the opponent move after you take their piece?

  • What will you have to undefend to take their piece?

  • Can your capturing piece become trapped behind enemy lines without escape?

IV. Move in such a way as to promote your control of more squares on the board. In the openings, and even into the middle game, the battle is mostly for the center of the chessboard. Promote your pieces in such a way as to control this valuable real-estate. Use your pawns to stake out territory, and back them up with the bishops and knights. Proper development should have all 4 of your minor pieces developed, and your king castled, allowing you to move your rooks to control the center files of the chessboard from the rear. Obviously, your opponent will be trying to prevent you from doing so, while doing the same. This is where the fun develops.

V. Count the piece exchanges! Once the battle starts with the capture of pieces, ensure that in the end you will have the better pieces or the better board position after the trades are done. Counting your exchanges is important and the best chess players can count 10 or more moves ahead. The further ahead you can envision the board, the better you will be able to play. Chess Position Trainer now has a 'blind' teaching mode to help you with board vision. It's a free program, you should definitely use it to practice your repertoire.

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