Friday, September 15, 2017

Chess Lesson: Strategy and Tactics

Chess is actually a game of war. It is a game where one tries to impose the will of another on an adversary. The chessboard is, in reality, a battlefield while the pieces are the soldiers.

Just like in war, effective strategies and tactics are absolutely necessary to subdue the enemy. Just like in war, the correct and timely execution of strategies and tactics is essential to winning. Thus, having a clear grasp about strategies and tactics is very helpful for a beginner to advance to the next level in chess.   


The main difference between the two is that a strategy is long term plan on how to win your game while tactics are a short sequence of forcing moves to achieve mate or win material.

Strategic Principles

Control of the Center - means that in the opening, you must exert effort to control the center of the board because it is where your pieces are more powerful.

No piece should be moved twice during the opening - this is to ensure that during the opening you will develop other pieces. The more pieces are developed means that there would be more pieces ready for war.

Queen should not be deployed early - if the Queen is deployed prematurely or at the early stages of the game, it will be exposed to attack.

Prioritize King Safety - since the King is the most valuable piece in chess, it is only logical that the King's safety is given primary consideration. As much as possible castle early.

Avoid Weakening Pawn Moves - once a pawn is advanced it can never move back. Before moving a pawn carefully assess the existing situation. Pawns in front of the castled King should not be moved unless necessary.

However, just like in war strategies and tactical principles are not hard fast rules that should not be broken. These principles are just "guides" formulated from general experience. What is more important is to evaluate the position and make the move you feel is necessary to achieve your objective.


Pin - is a common tactic where a piece cannot move because a more valuable piece is behind it. There are two types of pin, (1) absolute pin- if it is the King that is behind that piece and (2) relative pin - if a more valuable piece will be exposed or captured.

Skewer - a more valuable piece is threatened and once it moves a less valuable piece can be captured. For example, the King is under attack and once it moves the Queen behind it will be captured.

Double Attack - this happens when two or more pieces are attacked by a single piece. The most common type of double attack is a Knight fork.

Discovered Attack - one of your piece is moved in order that your other piece it covers can unleash an attack.

Removing the Guard - you capture the piece that is protecting another piece of your opponent.

Interference - if you cannot capture the piece that is protecting another piece of your opponent, you can block or destroy that connection.

There are thousands of examples of these type of tactics taken in actual play. It is worthy to take time to study them. It is said that the best way to improve your chess is to study tactics.

I will be posting games where strategies and tactics are employed such as in this game between So and Vallejo Pons in the recent World Chess Cup to illustrate and provide examples of how they are utilized in tournaments.

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