The Basic concepts of Chess Strategy


A widely held view is that the difference between the expert chess player and novice lies in the extent to which the former can calculate in advance; and the question of how many moves in advance a Grandmaster can reckon is often thrown up for argument. The ability to calculate correctly is undoubtedly a necessity for the top-class player; but it is not the only one and certainly not the important difference between the master and average player. There are many players who have a good command of the art of accurate combinations, but who will never reach master strength: for they lack the ability to conduct the entire game on the basis of a correct plan laid out in advance. The calculation of particular variation is only possible and necessary, in certain clearly defined position; in most cases one’s overall plan of play is the correct pointer to finding a given move.

                                                      The plan of play at a particular point in the game is called the strategic plan; the way in which it is laid out, the collection of principles we follow in its determination, is known as strategy. These terms and others like strategic goal and tactics, have the same meaning as in the science of warfare, political science, etc.

     It might be thought that the strategic goal in every game was the mating of the opposing King. And, indeed, such a superficial comprehension of strategy prevailed in the early days of the modern form of the modern form of chess. Nowadays, however, technique has improved and ideas have become more profound. In the games of good players  even the winning of a weak pawn no longer appears with frequency as a strategic goal; more often a small positional advantage (such as control of an open file, the weakening of an opposing pawn, or the creation of a passed-pawn) is the object for which a player puts up a bitter fight.

     It is hardly necessary to add that the best of plans come to nothing if they are not carried out carried out correctly; this applies in chess as in life. The collection of measures and methods for executing one’s strategic plan or thwarting the opponent’s is called tactics. To this field belong manoeuvres, combinations and sacrifices, as well as double attack, pinning, discovered check, traps, etc. To deal with these concepts in detail is, however, not the task of this article.