Like most chess teachers, I encourage my students to look for forcing moves: checks, captures and threats.

Some time ago I thought it a good idea to teach them to use a CCTV to look at the board, so I told them about Checks, Captures, Threats and Violent moves. The Violent moves serves as a reminder to make sure you haven’t missed anything out. One boy, who had been taught by Nice Ladies that violence is a Bad Thing, told me it should be Checks, Captures and Threats lead to Victory. Yes, I’m happy with that as well.

Reading Master Your Chess with Judit Polgar recently (my review is here), I was pleased to see that Judit also uses CCTV, but she prefers Checks, Captures, Threats, Variations. Another good idea, I think. You don’t just have to look for Checks, Captures and Threats (for your opponent as well as yourself, of course), but also the variations arising from them.

I’m now reading Improve Your Chess Calculation by RB Ramesh, who takes a much more serious approach to study than Polgar. No entertaining acronyms for him. He also advises students to look for checks, captures and threats, but he adds a fourth sort of move you should always consider: pawn breaks. Again, this seems like excellent advice, as you’d expect from such a well-regarded coach. The subject of pawn breaks is one that often gets insufficient attention from both teachers and players.

I was wondering how I could incorporate pawn breaks into my (and Judit’s) CCTV acronym: this would also mollify those who dislike violence. (My view, by the way, is that real violence is bad, but pretend violence is good. Most kids understand this, but most adults don’t.)

The best I could come up with was Checks, Captures, Threats and leVers, as pawn breaks are sometimes also known as pawn levers. What do you think? Can you come up with anything better?

Here’s a game by the late Tony Miles demonstrating the power of pawn breaks.

Richard James

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Richard James

Author: Richard James

Richard James is a professional chess teacher and writer living in Twickenham, and working mostly with younger children and beginners. He was the co-founder of Richmond Junior Chess Club in 1975 and its director until 2005. He is the webmaster of chessKIDS academy ( or and, most recently, the author of Chess for Kids and The Right Way to Teach Chess to Kids, both published by Right Way Books. Richard has been a member of Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club since 1966. Richard is a published author and his books can be found at Amazon. Richard is currently promoting minichess (games and puzzles using subsets of chess) for younger children through his website, and writing coaching materials for children (and adults) who want to start playing serious competitive chess, through View all posts by Richard James

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