Doug's Chess ~ Hints and Tips
How to Play Chess
Chess is a strategy game for two players. Players pick pawns to see who plays what color. White always goes first. Black always responds. Both players should have a white square on their right. Each player's team consists of: 1 King, 1 Queen, 2 Bishops, 2 Knights, 2 Rooks, and 8 pawns. The object of the game is to trap the opponent’s king so that it is in trouble (check) and cannot get out of trouble by blocking, moving or capturing the attacking piece(s). This is called checkmate, and the game is over.
A stalemate is a draw, and neither player wins. It happens when a player cannot move without putting their self in check, when neither player has enough pieces left to checkmate the other, when both players make the same identical move three times in a row, or when a player is down to their king and is not put into checkmate within 25 moves.
All the pieces are assigned point values based upon their relative capabilities. In general two rooks are worth more than a queen. Knights and bishops are worth the same, etc. This is only a general guide and learning to use each piece to its maximum capability is the real challenge. For example, knights can be worth more towards the beginning and middle of a game and bishops worth more towards the end.
King: the game, Queen: 9 points, Rook: 5 points, Bishop: 3 points,
Knight: 3 points, Pawn: 1 point - up to 9 points.
Moving the Pieces
The king moves 1 square in any direction except when castling - then the king must moves two squares. The King is not allowed to: move within one square of the opposing King, into check, or over a check (castling).
The queen moves straight lines in any direction, any number of open spaces.
The rooks move vertically and horizontally any number of open spaces.
The bishops move diagonally any number of open spaces. One bishop is stuck on white, the other is stuck on black.
The knights move in L's or 7's, two spaces out and one over, they are the only piece that may jump over other pieces. Knights always move to and attack an opposite colored square than they are currently on.
The pawns move only forward one or two spaces to the centre line, then only one space. Pawns capture (and protect) diagonally. To capture an opponents piece en passant (in passing) you must have a pawn over the centre line (on the fifth square), if your opponent tries to move a pawn two squares so that it would end up beside your pawn, you then have the choice (only on your next turn) to take your opponents pawn as if it had only moved up one square. It allows you to stop your opponent from sneaking a pawn past you.
Castling is when you move your King over two spaces and your Rook over top. It can be done on either side of the board. It is a good defensive move, as it can help to protect your King. You are not allowed to castle when: there are pieces in between your King and Rook, if you have moved your King or Rook, if you are in check, if you would end up in check, or if you have to move over a check.
A check must always be dealt with first. Remember you can get out of check by: capturing the attacking piece, blocking the check with another piece, or moving your king. Try not to move your king unless you have no other choice. If you do then you cannot castle.
Examine every move: Check the board after each of your opponent's moves to see if you are under attack. (Sometimes from more than one place.) If yes, can you capture the piece attacking you? Can you protect your piece? Do you need to move your piece? If you are not under attack does your opponent have any unprotected pieces that you could capture or attack?
Fight first with the most mobile pieces: pawns, knights, bishops, then your rooks, your queen and finally your king.
Be prepared to castle early in the game. You may choose not to castle, but at least you will have the choice. It allows you to protect your king and also to move your Rook towards the centre of the board.
Generally think of your king's side as your protect side; and your queen's side as your attack side. If you choose to castle on your queen's side, then you may wish to attack then on your king's side. Generally castle on the same side as your opponent if you play defensively. If you play more offensively try castling on the opposite side from your opponent - but be careful!
Often the person who controls the centre of the board wins!
Figure out your opponents plan and deal with it. Do not be so preoccupied with your own plans that you miss what your opponent is doing!
Always deal with your most immediate concerns first. If your opponent attacks your pawn with his pawn, you should deal with that situation first before making another move - even if it is a good move.
Keep your opponent busy. If your opponent is often responding to your moves (attacks) then they are less able to move their own pieces into attack positions.
Win the easy way by waiting for your opponent to make mistakes. Simply play defensively and wait for your opponent to make mistakes! Do not rush to attack until you know that your own pieces are safe.
Synergy - get your pieces working together. The very best way to win is to use your pieces together as a team. Like hockey: two vs. one, three on two, etc. You must try to develop your pieces so that they can work together. Do not try to think too far ahead for an individual piece; rather try to think how you can move your team forward and attack with several pieces at once. Or attack with some pieces and block your opponent with other pieces.
Think both offensively and defensively at the same time. Try to use your pieces to both protect each other and block your opponent’s moves.
If you touch a piece you should move it. Learn to think with your head not with your hands. (You have more brains in your head.) In tournaments you must move a touched piece, if you are able.
Make every move count! Have a plan to attack your opponent and protect your own pieces. Never move a pawn because you do not know what else to move.
RememberEvery piece has value - even pawns. Do not allow your pieces to be easily captured. Even capturing one extra pawn can make a difference at the end of the game. Remember a pawn can become a queen if it gets to the other side of the board.
