How can a raw beginner win a game of chess against another raw beginner? I have a few suggestions:
- Read my book Beat That Kid in Chess; when you play chess, apply what you learned
- Learn to imagine a move, looking at the board as if the move were already made
- Become proficient with at least two kinds of checkmates
- In a given position, if you cannot checkmate your opponent, can he do that to you?
- Look for checkmates first, then look for how you might win a piece or pawn
For now, let’s look only at suggestion #2.
Imagine a Move
The early beginner needs to learn to imagine a move and what might happen if that move were made. Look at the diagram below.
White to move
What did you notice, on first looking at this position? Did you see black’s threat? If it were black’s turn, Qf1# ends the game in black’s favor.
Did you see a similar move for white: Qc8+? It would not be mate, however, for the black knight would capture that queen. But we do have something similar, and it eventually leads to white winning through a back-rank mate.
The move Qg8+ forces black to give up at least one piece and delay mate for at least one move, or resign. (Any blocking of check to the black king is only temporary.)
Imagine white moving the queen from g4 to c8
At least two things are needed, to properly imagine a chess move:
- Imagine that the piece moved has disappeared from the original square
- Imagine that piece is now at the square that you saw it could move to
Of course #1 is not always important, not in every position. But sometimes it makes a difference in making calculations. (The above position makes no difference.)
By imagining the queen on that square at the top of the above chess position, we can then see that the black knight is defending that square, meaning it would capture the white queen if that piece moved there.
I don’t imagine a “Q” appearing on that square and I don’t imagine a large “X” written over the image of the white queen on the g4 square. Those are just for illustration.
How do I imagine a chess move? I just give special mental emphasis to a particular square and imagine a new position, one in which all the other pieces are still on their original squares but the moving piece has already moved. I then make some judgment of the resulting position, often then imaging my opponent’s possible responses and my secondary move possibilities.
How few [chess books] concentrate on what the early beginner needs the most! “Beat That Kid in Chess” differs by emphasizing the simple basics that give the biggest rewards . . .
My new paperback book, about to be published, really is for the early beginner, the player who knows the rules of chess but almost nothing else about the game.
In the 1942 film Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart plays the part of Rick . . . An early scene includes Rick working his way through an opening variation of chess by himself.
When you have the queen, in an ending with nothing but a queen and an opposing rook, watch out for the defender’s drawing opportunities.