donderdag 31 juli 2014

Chess Tips

Are Chess Tips Useful?

Of course they are!  Like in any other game, tips can be very helpful for rapid improvement.  Unfortunately, chess is such a complex game that just a few tips are not enough to allow you to jump to the next level. 
Here are some very general tips that you will hopefully find helpful:

General Chess Tips - Openings

Chess Tip #1: Opening Choice

Make sure you choose openings that fit your style.  If you are a tactical player, do not choose the English opening with white, and the French Defense with black, for instance.

Chess Tip #2: Time to Learn

When you select an opening, make sure you have the time necessary to master it.  Some openings, like the Sicilian Defense, are incredibly vast and complex and require countless hours to learn and understand.  If you do not have the time, pick openings that are more "compact."

Chess Tip #3: Develop First

Do not succumb to the temptation of going after your opponent right away.  Remember, the opening is the phase of the game where you are trying to deploy your forces.  Whenever you are getting ready to make a move in the opening, ask yourself if it fulfills the goal of development.

Chess Tip #4: Fight for the Center

Do not give up the center!  Always remember the importance of the center of the chess board.  Make sure your pieces are developed in such a way that they can contribute to the fight for the center which is almost sure to occur later on.

Chess Tip #5: Be Aware of Gambits

Gambits are quite common in the opening phase of the game.  When you are tempted to take the pawn you are being offered, always make sure that you know what your opponent's ulterior motive is! 

 General Chess Tips - Middle Game

Chess Tip #6: Make the Transition

Your goals during the middle game are very different from those in the opening.  When the time comes, make sure you take a moment to acknowledge the end of the opening phase, and set your strategy for the next phase.

Chess Tip #7: What is He Doing?

Remember, the game of chess involves two players, not just you.  No matter how enamored you are with your own plans, make sure you always ask yourself about your opponent's intentions.

Chess Tip #8: Know When to Calculate

You are not a computer.  You can not calculate countless moves ahead on every single move.  Develop a sense as to when you should spend a lot of thinking time calculating, and when you can get away with using your intuition.

Chess Tip #9: Don't Stop

If you are in the middle of calculating a combination, make sure you don't stop too early.  Analyze in your head the final position and assure yourself that you have gone deep enough.

Chess Tip #10: Have a Plan

As obvious as this sounds, the fact is that players often forget to look at the big picture and make sure the moves they are making are part of a bigger plan.  Do not make this mistake!

General Chess Tips - Endgame

Chess Tip #11: Role of the King

Remember that in the endgame the king is not a liability anymore.  Instead of having to protect him, you can actually use him as a very dangerous weapon!

Chess Tip #12: Calculate More

Now that so many pieces are off the board, you can take the time to calculate more often and deeper than before.  Do not let your opponent surprise you with a move you haven't thought of!


Chess Tip #13: Study Endgames

There are many endgames that you can just not win during the game if you don't already know how.  So dedicate some of your preparation to the endgame, and focus on those you are most likely to encounter.

Chess Tip #14: Avoid Time Pressure

Tournament chess revolves around time controls, and the last thing you want is to lose a game because of time.  Pace yourself to make sure you will have enough time left when nearing the time control.

Chess Tip #15: Analyze Your Games

No matter what the result of the game was, make sure you take the time to carefully go over it.  Nothing helps you learn better than your own mistakes!
Hope you enjoyed these tips. 

Improve at chess

Improve at chess - 10 "secret" obstacles

If you are serious about your chess improvement, you should know the top 10 reasons for stagnation:
1) Too much play
Playing chess - practice - is very important for improvement. When you play chess (over the board, at tournaments), you put into practice what you have learned, you use your brain to think chess, you are in the testing environment, you test your accumulated knowledge and skill against another person.
However, too much play and too little study holds you back. You can repeat the same mistakes over and over. You will tend to follow your own old patterns and not have time to develop a different, correct thinking process, and to learn proper strategy and new ideas.
In this case, you should take a long break from playing and concentrate only on study for several months. You will make a significant improvement.

