Just the basics.
Helping hands / for the basics of chess.

Just the basics.

NM FLchessplayer

This will be a blog of annotated games ... for the average player ... say 1650 and below! 
(If you are a higher rated player, please look away, this blog is not for you!)  
This is a chance for me to teach and try to help all the lower-rated players out there.   

I will outline some ideas that I believe that every player should know. THE BASICS. All the things you need to know, I will stick to just the foundational concepts and I will try not to go beyond that. (I have a blog on a small library, everything the average player needs to succeed. I also have a blog on chess traps, not only do I give just the traps, I tell you why they work and how to avoid them.) 

Check out this article by GM G. Serper ... he looks at the PSYCHOLOGY of blunders. 
(Until you understand WHY you blunder and miss obvious moves, then you cannot fix the leak until you find the broken pipe! ---> My Uncle used to be a plumber.) 

Check out the links - above - what I am about to say is laid out in the article on my website.
(See the link in capital letters, that's the one I am talking about.) 

There are only FOUR elements in chess: 

  1. SPACE: The squares of the chess board. (Obvious!!) 
  2. TIME: The idea that you move and then I move. (This "turn-taking" is inherent in most of the board games that man has ever played.) 
  3. FORCE:  Force is best defined as ANY TIME a piece (or a pawn) exerts capturing power on a square. (See the relationship? Only one unit of force can occupy one unit of space and make one play via using that side's allottment of one unit of time.)  
  4. MATERIAl: "Material is best defined as the inherent, potential energy - contained within the pawns and the pieces - relative to the chess board, as defined by the table of material value." (Simple English? A piece is like a battery, every piece can only release its' energy by the completion of the circuit; i.e., a piece does not exert its maximum amount of force until it reaches an ideal square!) 

A lot of people will argue that things like "quality of position" or "Pawn structure" (and many others!) are basic elements. This is naive, however - and also it is NOT correct!!! The best analogy that I know of is a mathematical one: these four concepts are the ONLY prime numbers, all other numerical expressions of these values are simply sub-sets of our four basic (prime) integers. 

Understanding these concepts is vital to a real comprehension of the core values and concepts of chess! (If you do not understand them, then you cannot truly grasp a statement like this one: "Black pushes his f-Pawn to gain SPACE on the K-side, and blunt his opponent's attack." SPACE also gives the pieces more room to manuver and defend ... are we starting to get any of this yet???) 

There are also four basic principles for the opening, middlegame, and endgame ... 
(I might expand on these ideas at a later date, use them to help you find decent moves.) 


  1. Control the center! 
  2. Develop your pieces. 
  3. Protect the King & castle early. 
  4. Maintain the material balance. (SQUARE CONTROL.)  


  1. Attack the King! 
  2. Look for P.L.A.Y. 
  3. Make and exploit weaknesses. 
  4. Transition to the endgame. 


  1. I.D. the Pawn structure. (Improve yours, deface/destroy your opponent's PS.) 
  2. Better Squares! (Re-arrange your pieces to exploit the position.) 
    The endgame is a lot like an intricate dance of the pieces ... 
  3. Pawn MAJORITIES. (Most endgames can be decided by creating a Passed Pawn!) 
  4. Use your King!!!!! (The King is a fighting piece in the endgame!!)   


I also have a CHECKLIST that I use for every move. Briefly, the core principles help me to find the basic good moves, [Ideas = a MOVE GENERATOR!!!]no matter what phase of the game that I am dealing with. The Kotov Method helps me whittle things down from multiple moves to two or three good Candidate Moves. [MOVE ELIMINATOR!] Then all the remaining candidate moves are held up to the searing light of the checklist ... most of the time, after I work my way through it, only one move remains. [I.e., the checklist's primary reason for existence is twofold: #1.) Help me structure my thoughts and move away from random, undisciplined thinking; #2.) The checklist aslo acts as a BLUNDER ARRESTOR!]  

Another thing you need to do is practice evaluating various positions. (Start with simple ones and work from there.) If you cannot correctly evaluate a position, (at least a rough outline or approximation); then you can never understand chess nor even try to get better!
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! (A good chess engine will help tremendously in this effort.)  

