Test Your Chess Patterns And Concepts
Amateur chess is often a back-and-forth, muddy, and even stormy adventure where a position’s assessment changes from move to move. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
The “trick” is to learn as many basic patterns (and concepts) as possible. I said “basic” since there are quite a few patterns that occur all the time, and if you master these very simple patterns your chess strength will skyrocket.
BASIC PATTERNS AND CONCEPTS THAT YOU NEED TO MASTER
- Spot undefended pieces — Train yourself to instantly see every piece (your opponent’s and your own) that’s not protected or is inadequately protected. You’ll be shocked how often you lose games by failing to see an undefended piece.
- Don't make random threats — Amateurs love to make threats. If a threat is part of the position’s needs or part of a sparking tactic then go for it. But making a threat just for the fun of it will, in many cases, make your position worse.
- Notice when to strike — There will often be moments in a game where you can punish your opponent’s play. Unfortunately, most amateurs haven’t honed their “spider sense” and so they push pieces about and miss one opportunity after another.
- Learn to read the board — Listen to the board and you’ll often find that it has told you exactly what’s going on and how you should proceed.
- Know chess is a team game — Make sure all your pieces work together.
- Be calm — If you see a sacrificial attack (or you see some other juicy thing you can do), calm down! When you’re in a state of excitement you are likely to miss your opponent’s response. If you are calm and honest with yourself those unfortunate blips won’t happen as often as they do.
In this article (or articles, if the readers like it) we will test your patterns and concepts skills with 10 positions.
One more thing: When you try and solve a puzzle, MAKE SURE YOU LOOK AT THE NOTES!
If you fail to do this you’ll deprive yourself of interesting variations and lots of instruction. For those that don’t know how to find the notes inside the puzzles, all you have to do is click on the “?” on the bottom left of the puzzle board.
Black’s a pawn down. Is Black in trouble? If so, how bad is it? If he’s all right, why? Finally, what is Black’s best move?
Black just played 15...Nd5, hoping to chop off White’s dark-squared bishop or taking on c3 and double White’s pawns. What is White’s best response?
White’s winning, but what’s the right plan?
Should White play 22.Be6+, 22.dxe5, or 22.d5?
What move would you play?
What is White’s best move? 19.Qxb5 or 19.Bd2?
Is 8.Ng5 a good move?
Is 26...Qg6 a reasonable move?
Black has “skillfully” trapped his own queen, but Black hoped that his last move, 28...Rc3, would save the day. Is that true? Also, after 28...Rc3 is 29.Kg2 a good reply?
No, 28...Rc3 was the best try but it loses to 29.Bd3 when 30.h3 will follow, winning the Black queen and the game. Instead, White played 29.Kg2??, letting Black put up a fight (though he will always be in bad shape since White’s a pawn up). So, take the Black pieces, ignore your suffering, and see if you can keep life and limb together (at least for a while!).
It’s White to move. What would you play?