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Tips by FIDE Senior Trainer Kevin O'Connell
The three 'Rs' - Reading, Writing and Arithmetic
Don't panic, this is not school work. “Don't panic” is really good advice. I often see players, especially youngsters, rushing to play the first move that comes to mind because they are in a state of panic.
By all means read good chess books, especially collections of endgame positions or 'tactics'. Remember that the main route to learning is by playing, although looking at positions and trying to find the best move, or a more detailed solution, is excellent practice and you should look at some positions every single day.
Get used to recording your games. Nigel Short said: "I first began to record my games in books just before my ninth birthday. I should have recorded all my games but I didn't realize the importance of it."
Always use the 'long' form of notation (1 e2-e4 instead of just 1 e4). I hope that you were asking "why?" The most important reason is that it helps you to consider the departure square of a piece (or pawn) as well as its arrival square, helping to reduce errors, and it is those pesky errors that will lose games for you.
Bear in mind the object of the game - it is not to add up the highest score of captured pieces, it is to checkmate the enemy king.
Checkmate ends the game, as early as the second move in extreme circumstances (1 f2-f3 e7-e5 2 g2-g4 Qd8-h4 mate).
It is true, though, that the side with more pieces will generally be able to force an eventual checkmate.
Tim - The Move Inspector
Make friends with Tim. Tim says Think, Inspect, then Move.
1. Consider moves by your opponent, what did s/he do that for? Chess is a game for two and your opponent rarely wants you to win.
2. Once you have decided on a move, DO NOT TOUCH anything, give it a once-over inspection first, looking at both the departure square (maybe the piece you want to move is protecting something) and the arrival square (it can't just be taken for nothing, can it? That has been known to happen!).
3. Now you can make your move (and don't forget to press the clock). If you are using a clock and your opponent seems to be taking an extra long think, look at the clock because they may just be day-dreaming on your time).
Here is a position from the game Richard Pert-Adam Hunt, not from the 2010 British Championship where they finished equal 3rd, but long before - an under-10 tournament in Barnsdale 1989.
White thought he could win Black's d-pawn and played 1 Qd1-h5, not considering her departure square and what work she was doing on d1. Then 1...Bb6xd4 gave Black a big advantage.
Everyone makes mistakes, but many things can help you reduce error to a minimum. Here are a few:
1. Tim – always use it.
2. Checks & Captures – look at all moves that give check or capture something, especially the checks, after all 'check' is an essential part of 'checkmate.'
3. Make a point of thinking that a piece attacks anything on its lines of action, even if a line is blocked by something, especially if that thing is one of your team. Chess is dynamic, not static.
The Can-Can't pantomime
Do try to avoid getting into the bad habit of thinking "can't" (I can't go there, s/he just takes it). Always run the "oh no you can't, oh yes I can" argument through your head when looking at the moves you might play. Instead of thinking "I can't go there” try to get into the habit of thinking "what if I go there and s/he takes it, is there something more?”
James O'Connell - Andrew Navias, Berkshire under-9, 1994. A difficult one for a 7-year-old.
White resigned here because he "can't" defend against the mate threat on f2 (1 Qa3-e3 Qg3-g2+ 2 Kf1-e1 Rh2-h1+ and mates). Checks & Captures might have revealed 1 Rf7-f8+ when Black has a choice:
1...Kd8-e7 2 b4-b5+ c7-c5 3 b5xc6+ (you do know about en-passant pawn captures don't you?) 3...Ke7-e6 4 Qa3-d6 mate.
1...Kd8-d7 2 e5-e6+ Kd7-e7 3 b4-b5+ Qg3-d6 4 Rf8-f7+ Ke7-e8 5 Qa3xd6 c7xd6 6 Rd1-d3 and with the black king trapped on the edge of the board, White will be on the giving end of the checkmate, not the receiving end. 6...Rh2xc2 7 b5xa6 b7xa6 8 Rd3-b3 Rc2-c8 9 Rb3-b7 d6-d5 10 Rf7-h7 and that's it, apart from a few 'spite' checks. (That was the difference between first prize and third place.)
Table manners - the fork
In chess, a 'fork' is when you attack two things at once - chips, baked beans or pieces. How about here? Eggenberger-Schumacher, 1989. White to move.
1 Qd1-d2! and Black resigned. If the black queen moves, mate follows, for example: 1...Qb4xd2 2 Nf5-e7+ Kg8-h8 3 Ne5-f7 mate. 1...Nf4-d5 looks like a defence (withdrawing one of the forked pieces to a square where it 'defends' the other), but it does not work here because, after 2 Qd2xb4, the knight on d5 dare not recapture because it has had a new job thrust upon it - covering the e7 square, to stop the two knight mate.
Think!:If some daft adult says to you "Think!" ask politely "What, exactly, should I think about and how should I do so?" Do think about how you can get your players working together as a team and make sure they know where the goal is. Do think about Tim!
Now some tips from World Championship-level Grandmasters.
1. You have to learn the basic grammar of chess - that is TACTICS.
2. You must play a LOT.
3. You should not take it TOO seriously, because we [top Grandmasters] do, and it hurts.
Anatoly Karpov (World Champion 1975-1985 and 1993-1999):
Here's a nice simple endgame by Richard Reti. Can the black king catch and stop the white pawn? Can (or maybe can't?). Can the white king catch and stop the black pawn? Can't? Are you sure? White to move.
1 Kh8-g7! h5-h4 2 Kg7-f6! Ka6-b6 (if 2...h4-h3 3 Kf6-e6 h3-h2 4 c6-c7 Ka6-b7 5 Ke6-d7 h2-h1Q 6 c7-c8Q+ should be drawn!) 3 Kf6-e5! h4-h3 (or 3...Kb6xc6 4 Ke5-e4 h4-h3 5 Ke4-f3 h3-h2 6 Kf3-g2) 4 Ke5-d6 Draw.
Try finding the quickest route between e1 and e8. The roads e1-e2-e3-e4-e5-e6-e7-e8 and e1-f2-g3-h4-h5-g6-f7-e8 are both seven moves long. The chess board is a weird shape! FEAR
"The winning mentality is very, very important - if you play with fear it is impossible to win." (Fabio Capello, manager of a World Cup soccer team)
Every player loses games and it does not matter how many, or how few, losing is a horrible experience. The important thing is to keep fear under control. Fear of loss just leads to more losses. Remember, there is always somebody that you can beat!
There are no prizes for playing quickly, which many do out of fear - they are afraid that they will not play well, so to reduce the pressure they blurt out the first move that springs to hand.
Avoid being 'blitzed' by fast-moving opponents (most of whom are scared to death - that's why they are playing so quickly). If you can take your time, look at the opponent's move, write it down, then calmly consider your reply, you will not lose on time, but you will pile the pressure on your opponents and probably freak them out.
It is important to know and understand all the basic rules, including 'en passant' and especially stalemate and castling, but most important of all is to enjoy chess and to have fun.
It's White to play – Checkmate in half a move. There's a clue in the text before the position. Scroll down to the end of the page for the answer.
Tips by FIDE Senior Trainer Kevin O'Connell
White is in the middle of castling - he has just moved his king two squares to the right and is about to move his rook from h1 to f1 (the second half of the castling move)!