Tips & Strategies ...

(Courtesy of the "Chess Battle Manual" and reproduced by

permission of the Delancey UK Schools' Chess Challenge)

GET ALL OF YOUR PIECES OUT

Just like a team cannot win a game with just one player, you will not be successful in chess until you satrt to use all of your pieces. Remeber to develop your pieces early in the game and try to find active squares.

By "pieces" we are not refering to pawns. Only push pawns forward for a purpose - for example to release pieces from the back row.

PAWNS CANNOT MOVE BACKWARDS

We need to push our pawns to get ur pieces out (remember 'development' is very important). Sometimes we push pawnsto grab space and secure positions for our pieces - or perhaps we push them to start an attack. It's also a good idea to push pawns in the endgame to try and create a new queen.

But remember to not push pawns unnecessarily as they can leave behind weaknesses. Because they can't move backwards, those squares can never be protected by your pawns again.

Let's look at an extreme example of how bad pawn play can be punished ...
1.. f4 e6
2.. g4 Qh4 checkmate

This is known as "Fool's Mate" and is the quickest possible game of chess.

CHECKMATE - NOT JUST CHECKS

Another common mistake with beginners is when they have their opponent down to just a king - they will start giving lots of aimless checks. Remember - to deliver checkmate you must ensure the enemy king has no safe squares to move to AND they must be in check. Many players forget this first part and just try to give checks.

So when you have the opponent on the run and down to just a king always remember to restrict the number of squares they have available. The best way to do this is to push them to the side of the board.

Also be careful and watch out for a stalemate situation.

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KNIGHTS ON THE RIM ARE DIM
Try to avoid placing your knight on a square at the edge of the board as that limits the numnber of squares it can then move to.

MAKE SURE TO CASTLE

Make sure you remember to castle - this gets your King into safety and brings one of your rooks into the game. Remember you can castle "kingside" or "queenside".

It is easier to castle kingside as you only need to bring out your knight and bishop whereas on the quenside you would need to bring out your knight, bishop AND queen.

VALUE OF THE PIECES

As well as remembering how each piece moves, you should also understand what each piece is "worth". The following is a rough estimate of how valuable each piece is based on its mobility:
Pawn-1pt, Knight-3pts, Bishop-3pts, Rook-5pts, Queen-9pts.

Why no value for the king? Because if you trap the king (checkmate) then you win the game - so the king is worth more than al the other pieces combined.

Rember - chess is decided by checkmate. However, thebest strategy is to accumulate more points than your opponent as you will have more valued pieces left to attack the enemy king in the endgame.

Even an extra pawn is worth something - because ifyou can get it to the opposing back rank you can exchange it for an extra queen (9pts).

WATCH OUT FOR THE BACK RANK

If your King is on the back rank (ie: the row nearest to you) always be careful of allowing your opponent to trap it there without any means of escape ... ie: Back rank checkmate !

BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR QUEEN

It normally isn't a good idea to bring your queen out too early as it can be attacked by enemy pieces and lose time. Lots of players like to go for an early "Scholar's Mate" but we advise against this because if the opponent knows the proper defence you wil end up with a worse position.

THINK ABOUT YOUR OPPONENT'S PLAN

This is the biggest mistake beginners make - they are so busy thinking about their own plans that they completely overlook what their opponent is trying to do.

When your opponent makes a move you need to think about the following:
"Why did they move there?"
"Are they threatening anything?" (ie: a capture or checkmate)

Also look out for any opportunities your opponent's last move may have left you.

Remember - always check the possible forcing moves (checks, captures, threats).

OPENING TRAPS

It is useful to know the most bassic traps. "Fools' Mate" is very rare - but lots of people fal for "Scholar's Mate" time after time. Make sure you know how to defend against this one ...
1.. e4 e5 2.. Bc4 Bc5 3.. Qh5 Nf6 ??

Black has attacked white's queen but has compleely missed white's threat ...
4.. Qxf7 checkmate !

Thousands of game end this way every year in the UK Chess Challenge

On move 3 black needed to defend against the threat of checkmate by moving a pawn onto g6 thus protecting the black king and also threatening white's queen.