2) Incomplete knowledge
It's so simple: an incomplete study of theory leaves you with weaknesses and a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
There is no shortcut; a necessary task for serious improvement is to have COMPLETE knowledge of chess theory, of chess strategy. Then, you will know what TO DO in any situation on the chess board. It makes no sense to re-invent the wheel when there are full blueprints available.

3) Too much training
The idea is to optimize your time for study.
Too much information on the same subject becomes superfluous.
Too many exercises of the same kind will only hold you back.
Too much theory without enough exercises or too many exercises without essential theory is also counterproductive.
Too much of anything may hold back your creativity and diminish your joy for the game.
You do not need Quantity but Quality! Save yourself time and study and train only with the best materials, not with ALL materials.

4) Disorganized study
Disorganized study habits are another reason for stagnation for even the most serious learners.
Many lose a lot of time trying different methods, studying different materials - even if the individual lesson are good, the results of a piecemeal approach can be disappointing.
Acquiring the right blend of chess knowledge is a delicate balance and therefore you should make a good plan from the start or follow a professional program of study and training.

5) Quality of the lessons/books
What exactly a chess lesson teaches you makes a very big difference. Here, we have to give a concrete example.
Let's say you have two different lessons about the isolated pawn. The first lesson tells you that the isolated pawn is weak in the endgame and then fills the space with "illustrative" games. The second lesson systematizes the possible endgames into 10 possible types, tells you exactly which is a draw and which is winning, tells you how to defend and how to attack for each case, tells you exactly what to do in every situation.
Obviously the difference is enormous; the first lesson leaves you in semi-obscurity and you are left with the impression that the endgames are lost for the side with the isolated pawn, which is far from true. The second lesson really and concretely teaches you that subject so you will know what you have to do in every situation and what endgames to aim for, so that you can get the maximum from the position, win or draw.
As a conclusion: the substance of the lessons, that is, their concreteness, what and how they teach, and how structured they are, all make a big difference.

6) Passive learning
It might be enjoyable to browse through books, listen to videos, click through chess programs or talk in chess forums.
But if you want to obtain the best possible results, you need to learn ACTIVELY.
What is Active Learning? When you study a chess lesson, you have to WORK on it, you have to ask yourself questions all the time; when you study an annotated game, you should stop at almost every move to try to understand them or even find better moves. You should also try to guess the moves before looking at them.
This way you will take time to digest every position, every piece of information so you WILL enjoy your study much more. And as we said before, you need Quality and not Quantity.

7) Exercises
There are 2 kinds of exercises:
1. tactical exercises, (combinations) and
2. positional exercises (strategic problems).

Everybody knows what the tactical exercises are - solving tactical exercises helps you develop your tactical force, but this is only a part of a complete training program.
Positional exercises are less recognized for their importance. However, these are even more important than the first!
Positional exercises may be chosen from any stage of the game, but are most often from the middlegame. They are usually normal positions, where there is no tactical blow, trick, or anything to make you say "wow". This is “normal” chess, the 95% of the game where we employ strategy. That is, we use logical thinking, create plans, stop opponent's plans, re-arrange our pieces, provoke weaknesses, prepare an attack, defend etc...etc... - this is chess strategy.
And theory is not enough. We must train for chess strategy and solve POSITIONAL EXERCISES - this will train us for the game. Complete training means 50% theory and 50% individual work = exercise!
All good chess schools test their students all the time. After the lesson, the student has to solve strategic positions, find the plans/ideas, tell what they have TO DO in that position, and eventually find the first moves.
This is what we do in our core chess courses, Grandmaster Package, which is structured as 50% theory and 50% positional exercises. In the last 4 months of the course, we give a wide range of instructive, well-selected positions. Then we offer extensive analysis of the position and explain how the solution could be found.
Remember: positional exercises are completely different than tactical exercises and by no means less important.

