Advanced Chess Concepts

The Basics of Advanced Chess Concepts

What this page will be trying to emprise is that to rise up in your rating levels there are certain thing you will be required to do. Just like going to collage if you expect to get a degree in a subject you must master the subject material or you will not graduate with that degree. You are expected to study on a regular basis and pass the exams. Of course if your subject is overly simplistic requiring little study or none at all and you are only going to collage to party, meet girls and have fun then good luck to you when you get out. There are many who do just that and so it is in the chess world also. Which one are you?

How do you study?
One of the secrets about studying chess is that you can only get as much as you give. So here are some tough questions for you to answer about improving your chess skills. 1. How badly do you really want it? 2. What are you willing to give up to get it? 3. What sacrifices are you willing to make to get it? 4. How much value do you place on it? 5. How much time are you willing to spend to achieve it?

If you answer not much. Then you should know that Mediocrity means, bare adequacy. If you want to be like the rest of the below average chess players and follow in their examples in mediocrity then just continue on at your present attitude of indifference towards the advancement of your chess skills into the basics and the heart of chess, the important basic chess principles, of the Endgame and Strategy.

The Basics
No chess players can ever hope to advance to a higher level of play unless he has first become somewhat proficient in all of the basics. But the facts seem to tell us that few average players have made any concentrated effort to do just that. Many will tell you I don't really have any problems understanding these basics, but if you were to give them a extensive quiz on these basics you will find that most have only a general idea of how to solve the problems given them, they are not proficient in all of them. Of course some will have more expertise in some areas than others. But few will be really proficient in all the areas.

What you have to know is that the more you know in each area the more stronger a chess player you will become. Just knowing the basic ideas of how they work is not being proficient. What is needed is a program of study on a regular basis. Just like playing a instrument you become a better player if you practice each day and conversely a poorer one if you don't. Its just that simple.

Most will say well I just like to play chess I don't intend to study to become a master player and so spending a lot of time in this study is just not for me. That may be so, however if you want to progress to the higher levels of play this is what you need to do on a regular basis. You don't have to spend a lot of time doing this, only that you do it on a regular basis. Remember that practice makes perfect and Proper preparation prevents poor performance.

Tactics and positions
Mating Combinations
Double Attacks
Forks with Knights
Pins with Bishops and Queens
Rook Development
Bishop Development
Knight Development
Queen Development
Effective Play Based on Pawn Structure
Endgame theory and Practice

The Study of The Openings
Now lets discuss why spending too much time in the study of the openings can be counterproductive to winning games. Yes you do indeed have to be familiar with the important main openings that you will encounter or you will be at a complete loss of how to begin your games and avoid important opening mistakes and blunders. But what is more important than trying to memorize variations is instead to try to find out the important ideas behind an opening and what it is trying to accomplish. Like quickly taking control of the center, or quickly developing all of your pieces or planning an attack from the wings.
For example the Sicilian is for those that like sharp tactics, a fighting attacking game and spending a lot of time in the study of the variations. On the other hand the Caro-Kann is known more for its solidarity and positional play.

But that is why I say that even if you are not familiar with many of the most common openings and their variations, you may still gain a good advantage in the openings if you follow the advice in our very important training page entitled The Opening Principles. This page has been upgraded four times now to make sure beyond a doubt that the most important Basic Opening Principles are clearly pointed out and proctored to stress that if you violate or ignored any one of them with indifference, you surely will pay the penalty for doing so by your opponents who do know them well and uses them to their advantage.

I have always stressed that in a large part the studying of the openings is simply memorization. Especially lately in this century much of the opening theory has come about through a lot of research in the use of computer analysis. In addition to computer analysis, GM's use a lot of research of what people have played. They may do very profound, deep tactical analysis, and strategical analysis of an opening to proctor it to suit their style of play. But then they may try to memorize these lines and are reluctant to change either the order of play or the moves of a position when the position calls for it.

Or even after spending months working on a opening they may in a game not trust all of that work and think that maybe in this position they should deviate and change the position of a piece to maybe a more advantageous place. However in many cases that piece, maybe a knight, may have been there in the first place as a blockade to a pawn to prevent a open file to attack his king position with a sacrifice of his opponents rook, and then the protection of his king's position starts to fall apart and eventually like a house of shaky cards his whole game starts to fall apart and he loses the game because of just one single mistake of not following his plan and more important to not follow the basics principles of preventing your opponent from developing.

