A Foundation for Beginners Fifty Nine

Last week, we worked through a position in which it was Black’s turn to move. This week, we’ll look at the same position, but this time it’s White to move. I mentioned that whose turn it is can be decisive in a given position. This week, we’ll see how things can change when it’s the other player’s turn to move (White). Keep in mind what we’ve studied over the last few months. The key concepts to keep in mind are as follows:

Before thinking about any move, fully analyze the position. This means looking at every single pawn and piece on the board belonging to you and your opponent, and noting any and all possible attacks for both players. Carefully look for weaknesses in your position and determine whether you can fix or defend them. Come up with three candidate moves. Don’t make the first move that you see! Think three moves ahead. This means coming up with your move and then pretending you’re playing your opponent’s side of the board, coming up with their best response to your initial move and finally, determining a good response to your opponent’s best move (your move – your opponent’s move – your move). If attacking and exchanging values ​​of material, compare the of all material involved to ensure you don’t trade material of great value for material of lesser value. Weigh the pros and cons of every candidate move and lastly, look at the square left behind by a pawn or piece you plan on moving.

Set up the following position on the chessboard: Set up the Black Queen on f8, a Black Rook on a8, a Black Bishop on e5, a Black Knight on b4 and the Black King on a6. Set up the White King on e1, the White Queen on e3, a White Rook on h2 and a White Rook on h1. It’s White to move!

White starts by analyzing the position. Analyzing a position means looking at every pawn and piece on the board and determining the relationship between those pawns and pieces, both yours and those belonging to your opponent. Ask yourself, are my pawns and pieces being attacked by my opponent’s pawns and pieces? Can I move or adequately defend any attacked material? Ask yourself, do I have any good attacks and if so, can my opponent easily defend his or her pawns and pieces? Ask yourself, how exposed is my King to attack? You should be able to come up with at least five questions to ask, if not more! Never consider a move until you’ve analyzed the position.

My beginning students honey in on the Black Bishop on e5 because it’s undefended. They notice the Bishop immediately and don’t bother analyzing the position because they see a piece that can be freely captured. This leads to a big loss which we’ll look at shortly. As I mentioned last week, you need to look at all of your opponent’s (Black) material, starting with the pieces closest to your King. We’ll start with the Black Bishop on e5. Following the lines the Bishop travels on, you can see that it’s attacking White’s h2 Rook. This is a problem. While removing the Black Bishop with 1. Qxe5, takes care of that problem, it leads to a big material loss. Take a look at Black’s Knight on b4. It attacks a total of five squares, three of which are on White’s side of the board. Two of those three are extremely important, d3 and c2. Wait, those squares are defended, so why do they matter? Let’s say you jump on the move 1. Qxe5, winning Blacks Bishop free of charge. Black can now play 1…Nd3+ which forks White’s King and Queen, winning the White Queen! You need to look at any position carefully before making a move!

Let’s say you’ve analyzed the position and it’s now time to come up with three possible moves (candidate moves). At this point, you need to employ the idea of ​​thinking three moves ahead: Your candidate move, your opponent’s best response, and finally, your response to your opponent’s best response. Beginner’s love to check their opponent’s King. However, if considering a check, make sure it’s a strong check. Let’s say that one of your candidate moves is 1. Rh6+. What is Black’s best response? 1…Bd6, blocking the check. The Black Bishop is protected by the Black Queen on f8. Now it’s time for your response to Black’s move. Many of my students will choose 2. Qe4 which takes advantage of Black’s Queen being tied to the defense of the Black Bishop and threatens the Black Rook on a8.

White thinks “I’ll take the Bishop on d6 and when the Black Queen captures my Rook, I’ll capture the Black Rook on a8 and win a minor piece.” This sounds great on paper, but it falls into the realm of wishful thinking chess. The mentioned moves just now are a cut above the average beginner’s wishful thinking but White isn’t looking at Black’s best response to 2. Qe4, the forceful 2…Re8, pinning the White Queen to its King. I want you to see if you can find a way for White to get out of this messy situation. You might consider, 3. Rxd6+ and then trying to work your way out of the problematic position by delivering another check to Black’s King.

While this position and the moves I’ve given you are beyond the scope of the true beginner, it shows you how you have to think when coming up with move ideas. Beginners generally miss the Rook on a8 being used to pin the White Queen to it’s King. However, no matter how good a player is, they are bound to not see every possible move their opponent can make. Why does White deliver a check on move three?

White knows that only a more forceful move can possibly get White’s Queen out of it’s predicament (the pin). Checks to the King are more forceful than tactics because a check must always be dealt with immediately. In our position, White’s idea is to check his or her way out of the pin. I am going to leave it to you to determine whether White can do this. Next week, we’ll see how this game played out. Refer to last week’s article, A Foundation for Beginners Fifty Eight, for a quick review of what you’ll need to consider in terms of concepts if you’re unsure of what we’ve covered thus far. How could White have avoided the pin? The answer is extremely simple! Remember what I said about looking for ranks, files and diagonals on which pieces are lined up a few articles ago? One of the first things White should have noticed is the potential for a pin against White on the e file. In short, White looked at the Rook on a8 and thought it to be inactive since it was on it’s starting square. If a piece is on it’s starting square, yet has room to move, you should examine that piece closely. Here’s a game to enjoy until next week!

Hugh Patterson

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Hugh Patterson

Author: Hugh Patterson

Prior to teaching chess, Hugh Patterson was a professional guitarist for nearly three decades, playing in a number of well known San Francisco bands including KGB, The Offs, No Alternative, The Swinging Possums and The Watchmen. After recording a number of albums and CDs he retired from music to teach chess. He currently teaches ten chess classes a week through Academic Chess. He also created and runs a chess program for at-risk teenagers incarcerated in juvenile correctional facilities. In addition to writing a weekly column for The Chess Improver, Hugh also writes a weekly blog for the United States Chess League team, The Seattle Sluggers. He teaches chess privately as well, giving instruction to many well known musicians who are only now discovering the joys of chess. Hugh is an Correspondence Chess player with the ICCF (International Correspondence Chess Federation). He studied chemistry in college but has worked in fields ranging from Investment Banking and commodities trading to Plastics design and fabrication. However, Hugh prefers chess to all else (except Mrs. Patterson and his beloved dog and cat). View all posts by Hugh Patterson

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