Converting Material Advantages Part 1

Converting Material Advantages Part 1

| 35 | For Beginners

This article is the first of three I have designed for chess coaches to use in their lessons! Enjoy!

One of the most crucial skills your students need for success in scholastic chess is the ability to win once he/she has obtained a large material advantage. What good is knowledge of forks, pins, and skewers if the kid cannot win once he is up a queen? So, this is what made me decide to do a three-part series on winning with a large material advantage. The first part will show how to win a basic ending with an extra queen; the second – with an extra rook; and the third – with an extra minor piece. In this article, we will start with the following position:  




To the experienced chess player, winning this really is “child’s play”. But a beginner might have trouble. He may make some random moves and play without any goal. Of course, this would not endanger the win. But as time goes on, eventually the possibility of mistakes increases. With totally undirected play, the win would eventually disappear!

Learning this ending also introduces to the children the power of playing with a plan. They will see how much easier it is to play when you know what you are trying to do.

The plan consists of four steps:

  1. Use the superior power of the queen to take a couple black pawns, creating a passed pawn for white.
  2. Make a second queen.
  3. The black king will hide somewhere behind its own pawns. So the two queens will gang up on some pawns to remove its shelter
  4. The final checkmate.

Of course, there are some other possible plans. But I think this would be the quickest one to win.

Usually once you put the position on the demonstration board, or the chessboard, the student(s) will immediately start suggesting a lot of different moves. But you should ask them “what is the plan?” A skilled teacher can lead the children into the four step plan above.  Then, let the kids suggest moves that fulfill the plan. Of course, at any point there are many good moves, so just go with whatever they suggest, as long as they are good moves that follow the plan. The winning method might look something like this;


There are a few things to remember when teaching this:

* Introduce the idea of a plan before starting the play.

* The kids will want to make more than two queens. Remind them that more than two does not help, and can only increase the chance of stalemating the opponent. It is best to make two queens because that is fastest.

* The moves they suggest do not have to look exactly like the above example. There are many ways of winning this position (which follow the above plan).

* Besides learning how to make a plan to exploit a material advantage, the kids will also learn about forks, passed pawns, and pawn chains.


More from GM BryanSmith
Magnus Carlsen And The Nimzo-Indian Defense

Magnus Carlsen And The Nimzo-Indian Defense

Vishy Anand And The Semi-Slav Defense

Vishy Anand And The Semi-Slav Defense