Chess Fundamentals #2: Mobility and Space

The idea of mobility and space is directly related to the opening phase of the game and also tied to development. In a typical game both sides fight to control the center and gain space in which to deploy and maneuver pieces in. The French Defense for Black is one such opening where White is allowed a spacial advantage by the line 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 which leads to the Advanced variation of the French Defense seen below.

French mobility
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5

As you can see here White’s e6 pawn controls the d7 and f7 squares which the Knight or Bishop could use in the future and additionally the Bishop on c8 is blocked in by the pawn chain on e6. In a position like this if Black isn’t aware of the plan needed his position could become overwhelmed and cramped by the loss a couple of squares and Bishop mobility. There are benefits to a closed structure that you find in an opening like this, the game becomes more positional and the tempo slows down which works well against a tactical and attacking opponent.

French mobility2
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Nc6 4. f4 f6
5. Nf3

Above a continuation from the previous image with what could be normal development for Black has actually lead to quite a good position for white. The Knight being placed on c6 is incorrect as it blocks the pawn from advancing to c5 and breaking the pawn structure which is a typical idea in the French Defense. Pawn to …f6 was played after which attacks the forward point of Whites pawns however f4 can recapture and White is left with a strong center and open diagonals along the c1-h6 and f1-b5 for the Bishops.

French mobility3
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Qb6
5. Nf3 Nc6 6. Be2

In this position you can see that Black is no longer as cramped as in the other opening, the Knight has a purpose in the center, the Bishop defends the c5 pawn, and the Queen eyes the b2 pawn if White moves the c1 Bishop. The computer rates this as equal currently, White has the space advantage on the King side and Black on the Queen side and both play on their respective sides. The French has a chance to be either a slow and quite game or an exciting one since both sides have chances to attack.

Linked is a French Defense Advanced Variation game where White Mates in 20 moves showing the more aggressive side while playing against the French. White plays a sacrificial line drawing the Black Queen into fire while simultaneously developing an attack.

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Rapid Time#4: The King Walketh (to the center of the board)

This game was against a 1730 rated player using Philidor Defense, something I haven’t had a lot of experience with but I don’t mind playing instead of the Spanish with 2…Nc6. The Bishop feels natural on c4 targeting the f7 pawn and assisting in the middle protecting d5. My rating is conservatively about 1200 right now and to be able to have such an interesting game come out in my favor was a great feeling. It includes a couple positional and tactical sacrifices that are always awesome when on your side.

Rapid#4
The critical position in the opening when Black began to lose due to Ne7 blocking the Queen from the e file.

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Chess Strategy #1: Doubled Pawns

In this post I wanted to talk about the idea of creating and exploiting stacked pawns that can occur early on in a game. When I first started playing I opened with the Ruy Lopez as many new players do. It was common, well studied and had a solid set up for white with good attacking and tactical chances. I traded the Bishop for Knight on c6 early instead of keeping pins and pressure on pieces, of course later on I learned of the benefits of the latter. I wont discount the idea of stacking an opponents pawns early on, especially if the player is lower rated. It provides and early weakness and a clear target to work towards from the opening. As you’ll see in this game I was able to stack Blacks pawns early and plant a Knight on e6 waiting until it was clear to attack. Doubled pawns aren’t always a problem, the second game is one I played as Black where I used the stacked pawns to my advantage and involved them into my position and attack instead of letting it become a weakness.

Strat #1
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Bxc6 bxc6

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Strat #1-2
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Bc5 4. Bxc6 dxc6 5. Nxe5 Qf6 6. Nf3 Bg4 7. e5 Qf5 8. d4 Qe4+ 9. Be3 Bb6 10. Nc3 Qf5 11. h3 Bxf3 12. gxf3 O-O-O

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Blitz Adventures#9: Old School vs New School

In this game I play White against Owen’s Defense which is 1.e4 b6 where Black’s aim is early fianchetto of the Queenside Bishop aim towards the center of the board. While fianchetto is usually a good plan to protect the Bishop and give it more scope doing so early on concedes the center to White. In Classic style I continue with 2.d4 and surprisingly Black proceeded to fianchetto his Kingside Bishop as well. Once I jumped the Knights into the action it was almost a perfect example of a Classical and Hyper modern take on the opening even if not done in the most efficient way possible. In the game White is able to control the center and continue playing along the Queenside flank as Black’s position becomes cramped and development is halted under the pressure of a central and flank side attack.

