A Foundation for Beginners Fifty Six

We’ll look at the position from last week and examine the idea of “the squares left behind” in greater detail this week. I know there’s a lot being thrown at you in terms of analyzing a given position, which is known as positional analysis in chess. However, the greater your ability to look at a position in detail, in terms of the interaction between all of the pawns and pieces belonging to both players, the better move decisions you’ll make. While you may feel as if you’re spending an hour each time it’s your turn to find a move, the process of analysis will take less and less time as your skills improve. Let’s dive into learning more about “the squares left behind.”

Beginners, once they have a little tactical knowledge in their skill set, tend to look more closely at the squares their pieces need to move through and onto to when launching a specific tactic. They see a clear path to the square from which the tactic will be executed. They’ve determined that they will be able to get a piece to that square before their opponent can stop the tactical strike. The beginner is starting to see the bigger picture but is not seeing the entire picture! They are really looking at their opponent’s side of the board which is necessary. However, they are missing something crucial, the squares the piece that will execute the tactic has left behind.

If you have a Knight on a centralized square and can move that Knight to a square that allows it to fork your opponent’s King and Rook, for example, it seems like a good idea. After all, you’ll be winning material. Beginners see such a position in a one sided way. They see a potential weakness in their opponent’s position while never considering potential weaknesses on their side of the board. The Knight originally on c3 might be guarding a few key squares that stop an enemy attack. The beginner moving the Knight towards a fork against their opponent’s King and Rook might end up never winning the Rook because their opponent launches a counterattack, using the squares left behind as a pathway.

Set up the following position on the chessboard: Set up the Black Queen on f8, a Black Rook on a8, a Black Bishop on e5, a Black Knight on b4 and the Black King on a6. Set up the White King on e1, the White Queen on e3, a White Rook on h2 and a White Rook on h1. Remember, you’re playing White in this game.

Let’s start by looking at the White Rook on h2. This Rook has a problem. It’s being attacked by the Black Bishop on e5. A beginner who is paying attention will notice this and move the Rook. But where the Rook is moved to is crucial in regards to the squares left behind, the squares it stops defending when it moves. One square that is extremely important is c2. If the h2 Rook moves off of the second rank, Black will move the Knight from b4 to c2, forking White’s King and Queen. This is a good example of the damage that can occur when you leave vulnerable squares undefended. Unfortunately, most beginners see their goal of deploying a successful tactic and ignore the squares the piece being used for the tactic initially defends.

Now look at the White Queen on e3 and the Black Bishop on e5. It certainly appears, at first glance, that the Black Bishop is a hanging piece that can be taken free of charge, by the White Queen. However, it comes at a steep cost. If the White Queen captures the Black Bishop, the Black Knight on b4 will move to d3 and fork the White King and Queen, winning White’s most powerful piece (the Queen). This is why you must examine the squares a piece defends before moving that piece.

Sometimes a good chess player will lure you into moving a piece off of a crucial defensive square by offering up a seemingly free piece or an exchange that works to your advantage. This is often to remove a defender (your piece) off of a square your opponent can then use to launch an attack. This is another good reason to examine any squares you leave behind when moving a piece.

In short, you should always look at the squares a piece is defending before committing that piece to being moved. By looking at your opponent’s pawns and pieces, and determining whether or not they are attacking anything (material or squares) on your side of the board, you start the process of examining the “squares left behind.” However, you have to dig deeper, examining every square the piece in question controls. It may seem like too much work, but in the end, you’ll find out if you have any weaknesses.

Your homework is as follows: As White, look at each piece on it’s starting square in this position. Examine every single square those pieces control. Look at the Black pieces and determine whether or not they can take advantage of those squares the White pieces control. Do this for Black as well. After going through this process, see if you can find any winning situations that would occur if a piece leaves key squares it’s defending by moving. Next week, we’ll go through them and wrap this position up. Here’s a game to enjoy until then!

Hugh Patterson

Please follow and like us:
follow subscribe
Hugh Patterson

Author: Hugh Patterson

Prior to teaching chess, Hugh Patterson was a professional guitarist for nearly three decades, playing in a number of well known San Francisco bands including KGB, The Offs, No Alternative, The Swinging Possums and The Watchmen. After recording a number of albums and CDs he retired from music to teach chess. He currently teaches ten chess classes a week through Academic Chess. He also created and runs a chess program for at-risk teenagers incarcerated in juvenile correctional facilities. In addition to writing a weekly column for The Chess Improver, Hugh also writes a weekly blog for the United States Chess League team, The Seattle Sluggers. He teaches chess privately as well, giving instruction to many well known musicians who are only now discovering the joys of chess. Hugh is an Correspondence Chess player with the ICCF (International Correspondence Chess Federation). He studied chemistry in college but has worked in fields ranging from Investment Banking and commodities trading to Plastics design and fabrication. However, Hugh prefers chess to all else (except Mrs. Patterson and his beloved dog and cat). View all posts by Hugh Patterson

You May Also Like