8) The computer
Chess is a beautiful old game, played on the board. If you want to improve at chess, you must train using the real board and not the computer! We trust that this sounds logical enough to you.
It is indeed convenient to use the computer, you do not have to re-arrange the pieces all the time and it is ...modern. But when you prepare for chess, the technology, colors, design and so on do not help that much. They may even harm your progress.
Moreover, when you do play chess over the board, you will come to realize that the positions look different than on the 2 dimensions of your screen.
All world champions, top-grandmasters and strong players have studied chess at the board. Only after reaching mastery in chess, the use of computers is indeed helpful in the opening preparation for strong competitions.
Using chess software, chess engines, watching videos, could have benefits if it is done moderately, but all these bring little progress. Even at our online chess school, we offer all the lessons in PDF format so that they can be conveniently printed out and studied at the board.

9) Rating, rating, rating
The continuous pursuit of rating is counterproductive - the beauty of chess will be left behind in the desire for a certain rating or category.
The rating is less important and may not always reflect the real value of a player. Maybe he only needs to play more tournaments or maybe he needs a better opening which suits his style of play.
A player who wants to improve should concentrate only on understanding chess better and more deeply. At those moments when he wants to study a good lesson or an instructive game, to solve different positions, to understand strategic subtleties and to find excellent moves THAT moment there is progress... and the rating will surely increase sooner or later.

10) Chess is hard
No, chess is NOT hard. Thinking that "chess is hard" is however a reason for stagnation.
Chess is complex, indeed, but it is this complexity that makes it beautiful.
You have to think positively. Look at the beauty of this game, at the pleasure such a nice hobby brings, to the fact that it develops our thinking. Appreciate that we have a great intellectual game that helps our brain, and is a nice social game, a game where we use our ideas against other humans' ideas. And do not forget: the more you understand it, the more enjoyable it is.

Improve your Chess - Guaranteed!

History of Chess

A great deal has been written about the origins of the modern Chess variants and there is still a lot of debate on the subject. The theory most espoused and believed is that Chess is an Indian games, the first references of which turned up in the 6th century. Most sources for this information are derived in some part from the monumental book by HJR Murray - The History of Chess published in 1917. While this is a great work, it has its flaws and, of course, much new evidence has surfaced since.
There are other theories for the origin of Chess. Some people say that the earliest ancestor known was Shaturanga, which is a 4 player version of Chess. The bulk of opinion, though would have it that this didn't turn up until around 1000AD. The other primary theory is that Chess came from China. A long and forceful treatise to this effect called The Origin of Chess has been written by Sam Sloan. Naturally enough, this theory is not short of its critics and other people have equally vocal opposite points of view.


An early clear ancestor of Chess is Shaturanga or Chaturanga which some say was invented by a 6th century Indian philosopher. It was a battle between four armies each under the control of a Rajah (king), two players being loosely allied against the other two and and each containing 4 corps - Infantry, Cavalry, Elephants and Boatmen. The board of 64 squares used for Shaturanga, was borrowed from an earlier game called Ashtapada, which was a race game played in Ancient India. The pieces of Shaturanga were represented viz.:
  • Infantry - 4 Pawns which moved as pawns do in Chess
  • Boatmen - A ship which could only move 2 squares diagonally but could jump over intervening pieces
  • Cavalry - A horse which could move like a Knight in Chess
  • Elephant - An elephant which could move like a Rook in Chess
  • Rajah - A human figure which could move like a King in Chess
The game started with the four armies in each of the four corners, in a double row, like Chess, the four main pieces behind the four pawns. Other than the fact that it was a game for four players, the other main difference was the use of dice to decide which piece moved each turn.
Those who believe that this is the earliest clear ancestor of Chess say that under Hindu law, gambling became forbidden early on in the Hindu civilisation and, to avoid the gambling laws, Shaturanga players dispensed with the dice. Other changes happened at the same time - the merging of the allied armies into a single army making the game a two player form and duplicating the pieces, both developments which have survived until today. The other main changes between Chaturanga and the 2 player form of Chess, Shatranj, are the two Rajahs were demoted to Prime Ministers in the change to the two player form and their movement reduced making them much weaker while the moves of the Elephant and the Ship were swapped around.