Amateur players can be even more reluctant to accept change when it is needed, thinking that if this opening was instrumental in successfully helping a GM win a game surely it is the correct way to play it.

The biggest problem with the memorization of an opening variation is that when your opponent does not follow the moves of your memorized opening variation, then you may be at a loss of how to proceed because now you no longer have the crutch of following moves that were worked out by highly skilled chess players who over time may have spent hundreds of hours developing this variation. GM's may follow certain opening variations to the letter because they may know all the nuances of a variation opening that an amateur does not and so are aware of the pitfalls of making deviations. But at normal average rating levels at most internet chess servers it is not important and probably makes little difference at all if they are followed or not. In fact most probably after only the first 4 to 7 moves there is little point in memorizing any further because most players are going to deviate from accepted lines anyway.

Another problem is that if you spend most of all your time in just studying and memorizing opening variations then when your memorized opening moves play out you then may be at a loss of how to proceed towards the middle game and more importantly how to win in the endgame.

However if you study the endgame, you're really studying the heart and soul of chess. Don't believe that, because you may know a few of the openings very well, that you can just win the game when you end your analysis of the opening. You can't. You have to play chess. Many chess players make mistakes in the moment when their profound opening analysis runs out because they are not equipped with other basic chess skills that are needed besides just opening theory.

Now here are some of those very important chess skills to know about for winning games. My guess is that the average chess player who usually plays mostly just blitz games is not going to know about these ideas because he is rarely involved in any complex endgames where he has previously studied endgame theory so that he might win in the endgame. He is mostly just interested in winning quickly and not interested in playing longer games for an endgame win.

In the middle game or opening, you should focus on central pawns that are fixed when evaluating bishops, while in the endgame; you should focus on all pawns.

A good way to win in the endgame is to use the very strong endgame principle of two weaknesses because two weaknesses are just too hard to defend against and usually result in a losing situation for your opponent. The best way to do this is to create pawn weaknesses in your opponents pawn structure on both sides of the board that can allow a passed pawn through and queen. Planning ahead for this type of endgame by creating weaknesses on both side of the board in your opponents pawn structure can be a very sharp strategy for you to plan for.

Knowing this you will get into situations where you may have to know how to maintain the opposition and know how to maintain the opposition by using triangulation to lose a move forcing your opponents king back so that you can move on a unprotected pawn to take it. These are the kinds of tactics and strategies you will have to know about and practice if you want to win games in the endgame.

How to get a passed pawn and other basic endgame principles and procedures are absolutely essential to know if you expect to win more games against stronger players you will want to play against to increase your present rating. When was the last time you visited our Endgame training site and looked at what is there?

In the Endgame If your Bishop is on the same color of your opponents fixed pawns then you have an advantage in that you have targets for your Bishops to try and capture. If your bishop is on the opposite color as those pawns then you may want to trade off your bad bishop to get rid of that handicap.

You must also consider that if your fixed pawns are targets for your opponent's Bishop then you will want to capture that opponents Bishop to save your pawns.

In the endgame you must be aware of the weakness of a bishop in the endgame. If your opponent only has a dark square Bishop then there's no way for him to defend all of the light squares and he may have problems defending his light square pawns. So usually when you are advancing pawns in Bishop Endgames, you advance them on the opposite color of your Bishop. So that way, for instance, you can control the light squares with your pawns and your Bishop controls the dark squares. Or, the light squares with the Bishop and the dark squares with the pawns - Keep that in mind when playing an endgame.

Knowing how and when to use your king as a fighting piece can be crucial to winning games. In the middle-game, you should defend him, and aggressively protect him; in the endgame you must use him actively as soon as you safely can because in the endgame a active king over a passive king will win the game.

It is very important to know that in the endgame the bishop has to guard the queening square on rook pawns in order for it to be a winning endgame. So if your pawn is going to queen on a light square in the rook corner on a8 then you need a light square Bishop to protect that corner or your opponent's king can occupy it and prevent your pawn from queening and the opposite is true for the other corner. You must keep this in mind before trading off your Bishops if you plan on doing this.

