During its thousands of years of history, chess has become known as the ‘king’ of board games. Several famous personalities were known for their chess skills. Napoleon, Nikola Tesla, Charlie Chaplin and Einstein among them. Online chess can provide many hours of pleasure and intellectual exercise. The game is reputed to improve analytical thinking, creativity and judgment.
In the past chess was mainly played by nobility. Now everyone can enjoy this privilege. Chess attracts people of all ages from all over the world. Chess is intriguing, for it allows players to pit their wits, experience and inspiration against a competitor.
All you need to play chess is a chessboard and chess pieces — or if you wish to play online, you need nothing more than your computer. The chessboard is an 8″x 8″ board with alternating black and white squares; nearly everyone is sure to have seen one.
There are 32 chess pieces in total; 16 white pieces and their 16 black counterparts. One player owns the white pieces (we call this player WHITE) and the opponent (BLACK) gets the black ones. The 16 pieces are: the King, the Queen, 2 Rooks, 2 Bishops, 2 Knights and 8 Pawns.
When the game starts these pieces are placed in predefined positions as follows: each player places his own pieces along the 2 closest rows of the board (called ranks). All 8 pawns are placed on the innermost rank of the 2. The rest of the pieces are placed closest to the player in this order: Rook, Knight, Bishop, Queen, King, Bishop, Knight, and Rook. This order is from left to right for WHITE and from right to left for BLACK, so that the same pieces are opposed on each column (called a file) of the board.
To easily describe chess positions the ‘algebraic chess notation’ was invented. It works like this: viewing from WHITE’s perspective, the leftmost file is designated ‘a’, the next one ‘b’ and so on until we reach the rightmost file, which is file ‘h’. The rank that is closest to WHITE is ‘rank 1’. Next comes ‘rank 2’ and so on until we get to the 8th rank, which is the rank closest to BLACK.
Now we may identify a square by looking up the rank and the file to which it belongs. Thus (still from WHITE’s side) the bottom left square is the square ‘a1’, since it belongs to file ‘a’ and to the first rank. Its adjacent squares are ‘b1’ on the right and ‘a2’ just above it.
With that out of the way, the next major thing to know is the goal. Your sole purpose is to trap the enemy King — it’s that simple.
But that is a story for another day.
What you need to know before begin playing online chess
As a chess player, you lose games from time to timelike all chess players.
Naturally you want to improve your play. Is there something special or unique about your problem? I don’t think so. Only a few of us can become masters; yet the rest of us can achieve respectable playing strength with a reasonable amount of application.
The first big stepan enormous stepin improving our play is to become aware of the things we do wrong, the bad moves we make. Many of us could never reach that point without personal lessons because we could not previously find in books the kind of material that would enable us to spot our own weaknesses.
That is a pity, for while chess is a lot of fun, win or lose, it’s more fun when you win! In my contacts with thousands of chess players for over twenty years, I have often watched them grope and drift and become discouraged in their efforts to improve their game.
It was from these observations that the notion of concentrating on the Eight Bad Moves took shape. Again and again I have seen, in the course of teaching and playing and discussing, that most players commit certain typical errors.
I started to think about these errors and how to describe them in such a way that the reader would exclaim, “At last! That’s just why my games go wrong! If only I’d realized this sooner!”
This book has been “on my mind” for several years. What held me back somewhat in writing it, was the influence of the teachers and psychologists who have been insisting that a “negative” approach is all wrong. I finally concluded that my emphasis on the Eight Bad Moves was not really negative at all. Before a player can begin to improve, he must clear away the faults that have been spoiling his games and depriving him of well-earned victories.
In your study of these games and ideas you will not only discover the Eight Bad Moves and how to overcome the faults that produce them, you will also encounter a wealth of new ideas and techniques which you will enjoy using in your own games.
To derive the maximum value from this book, there are two features which you will very likely want to review quickly. One is to check up on the relative values of the chessmen. Expressed in points, their values are as follows:
- Queen: 9 points
- Rook: 5 points
- Bishop: 3 points
- Knight: 3 points
- Pawn: 1 point
It is important to be absolutely certain of these values, for most games are decided by superiority in force.
Bishops (3 points) and Knights (3 points) are equal in value, but experienced players try to capture a Bishop in return for a Knight.
A Bishop or Knight (3 points) is worth about three Pawns (3 points). If you give up a Knight and get three Pawns in return, you may consider it as more or less an even exchange. If you lose a Knight (3 points) for only a Pawn (1 point), you have lost material and should lose the game, if you are playing against an expert.
If you capture a Rook (5 points) for a Bishop or Knight (3 points), you are said to have “won the Exchange.” If you lose a Rook (5 points) for a Bishop or Knight (3 points), you have “lost the Exchange.” The other important feature in reading a chess book is to be familiar with chess notation. If you can count up to 8, this presents no problem. You may have heard scare stories to the effect that chess notation is inordinately difficult. This difficulty of chess notation is a myth, circulated by people too lazy to discover how simple and logical it really is.
Although the compact treatment of games and examples makes only slight demands on your knowledge of chess notation, I should like to advise you to master the notation thoroughly; it will open the gates to a lifetime of reading pleasure.