The first reference to Shatranj occurs in a Persian book written around 600 AD which says that a Hind ambassador came to Persia from India during the reign of Naushirawan (Chosroes I, 531 - 579 AD) and presented the game to him as one of several gifts with a challenge to learn its secrets. By 650 AD, the game had reached the Arab kingdoms and had also reached the Byzantine Court by virtue of the fact that the grandson of Chosroes I married the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Maurice. Its also reached Greece, Mecca and Medina around the same time.
There are three versions of the story of arrival of Shatranj in Europe.
One says that the Saracens brought it into Spain when they settled in Analusia following their conquest of North Africa in the seventh century. From there the game may have travelled eventually to France and the court of Charlemagne around 760 AD.
A second claims that Charlemagne and the Empress Irene of the Byzantine court at one point were contemplating marriage. During their meetings one of the presents exchanged was a Shatranj set given to Charlemagne. Unfortunately, instead of two Prime Ministers, the set contained two Queens with enhanced powers, making them the most powerful pieces on the board. Charlemagne thought this was not a promising sign and decided that the marriage wasn't such a good idea after all!
The most popular theory, however, is that the Knights of the Cross obtained the game from Arab lands during the Crusades. It is known that Shatranj was held in some esteem at the court of Saladin, who created the Ayubite dynasty in Egypt and Syria and the Christians certainly obtained medical secrets from physicians in this dynasty.
The famous Alfonso manuscript and the Cotton manuscript of the thirteenth century describe Shatranj in its form at the time. The pieces are shown on a non-chequered board in a virtually identical pattern to that of today. One of the prime ministers is now a King. The details follow:
  • King (Shah) - moved like a King in Chess
  • Prime Minister (Firz) - moved one square diagonally only.
  • Elephant (Fil) - moved two squares diagonally only but could jump over intervening pieces.
  • War Horse (Faras) - moved like a Knight in Chess
  • Ruhk - moved like a Rook in Chess
  • Pawn - moved like a pawn in Chess and when a pawn reached the far side of the board it was promoted to a Prime Minister
Over the next four centuries, the game stayed in much the same form as above - the European form of medieval Chess described in Caxton's 'The Game and Playe of Chesse' wasn't much different to the Persian form that the Crusaders probably discovered.

As time progressed a variety of exotic variations came about in forms such as Circular Chess and The Courier Game which was a kind of extended Chess played on a board of 12 x 8 chequered squares. At about the same time that Shatranj entered Europe, it was also heading Eastwards back through North India and into Burma, China and Japan. The games Sittuyin (Burmese Chess), Mak-ruk (Siamese Chess), Shiang K'i (Chinese Chess), Korean Chess and Sho-gi (Japanese Chess or The General's Game) are the resultant modern forms; Chinese and Japanese Chess join Modern European Chess as being the primary modern day forms of Shatranj.

Xiang Qi

WChineseChess.jpg (17751 bytes)
Chinese Chess or Shiang-Chi or Siang K'i is a considerably modified form of Shatranj, the first reference of which has been found in a book called 'The Book of Marvels' by Nui Seng-ju who died in 847 AD.
The pieces are simple disks with Chinese characters on them to differentiate and are played on the points of the board rather than within the squares. The un-chequered board consists of 10 x 9 points with two notable distinguishing features. Firstly, dividing the players in the middle is the 'River', an open area. Also, each player has an area of 9 points in the middle at the nearest edge called the 'Fortress'.
  • The General - moves orthogonally one space but cannot move outside the Fortress or such that the opposing general is on the same file with no men between the two.
  • The Mandarins - move one point diagonally only but must stay within the Fortress
  • The Elephants - move two points diagonally but cannot jump over intervening pieces and cannot cross the River.
  • The Horsemen - move like a knight in Chess but cannot jump over intervening pieces
  • The Chariots - move like a Rook in Chess
  • The Cannons - move any distance orthogonally but can only capture if they have jumped over a single intervening piece (known as the 'Screen')
  • The Soldiers - move one point forwards until they reach the other side of the River whereupon they are allowed to move one point sideways as well. There is no promotion
In Xiang Qi, the concept of Stalemate does not exist. If a player cannot move, that player has lost which serves to remove one of the more tedious aspects found in the European game. It is often quoted that Xiang Qi is the most popular game in the world which is true but this is, of course, largely due to China's great population (European Chess is more ubiquitous but Europeans should not be smug about this either since it has little to do with the qualities of the game and everything to do with European military and political dominance during the latter half of the second millenium AD).


