What Chess Skills are in your Bag? Part I

Mar 5, 2009, 11:58 AM |

Every chess player whether they are beginner or master can do at least one thing in the game of chess.  The stronger you get the more things or skills you develop.

Beginners learn how to move the pawns first. The next two pieces are probably the King and Queen.  They might not learn how to en passant or how to capture on diagonals, but they will know how to move one square at a time.

As your skills develop, you should be aware of what you can do without effort.  Some players are tactical, while others are positional.  Some players learn openings very quickly while still others master the endgame first.

Whatever your area of competency is, nurture it.

Today I would like to talk about the skill of "drawing a game."  This is one of those skills that gets no spotlight shined on it. No horns or balloons for this skill. No key to the city or parades down main street.  However, it is still a very important skill.  A skill that can gain you a lot of rating points.

Technically it is easier to draw a game then to win a game at the upper levels.  Both sides being well versed in the theory of the day and preparation that includes countless hours over their opponents games.

But how easy is it to draw a total stranger?  I challenge you to play some games via live chess or elsewhere and play for the draw.  Can you draw at will?  Do you have openings that you can draw with confidence?  Do you know how to transpose your opening into a draw line?

Some players can do these things and others have never thought about it.  If you are one of the players that haven't spent the time to learn how to draw... Here are some things to think about.

1. Are you comfortable at assessing the position of any game?

2. Can you accurately assess what strengths exist in the position for you? or your opponent?

3. Can you control squares in the endgame?

4. Can you find threefold repetition lines?

5. Do you understand the theory of opposite color bishops?

Having the "draw" skill in the bag is important for tournament players.  Knowing when you have an equal position can actually help you in turning the game into a win.

Some players dislike draws so much that they will play inferior moves to avoid a draw.  Strong players do not like to draw weaker players.  So if you are 1200-1600 and you can draw say a 1800-2200 player at will you are on your way to seeing a rating improvement.

I have even seen players turn down draws only to go on and lose the game, because they were emotionally attached to the idea of not drawing.

Your ability to determine whether the position is equal is a critical skill. This skill can be developed into other skills that will help you know when to trade or simplify into winning positions.

I challenge you to test the theory and play for a draw for in at least ten games.  Feel free to report your results back here.