The Chess Project : Installment #6 : The Overeager Queen

In chess the Queen is the most powerful piece on the board.  As the most powerful piece, it is, somewhat paradoxically, the most easily threatened, since it (usually) must flee when any other piece on the board (except for the Queen of opposing color, of course) threatens to capture it.  Because it’s easily chased away by lesser pieces, it’s generally a bad idea (in fact it’s one of Reinfeld’s nine bad ideas) to bring the Queen out into the middle of the board too early.  Your opponent can develop with threats, which gives him a huge time advantage.  Worse still, as you dart your Queen around the board, moving it from one perilous square to another, your opponent can set traps and initiate attacks that will eventually lead to your Queen’s capture and the end of the game.

These general rules of thumb were well illustrated by a live game I just played.  I’m playing the White pieces and manage an easy win because my opponent is too eager to wreak havoc with his Queen.

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4 Responses to The Chess Project : Installment #6 : The Overeager Queen

  1. Nates says:

    Bxe5 didn’t help any either.
    (I think you’re tricking me into getting back into chess!)

  2. Josh says:

    This is great stuff.

    It being summer I’ve been re-watching The Wire, and there’s an early episode where D’Angelo Barksdale teaches Wallace and Bodie how to play. It’s rich with metaphor but doesn’t quite hold up on the 5th or 6th viewing (but what does I guess).

    Anyhow I’ve always just admired chess from afar, since I’m just no good at doing much more than understanding the rules and looking like 1 move ahead at best. Any tips for getting beyond that? The topics you’re considering are, obviously, a few clicks beyond “beginner.”

  3. David says:

    Josh, I hope you don’t end up wishing you hadn’t asked me this question!

    I have so many ideas for how to learn and improve at chess. Where to begin?

    By far the single best way to improve rapidly at chess is to play, and ideally to play against players better than you. This is hard to do because chess is a competitive game, and it’s no fun to lose, but honestly no other method of learning/improvement comes close in terms of skill-gained-per-hour-spent. You can learn about various tactics in a book or on a web video, but once you’ve fallen prey to the tactic in a game you tend to remember it, look out for it, and look for ways to execute the tactic yourself.

    Also, the more I play the more I’m beginning to understand how much of chess is just pattern recognition, and the only way to get better at pattern recognition is by exposing yourself to the most important and commonly occurring patterns over and over and over again. As you get ‘better’ you really begin to SEE the board differently. The arrangement of pieces is alive with threats and possibilities that you didn’t notice at first, and of course players of my level are blind to still further threats and possibilities that the expert will immediately ‘see.’ (There’s a cool point about epistemology buried in here somewhere, but I don’t feel like trying to get at it just now.)

    All this to say: If you’d ever like to play, let me know! I’d be happy to walk you through some basics.

    In the meantime:

    A great place to explore chess is You can register for free and access their video archives, which contains more videos than you could ever watch on every aspect of the game. The archives are conveniently categorized as well, so, for example, you can look for all videos relating to ‘Openings’ at the ‘Beginner level,’ etc.

    Youtube, as it turns out, is a treasure trove when it comes to chess, though it can be difficult at first to discriminate between the good and the bad. Here’s a great web site that contains a lot of useful material for beginners (as well as intermediate and advanced players):

    As for books, here are the three beginner books that I’ve found most helpful (I’ve looked at a couple of dozen!):

    I’ll be very happy if my series of posts entices you to take up this great game!

  4. Juan says:

    Like Nates said, I didn’t get bishop takes e5 either. Before that, it looks to me like black should be fine. You can run it through an engine, it would be interesting to see what it says.

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