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The Art And Craft of Planning in Chess

Introduction

The middlegame is the most difficult part of the game of chess. Just how do we choose the right plan in the middlegame? What is the best move? How do we improve our position? How do we turn our opponent's position to bad? Very little has been written on the middlegame and not much has been said on how to estimate whether the plan we choose is going to be successful or not. This webpage hopes to improve the reader's chess performance by teaching him how to plan in chess!

Planning in Chess

Most players are so busy thinking up their own moves and concentrating on their own plans that they pay little or no attention to what their opponent is doing and soon find themselves in a hopeless position. To overcome this fault, one must remember that in chess it is not the best move that you must seek but 2 best plans - your opponent's plans and then yours. Each time after your opponent moves, forget about your own plans for a while and concentrate on his move. What is his plan? What does he intend to do? The earlier you become aware of your opponent's intentions, the easier will it be to meet them in the best possible way.

All plans in chess can only be based on four things:

1. the 3 Strongest Moves in Chess - check, capture & passed pawn
2. the Existence of a Combination
3. the Pawn Structure and
4. on the Mobility & Cooperation of Pieces
Planning Based on the 3 Strongest Moves in Chess

Fred Reinfeld once said, "The 3 strongest moves in chess are checks, capture and pawn promotion." They are strong in that if you answer them insufficiently, you lose material. It is therefore important to always run through their possibilities. If your opponent can make one of these 3 moves, there's a pretty good chance they will be included in his plan. Is there a check? Can he capture one of your pieces? Can he create a dangerous passed pawn? Any of these 3 can show up while you're in the middle of the game so don't forget to check for them first.

 "It is not a move not even the best move that you must seek 
but a realizable plan"- Znosko Borovsky

Best Lessons of A Chess Coach

This series of lessons by the master player and nationally recognized teacher Sunil Weeranatry brings the fundamentals of strategy and tactics to life and shows players at all levels how to think like a master. Weeramantry is a FIDE Master and former New York State Chess Champion. One of the most successful chess coaches in the country, he has coached over thirty individual and team champions in National Scholastic Championships. He served as a coach for the U.S. team in three World Youth Chess Championships, and currently serves as executive director of the National Scholastic Chess Foundation.




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Planning Based on The Existence of a Combination


In the absence of the 3 strongest moves in chess, we look at the position for signs or signals that indicate the existence of a combination. At least one of these "T.H.I.E.F.S." signals must be present for a combination to exist.

  1. Trapped pieces
  2. Hanging or undefended pieces.
  3. Inadequately defended pieces or squares. Look for pieces that are defending other pieces.Is it possible to divert, decoy, or block the defending piece so that the piece it defended is left unprotected? Is back rank mate possible? Be on the lookout for ways of creating passed pawns by decoying enemy pawns off important files. Look especially and constantly for enemy pieces performing more than one function. Can such a piece be forced to fulfil only one of its functions?
  4. Exposed King. Is it possible to increase the pressure by opening up more lines.
  5. Fork possibility - pawn and knight fork.
  6. Same rank, file or diagonal. Look for ranks, files, and diagonals that contain more than one enemy piece. Look for ways of decoying enemy pieces to the same line (file, rank, or diagonal).
If you see any of these items in a given position, you can start checking if a plan based on a combination is realizable. Don't forget however to see first if any of the 3 strongest moves in chess can be made - checks, captures and passed pawns. Any of these 3 can spoil a planned combination.

 "The three strongest moves in chess  are 
check, capture & passed pawn."- Fred Reinfeld

Best Lessons of A Chess Coach

This series of lessons by the master player and nationally recognized teacher Sunil Weeranatry brings the fundamentals of strategy and tactics to life and shows players at all levels how to think like a master. Weeramantry is a FIDE Master and former New York State Chess Champion. One of the most successful chess coaches in the country, he has coached over thirty individual and team champions in National Scholastic Championships. He served as a coach for the U.S. team in three World Youth Chess Championships, and currently serves as executive director of the National Scholastic Chess Foundation.




See Chess Videos
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See Chess Books
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at CNET.com

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at Brucelee.net

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at jobs.com

The Corrs Webpage
at Corrs.com

Business Books
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Commodities Closing Prices
at JackCarl

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Chess for Macs
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Meeting Captures

Few mistakes can be more costly in chess than failing to guard against captures. Often times a player is so pre-occupied with long-range problems that he misses an innocent-looking capture that wins the game instantly. Why are captures overlooked? Probably because they turn up in positions that seem simple and routine; the players are less alert.