#9
The opening phase vs double fianchetto Bishops. 1. e4 b6 2. d4 Bb7 3. Nc3 g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Bd2

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Chess Fundamentals #1 Schools of Developmental Thought

The start of any Chess game begins with the development of pawns and minor pieces generally with the aim to control and contest the center of the board. The center is so important because it has the most influence, for example a Knight placed in the center of the board will have more squares available to attack than one on the edge. These two ideas show the basic schools of thought as an objective process in the opening of the game.

dynboard
Classical School 

The goal of a Classical opening starts with 1. d4 or e4 taking control of the center by attacking c5, d5, e5 and f5 with two pawns. From there the usual course of action is to play a Knight to c3 or f3 which supports the central pawns and also attacks e5 and d5 again. Black typically will follow in a similar suit attacking with pawns and knights initially.

 

 

 

dynboard (2)
Hyper modern School

Here the goal of White’s opening is to attack the central squares with minor pieces and prepare the path for a pawn thrust after. The move order would look something like 1. Nf3 2.g3 3. Bg2 4. e4 thus controlling the c5 and d5 squares with more of a long term idea of using the bishop and knight to influence the center.

 

 

 

 

Now with the overall ideas of the two primary types development we can talk about the nuances of the opening phase. There are some principals to make it easier however these aren’t set in stone and are always flexible.

  • Develop your pieces- Without getting your pieces in the game you simply cannot do anything, many beginning players will develop one side of their board and neglect the other side while unleashing an early attack. An opponent who is fully developed will always be able to out play a lesser coordinated player as they have more resources at hand.
  • Control the Center- As stated before, the center has the most influence over the board and is generally the focal point for the most engagements. Other strategies will aim to attack the center from the flanks but for a start the center is the most straightforward way to play
  • Don’t Move the Same Piece Twice- In the opening you want to set yourself up for the middle game and to do so you need to find squares for all your pieces to occupy where they are contributing to the game, the most efficient way is move pieces once only and then follow into the middle game plan.
  • Be Careful With the Queen- Many beginners will try to bring the Queen out as an early power presence, while this is true it also give your opponent and easy target to attack. You never want to lose the Queen to a lesser piece and forcing you to move her again away from an attack gains important tempo.
  • Castle- Arguably the most important part of the opening, castling allows you to get your king safe and bring a rook into the game completing two things in a single turn

Lets take a look at the opening phase of a game, this stems from the Ruy Lopez which is a well known and highly studied.

Here is the annotation for the position 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 d6 5. Bg5

White has two central pawns d3 and e4 as does black e5 and d6.

White has 3 minor pieces developed and black has two with it being black to move.

Typically Black can play Be7 which protects the knight and develops the Bishop. After that point both players have the chance to castle and then continue on with the rest of the game.

dynboard (3)

Blitz Adventures#7: Opposite Color Bishops

[Date “2017.12.25”]
[Black “Jtrot79”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “D00”]
[WhiteElo “1018”]
[BlackElo “1013”]
[TimeControl “600”]

//www.chess.com/emboard?id=3771632

This was a fairly accurate game for the time controls and elo rating of me and my opponent, the only real time inaccuracies and mistakes became prevalent was in the late end game. The time was about a minute on both sides near the 55th move and demonstrates the difference in the color of the bishops even under time stress.

1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 [I expected some kind of transposition to a Queens Gambit however this move blocks any possibility of that happening]

…Nf6 3.Nf3 e6 [With e6 the position is nearly equal and white retains very little of his initiate with the first move. A superior option for white would be 3.Bg5 e5 4.e4 Be7 with the idea 5. e5 transposing into the main line of the French Defense. Personally I would try to avoid this as Blacks position is uncomfortably cramped and white still retains the opening edge]

4.Qd3 [This move tips the scale into blacks favor as one of the basic principals is to develop the Queen last as it can be exploited while giving tempi to the opponent]

…Bb4 5.Qb5+ [A beginners move to use the Queen to try to pin a piece so early in the opening, it allows Black to place his Knight where he already wanted to go and paints a target on the Queen once Black has castled. A better plan would be to move the pawn from e2 to e3 and support the center while bringing the bishop out to pin the Knight to the King]

