Third Chess Lesson (8/12)

Aug 12, 2015, 4:58 PM |

1. Seven Types of Imbalances

  • Material: having a larger and/or bigger army than your opponent. Note that larger does not always mean better; for example, if one player has one rook and the other three pawns, the player with the rook has the advantage.
  • Lines & Squares: Need to research more...
  • Space: the amount of room you have behind your "wall" of pawns. The more room, the easier you can maneuver and the more your opponent is restricted.
  •  Pawn structure: generally, a straight line of pawns allows the most flexibility. A "hole" in your Pawn structure is a place that is no longer controlled by a Pawn (meaning it is not protected by a pawn). There are two schools of thought regarding holes: one, to occupy the whole with the least powerful piece, or two, to leave the hole open and fill it depending on your needs.
  • Superior minor piece: A Knight or a Bishop. Depending on the nature of board, one may be more useful. Jeffrey's (child-oriented) example is, "If you're in a race, what would you prefer, a racecar or a bulldozer? Depends on the terrain - if it's bumpy and uneven, a bulldozer might be a better option." A Knight will be of more use on a crowded board than a Bishop, whereas the Bishop is very powerful when it has room to move.
  • Initiative: A threat. Whoever has the more compelling threat has initiative.
  • Lead-in Development: Need to research more... What I got was that each piece should be moved the minimal number of times (ideally once) to its "perfect" square. He mentioned that many beginners will bring out their Queen too early and find themselves bouncing her around the board to protect her while their opponent is using those turns to develop their position. Another thing he mentioned was that you MUST USE the advantage you gain in lead-in development or you will lose it.
2. Diagonals are labeled from the square they begin on on White's side to the square they end on on Black's - so the diagonal that begins in White's rightmost square is called H1A8.
3. Studying openings is a point of contention for many chess players. Some people find them intellectually stifling, a matter of memorization and regurgitation, particularly if the player does not understand why the moves are so. Other people think of them like a favorite suit of clothes - they know how to wear it and they know it looks good on them, so they work it hard. He did warn me that, especially for beginners, not studying openings can lead to some very quick losses that you don't understand.
4. HW: Besides continuing tactics, I've got a lot of research to do. Jeffrey mentioned some stuff that I want to look up: the Sicilian Opening, Philidor's Legacy/Smothered Mate, Scholar's Mate, Fool's Mate, Boden's Mate, Anastasia's Mate, Arabian Mate.

(I discussed last week's concerns with Jeffrey, and he told me that unless you're the chess-playing equivalent of Mozart, learning to evaluate and compare moves really does just require practice through trial-and-error. That's fine! I just needed to hear it from him that my lack of direction was to be expected. Anyway, this week went much better! My decisions have purpose, although I struggle to see more than two moves ahead, and I'm actually on track to beating the computer (last week I lost to it... twice XD).)