Advanced Strategy & Sneaky Moves
Plan hidden attacks. A hidden or discovered attack is when you move a piece out of the way and another of your pieces is now attacking your opponent. For example, you move a pawn out of the way and now your opponent is in check from your bishop, which was behind your pawn. You can also use this strategy to attack two pieces at once, or possibly put your opponent in check from two different pieces, such as a knight and a bishop.
Try to pin your opponent's pieces. A pinned piece is one that is trapped in front of a king, queen, or other valuable piece. For example, when a bishop is attacking a knight and also a queen behind the knight on the same diagonal. If the knight is moved, the bishop can then take the queen - which is worth more points. Thus, the trick is to also attack the same knight with another equal or lower value piece such as a pawn and then capture the knight.
Trade pieces to strengthen your team. Generally trade up in point value whenever you can. However, watch out for sucker moves - an obvious giveaway; or if your opponent is trying to get one of your pieces out of the way so he can put you in checkmate.
Trade to stop an attack. A good time to trade pieces is when you are under attack - if you can trade evenly. Then if your opponent needs to bring forward reinforcements it may give you time to defend yourself better.
Bishop and knight teams kick butt! Remember that two knights work well together, and two bishops work well together. If you need to trade try to leave yourself with two knights, or two bishops, and leave your opponent with one knight and one bishop.
Trade pieces according to a winning strategy. Generally it is O.K. to trade evenly when you are winning, and to try to avoid trading evenly when you are losing. At the end of the game you will have more pieces and can hopefully get a pawn to the end and promote it to a queen.
Look for weak links. A weak link is when one piece is protecting two or more other pieces. If you can capture the protecting piece or force it to move then the other pieces may become vulnerable. For example for a queen that is protecting a knight. Force the Queen to move then capture the knight.
A strength move is when you are able to use the special ability of each piece as part of your attack or your defense. For example a pawn is strong in that it can block and attack more valuable pieces. A pawn can be used to hide your king, or to threaten more valuable pieces and make them back off or risk being captured. A pawn can also be used to attack two pieces at once pawn fork! Learn to use each piece's strength in planning your attack. For example, how can a knight attack two or three pieces at once? How can a bishop, rook, or queen attack two or more pieces at once? Can you use your king to help checkmate your opponent’s king? Use each piece to its maximum capability.
Pawn Moves: When you are capturing your opponent's pawns, try to move your own pawns towards the middle of the board. Try not to have your pawns one in front of another - rather line them up diagonally. This way they can protect each other; plus form a block or defense. Use your pawns to protect your king. Do not open up your pawns in front of your king, or on your king's side unless you need to. If you open up too early it is like leaving your back door open, or the keys in your car.
Knight Moves: Try to use your knight to attack two or three pieces at once if you can. This is called a fork. Learn to use your knight's ability to move over and around other pieces. Move fast with your knights. Only knights and pawns can make first moves. Knights can help to establish control. Generally move your knights out first to the inside positions (C3 not A3). This way you can use your knights to help establish control of the centre of the board. Knights can go where other pieces cannot. Knights can reach into and behind enemy lines. Knight blocks are powerful and mobile. Use your knights to block other knights and bishops. Knights are stronger than bishops towards the beginning of a game as they are more mobile.
Bishop Moves: Two bishops can be used together to set up a moving block to trap a king, stop pawns from advancing, or control a diagonal. Bishops and pawns can work well together. Even (especially) if you only have one bishop and you can keep your pawns moving quickly onto the same color as your bishop. Bishops can be used to block knights and oppose other bishops. Bishops are stronger than knights towards the end of the game, as they can travel further faster.
Rook Moves: Rooks are most powerful towards the end of the game. Two rooks can be more powerful than a queen. One rook and a king is enough for a checkmate.
Queen Moves: Generally try to keep your queen safe until there is room for her to move. If you bring her out too quickly in the game she may get trapped and captured. Don't let your queen get trapped (pinned) in front of your king by a rook or bishop. You won't be able to move her, as you will be in check.
King Moves: A king can be used to trap an opposing king. If a king is being attacked it is usually best to try to capture the attacking piece first, block second and move the king as a last resort. If an opponent’s knight is attacking your king, try to move to a square the same color as your king is currently on, that way the knight cannot keep putting you in check.
Misconceptions: You do not get a pawn back if your king gets to the other side.
Learn from your Losses: Learn from your opponent's strategy whenever you lose. Why did I lose? Was it a silly mistake? Did my opponent make a good move? Can I use that good move to win my next game? Above all keep trying, everyone who doesn't give up wins eventually.
I hope this little guide helps you to become a better chess player or sharpen your skills. If there is anything that you think you could add to my Chess Hints and tips please let me know and your suggestions may be included in future revisions.
Good games Doug Pamenter
Remember: Winners sometimes lose; but quitters never win!
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