If players acquire the belief that almost every chess positions no matter how simple, has tactical possibilities, then they are on their way to overcoming the tendency to overlook captures. What features of the position might have helped players see the danger ahead? The features are King at the center, tangled pieces, open lines, etc. almost similar to the T.H.I.E.F.S. signals discussed earlier. Players must be quick to recognize these signals.

Once the signals are recognized and the threat of capture is seen the player has to decide how to meet the capturing threat.There are various ways of meeting the threat of capture. The various methods are A.A.C.C.I.D.M.P.

  1. A llow Capture & counter-attack
  2. A llow capture & capture something else
  3. C apture the attacker
  4. C apture something else with your attacked man
  5. I nterpose
  6. D efend the attacked piece
  7. M ove away or
  8. P in the attacker.

When the threatened capture would cost you material, you must select one of the various methods above which you believe is best in the circumstance. There are a number of circumstances in which capturing is advisable. The most important are : when up in material, to gain material or mate, to gain tempo, to preserve initiative, to create a weakness or positional advantage, to get rid of an attacking piece, to get rid of an obstructing defender & for endgame considerations (always capture with a view of the endgame).

The Pawn Capture. When one captures a pawn it is necessary to estimate the loss of time and compensation one concedes to the opponent in the process. The decision is particularly critical when our position is still insufficiently developed. A center pawn should be taken only when tactical calculation shows that the opponent's immediate threats could be warded off and no difficulties in development of the pieces are to be expected.; a flank pawn should be taken only when winning it does not involve a great loss of time or help the opponent open attacking lines with advantage.

"The earlier you become aware of your opponent's intentions,
the easier will it be to meet them in the best possible way." - Ludek Pachman

Endgame Play

Chris Ward explains in easy steps how to handle typical endgame situations. Filled with practical test positions- using your king, which pawns are most important, keeping your pieces active, making things difficult for your opponent and traps to avoid. Chris Ward is a young International master on the verge of the Grandmaster title. He has an impressive track record as a trainer. In 1995 alonehis pupils won a total of 10 British Championships in a variety of age groups .




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Sacrificing

Caution must be exercised when sacrificing where there is no chance of mate; if the result is but the gain of a pawn or a loss of a positional advantage on another part of the board. SACRIFICE TO EXPOSE KING There are many ways in which a piece sacrifice may be used to break up a castled king position. SACRIFICE ON R7 When a bishop sacrifices on this square it is known as Greek gift or classic bishop sacrifice. DECLINING THE GREEK GIFT Declining the Greek gift usually leads to a strong attack as the rook pawn is missing. In a few cases, declining the sacrifice will refute it, especially if the bishop cannot retreat. GREEK GIFT: HELPFUL FACTORS Factors that make a Greek gift more likely to work include a bishop on the c1 -h6 diagonal (makes it less likely for the king to escape to h6) ,a pawn on K5 (stops a knight from going to f6) and on rook on K1 which may later join the attack. GREEK GIFT: DEFENCES AFTER NN5+ After NN5+, the defender has several defensive tries. Moving to h8 usually loses quickly. Running back with the king to g8 can be good if h7 can later be defended. Escaping to h6 is often impossible if there is a white bishop on the c1 -h6 diagonal, because of a powerful discovery. Moving to h6 can sometimes be O.K., especially if there is no bishop. Moving to g6 can sometimes be the only move, but can sometimes escape. Other common sacrifices include GRECOS mate which involves a sacrifice on h7, followed by a queen check on h5. Sacrifices on g7 can be dangerous, as the N pawn is the worst pawn to be missing. Sacrifices on f7 can be dangerous, especially with a bishop on the long diagonal. Sometimes the capture of a pawn that has moved to KR3 is possible, especially if 2 pieces are attacking that square. A sacrifice sometimes happens after the defender has played P-KN3 , usually when it is defended only once. If it defended twice, sometimes a double sacrifice on that square may be possible. An exchange sac on B3 is a possibility on this square. A knight sacrifice may happen here.

"The earlier you become aware of your opponent's intentions,
the easier will it be to meet them in the best possible way." - Pachman

MCO-13 Modern Chess Openings

Completely revised by Nick DeFirmian. The Chessplayer's bible now in algebraic notation. Takes into account every significant tournament and match game played in recent years, and all important published theoritical work. It contains in-depth analysis of every opening currently in use, from the Ruy Lopez, the French Defense,the Sicilian Defense, the King's Indian, the Nimzo-Indian,the Queen's Gambit and the English Opening, with up- to- the- minute evaluations of all known variations. Also included is exhaustive analysis of the subtle and enduringly popular older openings(Giuoco Piano, Two Knights, Vienna), and even the tricky openings that can be refuted only if you know the right moves.