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STRATEGIES AND TACTICS OF CHESS


Value of the Pieces

The value of each piece depends on its mobility and position on the chessboard.

A Pawn improves its value by advancing because it increases the chance of promotion on the last rank.

Each piece has an empirical value expressed in points of material.

Pawn = 1 point

Knight = 3 points

Bishop = 3.25 points

Rook = 5 points

Queen = 9 points

The King has an unquantifiable value because its loss is the defeat.

A loss of material not compensated by a positional improvement is a mistake that can lead to defeat.

A loss of material compensated by a positional improvement is called sacrifice and can lead to victory.

Every positional improvement is finalized to checkmate the enemy King.

The loss of a Queen (9 points of material) for an enemy Rook (5 points of material) is a mistake if there is no positional improvement (9-5=4 points of material lost).

The loss of a Knight (3 points of material) for an enemy Rook (5 points of material) is a profitable exchange if there is no positional decrease (5-3=2 points of material gained).

When a piece is threatened, it is important to count the number of attackers and defenders.


Opening Strategy

The control of the center of the chessboard is crucial.

Advance the central Pawns and move Knights and Bishops to the center of the chessboard.

Perform a castling move to protect the King and to activate the Rook.

The Rooks can defend each other (connection of the Rooks) by moving the Queen, but avoid exposing the Queen too early.

It is important to create a synergy between the pieces, maximizing their ability to attack and defend.

The Pawn structure should avoid gaps; the Pawns should protect themselves.

Avoid creating doubled Pawns, two Pawns of the same color on the same file, because they lose mobility and are easy prey.

The Pawns in front of the King are important for the defense.

A piece should not hinder the development of the pieces of the same color.

Control the center of the chessboard.

Develop the least active piece.

Each move should improve the activity of the pieces.


Middlegame Strategy

This example is 1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 c5 3.c4 e6 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.g3 Nf6 7.Bg2 Be7 8.0-0 0-0 9.Be3.

Avoid launching an attack without the control of the center of the chessboard.

Control the opponent's weak squares like the outposts.

An outpost is a square on the fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh rank that is protected by a Pawn and cannot be attacked by an opponent's Pawn.

Open a file and control it with the Rooks.

Every exchange of pieces should avoid the loss of material.

A loss of material is only recommended if there is a positional gain.


Fork

In this example, the white Knight moves to c7 and performs a fork against the black King on e8 and the black Rook on a8; the black King is in check and is forced to move, so the white Knight on c7 captures the black Rook on a8.

A fork is when a piece attacks two or more enemy pieces simultaneously.

The fork is a tactic used to gain material.

A fork is absolute when the King is one of the attacked pieces; otherwise, it is a relative fork.


Pin

This example is 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 Bc5 4.Bg5.

The white dark-squared Bishop moves from c1 to g5, and it performs a pin against the black Knight on f6.

In a pin, the attacked piece protects a more valuable piece behind it.

A pin is a tactic used to immobilize a piece and to gain material.

Only Bishops, Rooks, and Queens can perform a pin because they attack in a straight line.

An absolute pin is when the protected piece is the King; otherwise, it is a relative pin.

In this example, the black Knight on f6 protects the black Queen on d8; it is a relative pin.


Skewer

In this example, the white Rook moves to f8 and performs a skewer; the black King is in check and is forced to move, so the white Rook captures the black Rook.

In a skewer, a piece attacks two enemy pieces in a straight line, but unlike the pin, the piece in front has a greater value, so it is forced to move, allowing the capture of the piece behind.

A skewer is a tactic used to gain material.

Only Bishops, Rooks, and Queens can perform a skewer because they attack in a straight line.

An absolute skewer is when the attacked piece is the King; otherwise, it is a relative skewer.

In this example, the white Rook performs an absolute skewer.


Discovered Attack

This example is 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 cxd4 5.cxd4 Qb6 6.Bd3 Qxd4.

In this example, the white light-squared Bishop can perform a discovered attack by moving from d3 to b5; the black King must escape check, so the white Queen on d1 can capture the black Queen on d4.

A discovered attack is when the movement of a piece allows to another piece to attack the enemy.

A discovered attack is a tactic used to gain material or tempo.

There are different types of discovered attack.

This example is a discovered attack with check.

A discovered check is when the King is attacked by a piece that has not moved.

A double check is when the King is attacked simultaneously by the piece that has moved and by a piece that has not moved.

A discovered checkmate is when the King is checkmated by a piece that has not moved.


Endgame Strategy

In this example, the white Rook moves to g1, protecting the Pawn on g5 and allowing its advancement and promotion.

An endgame is when few pieces remain on the chessboard.

The King should play an active role in the endgame.

Create a passed Pawn and escort it to promotion.

A passed Pawn is a Pawn with no enemy Pawns in front of it on the same file nor on an adjacent file.

The best way to escort a passed Pawn is to place a Rook behind it.

Promoting multiple Queens can be counterproductive because it could lead to a stalemate, and it is usually a waste of time; the priority is to checkmate the enemy King.