On the opposite side of the board with an a-pawn a light square bishop is winning because it guards the queening square and a dark square bishop is drawing because it can not protect it as long as your opponent's king occupies that corner.

What should you do with pawn weaknesses. The answer is that pawn weaknesses must be pushed, just the same as passed pawns must be pushed. When you have pawn weaknesses, you push them up forward and make them into pawns of strength that now your opponent has to decide how to deal with them because now they may queen.

Everyone knows that the most difficult endgames of all is rook and pawn. But how many know what is the most important rule in rook and pawn endgames? It is that the Rook belongs behind the passed pawn. A lot of players think you should put a Rook ahead and move towards your Rook. That would be a bad mistake. the optimal placement of the Rook is behind the passed pawn.

If you really want to know a lot more on how to win in Rook and Pawn Endgames you must go to our training page Secrets of Key Concepts and go to the bottom of that page to see the Discussion of the Rook and Pawn Ending. This really is a discussion of the secrets of rook and pawn endings because you will never see this material in any book.

Here you will find that in a rook and pawn ending you should not be concerned with obtaining just a better advantage but rather in terms of one of three possible factors.

1. A better rook 2. Better pawns and 3. A Better King position. And here you will find out all about how the correct play of any ending can be viewed and transformed into an advantage for you. This is the kind of information that can win games for you because your opponents do not have access to such valuable training materials.

When should you trade pieces.

1. First, you're ahead in material,
2. Second, you have a spatial disadvantage,
3. Third, an exchange will make one of your surviving pieces more powerful,
4. You'll be getting rid of a very powerful piece of your opponent.

When should you trade pieces. You should trade pieces when; 1. First, you're ahead in material. The reason for this is the more you trade down, the bigger your advantage actually gets. In other words the ratio in percent gets larger in your favor the more you trade down. If you're ahead in material, by trading down, you actually increase your advantage because your advantage ratio increases.

For example if you trade down in pawns from eight pawns to your opponents 7 pawns you have a advantage of only one pawn, not much of an advantage in that difference eight to seven is a small ratio. But if you continue to trade down and now you have two pawns to your opponents one pawn now suddenly you have twice as many pawns as your opponent and that is now double, a two to one ratio.

If you trade down one more pawn, suddenly you have a pawn and you're opponent has no pawns. A very big advantage. Another reason for trading down especially in the endgame is that there is less pieces on the board to worry about as threats and you may have a far better chance of Queening a passed pawn with the aid of your king.

2. Second, if you have a spatial disadvantage. an exchange will make one of your surviving pieces more powerful.
The second principle of trading is that "When you have a spatial disadvantage, it's good to trade". If your position is cramped, trading pieces will relieve your pressure. On the other hand, when your opponent is cramped, you want to increase pressure without allowing the liberation of exchanges.

One of the biggest plusses of having a spatial advantage is that you can develop freely while your opponent may be cramped and his choices to move are limited. If you find your self cramped you need to trade off some pieces to gain some breathing room and shrink your opponents advantage over you.

So, when you have a spatial advantage, you want to increase pressure on your opponents cramped position and avoid most exchanges. When you're defending positions with a spatial disadvantage, on the other hand, obviously the reverse holds true. You want to trade down as much as possible.

Remember this rule well, if you want to win Endgames. Don't trade off pieces or pawns when you have a positional or spatial advantage. Why? Because in the Endgame your king needs to have support pieces in order to queen a pawn.

3. The third principle of trading: "When an exchange will make one of your surviving pieces more powerful, it's usually a good one". For example, you've already learned about good bishops and bad bishops. Well, sometimes trading off your opponent's last knight will make his bad bishop even worse.

4. The fourth principle of trading is pretty straightforward, "When you'll be getting rid of a very powerful piece of the opponent"

Let's review the four principles of trading. First of all, you trade down when you're ahead in material. The more material that comes off the board the bigger your advantage gets. Next, you trade off when you have a spatial disadvantage. If your opponent is crunching down on you, by trading off pieces, you relieve the pressure on your position. Third, you trade when an exchange will make one of your surviving pieces more powerful. For example, when trading bishop for knight, will leave you with a position with a very strong knight against a bad bishop of your opponent's. And fourth, you trade when you'll be getting rid of a very powerful piece of your opponent.

