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Advanced: Strategy

IM Bryan Smith & IM Danny Rensch Avg Rating: 1180 Advanced

As we learned in the Intermediate Course, "Strategy" means the long- or short-term goals in chess. It means trying to improve the position of your pieces, create weaknesses or fix them, plan an attack (short or long term), or gain control of key squares. In this course we will be learning some more advanced strategies.

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  • When to Look for Strategy vs. Tactics

    There is a difference between "tactics" and "strategy" in chess. Tactics are short term - usually forcing - ideas. Immediate threats. They may be forks, pins, discovered attacks, checks, and so on. They are usually focused on winning (or saving) material, and attacking the opponent's king. "Strategy" on the other hand refers to more long-term, positional goals. Strategy includes such things as improving the position of your pieces, creating weaknesses, and overall planning.
  • Good vs. Bad Pieces

    In the Intermediate: Strategy course, you learned that not all pieces are equal, even if they have the same numerical value. Quite frequently the pawn structure - or other factors - causes one piece to be very strong and another to be very weak.
  • What is a Positional Weakness?

    Positional weaknesses are usually determined by the pawn structure. This is because pawns have the least mobility and make up the skeleton of the position. When a pawn - or a square in one player's half of the board - cannot be defended by pawns, then that could be a weakness. Stronger pieces would then be restricted to protecting that weakness. Weaknesses usually come in the form of isolated, backward, or doubled pawns.
  • Creating a Positional Weakness

    In the last lesson we learned how to identify and use positional weaknesses. Now we will see how to create them. Naturally, creating weaknesses is a complicated subject, and there are many methods of inducing the opponent to weaken his position. Here we will see one typical example.
  • Exploiting the Isolated Pawn

    An isolated pawn in the center is a common occurrence in chess. It need not be a huge weakness, but sometimes it is - particularly when some pieces have been exchanged and the side facing it can put it under pressure. Then the side with the isolated pawn can end up stuck with their pieces defending it.
  • Weak Color Complex

    A weak color complex usually occurs when the majority of a player's pawns are on one color of squares and the bishop that guards the other color is missing. This means that the player has limited control over that color of squares throughout the board - a factor which his opponent can use to invade.
  • Improving Your Worst Piece

    Often positions arise where there is no way to directly attack your opponent. What do you do then? One thing you can do is to look for your worst-placed piece and find a way to improve it.
  • Material Advantage: Trades

    Those new to chess often struggle with trades - when to trade and when not to. Some people trade too much, and others don't trade at the right time. The subject of exchanges is covered in the next three lessons.
  • Material Advantage: Play Normally

    Often when a player has a material advantage, it "goes to his head" - he begins to play in a way that does not meet the needs of the position. In some positions the material balance is not the most important factor. It is important to be able to keep one's sense of the position even when up material.
  • Trade When Cramped

    Quite often, when you have a cramped position a few exchanges can give your pieces more space to move around. Sometimes when you lack space your pieces are fighting over the same square. Trading one of them off can relieve the problem.

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