Japanese Chess or Shogi or Sho-gi or "The Generals Game" has a major innovation over other games in the Chess family: Pieces when taken are allowed back onto the board.  This has the advantage of making draws quite unusual and thus, some would say, a more interesting contest.  The pieces are pointed wooden counters with Japanese symbols on them, both players having identical sets, orientation being the method of determining which piece belongs to which player.  The board is unchequered with 9 x 9 squares, 4 small crosses being scribed on the corners of the central nine squares.  These indicate the home territories of each player which are the three rows nearest to the player.
Some of the pieces upon entering enemy territory are 'promoted', if the player wishes, to a superior piece of a rank defined by the rules.   Those pieces that can be promoted are noted in the follow descriptions.
  • Jewelled King - moves like a King in Chess
  • Gold General - moves one space orthogonally or one space diagonally forwards
  • Silver General - moves one space diagonally or one space forwards. Promotion is to a Gold General.
  • Honourable Horse - two spaces forward and one sideways only. Promotion is to a Gold General.
  • Flying Chariot - like a Rook in Chess. Promotion is to a Dragon King which can move like a Jewelled King OR a Flying Chariot
  • Angle-going - like a bishop in Chess. Promotion is to a Dragon Horse which can move like a Jewelled King OR an Angle-going.
  • Lance - forwards only any distance. Promotion is to a Gold General.
  • Soldiers - one space forwards only. Promotion is to a Gold General.


Sittuyin or Burmese Chess still bears the original horse and elephant pieces.  Both boards and pieces tend to be large and robust.  The game is not thought to be played much in Southern Burma anymore - unfortunately, modern European Chess is taking over.   However, it can still be found in the tea houses of Upper Burma in the North West of the country.  The game itself is unique for a variety of reasons, not least of which the starting position of the pieces which is variable, being at the discretion of the players and consequently providing a whole new element to the game

JFRMBurmeseChess2.jpg (23361 bytes)  JFRMBurmeseChess1.jpg (35448 bytes)  JFRMBurmeseChess3.jpg (26776 bytes)          

Changgi - Korean Chess

Chess in Korea, as can be seen from the picture, is similar to Chess in China. The board omits the river of Chinese Chess and some of the moves are slightly different but probably the most significant difference is that players can "pass" their go if they wish. One effect of this is to slightly increase the chances of a draw since when one player is reduced to a lone King, repeated passing forces a drawn game.


Unlike Korean and Burmese Chess, Makruk or Thai Chess is presently thriving well in its home country where proponents outnumber those who play European Chess by a huge proportion and the game is a nationally televised attraction. It is played in Cambodia as well as Thailand, although this country sports yet another historical variant - Cambodian Chess. The game is related to both the Japanese and Burmese versions of Chess and many people believe that Makruk predates both these other games.
The attractive pieces are shaped like the Stupas or Thai temples that are found throughout Siam, as Thailand used to be called. In the past, pawns were often represented by cowrie shells, mouth down until promotion when they were turned upwards.

