This is the first installment in what I hope will become a lengthy series of posts on chess. Each day, give or take–and history suggests more take than give–I’ll post something about chess. I’m doing this for three reasons, mainly. First, I’ve been studying chess for about six months now, and it will impose some semblance of order on my studies to actually begin listing the concrete skills and abilities that I’ve acquired. Second, explaining these concepts and methods to others reinforces the material for me; for this reason, this project is, admittedly, more beneficial for me than for anyone else. Third, I regret not posting more on OP, and this will bring me back to the blog on a near-daily basis, even if I’m producing content that is primarily of interest only to me.
(Warning to those who somehow happen on this page while seeking chess instruction online: I’m a rank amateur, and there’s no end of expert advice and instruction on the web. These posts are for my edification more than anyone else’s.)
Let’s begin by mating with the Queen, which isn’t anywhere near as much fun as it sounds.
In chess, of course, the object of the game is to checkmate the opponent. We do this when two conditions are met: (i) the opponent’s King is in ‘check,’ which basically means under threat of capture, and (ii) the opponent’s King cannot escape check–for example, by moving to another square where it is not under threat of capture. Should you reach a stage in a chess game where you have your Queen and King against the opponent’s lone King, checkmating the opponent is very easy. It’s so easy, in fact, that most opponents will simply resign before you have a chance to execute the coup de grace, but one should nevertheless know the procedure. It would be embarrassing to reach this position of overwhelming material advantage only to have trouble finishing the opponent off. Worse still, a careless player can inadvertently create a stalemate, which is a draw.
So let’s imagine that we are playing White, and we’ve reached this happy position:
From this position, my preferred method for checkmating Black goes like this:
Step 1: Using the Queen, drive Black’s King to the edge of the board.
The best way to do this is not by giving checks, but rather by gradually closing off area available to the opponent’s King. A really effective and easy to remember way of doing this is to pretend your Queen is a Knight and to give ‘checks’, like so:
With each move, White’s Queen further constricts the mobility of Black’s King, while remaining far enough away from the King to avoid capture. Eventually, using this method, Black’s King is driven to an edge of the board (which edge depends, of course, on how Black moves):
This is an ideal position. All Black can do is shuffle back and forth between a8 and b8. Time for
Step 2: Bring in the White King!
White simply walks his King from f2 to e3 to d4 to c5 to b6:
And after …Ka8 comes Qb7 checkmate:
There are other ways to mate with a Queen, of course, but this method seems foolproof to me!
Keys to remember:
*Using your Queen, begin by driving the opponent’s King to the edge of the board, keeping the Queen at a ‘Knight’s distance’ from the Queen.
*Avoid pointless checks! The only check you should give is the final checkmate.
* Only bring your King in after you’ve driven your opponent’s King into an ideal position, where it has two (but only two) squares to shuffle back and forth on.
Next Installment: A Puzzle