Playing to mate

Sep 14, 2009, 5:59 PM |

It is never satisfying to be on the run in chess.

But we often find ourselves in that situation, I believe, because of self sabotage;  a part of our brain seeks the comfort gained by being on the defensive as it provides a clear motivation for our movements.

In contrast, being on the offensive and explicitly plotting the downfall of the opponent makes demands upon us that are difficult.

Every single move during the opening act of a game provides an opportunity to converge on the goal of mating the opponent's king.  Keep this this in mind: every single move must serve that purpose. Even when you are defending your army.

How often do we find ourselves making a move and wondering why we did it? And I am not talking about a bad move, as such, because those moves are often made with a distinct purpose that has simply blinded us from the dangers on the board. A kind of fool hardy bravado.

Rather, I speak of the 'move for a move's sake.'

This arises when we become lazy in our game, failing to survey the board, failing to appreciate the fact we are playing someone who intends to win and failing to appreciate that we are playing to win.

We often adopt a game view of thinking that the opening moves only serve the purpose of getting the layout to a level of complexity, which will then require some assessment and strategising.  As though the opening moves are nothing more than a glorified randomiser to set the scene of the contest.

As for me, I am only a novice when it comes to the learning, remembering and deployment of opening moves. But one thing I beginning to sense for myself is that knowing openings is only partly about providing yourself with an opening to deploy.

The more interesting benefit of studying opening moves is understanding your opponent's intentions, to see their weak points and to plot their downfall.

Repeat after me:

    We are out to mate the opponent's king.