The point of this post is to show you how to use positional differences a bit more specifically then in my other article "The Art Of Chess Planning". In that post I tried to get you acquainted with the concept of positional chess differences, but now I will go more in depth, and explain what to expect with each difference in positions. I will list them and then explain how to use them.
Minor Pieces: There are a few different common minor piece combinations. They are as follows: 2B vs 2B, 2B vs B+N, 2B vs 2N, 2N vs B+N, B+N vs B+N, B vs B, N vs N, B vs N, and 2N vs 2N. For about half of these, such as 2Bs vs 2Bs, or 2Ns vs 2Ns, what to do is pretty obvious since there is no imbalance. The others I will explain in greater detail. For 2Bs vs B+N, the main thing to look for is pawn structure. Generally having the 2Bs (when your opponent doesn't), is considered an advantage. If the pawn structure is closed however, they might be worse than the B+N because while bishops like open positions, knights thrive in closed ones. Think of it this way. An animal that lives on land will drown in the water, and a fish will suffocate on land. (Actually, a fish will drown in the water as well if it can't move quickly enough to move oxygen through it's gills), but I digress. Enough morbid suffocation analogies. My point is simply that in order to survive, you have to create the proper environment for your army. So for the side with the 2Bs, you should generally make the center of the board as open as possible (usually meaning trade off center pawns). The other side should try to 1. Keep the board ACAP (as closed as possible). 2 Trade off at least one of the bishops, thus making the minor piece battle a bit more "fair". I will show yo
u what I mean.
Here is a general rule for deciding if bishops are better or knights. If there are 5 pawns or less on the board, bishops are more powerful. If there are 7 or 8, Knights are better. If there are 6, they are about equal. Here is an example with 4 pawns where the bishops dominate the board.
Now for 2Bs vs 2Ns. Since there are a lot of minor piece situations to cover, I will try to cover the essentials of each one and not bog you down with extraneous information. Here are the main points:
1. 2 Bishops work together better than 2 Knights. Therefore, in almost all cases the side with the knights will want to get rid of one if not both of the bishops.
2. This said, in order to make your knights "happy," you need to give them a post where they have a support point. Question: "what the heck is a support point" ? The answer is any square where the knight can't be attacked by an enemy pawn. Question: "what's so great about that"? Well, that depends. If your knight is achieving a goal there, then it can be very annoying for your opponent. If your knight isn't doing anything useful there, then don't put it there in the first place. Always first ask yourself, "What is my goal in this position" ? Next ask yourself "how can I achieve this goal" ? Then only look at moves that go with the theme of your plan. Instead of getting into a lot of detail about similar minor piece situations, I will show you some techniques that apply to each one. To prevent an opponent's knight from reaching it's ideal spot you can use pawns. If you have ever played atomic chess, you will be familiar with this technique. I will show you how it works. First off, the rules of atomic chess are, in case you were wondering, like this. It's played the same as regular chess exept when something's captured, everything within a 1-square radius "explodes" exept for pawns. Capturing pieces also always explode. Here is an example.
Now you see how this works. In general, knights on rank 1 are there because they are aiming for a better post. Same goes for knights on the second. The 3rd rank is the typical place for a knight to go because from there it is hard to attack, but can still influence the center of the board. A supported knight on the 4th is very good to have, because it can easily either advance or retreat. Generally, the farther your knight is (as long as it's safe) the better. However once a knight is past the 6th rank, it's strength diminishes. Now I'll just give you general rules to remember from this post.
1. you are almost always better off with your pawns on the opposite color of your bishops. 2. Knights are progressively stronger the farther they go up the board until the 6th rank. Then they get weaker. 3. Bishops and knights are both worth three points, but bishops are better in open games whereas knights prefer closed ones. Generally with 5 or less pawns for each side, bishops are better. With 7 or more, knights are better. with 6 they are about equal. 4. You can use pawns to limit your opponent's knight's mobility. Now I'll finish up by saying
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