The Language Of Chess
Following is a selection of the more common chess-related terms.
- Blunder: To totally miss something obvious, giving the benefit to the opponent.
- Patzer: A player who cannot seem to improve his game, though he has played for years. A patzer is blundering all the time.
- Trap: A move that attempts to induce a mistake by the opponent.
- Opening: The first 10 to 15 moves of the game. This is the first phase of the game.
- Middlegame: The second phase of the game, where most of the action takes place.
- Endgame or Ending: The last of the 3 phases of the game, when only a few pieces are left on the board.
- File: a column in the chessboard.
- Rank: a row in the chessboard.
- Wing or Side: The board can be divided into 2 vertical halves: the queen’s wing or queenside (including files a-d) and the king’s wing or kingside (including files e-h).
- Light Piece: A bishop or a knight.
- Heavy Piece: A queen or a rook.
- Light-Squared Bishop: A bishop, either white or black, that moves on the white squares.
- Dark-Squared Bishop: A bishop, either white or black, that moves on the black squares.
- Check: To threaten the opponent’s king.
- Checkmate or Mate: To threaten the opponent’s king, so that it has no escape. This ends the game.
- Stalemate: A player is stalemated if he has no valid moves at his disposal, but he is not in check. The game is drawn in the case of stalemate.
- Material: 1 or more pieces, not including the king.
- Development: The procedure of moving the pieces from their initial positions into more active squares. It is very important to develop one’s pieces in the opening.
- Tempo: The time to play a move. To ‘win a tempo’ means to proceed in such a way as to appear to be making 2 moves instead of one. This may happen, for example, when threatening the enemy Queen while proceeding in development; the opponent will have to move the Queen and delay his own development by 1 tempo.
- Pin: to make a move that prevents an enemy piece from moving, or if it does, another enemy piece behind it (lying in the same rank, file or diagonal) can be captured. The pin is an ‘absolute pin’ if the second piece is the King; in this case the pinned piece cannot move at all.
- Exchange: To capture an enemy piece and let the opponent capture a piece of the same value.
- Simplification: 1 or more exchanges lead to simplification of the position.
- Sacrifice: A purposeful loss of material in order to bring in (usually after a combination) a bigger advantage.
- Gambit: A pawn sacrifice in order to achieve something, usually a valuable tempo or the opening of files, diagonals, etc.
- Variation: A possible sequence of moves that arises from a position.
- Combination: A sequence of moves that results in an advantage, either material or positional.
- Plan: The result of a mental process concerning how one should proceed in a position. It consists of sequences of moves, intended piece locations and other observations. A plan often uses general concepts.
- Strategy: The methods 1 player uses to accomplish a plan. Must be based on the strategic factors that are present.
- Tactics: When several captures, threats, pawn thrusts, etc. take place, a position is said to have tactical possibilities. To play correctly, the players need to examine the tactics (calculate or ‘count’ the variations).
- Positional: Anything relevant to the piece’s positioning and to how it affects the evaluation of a certain position.
- Maneuver: A sequence of moves that places a piece on a target square.
- Analysis: A complete examination of tactical and positional possibilities, usually containing explanatory comments.
- Pawn Majority: To have more pawns in a wing than the opponent has.
- Blocked Pawn: A pawn that cannot advance because an enemy pawn blocks its way.
- Free Pawn: A pawn that may advance easily, for there are no enemy pawns in front of it on its own file or on nearby files.
- Isolated Pawn: A pawn is isolated when no pawns of the same color are in the nearby files.
- Backward Pawn: A pawn that is weakened because it has not advanced as much as the pawns on the nearby files.
- Doubled Pawns: 2 or more pawns of the same color residing on the same file.
- Center Pawns: The pawns d2, e2 and d7, e7 in the initial position.
- Compensation: Return to a previous position to compensate for a material loss.
- Initiative: The privilege to be a little more active than the opponent. It is considered to be a slight advantage, but if not exploited it may vanish.
- Opposition: In an endgame a player has the opposition if his King is placed opposite the enemy King in the same file, rank (or diagonal, in the case of the diagonal opposition) with 1, 3 or 5 squares in between.
- Forced Move: A move that one is obliged to make, because it is the only valid move in the position. Sometimes used to describe a move that, if one does not make, he will lose for sure.
- Zugzwang: A move that leads to defeat and is such that, if one could avoid making (say if he could ‘pass’), he would not lose.
- Waiting Move: A move that leads to zugzwang.
- Swindle: A ruse by which a player in a losing position tricks his opponent, and thereby achieves a win or draw instead of the expected loss.Ti
- me Trouble: The situation where a player must make a number of moves in a short time.
- Bad Bishop: A bishop which is hemmed in by pawns of its own color.
- Blindfold Chess: A form of chess in which one or both players is not allowed to see the board.
- Blitz Chess: A form of chess with a very small time limit, usually 3 or 5 minutes per player for the entire game. With the advent of electronic chess clocks, it is often the case that the time remaining is incremented by 1 or 2 seconds per move.
- Fool’s Mate: The shortest possible chess game ending in mate: 1. f3 e5 2. g4 Qh4# (or minor variations on this).