…Nc6 6.e3 Bxc3+ [While not the most accurate move I enjoy the weakness of double pawns as targets and you’ll notice this is where all the play on my side happens and also where the game is won]

7.bxc3 a6 8.Qc5 Ne4 9.Qa3 Qd6 [Based on my opponents use of the Queen I doubted he would trade Queens and a central square for her to hold is ideal]

10.Bb5 Bd7 11.Bxc6 Bxc6 12.Qxd6 [The Queens come off after white traded one of their most active pieces for my Knight, something I accept willingly as both of my minors are more active]

…cxd6 13.Bb2 [This Bishop stares at its own pawn and doesn’t have much of a future]

….Bb5 [My bishop however looks to cut the King off from castling and keep him in the center of the board and also hinders the other rook from entering the game]

14.h3 Rc8 15.a4 Bc4 16.Nd2 O-O 17.Nxe4 dxe4 18.a5 d5 [While not the most exciting position I have a very solid setup which is what I strive for as Black. More space on the Queen and King side, more active pieces and a safer King]

19.Ra4 Bb5 20.Rb4 Rc4 21.Rb3 Rfc8 22.O-O [Some shuffling around allows White to get his castle in however in the process it allowed me to better position my pieces and get the coordination needed to cement it]

…R8c7 23.Rb1 [The first mistake in my eyes, lining the rook up in front of a pawn that its impossible to defend once the rook has found safety]

…Ba4 24.Rb4 Bxc2 25.Rc1 Ba4 26.Ra1 Rxb4 27.cxb4 Bb5 28.Ba3 Rc4 29.Rc1 Rc6 30.Rxc6 [I wanted to trade on my terms and I had thought about bringing the pawn closer to the center with the recapture however I figured better of it. Potential problems with the connected pawns on the edge with only one pawn there to defend. My connected pawns become all stars later on in the game]

…Bxc6 31.Kh2 f5 32.Kg3 g5 33.h4 h6 34.hxg5 hxg5 35.f4 gxf4+ 36.Kxf4 Kf7 37.g4 fxg4 38.Kxg4 Kf6 [The idea of these exchanges was to clear any problems that might arise from stray pawns on the king side while I focused my efforts on the Queen side, it also cuts the White King off from the action for the time]

39.Kg3 Kf5 40.Bc1 e5 41.Bb2 exd4 42.Bxd4 Bd7 43.Bh8 Ke6 44.Bd4 Kd6 45.Bc5+ Kc6 46.Bd4 Kb5 47.Bc3 Kc4 [A slow but methodical walk of the King to the area of importance, having secured my pieces on light squares I had very little to worry about]

48.Be1 Kd3 49.Kf2 Kc4 50.Ke2 d4 [An inaccuracy as (50… Bg4+ 51. Kd2 Kxb4 52. Kc2+ Kc4 53. Bc3 Kb5 54. Bd2 Be6 55. Be1) would have allowed me to easily pick up a pawn via the double attack on the bishop and pawn]

51.Kd2 Kxb4 52.exd4 Kxa5 53.Ke3+ Kb6 54.Kxe4 Kc6 [My whole goal was to have connected passed pawns and in the event the center white pawn got too close I would sac my bishop for it. The connected pawns would mean White only could capture one while the other promoted]

55.d5+ Kd6 56.Bb4+ Kc7 57.d6+ Kc6 58.Ke5 Bg4 [Here is where the power of an opposite color bishop really comes to light in the end game, if the pawn was ever pushed I could capture and have the King support the Bishop. Even without the Kings support the Bishop threat shut down whites hopes to get a promotion. White wasn’t able to find the proper counter play  which allowed me to work on the passed pawns]

59.Kf6 b6 60.Ke7 [The real nail in the coffin, the only attempt would be to use the King and Bishop together to stop the pawns but White has moved further away from where he needed to be]

…a5 61.Bc3 a4 62.Bd4 b5 63.Bc3 a3 [This was a mistake, not game losing but certainly it would have made things harder, 64. Bb4 attacking the a3 pawn and blocking my b5 pawn advance]

64.Ba1 b4 65.Bd4 b3 66.Bc3 b2 67.d7 Bxd7 [As I had said, this was never going to work but perhaps it would throw me off in the stress of time troubles]

68.Bb4 b1=Q 69.Bxa3 Qe1+ 70.Kd8 Qe8# [A swift end as my opponent cut a mate in 7 down to a mate in 1]

0-1

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