A game of chess is a battle of two minds, fighting for control over the 64 squares that make the chess board. This article is aimed at giving you some insight into chess strategy and tactics that can give you an edge over your opponent. Mastering chess is an art and there are no beaten paths or tricks to chess mastery. The chess strategy and tactics that I expounded here are by no means the only ways to play the game. However, they certainly are sound ideas, that have been tested over time, perfected and wielded by masters of the game. Read these chess strategies and tactics but do not follow them blindly. Take these tips on chess strategy and tactics as suggestions, test them in your own games and then follow them, if you find them to be useful. I say this because learning to think on your own is important in chess, as in life. I present here some chess strategies for beginners.
If you look into the history of chess, you will know that its origins can be traced back to the game of 'Chaturanga', played in India. This ancient game was developed with the intention of teaching use of battle strategies and tactics to Indian princes of those times. The modern game of chess, though largely changed in form over the centuries, still remains a training ground for mastering the deployment of strategy and tactics. Playing chess is a way of channelizing our aggressive instincts and learning to take control. Mastering chess is about learning to take control over the three elements important in warfare and chess, which are:
* Control over Pieces
* Control over Tempo/Time
* Control over Position/Space
Chess lessons can only be gleaned from playing chess and gaining experience through play. It is your own understanding that will ultimately guide you. So let us begin with our rapid fire analysis of some of the best chess strategy and tactics for beginners.
Chess Strategy and Tactics for Beginners
The objective of any game of chess is, capturing the opponent's king. The beauty lies in how creatively and simply you can do that. I assume here that you know the rules for setting up a chess board and are familiar with basic rules of chess. A chess game can be broadly divided into three stages:
* Middle Game
* End Game
Chess strategy and tactics can be divided according to their application in these three stages. Though they are divided broadly for ease of understanding, the strategy and tactics in each stage follow or flow out from previous stages. The sound execution of strategy and tactics in each stage, makes the next one more easier. Strategy is a long term plan of action and tactics are applied strategy. Read more on winning chess strategies.
Chess Strategy and Tactics in Opening
Volumes could be written on strategy for chess opening moves. Here I give you some very basic strategy gleaned from my limited experience. Here are some tips on opening strategy and tactics:
Whatever be your opening moves, let your focus always be on controlling the center. If you control the four center squares, you gain tempo and space over your opponent.
Develop Knights and Bishops to Strategic Positions
Developing the knights and the bishops at the start, is of paramount importance. If you bring them into play earlier, you can get a better hold over the game. Knights and bishops can exert control over the center without occupying it. They help in protecting the forwarded pawns. A knight developed to the central squares is most potent in that position.
Compact and Strong Pawn Structure
The amateurs squander their pawns, while the masters look at them as potential queens! Focus on creating a strong pawn structure which acts as a bulwark and an effective offensive mechanism.
Castle and Safeguard King
Castling is an effective way of taking the King out from the vulnerable position at center, to the more protected position in flanks. An early castling on the king's side or queen's side is a good precautionary move. It also brings the rook from the last file, to a more central file, where it can play a more active role.
Chess Strategy and Tactics in Middle Game
Here are some tips on middle game strategy and tactics:
Opportunities for exchange arise quite frequently in the middle game. If you cannot gain advantage through an exchange, avoid making one. The advantage through an exchange might be a material one, a positional one or it might gain tempo for you.
Bring Rooks and Queen into Action
Middle game is more spread out than the opening game. This is the best time for the development of the queen and the rooks as they have a long attacking range. Rooks doubling up on a file backed by the queen on the same file can be a deadly force. Attack the opponent's king aggressively.
Look for Combinations!
This is a time which is ripe for springing combinations. Identifying combinations and pulling them off is something which requires a trained eye. Combinations make the game interesting and make it beautiful. A lot of tactical maneuvers can help you trigger a combination. Have a look at the important tactical maneuvers that I have listed at the end. For combinations to happen, you need to place your pieces in strategic positions!
Protect Pawn Structures
As mentioned before, protect pawns as every one of them is a potential queen. Keep the pawns connected in the middle game. Guard isolated pawns.
Chess Strategy and Tactics in End Game
Here are some tips on end game strategy and tactics:
Promote and Protect Pawns!
The end game is all about promoting pawns. This is the time to press your material, temporal and spatial advantage. If you have worked hard in the middle game and have a rich stock of connected pawns, your chances of winning are certainly brighter. Start promoting your pawns with king's backing. King plays a stronger role in the end game and actually becomes a fighting force. Create as many 'Passed Pawns' as possible.
Ensnare Opponent's Pawns
Gobble the opponent's pawns at the slightest opportunity. Each pawn taken, hurts, even greater at the end of the game, as it is losing a potential queen!
Beware of Stalemate!
A stalemate is a draw which arises when the opponent's king has no where to go, neither in check, nor does he have any other piece to move. It is a disastrous ending and is very frustrating! Avoid it at all costs. Learn to calculate future moves.
Important Tactical Maneuvers
Here are some important tactical maneuvers that you can use throughout the game when opportunity presents itself. You should practice all these tactics and enrich your arsenal!
This is a move which unmasks an attacking piece. It can be used as a doubly attacking move, whereby, the moved piece can spring an attack as complementing the attack from the unmasked piece!
The Pin is a move whereby a piece of the opponent is threatened and pinned to a position, as moving it is either not allowed (as it could put the king in check) or may cause ruinous loss of material. This is a frequently used tactic throughout the game.
The fork is a move by which two pieces of the opponent are simultaneously attacked by one piece of yours. Usually, the knight does this job really well. The fork could be executed well by the bishop or the queen as well.
Skewer is similar to a pin maneuver, but here a piece of higher value is pinned in front of a piece of relatively lesser value.
Zugwang (Forced Move)!
Zugwang, which is German for forced move, is a great tactic, whereby the opponent is forced to make an undesirable move. This move commonly occurs in the end game when few pieces are on the board.
The Toughest One: Sacrifice
Sacrifice is a tactical move which can trigger a combination. It is giving up a piece of higher value for a significantly lower one with the hope of getting tactical advantage. Sacrifice is a calculated gamble and is executed by the masters. Only masters can execute a sacrifice because only they can see it! It takes years of experience and a willingness to experiment, that can lead you to see a combination, triggered by a sacrifice. Chess is all about imagination, and sacrifice is a piece of art.