How To Improve As A Beginner#1 - Fundamental Concepts
- Scan across the board, and consider every piece; is it being threatened or isn`t it, if none are being threatened, then you can carry on with your own plan. Once you have established this, then all you need to do is to realise the threats created by your opponent`s last move, if one of your pieces is in the line of fire, then you have a couple of options: a) Move your threatened piece to a 'safe' square. b) Defend your piece with one of your own pieces. c) Create a counter threat, so that if your opponent takes your piece, you can either capture one of their pieces, or gain some positional compensation. This third option is the most risky, but is the best way to become an attacking player.
- What is the intention of your opponent`s last move? You should always be trying to figure out why they played the last move. This links in with threats, because if they have threatened a piece with their last move you have to do somethig about this...otherwise you will fall for the classic blunder. On a more subtle level, your opponent might be trying to prepare a tactical breakthrough, and to illustrate this please see figure 2 & 3.
- Time - My opponent in the annotated game above spent 13 seconds on a move that lost the game, this is a bad mistake. In a 15/10 rapid game, which I would recommend as the best time control for beginners, you have enough time to spend 30 seconds on each move - although you should spend no longer than 10 seconds on obvious recaptures, and forced moves. Critical positions, where there are many routes to go down, you should invest time; a minute or 2, to calcualte the best line.
- Don`t hem your own pieces in. Your pieces are ultimately what will start an attack, but if they are behind your pawns they will not possibly be able to participate in an attack. This point may seem quite minor, but if you make several inaccuracies during a game, they will add up. In the game I have shown you earlier the move Nc3?! was a slight inaccuracy, when c4 enters a more classic setup in the Dutch. The pawns are worth less, so they should be pushed forward before your pieces, since your pieces will generally not be able to start an attack until some pawn exchanges have been made. Then there is enough space to maneouver.