NOTE: The Ruy Lopez line - given in the first game (below) is an excellent example of the four opening principles in action!!! EVERY MOVE ... (for both sides) feature little wasted energy with both sides hitting the center virtually every move, rapid mobilization of their respective forces, King protection & early castling, and fantastic implementation of Nimzovich's concept of "square control." [Plus both sides do not drop Pawns and meet their opponent's threat(s) every single move!]  


Here is the game that I was talking about. 

Just a few notes though - things to bear in mind, (and you should NOT write me an email or a message if your question touches on any of these points).   

  1. The variations - in this game - are NOT all 100% pure engine moves. 
    (Many engine moves will only puzzle/flabbergast the lower-rated player.) 
  2. I do NOT look at lines with "give-away." Please don't write me a note and tell me (a computer line) if it is all simple "give-away," humans do not play chess like this!!!   
  3. As much as possible, I have tried to play the move that I THINK a human would play. (In other words, if a piece gets captured, a human will normally retake, not play 4-5 "in-between moves" first, before recapturing!)  
  4. I don't go to mate in every line, this would take forever. I try to halt the analysis when it is clear that one side is winning, i.e., one side is a Rook ahead. 
  5. I did a lot of explaining in this game ... but to explain every, single move would not be reasonable nor even practically possible! 
I mentioned this game in the analysis, above. (See the note after move two.) 
[This link is in case you want to study that chess battle for yourself.]   

Here is a game by @Christopher_Parsons ... 
I would say that many of the moves in this contest are typical of the way that the average player would approach a chess game. 

Well, that concludes my blog, (for now). If you think I have done a good job, please take the time to leave a comment below! 😎 

EPILOGUE: (Part #1.)  

The FOUR types/classifications of the openings: 

  1. Classical (traditional) Openings - Pawns to the center!!!!! Symmetry!!  
    [1.e4, e5; (Spanish/Ruy Lopez) and 1.d4, d5; (Queen's Gambit) are the two best examples that I can think of. These openings came first and also have dominated master-level chess.] 
  2. Assymetrical Openings - (Pawns to the center, but in different vectors of the board.) 
    [These openings came later. Two good examples are the "Dutch Defense" and also the well-respected "Sicilian Defense." (There are many other openings that also fall into this category.)] 
  3. Counter-Attacks. (Openings that allow e4 and d4 ... but then Black begins to strike back and tries to tear down White's center.) - [In these openings, White is allowed to build a big center, but Black counter-attacks it and tries to bust things up ... or fix the Pawns and play for an advantage on just one side of the board. "The French Defense" is the best example that I can think of for this type of opening. (+ "The Caro-Kann.") And although "The Grunfeld Defense," is obviously a modern opening, it owes much of its spirit/opening philosophy to this category as well. (There are several different openings - and gambits! - that illustrate the concept of a "counter-attacking opening." However, they are outmoded and no longer played ... most of my reading audience would not even know which opening line that I was referring to if I named one.)]  
  4. Modern/Indian Openings. - [These openings came MUCH later and most were the result of the "Hyper-Modern" revolution in chess. "The King's Indian" and "The Nimzo-Indian" are just two examples of this type of opening. (NOTE: In these openings, one side is often given free reign in the center, in direct contrast to the Classical School of Thought as pertains to the opening phase of a chess game.)] 

Note that gambits are a SUB-Classification of the openings ... ALL of the gambits belong to one of the above four categories of chess openings! (For example, the "King's Gambit" is a sub-category of the first group - which would be Classical Openings like 1.e4, e5. Another example would be "The Benko Gambit" which definitely belongs under number four; Modern/Indian Openings.) Also note that it is (mostly) the PAWN STRUCTURE (& how the foot-soldiers are used) that defines the different categories of the openings! (This section added: Dec. 14th, 2018.) 


EPILOGUE: (Part #2.)  

Another thing that I wanted to cover is possibly THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT CONCEPT OF CHESS, (in any aspect of chess or in ANY phase of the game...  openings, middlegames or endings); WHY it is important ... and funnily enough, I have NEVER heard another chess teacher explain WHY it exists and the reason that it is so deeply ingrained as a part of chess!!!!!!!!!!  

