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Chess Strategy & Tactics

Strategy

 

To be a good chess player, the basic requirement is to understand the importance of chess strategy. The game of chess is not just about moving a single piece on the board. It is the development of position of strength on the board by the combined placement of all the pieces. Each and every move has to be evaluated to get an edge over the opponent and to check mate his King.

The chess strategy also requires short term adjustments called tactics. These moves are essential to make adjustments to the overall game plan in relation to opponent’s performance. To achieve this, one should evaluate each and every move made by the opponent, analyze its implication on the chess strategy and make necessary changes, if warranted.

Phases of chess game
Chess can be classified into three distinct stages as given below. Good chess strategy should address all these stages.

In the opening game
The chess strategy in the opening game is to achieving a position of strength by trying to place the pieces in the best possible positions on the board.
The best possible position aims at achieving the following essential position on the
board:

1.Safeguard the king from exposure to opponent attacks

2.Achieving decent mobility to all the pieces on the board that can help to make offensive moves in the middle game

3.Sound pawn structure on the board without restricting movement of other pieces

Middle game
The middle game in chess develops when the actual attack on the opponent is initiated after gaining positional advantage on the board through the opening game chess strategy. Trading off of pieces, sacrifice of pieces to get advantage on the board, pinning the opponent mobility are some of the motives of the middle game chess strategy.

Middle game involves lot of tactical adjustments to counter opponent’s moves. Every move of the opponent has to be watched to understand his chess strategy for effective counter action.

End game
The player who has more power and better positional advantage on the board will have distinctive advantage in the end game. The basic objective of the end game is to immobilize the opponent king and gain victory. This is the primary motive of any chess strategy.

Chess strategy in the end game can take different options depending on the position of strength obtained in the middle game. Two such situations are:

1.To score a win for the position of power

2.To salvage a game into a draw from a position of weakness, thus scoring a moral victory

Chess requires lot of home work and planning before the commencement of the actual game. Formulating an effective and flexible chess strategy and implementing it on the board in relation to the opponent’s response and reactions are crucial for success in a game of chess.

 

Tactics

A chess game is a judicious mixture of strategy and tactics.

Strategy is an overall game plan to achieve victory over the opponent in the game of chess. A strategy is generally formulated from a series of games played against an opponent. Thus it has significance over a longer period.

Chess tactics, on the other hand is concerned with the immediate task on hand on the board. It is a short sequence of moves planned by a player for getting tangible results that are favorable over the opponent. It thus has a short term focus

Strategy may be fixed or marginal changes in the series played. On the other hand tactics keep changing many times within a single game.

Tactics fundamentals

A novice to the game of chess will find it difficult to understand the sequence of moves made by good chess players. Without clear understanding of Chess tactics used by players, novices will not cherish the game Serious beginners of chess should understand that most of chess tactics are general concepts and ideas skillfully used by good players. These players adjust and adopt their chess tactics to suit specific situations on the chess board. The general concepts and ideas are introduced here for learners of chess so that they can understand chess tactics and play the game better.

Double threat

Double threat is the most fundamental and important of chess tactics. Double threat is a single move made by a player on the chess board to present his opponent with two dangers.

The opponent is forced to make his next move to overcome one danger that is perceived by him as the one of higher order. The net result is that the first player can make his next move to execute the second threat.

Double threat is a chess tactic that generally involves two moves.

Illustration:

One of the player moves his piece to keep a check on the king, threatening at the same time to conquer another important piece. The opponent in his next move has to safeguard his king. In this process he is forced to lose one of his major pieces.

Double threat types

The variations of double threat chess tactic that are used by chess players are:

Forking

  • When one of your pieces is used for double threat it is called forking

  • Most commonly used double threat chess tactic

  • Fork acquires name on the basis of the piece you use for forking

  • Knight fork is quite common and confusing to novice opponents as its move is difficult to comprehend

  • Queen fork, bishop fork, rook fork and pawn fork are other variations

Discovered attack

  • Double threat chess tactic develops when a piece is moved out of the way of the other

  • One threat is by a moved piece and another by an unmasked piece

  • Always two pieces are involved in this form double threat chess tactic

  • Note that knight cannot be unmasked as it can never be masked

Pin

  • Pin occurs when one player’s pieces is threatening opponent king (or any other valuable piece such as queen) and another opponent piece is blocking the way

  • Effect of pin is pinning or arresting the movement of the blocking piece of the opponent

  • Pin is the chess tactic that effectively makes an opponent piece useless on the board

  • Pin requires maneuvering of other pieces by opponent to mobilize the arrested pieces

  • The other option is to move the valuable piece at the back and sacrifice the pinned piece

Skewer

  • Skewering is a double threat chess tactic where one piece threatens two pieces of the opponent with the valuable opponent piece in the front

  • Note that in pin, a valuable piece is at the back but in skewer it is in the front

  • Opponent is forced to move the valuable piece

  • The exposed piece can be captured

Removing the guard or undermining

  • Chess tactic where one of the opponents guarding piece is threatened or removed

  • This exposes the opponent’s guarding piece and the guarded piece

  • Undermining generally results in exchange of pieces by both the players

Zwischenzug

Zwischenzug is a chess tactic that is commonly adopted by many players. This is a tactic by which a player creates his own counter threat instead of clearing a threat created by his opponent in an earlier move.

Sacrifices Sacrifice is another chess tactic that can often be seen in chess. This can be used to gain advantage by introducing an element of surprise. If a player sacrifices a piece when it was least expected by his opponent, this chess tactic can give distinctive advantage.

Combination

Combination is the term used to represent chess tactics used by a player with combinations of fundamental tactics to get relative advantage in typically five of six moves.

Any chess tactics used by a chess player will be countered by tactics by the opponent. Combination has to take care of counter moves by opponent

As an example as chess tactic a player creates a knight fork.

Opponent can respond in many ways that could be typically:

One straightforward response is to safe guard the more valuable piece in the fork

Second response could be to build up protection for his more valuable threatened piece.

Third response could be to create his own fork or threat, Zwischenzug.

First player has to now respond keeping in view the implications of opponent’s move that could be a sacrifice move or another threatening move and the game proceeds further.

First player has to aim to get advantage in four or five moves. This chess tactics the first player uses is typically called combination, a group of basic moves made to get specific advantage.

Chess tactics used by good chess players in their games are interesting to watch and follow. Learners of the game can learn a lot by analyzing these games in terms of the tactics used by both the players.

 

   

M. Wasif Nisar

FIDE International Arbitrator

 

 

 

 

 

                  Administrator web site Ziauddin Qureshi (Bronze Meddle USSR Friendship house chess Championship 1980 Karachi)

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