Strap Yourself In (It's Gonna be a Bumpy Ride)

Strap Yourself In (It's Gonna be a Bumpy Ride)

Dec 19, 2015, 1:46 PM |
I like chess concepts that have vivid images or interesting names attached to them, as it makes the concept more engaging and memorable. 'Pawn Avalanche', 'Swallow's Tail Mate', 'Orangutan Opening' all conjure an image that entertains you as well as helping the idea behind it stick in your brain.

In my opinion, the holy grail of chess teaching is giving a concrete image to an abstract chess concept. For example, in Hans Kmoch's book Pawn Power in Chess, he identifies different types of pawn and strategies associated with them, such as the 'Sealer Sweeper'. In his brilliant tract Mayhem in the Morra, Marc Esserman invents intriguing names for opening variations ('Taylor's Temple of Doom') and uses strong imagery to describe them.

Coaches and titled players often talk of chess being about pattern recognition. Even if they don't have names for all of them, strong players know a great deal of patterns (or themes, ideas, motifs, priyomes, etc.), and are able to recognise, exploit, and create them at the board. I would like to humbly propose calling the following simple pattern The Seatbelt:

The Kings are wearing Bishop 'seatbelts'; diagonal chains that lock them in place. This often comes about when the enemy fianchettoed Bishop has been exchanged, leaving a plethora of weak squares around the King. Seatbelting the enemy King can often help you get a checkmate, as the King has few moves and is vulnerable to a Queen landing on g2 or a Rook on f1:

As with all checkmate patterns, spectacular sacrifices are sometimes needed to bring The Seatbelt to fruition:


Apologies to Chris! My previous move had been a blunder, so I made up for it with the next one: 

The Seatbelted King is not just vulnerable to checkmate, it can also be a terrible positional weakness in the endgame, as he is paralyzed and cannot participate in the fight.

So that's the Seatbelt. Make up your own names for concepts that seem important - the sillier the better! You'll remember more that way.