A basic principle of king safety is that you don't want to push the pawns ahead of your king, which gives breathing room to your king. It's like a draft, and the king can feel the draft. Also it gives your opponent an opportunity to attack your king because his pawn protection is now gone. Except in the end game where it is essential to activate your king to assist in trying to advance the pawns.

Most every one knows the principle of a pinned piece. The principle is that when you have a piece pinned, you should attack it. But, in some positions, when somebody is relying on you having a pinned piece, a very good way of responding to it is to attack the pinner! to unpin your piece.

! Making Plans

Often in a game you may be at a loss on what is the best way to proceed. Especially if your opponent is poising threats that you may have to defend against. You think should I defend against this threat or do I create a threat of my own? However when it comes to trying to decide on how to proceed against threats you must always keep in mind of how may I defend and at the same time continue on with my plan. For example, a more obvious way would be to move a rook in front of your king to protect your king and at the same time prepare an attack. When ever you are at a loss of how to proceed you must stop and think what is your plan? What moves must I make to prepare for this plan. In other words don't just aimlessly make moves because you think you are attacking. If you have an attacking plan on your opponents king side than keep focused on that plan and don't let your opponent try to distract you from it with threats.

Above all else stay with your plan, stay focused don't move any pieces unless they are going to help you further your development of that plan. This may sound overly simplistic, and logical, but you would not believe how many times I see others apparently start with some kind of attacking plan and then change to some thing entirely different because of an opponents threats. This may be exactly what your opponent had in mind, because he saw the advantages you were developing and had to try to distract you from making more of them and completing your plans.

This is exactly the kind of discipline you will have to work on if ever you expect to advance to the higher levels of play. And that is to stay focused in the face of adversity. Keep your cool and try to spend the time to just work out developing or solving the problems at hand and continue on with your plan.. Don't let your opponents rattle you with meaningless threats.

Often a lesser opponent will make a bad move, or take a piece just for its shock appeal. Or he may try to use a bad unorthodox opening for its unusual opening moves to throw you off. Don't panic and just make a knee jerk reply. Stop and think, calculate out what happens if you instead just calmly look over the position and see how you can develop and strengthen your position at his expense. Control the changes, improved your position and take advantage of his mistakes is what you have to do.

Thunderduck use to take a castled pawn with his bishop just for its shock appeal early in the game before he had developed his pieces to try to quickly win the game. If you were to let Fritz analyze that position, Fritz will just take the bishop and then defend his king. Fritz is now up a Bishop and will proceed to go on and win the game even at a very low rating setting. Because taking that castled pawn was not followed up with other pieces to continue attacking the king, it was a serious blunder and loss of a major piece and instead of helping to win the game it actually did just the opposite. Often after making such a blunder the amateur will often bring out his Queen to try to check the king and bring about an early win. Of course now that queen will be attacked at the expense of the other player developing his pieces and improving his position with tempo. Many players panic at such a radical attack and the psychological effect stifles their ability to calmly calculate the effects of that mistake.

Schemes and Endgame Planning Plots.

What might be a typical plan for you to follow in the Middlegame? Sometimes simple and direct plans can work best based on solid principles that we have previously studied about.

As you have previously learned about the opening phase of the game one of your goals is to try and create a weakness or imbalance to take advantage of and work with like a pair of Bishops over knights. We also know from our discussions of the endgame of the advantage of Bishops over knights in the Endgame that it would be a good idea if we could create a environment that favored Bishops in a non-locked pawn structure so that the Bishops have open lines. Next we want to let our Bishops home in on our opponent's pawns of the same color of our Bishops so that they will be vulnerable in the Endgame. Next we want to try to make anti-knight moves taking away the advanced squares of your opponents knights.

So now we have a long range plan to work with. We have some concrete ideas that make a lot of sense insofar that they are practical ideas that are going to be possible to achieve.

Lets go back at this time and summarize what they are so that we don't lose focus on our goals. Remember it's very important to stay focused at all times especially in the face of adversity.

