5 questions to ask yourself before you move

 

 

Have you ever had that moment when you realize you made a mistake, right after you made your move? You can’t believe your own eyes?! You almost feel like pulling your own hair out?! You’re not alone! It happens to the very best: Garry Kasparov blundered his queen against Viswanathan Anand in this legendary blitz game from 1996 in Geneva. We’ve all heard that every move has a consequence and one should think before to move. But how exactly? Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before you make your move.

1 Are there any immediate threats from my opponent?

As a result of his or her last move, is your opponent threatening any immediate tactical combinations such as double attacks, skewers, discovered checks, deflections, trapped pieces …? Can your opponent check you and follow the check up with any of the above? Can your opponent threaten a checkmate and follow the threat up with any of the above? Can your opponent capture one of your pieces and upon recapture from your side follow up with any of the above? Can your opponent approach your king, expose your king or entice your king towards more dangerous waters?

 

check-curious-eye-41558

 

 

2 How did my opponent’s last move change the position?

Now it’s time to have a closer look at the chess board: observe what has happened to the position. Every move has a consequence and firstly, you want to identify the consequences of your opponent’s last move. Is there any piece of yours under attack now? Any files, ranks or diagonals that are now opened up or shut down? Which squares have become available for your pieces? Which squares are no longer available? It’s important to not only look at where the piece has moved to but also where it has moved from: what was the piece doing at it’s original square in the first place? Did (s)he create any weaknesses by leaving that square?

 

board-game-challenge-champion-33078

 

 

3 What is the long term strategic plan of my opponent?

Now it’s time to ask yourself the question why: why did your opponent make this move? What’s the purpose of the move? Is (s)he planning an attack anytime soon? Maybe it’s a prophylactic move? Maybe (s)he’s just gradually improving his/her position?

Don’t trick yourself into believing that your opponent doesn’t know what (s)he is doing. Even though this might be true occasionally, you want to play every game, every move as if you’d be playing yourself.

Your opponent, your opponent, your opponent…. What about me???
Yes, in chess, it’s important to focus on the other person first. It’s almost as if you’re listening to what your opponent tells you with his/her last move. Once you have a better understanding of your opponent’s intentions, it’s time to think about your move and come with a response.

4 How can I prevent my opponent’s plan?

Again my opponent??? One more question to keep at the back of your mind before you build your own plan. After question 3, you have a better understanding of what your opponent is trying to do. Make sure that after whatever move you’re planning to make, your opponent can’t just run his plan freely without any obstruction from your part.

 

quote-when-you-see-a-good-move-look-for-a-better-one-emanuel-lasker-54-33-81

https://www.azquotes.com/author/23916-Emanuel_Lasker

5 What’s my biggest opportunity?

By now, you have a pretty good idea of what your opponent is trying to achieve and how you can prevent it from happening. Go through questions 1 and 3 again but from your point of view this time. This serves as the basis for forming your own plan. Plenty of ideas are coming to mind now and it’s time to make a decision: many good candidate moves but how do you select the best one? What’s my biggest opportunity? The answer might surprise you: LET IT GO! Take a deep breath, exhale slowly, follow your gut feeling and make your move!

 

 

 

Play Together, Have Fun Together – Part 1

Matthias Schmitt

We recently talked to one of our partners from Schachclub Vaterstetten-Grasbrunn and co-organizer of the Chessimo Chess Cups. An interesting conversation about his love for chess, the game’s benefits for young people and an unusual concept for tournaments, part one:

Mr. Schmitt, to start off with, a question that is almost obligatory: how did you come to play chess?

I’ve got to admit that I really was a late bloomer in that regard. Even though I had already been curious as a child and  had tried to teach myself to play chess with a manual from a collection of board games, I had failed in this endeavor and subsequently lost interest. When my daughter discovered her own love for chess five years ago, she kept improving her skills at a local community college (in a class that was taught by a member of the Vaterstetten-Grasbrunn chess club, by the way) and then pushed me to get back into it. We spent a lot of time together during that period and I turned from an eager player into a huge fan of the game. That is mostly due to the remarkable and positive developments that can be seen in children who play chess – not just for school, but for life in general.

The crucial effect that I have noticed not just with my daughter, but other children as well, is that their level of concentration in school is much higher. Thanks to this concentration, they absorb the subject matter immediately and can cut the time needed for homework in half. More time for more pleasurable things is an added bonus, of course. I can tell you about children whose performance in school became much better when they started playing chess. This was also confirmed by a study that was conducted at Trier-Olewig elementary school.

What other positive impacts can be seen in children and youths who play chess?

Longer games improve the ability to concentrate as well. They teach children how to focus on one thing for hours on end. Self-esteem also plays a big role, especially for the girls. What could possibly be better at this age than beating the boys? (laughs)

The positive social aspect that players solidify by taking part in classes or tournaments should not be ignored either. Children play against adults with the same skill-level in our club and that teaches them how to get along with people of all ages and heritage. Competing in events like the Bavarian Championship, team competitions or a chess summer camp builds a strong sense of community and positive relationships. That’s something that many people have lost sight of: chess is often a team sport!

Does the Vaterstetten-Grasbrunn chess club specifically foster children and youths?

Exactly! That’s why our club is one of the few to have a paid volunteer who teaches chess in local schools. The costs are completely covered by the club, since we’re convinced that anyone who’s interested in the game should have the chance to join a workshop.

That’s also why children can join our club for only 9€ per year. We thereby make sure that anybody can afford a membership, no matter their financial background. That fee does not only cover regular events and training, but we also pay their starting fee for external competitions.