Take a look at the first game in this blog. (Huss. vs. Camter) On move four, White played Bc4. I gave this move a question mark ("4.Bc4?") - it is definitely wrong, all the engines notice a severe change in their overall numeric evaluations of the position.   

Yet this one move - addresses ALL FOUR of the basic Opening Principles! [#1.) It hits d5, and also commands a key diagonal, one that leads to the ENEMY KING. #2.) It develops a piece to a good square. #3.) It prepares castling and guards approach routes to the WK. #4.) It is definitely helping to control squares ... on BOTH sides of the chessboard.]  

So why is it bad? Further, why is the concept behind the reason for Bc4 (being the wrong move) so vital to chess? Why is this one concept so important? AND MOST IMPORTANTLY ... why have I NEVER heard ANY other chess teacher address this problem? (We will get to it, just be patient!)  

Now I have to ask YOU a question: "What is chess?" (If you cannot answer the question or understand the relationship, then you can never even grasp the ideas that I am about to present to you.) The answer is simple, not surprising nor even earth-shaking. The ANSWER to my (key) question is: 
-------------> "Chess is a board game, based on pre-technological warfare."
There you go, the answer is plain, simple, honest and even somewhat obvious. But it is also lies at the very heart of our discussion and understanding this relationship (to war) is also vital to what comes next! 

So, now I will ask you another question ... and this one -- you may not know the answer to this question at all. (I have spent YEARS thinking about this topic and also I have read probably close to a hundred books on warfare and other related subjects!!!) So this leads to the question: 
"What is the single most important concept in 'traditional' warfare?"  

To know the answer to this one you have to have more than a little knowledge about the subject. What are the concepts that are taught at military schools, like West Point? (West Point is THE college for the United States Army.) Go back even further, thousands of years ago! What did the Romans believe to be the #1 rule of warfare? (Etc.) Going back even further than this, you have to have read books on great thinkers of classical warfare like the words and wisdom of the Chinese General: Sun-Tzu. (I have also read books on great battlefield commanders like General George Patton, Alexander the Great and Atilla The Hun.) 

OK, ok, ok, I have beat you over the head long enough! So, what is the single most important idea in warfare? ANSWER: "The most important idea in classical warfare is: TO PREVENT AN ENEMY FROM MAKING AN INCURSION INTO THE AREA THAT YOU CONTROL!!!!!" (Especially your base camp and your flanks on the battlefield; Sun-Tsu wrote about this in some of the oldest manuscripts known to man.)  

So now that you know the answer to that question - above - how does this translate into chess? And why was the move, 4.Bc4 - in the game in question - so bad, even though it directly (or indirectly) covered all four of the basic principles of the opening? 

The answer is very simple: "The single MOST IMPORTANT IDEA in chess ... when chess is {essentially} a war between two parties ... is to PREVENT (& cover/meet) ALL THREATS!!!!!!!"   

Now you may have heard other chess teachers mumble/mutter stuff like: "Check all checks & prevent all threats," but I have NEVER heard of any other author taking the trouble to explain WHY it is so vital in the game of chess! 

So why was 4.Bc4? so bad??? VERY SIMPLE!!! It did NOT address any of Black's threats, most of which were connected to the idea of Black playing his Knight to the d4-square!! There is also a direct connection to another one of White's errors, to wit, the fact that he brought his Queen out early - to the f3-square on his second turn ... making it a target for the rest of the game!!!!!   

So ... what was the correct move - instead of the errant play of Bc4? Easy answer! White had to play 4.c3, in order to cover the d4-square ... and just about every chess engine (that I checked) confirms that this is true!  

I know, I know, I know ... I kinda went 'round the world (2-3 times?!?) to get you right across the street ... ... ... but I felt it was important to do things in this manner, I definitely wanted you to "get" all of the different connections and concepts! 

Thanks for sticking with me! Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!! 😎🎁✔  
(This section added: Friday; December 14th, 2018.)  

(Check back occasionally, I will definitely be adding more games.) Happy Holidays!!!! 🎁🎶🎂  

I just wanted to say "thanks" to @camter. I dedicate this blog to him. Without his encouragement, suggestions and moral support ... I never would have even attempted this blog. 
(January 17th, 2019)