Our Plan Summary
1. Create a weakness or imbalance to take advantage of and work with of say a pair of Bishops over Knights or at least one Bishop of a color that homes in on most of our opponents pawns of the same color.
2. Create a environment that favors Bishops in a non-locked pawn structure so that the Bishops have open lines.
3. Change the pawn structure so that our Bishops home in on our opponent's pawns of the same color of our Bishops so that those pawns will be vulnerable in the Endgame.
4. Make anti-knight moves taking away the advanced squares of your opponents knights so that our Bishop can out maneuver the Knight in the Endgame.
5. Now it is possible for our Bishop advantage to gobble up our opponents pawns.

In summary we are going to use the principle of Bishops over Knights to create an imbalance in an environment that favors Bishops over Knights and use that imbalance as a distinct and significant advantage in the Endgame where Bishops can excel over Knights. We are going to use our knowledge of Chess Basics to win games.

Another simple plan could be to use the principle of two weaknesses in the Endgame. All that needs to be done here is to try again to get two Bishops or at least one Bishop over your opponents Knights. Then try to get two passed pawns, one on each side of the board. Then use your Bishop and King to protect those pawns or pawn to queen. Your opponents King and Knight can't stop both pawns on either side of the board from advancing. The two weaknesses could be those of your opponent's failure to have seen this possibility of two passed pawns on either side of the board in advance and provided in advance the necessary steps to have foiled your plan.

High Level Chess
In observing games, one of the ways you can tell who is the weaker player is to notice who is trying to force things and just concentrates on threats and attacking. That is often the way to distinguish a stronger player from a weaker player. The weaker player tends to always force things, push things, and make drastic changes. The stronger player will just control the changes to improve his position, work around those changes and take advantage of those mistakes. In other words the stronger player is playing positional chess by constantly improving his position, developing his pieces for his plan, and using the principles of strategy to strengthen his game. Often there is dynamic potential in a position. Whoever changes things drastically will be making disadvantaged changes within that change and losing the dynamics of that potential. Instead of improving on that potential the drastic changes may in fact just reverse it to the players discredit. You have to try to improve within the dynamic equilibrium that exists and reverse your opponent's mistakes to your advantage. This is the basis of high level chess.

In chess when you are defending one weakness you suddenly expose a new one.

Let us examine just how this comes about

Often players play the move h3 as a prophylactic move to prevent a Bishop pin of their Knight against their Queen preventing pinning the defender. So by playing h3 what you are trying to do is to stop them from playing Bg4. What you will also notice is that by playing h3 you weaken terribly a square in the middle of your kingside structure. The g3 square. Once again, the pawn on f2 may not really exist for the defense if a Black Bishop is on b6. So if you play h3 and your opponent plays a move like Ne4 or Qd6 then what is threatening is - say that you play h3 to stop Bg4 and Qd6 is played. Immediately the threat, Bxh3 or a potential threat because the g3 square is weakened. So h3 is a possible move yes but to do that move - the best move after h3 would be for Black to play Ne4. And now you have to deal with the situation. By playing h3 you have weakened the g3 square terribly. It is a good possibility, but it provides a weakness and a lot of times in chess when you are defending one weakness you suddenly expose a new one. Do you want to give that space to your opponent to take advantage of?.

What may be even worst is to try to chase the Black bishop on g4 pinning your knight on f3. You move your h2 pawn up one square to attack the Bishop and it moves to h5. Now if you move your g2 pawn up to g4 to attack it again and it moves to g6. Now if you attack it with your Knight going to h4 and you take it and your knight is taken by the h7 pawn, you have just opened up the h file for a Rook to attack your vulnerable kings position. You now have really weakened your castled pawn structure to the point that now your opponent is going to throw everything he has on that position to attack the unprotected king.

You played h3 to prevent one weakness but now you have a g3 weakness and a target pawn weakness of h3 for your opponent to sacrifice a Bishop for to severely weaken your kings position.

The h3 move

In this lesson we will be concentrating on Mate Basics. If you know how to mate a castled or uncastled King, then this information gives you the knowledge you need to know for making plans to get to that position to make that mate. Trying to play chess with out a plan is like trying to drive to some far away obscure place with out a road map. You may go around and around in circles until you eventually run out of gas.
Don't run out of gas. Make a plan and then follow it.

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