Skirmishing : Exercises for the Chess Team
How to teach a chess student about the endgame principles? When the majority of pieces have come off the board, most beginners tend to crumble. That is due to their inexperience in 'skimishing', smaller confrontations on the chess board, which can be numerous in certain positions. These could be skirmishes over a central square (e4, d4, e5, d5), a weak pawn structure, a hanging piece, or even an exposed king. Let's just say that weaknesses attract the skirmishings. Just because a side has won a pawn, or broken a chain of pawns, or trapped an enemy piece, or whatever, doesn't always guarantee victory for that side. We have all nabbed our fair share of poisoned pieces and pawns. Nevertheless, during a chess game there are multiple skirmishes over the progression of the game. In the opening there may be one or two, usually concerned with the center, and in the middlegame the amount increases, and perhaps by the endgame the number of skirmishes may decrease.
What I did with my chess students was create 'simulations' for them. I cut out 30 squares of paper and written on each one was a number, and each number corresponded with a different simulation. For example, #1 was pawn vs pawn, #3 was 2 pawns vs. knight, and so on. The rules go as follows: 1) Each king must start at e1 and e8, their starting squares. 2) Every given piece or pawn must begin at their respective starting squares. 3) The object of each simulation changes based on the coach's discretion.
The options went like this:
Option 1) The first side to get a piece or pawn to the enemy's backrank wins.
Option 2) The first side to get their king to the core safely (e4,d4,d5,e5) wins.
Option 3) The side to eliminate all the enemy pieces wins.
Option 4) The side to get a piece safely on a core square wins.
Here are examples.
The restrictions of placing the pieces on their starting squares as well as the kings starting on e1 and e8 are meant to give fair chances to both sides, having their pieces as far as possible from the enemy. Perhaps I can use the Four C's as a way to place the pieces too. Placing certain pieces on the edge or in the center could drastically affect the tension in the exercise. So, they enjoyed the skirmishes and asked if we could play again. I will certainly do it again. Maybe I can incorporate certain pawn structures and piece-pairs... what do you think?