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Monthly Chess Tips

                                                           March 2023 Chess Tip:

Last month’s tip referred to something called chess principles.  IM John Donaldson said that the master knew when to rely on chess principles as opposed to brute calculation.  You can also learn when to rely on chess principles.  Chess principles are ‘Rules of Thumb’ more like guidelines that you can use at your disposal.  There are many chess principles.  I will use the next few months to list all the ones that I know which is give or take, about 40 chess principles. Remember, you can use these at your discretion; they apply most of the time but not all the time.

  1. Open in the center with pawns

  2. Control the center.

  3. Develop your pieces quickly.

  4. Develop knights before bishops.

  5. Refrain from moving the same piece twice in the opening.

  6. Refrain from bringing your queen out too early, no more than the third rank.

  7. Try to castle before your tenth move.

  8. Connect your rooks.

  9. Place rooks on open files

  10. Knights are grim on the rim.

  11. Try to avoid double pawns.

  12. Try to avoid isolated pawns.

  13. Try to avoid backward pawns.

  14. Refrain from trading a bishop for a knight, unless for a good reason.

  15. Refrain from moving pawns in front of your castled king.

  16. If you have a cramped position, trade pieces.

  17. When ahead on material, trade pieces not pawns

  18. When down material, trade pawns not pieces

  19. Opposite colored bishop games are dangerous in the middle game and drawish in the endgame.

  20. Avoid playing hope chess. Think!!

                                                         February 2023 Chess Tip:

This month’s chess tip is from a book by IM John Donaldson titled  ‘Essential Chess Endings For Advanced Players’.

Although the title says for advanced players, I think even a novice can appreciate this tip. Look at the position below (Kan-Sorokin, Leningrad 1933) What might you play as white here?  Some would think that they need to trade pawns in an ending like this to make a draw and some may think that they need to trade Queens.  IM John Donaldson’s book, page 4 reads: ” Knowing when to calculate and when to rely on chess principles is one of the hallmarks of the master.  Here the average player would probably be surprised at what White should do.  On the surface of it 44.Bxe8 looks strange-shouldn’t White be trying to trade pawns and not pieces when a pawn down?  However the master realizes the combination of Queen and Knight work much more effectively than Queen and Bishop.  The ending of Queen and four versus Queen and three is no picnic for the defender but he has real chances to save the game.  The presence of the two minor pieces virtually guarantees White will lose.  Knowing such things is often much more important than being able to calculate a large number of variations.”


                                                         January 2023 Chess Tip:

This month’s chess tip comes from Jeremy Silman’s ‘The Complete Book of Chess Strategy’. It is about development as seen on page five.

Silman writes:

"It is important to develop your whole army.  Note the word “whole”.  Some players get a few pieces out and launch an attack.  The correct way to play chess is to develop each and every piece (chess is a team game), get your king safely castled, and only then begin more aggressive maneuvers.  The necessity for quick development depends on the type of center that exists.  For example, if the center is closed, development is not necessarily a priority because the enemy pieces won’t be able to break into your position.  However, if the center is open (meaning that files and diagonals penetrate into your camp), development takes on great significance.  A typical beginner's mistake centers around the Queen.  In general, don’t move her too early!  Because of the Queen’s enormous value, she is vulnerable to tempo-gaining attacks by lessor enemy units.  A good rule of thumb calls for the Queen to be developed no further than the second or third ranks (far from the touch of enemy pieces).  You should only use her in a more aggressive manner later in the game."

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