Sunday, 14 November 2010

Junior Club Week 7: Opening - First steps

At the start of the game both armies face each other eager to do battle.  
The first few moves are known as the opening.  There are many rules and guidelines to help us open a game of chess correctly.

This lesson introduces 3 very simple rules that help us to open a game correctly.  Perhaps you can remember them as A.C.K.S.  (say axe).

Activate – No army can win a battle if it lazes around at home.  The armies’ fighting units need to get into the battle.  In chess this relates to getting the knights and bishops out.  We should aim to get them all out, so try not to move a piece again once it has been moved.  Unless of course it is under attack, or your opponent has left a piece unguarded piece ready to take.
Centralise- The 4 central squares are the most important on the chess board.  
The reason is movement.  The player who controls these 4 squares the best can use them to move his pieces around the quickest.  Pieces should be moved towards the centre wherever possible.  
The very best way to control the centre is to move one of your pawns to a central square.  Try to move your pieces before pawns, but to get the bishops out you have to move a pawn, so might as well move a central pawn.

 King Safety – As the king is the most important piece we want to get him safe.  We are lucky as there is an easy way to do this by castling.  

Here are the first few moves of a game.  White is a player using the axe (ACKS) system, black is making it up.
  1. e4 - White allows his bishop to move and lands a pawn on one of the central squares.
1… h6 - Black has moved a pawn it doesn’t control the centre and it doesn’t allow a piece to activate.

  1. Nf3 - Activates a knight towards the centre.
2…a5 - Another pawn move!  It doesn’t control the centre, or allow piece activation. 

3. Bc4 – Activates the bishop which aims at one of the centre squares.  The bishop also points dangerously towards black’s king.  Once the king’s bishop and knight have moved the king can castle into safety.
3… e6 – Black’s third pawn move.  At least black clears a path for his king’s bishop so it can finally activate. 

 4. 0-0 – The white king finds safety and as a bonus the rook comes towards the centre.

4… Na6 – Hurray!  At last black activates a piece.  It would have been even better if the knight had activated towards the centre.

5. Nc3 – White’s queenside knight leaps into the battle, both active and central.
                        5… d6 – Yet another pawn move.

6. d4 – As white needs to active his queen’s bishop the d4 pawn needs to be moved.  With d4 we see the pawn opening a path for the bishop, but also occupying a central square (d4) and controlling another (e5).

6… Ne7 – Black activates a knight towards the centre.  Has black finally caught on?

7. Be3 – White’s last piece joins the battle.  The bishop supports the pawn on d4 which makes white’s centre even more powerful.

7…Ng6 – Black’s knight moves  a second time, it is best to move each piece only once unless there is a very good reason not to, such as it is under attack.

8. Re1 – All of white’s pieces are out, so he can start thinking about the rest of his opening.  Centralise the rooks and activate the queen are the next steps.  More on this later.

8… Nb4 – both of black’s knights have now moved twice.  This type of move looks tempting as the knight seems to threaten white's position, but really black’s knight can be easily chased back with 9.a3. 

White is better and can now plan an attack.

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Last week's puzzle was:

1.Bxc6! is the winning move.  
The bishop forks king and rook, but if the queen captures the cheeky bishop then 2.Qd8 is checkmate.
In this puzzle we had to combine different ideas (fork, removal of the guard and checkmate) to find the answer.  We will discuss this more later.

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