European Chess

IcelandicBoardGames.jpg (49345 bytes)Chess in roughly the form of today appeared in in Southern Europe around the end of the 15th century and quickly became popular Europe wide. The powers of certain pieces were increased and new rules were added such as castling, two square pawn advance, and en passant. The most important changes turned the Fers into the most powerful piece of all, the Queen and the Alfil into the far-ranging Bishop by unrestricting it's power of diagonal movement.
In 1749, Francois-Andre Danican Philidor, a composer and leading Chess player at the time, published 'L'analyse du jeu des Echecs' (Analysis of the game of chess). This is one of the greatest Chess works of literature ever written and has been translated into many languages since. Howard Staunton, the top player in the mid 19th century also wrote several important theoretical works and organised the first international chess tournament in London in 1851.  This was won by Adolf Anderssen from Germany.  In 1858, Paul Charles Morphy came to Europe from the USA and managed to take the mantle of best player at a very youthful age.
WChessmen.jpg (13475 bytes)The history of chess pieces is also a story worth telling.  Until the mid 19th century, pieces tended to come as one of two extremes.   The rich would display very ornate expensive decorate pieces with delicately crafted representations of kings, queens etc. which were often top-heavy and impractical while everyone else mostly used roughly hewn wooden lumps with only the height of the pieces to distinguish between them.  
ChessRomania.jpg (48241 bytes)In 1847, John Jaques of London created a new design which hit a happy medium between the two and was both practical and elegant.  On the one hand, the pieces were easily distinguishable by easily recognisable symbols atop a pedestal - the King with a crown, the Queen with a coronet and the bishop by a mitre.  The pawn is supposed to be a representation of the mason symbol for square and compasses while the piece de resistance, the knight, is an copy of the horse cut into the Elgin marble in Italy.   On the other hand, by using different heights of pedestal, the useful idea of representation by height was retained.  Howard Staunton apparently immediately realised the overall benefit of such a new design and lent his name to the new pieces which were duly launched in 1849.  These Staunton pieces were immediately popular and soon became all the rage.  At the end of the century, the design had evolved slightly - the protruberances of certain pieces were reduced or made more robust to prevent breakages and enable easier mass production.  The newly released 1890 design quickly became the de facto standard for Chess all over the world and it has stayed that way ever since.  Jaques of London, uniquely, are still owned and run by the Jaques family and their Staunton sets are still used worldwide by most National Chess organisations and tournaments.  They also produce expensive hand made replicas of their original 1847 and 1890 chess sets - for more information see Buying Historical Chess sets

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Computer programs which can play Chess were first written in the 1960's
but these were easily beaten. Since then Chess programs have become increasingly better at the game and can now beat all but the best Grand Masters. In 1997, history was made when Deep Blue 2, a machine running the best Chess program yet written, managed to beat Kasparov, the undisputed best player in the world at the time.

Chess Jokes

A group of chess enthusiasts had checked into a hotel, and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse.
"But why?" they asked, as they moved off.
"Because," he said, "I can't stand chess nuts boasting in an open foyer."

A chess master died - after a few days, a friend of his heard a voice; it was him!
"What's it like, where you are now," he asked.
"What do you want to hear first, the good news or the bad news."
"Tell me the good news first."
"Well, it's really heaven here. There are tournaments and blitz sessions going on all the time and Morphy, Alekhine, Lasker, Tal, Capablanca, Botvinnik, they're all here, and you can play them."
"Fantastic!" the friend said, "and what is the bad news?"
"You have Black against Capablanca on Saturday."

A Chess Player is walking from the lake carrying two fish in a bucket. He is approached by the Game Warden who asks him for his fishing license. The Chess player says to the warden, "I did not catch these fish, they are my pets's pawn. Everyday I come down to the water and whistle and these fish jump out and I take around to see the sights only to return them at the end of the day; remember that the Chess Board is like an ocean; full of fish". The warden, does not play chess, he not had any idea what he's taking about; not believing him, reminds him that it is illegal to fish without a license. The Chess Player turns to the warden and says,
"CHECK" "If you don't believe me then watch," as he throws the fish back into the water. The warden says, "Now whistle to your fish and show me that they will come out of the water." The Chess Player turns to the warden and says, "What fish!?"

In a park people come across a man playing chess against a dog. They are astonished and say:
"What a clever dog!"
But the man protests:
"No, no, he isn't that clever. I'm leading by three games to one!"

