A Foundation for Beginners Seventy Two

We’ll continue the game we start playing through a few weeks ago. I’m looking at this game and the moves we analyze through the eyes of a beginning player rather than a seasoned professional. What I mean is that we’ll look at each move and the reasoning behind those moves as if a beginner was doing the analysis. The reason for doing so is to introduce game analysis to the raw beginner. Playing through the games of stronger players is a crucial part of improving your own playing skills. Like anything else, it takes time, practice and patience to develop this skill set.

I had you, the reader, look at each move in terms of principled play, asking yourself the question “which principle applies to this specific move?” The game were playing through is a bit lopsided since one player is the great master Paul Morphy and the other, a not so good friend of the Morphy family. I use this game as an example because beginners will analyze their own games which often contain dubious moves that don’t quite follow the principles. We left off at move ten. Set up a board and pieces and play through the game below to move ten.

White plays 10. Bf1, attacking the Black Queen once again. I don’t recommend chasing you opponent’s Queen around endlessly if your opponent brings this powerful piece into the game early. While Morphy was a great player, he could have improved his development during the opening rather than go on a Queen hunt. Yes, he wins the game, but this type of playing would not work against a stronger player (of course, the stronger player wouldn’t bring the Queen out early) How does Black respond? By playing 10…Qe6. Think about how much time Black wasted by bringing the Queen out early. Time, or tempo as it’s called in chess, is a critical factor for many reasons. The opening is a race to see who can gain control of the board’s center first, denying the loser of this race the ability to create a centralized area for launching attacks. Bringing your Queen out and having to move it around over and over again, allows your opponent to solidify their control of the center, making it extremely difficult to get your pieces out onto the board and make any meaningful headway.

White follows through with 11. Nxd4, capturing the Black pawn on d4 and threatening the Black Queen once again. Black plays 11…Qe7. Take a look at the White pieces that are in the game, the Rook, the d4 and e4 Knights, and pawn on e5. All four are coordinated with one another. Even the White Bishop on c1 is participating by protecting the White Rook on g5. Pawn and piece coordination is something to consider when analyzing a move. If a move doesn’t immediately control a key square or attack something, does the move allow a piece that was otherwise trapped participate in the game (like the White Bishop on c1 after White moved the d pawn earlier in the game)? When your pawns and pieces work together they are much more successful than when they act alone. Coordinated pawns and pieces give you more options. Stronger players always have a good reason for a move, even if you don’t immediately see it!

White plays 12. Ne4 and Black responds with a threat, 12…h6. If the best reason you could come up with for White’s last move was to bring the Knight closer to the Black King, don’t feel as if you failed. White indeed is bringing his forces closer to the enemy King. As for Black’s move 12…h6, this threatens the White Rook and you should have immediately seen Black’s reasoning. Now, how should White respond? Think about a threat of your own. If you found 13. Nf5, you got it right! White found a greater threat, attacking the Black Queen. This should really demonstrate why its a mistake to bring the Queen out early! Black plays 13…Qe6.

This game should serve as an example of why you use the game’s principles to guide you. Had Black followed the opening principles, this would have been a very different looking game. While Black most likely wouldn’t have won, his game would have been better. Stick to principled play and you’ll get a lot further in the development of good chess skills. The principles have been around for hundreds of years and work. If they didn’t work, we wouldn’t be talking about them!

I am cutting the game off here because next week’s article is going to center around the next three moves of the game. White is going to make an initial move that seems no more than a simple trade of material that doesn’t really do anything. At least that’s the way it will appear to the eyes of a newer chess player. However, this is part of a combination that, when executed, will give White an advantage!

Your job is to work through those next three moves. Start with move 14, thinking about Black’s best response to White’s move. Take a good look at the way in which White’s pawns and pieces work with one another. Think about the ideas of opening space up around the Black King by trading pieces/removing defenders as well as another attack on the Black Queen. Black’s problems stem from one bad move, moving the Queen to f6 early in the game. A bad move is exponential in many cases and only creates greater problems later on. Had Black stuck to the principles, he wouldn’t be in such a pickle. When we finish this game, I’m going to give you one game to analyze on your own by answering a series of questions I’ll provide. I’ll see you next week and don’t forget to work through the moves we’ll look at next week!

Hugh Patterson

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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

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