Saturday, 20 November 2010

Junior Club Week 8: Check! Your options.

If you find yourself in check there are three ways to get out of check: Move, Block or Capture.

In the below position black is in check.  He only has one option, to move, in this case to h7.

In the next position black is in check, but this time his only option is to block with his bishop.

To complete the three options we can see that black, in check again, must capture the rook to get out of check.

It's all so easy when there is only one option.  But what if all three options are available?  A lot of younger players when hearing check grab their king in panic.
When you find yourself in check don't panic Stop, Think, Evaluate and then Move (STEM).

Let us consider an example

We have just heard black announce check.  Step one Stop.  Do not touch your king.  Resist the urge to move your king as your first option.

In chess it is best if we consider all the best options we have.  We should do this for all moves, but sometimes there are so many options it can be confusing.  When we find ourselves in check things are simpler, we have to get out of check.  We know we have three options.  Take your time try and think of all the possibilities for each of the three ways to escape check.
What you should do is create a mental list, this is the thinking.

There are two different squares the king can move to

Try to say in your mind why this is good or bad.
Good, not many good points except we are out of check.
Bad, Remember week 7 A.C.K.S.?  The king in the centre is not safe.  The king is also blocking the bishop from activating.
Next move option is 1.Kd1
 Good: None
Bad: Again the king is not safe, but look at the black queen's X-ray vision.  Looks scary to me.

White can block with 1.c3

Good: The pawn blocks the check while attacking the bishop.  After the bishop moves white should be able to find time to castle his king to safety.
Bad: Forcing the bishop to move will probably result in 1...Bd6 where the bishop attacks the queen.

White does have 1.Qxb4

Good: We have got rid of the bishop.
Bad: Black's knight can capture the white queen.  we don't want to lose a queen for a bishop.
{Tip:- Even though the capture is silly it is still worth thinking about.  One of these days a capture will be the best move}

Now that the list is complete we have to try and weigh the options against each other.  Think of the good and bad points like weights on a set of scales.  Which ever option has the most good points is the move we choose.  This process is what chess players call evaluation.

We should have selected a move by now.  In the above example the block 1.c3 had the most good points, so won easily.

Remember when you hear check  Stop, Think, Evaluate and then Move.
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