eXTReMe Tracker WARNING: The opinions expressed and linked to in this blog are not necessarily mine (anymore).

My ideas are constantly changing as I learn. Sometimes they even change midway through writing a post.

Sunday, February 6


When I first attempted to play chess as a child, I thought it was extremely complex and confusing and I couldn't figure out how to play it correctly, much less how to enjoy playing. When a six year old child I knew learned to play and wanted me to play too, I decided to give it another try. I found an introductory book and figured it out. It still didn't appeal to me much although I didn't mind playing now and then. From what I understood of it, it could take a lot of study to be able to play well.

That didn't seem to apply to the child, however, because she routinely won against me - often within 4 moves. Finally, someone took pity on me and explained about a Scholar's Mate. I tried feebly to defend myself against it, but more often than not, I'd forget about the threatened mate and move my own defense! Such a strategy doesn't work on someone who is paying attention and knows how to defend, but a surprising number of "good" players don't pay attention. Even if they do, there are a few additional moves that can trip them up and result in either checkmate or losing some valuable pieces. The problem, I thought, is that such players are trying to play according to certain rules and strategies and not looking much at the actual game.

Now there are some really good players who don't seem to have any difficulty with defending against such mates and against the majority of other players as well. It seems that the truly excellent players combine knowledge of strategy, skill at analysis, and serious attention to the game at hand.

I was thinking that there are a few assumptions and rules I have about playing. Some are things I've read or been told are good ideas, others are ones I've thought of myself (which may or may not be how other people think about it), and some are specific to me because of particular mistakes I tend to make. I don't always manage to remember them all, and I'm not an "excellent" player, so they're up for criticism:

Don't count on the opponent making a particular move.
Plan as much as possible for any move the opponent might make.
Know your weaknesses and defend them.
Know your opponent's weaknesses and attack them.
Make every move count.
Make the best possible move every turn.
Support every piece.
Don't be afraid to allow a piece to be threatened.
Some pieces are more valuable than others: King, Queen, Rooks, Bishops and Knights, pawns.
Sometimes, it is worth losing a more valuable piece in exchange for 2 lesser pieces.

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