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Chess is a highly strategic game
Chess is a highly strategic gameexperts tend to divide the study of chess strategyinto two different categories: strategy and tactics, and into three distinct phases: the opening, middle game, and endgame. Tactics might be described as short-term strategy; it involves studying maneuvers, such as combinations, and how those maneuvers might lead to a gain in material or improvements in a player's strategic position. refers to the study of long-term improvements to a player's position, such as control of the center of the board, protection of the king, pawn structure, placement of the pieces, and other considerations.
Revision as of 12:54, 21 January 2009
Chess is a highly strategic game; chess experts tend to divide the study of chess strategy into two different categories: strategy and tactics, and into three distinct phases: the opening, middle game, and endgame. Tactics might be described as short-term strategy; it involves studying maneuvers, such as combinations, and how those maneuvers might lead to a gain in material or improvements in a player's strategic position. Strategy refers to the study of long-term improvements to a player's position, such as control of the center of the board, protection of the king, pawn structure, placement of the pieces, and other considerations.
In the game of chess, some pieces are considered more valuable than others. As a result, much of strategy in chess centers around trying to gain an advantage in "material". This is accomplished by having more pieces, or more valuable pieces on the board. In the study of chess, the pieces are assigned a point value:
- Pawns are worth 1 point
- "Minor" pieces, Bishops and Knights are worth 3 points
- Rooks are worth 5 points
- The Queen is worth 9 points.
Much of the study of tactics revolved around the value of material; a player will not trade off a queen for two bishops, even though they would have more pieces on the board, because the pieces left would have less value.
The point values are also relative; for example, in endgames with pawns on only one side of the board, knights are often preferred to bishops, because a bishop can only operate on squares of their color, while in endgames with pawns on both sides, a bishop is often preferred, because they can move more quickly to both sides of the board. Having 2 bishops is also generally considered better than having a knight and a bishop or 2 knights, because the bishops can work together by attacking both colors of squares.
Tactics are maneuvers in chess that are usually used to gain material. Some examples include
- Knight Fork: When a knight attacks two pieces that are more valuable than the knight, such as the king and a rook.
- Pawn Fork: When a pawn attacks two pieces, such as a knight and a bishop.
- Pins: A piece is considered "pinned" when it cannot move, because, by moving, it would expose a more valuable piece to capture. A "hard" pin is when a piece is pinned to the king, and thus cannot legally move, whereas a soft pin occurs when the piece is pinned to a valuable piece, such as the queen.
- Skewer: A skewer occurs when a piece attacks a valuable piece in order to force it to move, and thus capture a piece located behind. Placing the king in check with a rook, and forcing it to move, in order to take a rook that is located behind the king, is an example of a skewer.
See main article chess opening.
Openings are extremely important in the game of chess. There are volumes of chess literature devoted solely to the study of a certain sets of moves: the Spanish, the Italian, the Sicilian, the French, the English, etc. are all different sets of opening moves.
Classical Opening strategy tends to center around several strategic principles. First, a player should attempt to control and occupy the center of the board with their pieces. Secondly, a player should attempt to make their position more free, by allowing their pieces space to operate in. Thirdly, a player should try to castle, so that their king is out of the center of the board and protected, and so that their rook is moved out of the corner and can be more useful.
Another school of thought, known as "hypermodern" opening theory, disputes the idea that a player must occupy the center of the board to be effective. In this school of thought, a player is encouraged to control the center by controlling the sides, and allowing the opponent to overextend himself in the center of the board, setting up a counterattack. Many of the Sicilian (1.e4 c5), English (c4) and Reti (1.Nf3 d5 2. c4) systems are considered hypermodern, or are derived from hypermodern theory.
The middlegame in chess is very complicated, but very little chess literature is dedicated to it. It generally centers around both players trying to find room for their pieces. Sometimes one player will attack the other's position. Also, both players will try to get their rooks onto open, or half-open files; an open file is a column of squares in which neither player has a pawn, while a half-open file is one in which only the opponent has a pawn. Both allow the rook more freedom in transitioning to the endgame, and may allow the rook to invade the opposing position.
The endgame is when most of the pieces are traded off, and each player attempts to win, generally by forcing a promotion of a pawn to a queen. The type of endgame is generally defined by the pieces still remaining on the board.
Engames are automatic draws in situations where a win is technically impossible (for example, one player has a king and the other has a king and one knight). Often the player with less material will try for a draw through perpetual check, or a triple-repeat of the same position.
Rook and Pawns: These are the most common endings, because the rooks are located in the corners of the board to begin with, so they usually take awhile to enter the game. Having a rook "on the seventh" or located on the row where the opponents pawns began is often advantageous in rook and pawn endings, as undefended pawns can be attacked.
Piece and Pawns: These endings happen when there are one or more "minor" pieces (bishops and knights).
King and Pawns: These endings occur when all of the pieces except the kings have been traded off. They are considered extremely "sharp", in that one wrong move will usually cost a player the game. In many cases, an advantage of a single pawn is sufficient to force a win. Many of these endings also come down to "tempo", or which player is forced to move first.
Queen and Pawns: Queen and pawn endings occur when there are still queens left on the board. In these endings, the protection of one's king is of paramount importance; if the king is not protected, a player can be repeatedly placed in check by the opposing queen. In Queen and pawn endings a "passed" pawn, or a pawn which cannot be stopped by other pawns, can be extremely powerful. The player that has passed his pawn can force the enemy queen away, because if the queens are traded, the only piece left to stop the advance of the pawn is the opposing king.