Chess is a very old game which involves strategy.

Because of that, tactics and openings have been developed for optimal benefit from all the pieces.

I will show you some of the tactics and moves to look for during the game.  Also, I'm going to teach you some tips for a good opening.  Finally, I will teach you how to value your pieces and chess notation.

Silver Medal

I was the 2nd place winner in the Qatari Open Chess Tournament '92


Opening Tips

I. Development
At the beginning of the game, all of your powerful pieces are trapped behind a wall of
pawns. To attack your opponent, you need to get your pieces out from behind your
pawns. You want to get your pieces developed onto good squares in as few moves as
possible. In the diagram, the player with the white pieces has developed his knights
and bishops and is ready to castle. Black, on the other hand, has neglected
development. His pieces are blocked in by pawns. It will be several moves before he
can castle or begin an attack.

II. The Center

The second principle of good opening strategy is control of the center. Because
pieces posted in the center of the board can attack deep into enemy territory, the
player who owns the center can claim a big advantage. The easiest way to control
the center is to occupy the center with pawns. In the diagram below, white's first
two moves take control of the center, while blacks two moves ignore the center.
These center pawns will be a big advantage for white.

III. Move each piece once

A mistake many beginners make is to try to attack with only one or two pieces. These
attacks almost always fail. You must use your whole army to attack. A good rule to
remember is: Move each piece once before you move any piece twice. In the diagram
below, white has just moved his knight to attack. Black will not ignore this attack. He
will castle, and the weak pawn will be protected twice. White has wasted a move
forcing black to do something he wanted to do anyway. Soon black will force the
knight to retreat wasting another move.

IV. Castle early

When both players are using their pawns to fight for the center, some of these pawns
are certain to be exchanged. This means that there will be open columns in the center
of the board. You must get your king out of these central columns and get your rooks
into them. The best way to do this is by castling. If you fail to castle early, you may
be the victim of an early checkmate.

V. Don't Make Early Queen Moves

The queen is the most powerful piece on the board, but it is also the most vulnerable.
When a less powerful piece attacks the queen, she must retreat. If you bring your
queen out too early, your opponent will attack it while developing his own pieces. In
the diagram below, black has just moved his queen to attack. White will develop his
knight and black will have to retreat the queen. White is bringing out more pieces and
black is wasting time.


Playing Tactics

I. The knight fork

A fork is when one piece attacks two enemy pieces at the same time. In the diagram
below, the white knight forks the black king and queen. The king must move out of
check and white takes the queen.

II. The pin

A pin is where a piece that moves in a straight line stops an enemy piece from moving
because of what is behind it. Here is an example. The white bishop pins the black
knight to the black king. The knight cannot move because that would put the king in
check. If it is white's turn to play, he can win the knight by pushing the pawn one step

III. The skewer

A skewer is when a piece that moves in a straight line forces an enemy piece to
move, winning what was behind it. In the diagram below, the white rook checks the
black king. After the king moves, the rook wins the black queen.

IV. Double Check

A double check occurs when both the moving piece and the uncovered piece attack
the enemy king. There is only one way out of a double check, you must move your
king because you cannot block or capture both of the enemy pieces. If the white
knight in the diagram below makes a check the result is checkmate.


The Value of Each Piece

Each of the game pieces has a value. In other words, each is worth a number of
points. This points system will help you assist your situation. The order of the pieces
is as follows:
Queen: 9 points
Rook: 4.5 points
Bishop: 3.25 points
Knight: 3 points
Pawn: 1 point
Let's say that you have a Queen and two Pawns. This would add up to 11 points.
Let's say that your opponent has two Rooks and a Knight which would add up to 12
points. Now, you can see that your opponent has the advantage over you.


Chess Notation

There is a symbol for each piece except pawns. K for king, Q for queen, R for rook, B
for bishop, and N for knight. When you write d4, it means that the pawn moved to that
square, marked below. When you write Ne5, it means that the knight moved to that
square, marked below, and so on.



Practice makes perfect, and I'm going to help you by posting positions for you to solve. I will leave each position a week before I post the solution. Submit your solution to me and I will post the name of the first one to solve it in this page.

Last Week Position :

Winner: Brendan Cummings
1. Qh3 Kg8 2. Qh7 Kf8 3. Qg7 mate

This Week Position : White to move and win in three moves.


Finally, chess masters know at a glance if a position is likely to yield a combination, or if a more strategic approach is better. How do they know? When masters see two or more of the following items in the enemy position, they know to look for a combination.
  1. exposed king
  2. unprotected (or underprotected) pieces
  3. trapped pieces
  4. pieces on same row, column or diagonal


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(c) 1998 Jassim Alhor. All Rights Reserved.