Checks, Captures, Queen Attacks!

IM Daniel Rensch Mar 19, 2010 12993 reads
Checks, Captures, Queen Attacks!

By International Master Daniel Rensch

As a young and beginning chess player, it is easy to focus ONLY on your own ideas, your own plans, and your own threats. Although it is very imporant to try and attack your opponent (without attacking you would never win right?), it is just as imporant to be aware of, and always try to stop your opponent's threats.

That person sitting across from you isn't just waiting for you to find "that brilliant checkmate", play like a genius, and beat them Wink. He or she is also trying to create threats and attack you too! And don't forget it! So, how do we deal with this? How do we train ourselves to not focus solely on our own threats? How do we build the muscles of defense and "Prophylactic Thinking"? What is "Prophylactic Thinking"? Well, keep reading and you will find out...

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Prophylaxis, or "Prophylactic Thinking" is really just a fancy way of saying "what is my opponent going to do to me? How can I stop this?". This type of "defensive minded" chess is very important to understand, because even though we win with our own threats, we can ONLY lose when we miss our opponent's threats! Pretty simple right? So let's practice...

Checks! Every move you should be looking for your oppnent's threats. What more important threat is there to look for then a possible check against your king? Afterall, any check you miss might be checkmate! While thinking about your next move, you must first take every possible check into consideration, just to make sure that either A) there are no checks, or B) that none of the available checks are any good. Hey, look to the position below and try to see all the possible checks for both sides. Can you count them all?

 



Okay, if that position seemed simple just remember the point of this article: to build your defensive muscles! Even if you saw most of the checks, did you see all ten right away? How long did it take you to notice and really see the whole board? What if that one check you missed was an important check in a real game? Just make sure you try to see everything! Let's move on...

Captures! Certainly the second most important thing to look for every move is a capture(s). If you miss a threat for your opponent to take one of your pieces, especially if its for free, you will be in big trouble Yell. So stay focused!





How quickly did you see all nine captures? To get more practice, you can look back at that position and ask yourself what you would actually play if you were white. But only do it for fun, because it is a very tricky position and you shouldn't stress too much about it Sealed... 

Queen Attacks!
For our third and final piece of advice on how to "avoid blundering (which means missing something BIG)" and build "Prophylactic Thinking", we are going to discuss Queen Attacks.

The reason looking for threats on your queen is the third most important thing to do is simple: she (the queen) is the most powerful piece on the board! In most situations, if you lose her for anything less than a equal queen-trade, you are headed in the wrong direction... You should build the habit of knowing where your queen is on the board at all times, what she is doing, and who might try to attack her.

Well, what do you think? Can we remember these three most important things to think about on every move? If this was too simple, don't worry, there will be more. Learning to stop your opponent's threats is an art! Many Chess Champions became great players just by learning how to stop their opponent's plans, sometimes before their opponent even knew what was happening! Yup, believe it! Remember, even if you think this was easy, the most important thing is a good, solid reminder of what causes every player and ANY level to lose: not paying attention to their opponent's threats...

Until next time Cool...