Frasier: I can see why she likes the game - "the king is stationary, the queen has all the power".

"So I was having dinner with Garry Kasporov - Problem was, we had a checkered tablecloth and it took him two hours to pass the salt!"

Q. Which chess piece is the most powerful?
A. The Knight, It goes over the top.

2 friends see themselves by the street and one of them says:
- My wife says that if tomorrow I go to the chess match, it will take my children and it will leave me.
The other friend asks to him:
- And what you will do?
And the other answers to him:
- E4, how always!

Q - Which group of women are the best chess players?
A - Feminists. Their opponents begin with King and Queen, but *they* always start with 2 Queens.

Three retired International chess grandmasters were playing chess in the park.
The first grandmaster said, "it is windy today."
The second grandmaster said, "no, it is Thursday today".
The third grandmaster said, "me too, let's go back inside for a drink"

The young apprentice went to his master and asked him:
"Which is the best game man made?".
The old master though a little bit and said
"It's chess I guess, no?".
"What about go?" came the next question instantly.
"Aah, go was already here!"

A gentleman must play a game of chess with a blind person, he proposes to the blind person:
"As him cannot see he will grant an advantage to him as part of the deal. We will not play in equality of conditions."
"This sound really fair" replied the Blind Person.
Then he asks the gentleman: "When?"
"Very well", the other men responded to him "any night that you prefer."

dinsdag 29 juli 2014


The Queen is a very powerful piece and there are several ways to checkmate with it. Here are some checkmating patterns:


The Queen must force the enemy King to the edge of the board and then the King comes to help the Queen deliver checkmate. Notice how in the first two diagrams the King is protecting the Queen from being captured. In the last two diagrams the King is guarding the escape squares.
In this diagram the Black King is in the centre of the board. White must force it to the edge.

The Queen advances to a square that is a Knight's jump away from the King.
  She then drives the King to the edge of the board by keeping a Knight's jump distance away.

1. ... Kf5 2.Qd4 Ke6 3.Qc5 Kf6 4.Qd5 Ke7 5.Qc6 Kf7 6.Qd6 Ke8 7.Qc7 Kf8 8.Qd7 Kg8 9.Qe7 Kh8
Beware! The Queen cannot get any closer to the King. If White moves the Queen to f7 Black's King is stalemated and the game is a draw. This is a very common trap!
  The White King now needs to come to the Queen's aid.

10.Kf2 Kg8 11.Kg3 Kh8 12.Kg4 Kg8 13.Kg5 Kh8 14.Kg6 Kg8 15.Qe8#
This is the pattern shown in the third diagram above!
Once again, you must practise this way of checkmating. A Queen against a lone King endgame is very common when a player has managed to promote a pawn so you must know how to carry it out, especially if your opponent is very stubborn and will not resign. Remember too that you must checkmate within 50 moves as it is a draw if 50 consecutive moves occur without a capture or pawn move.

You should be aiming for one of the following positions to checkmate the enemy King with a lone Rook. Notice how the King must also control some of the escape squares.
Mate with Rook

This method of checkmating is more difficult than mating with a Queen as the enemy King is able to attack the Rook in a way which is impossible with the Queen. The Rook needs to trap the King on the edge of the board and then the King is needed to secure checkmate.
Let's see this method in action starting with the position shown below.
  1. Rc7
{A waiting move which forces Black's King closer to the corner because if 1...Ke8 2.Rc8 is checkmate}
1... Kg8
  2. Kf6
{The White King forces the enemy into the corner as 2...Kf8 3.Rc8#}
2... Kh8
  3. Kg6
{The White King closes in.}

{The only move.}
  4. Rc8#
When the King is in the centre of the board, it must be driven to the side before it can be checkmated.
In the diagram below, White must force the Black King to the side of the board. She does this by cutting off some of the King's escape squares with her Rook.
rookmate6.gif (3879 bytes)
  1. Rh5
{The Black King is now unable to cross the fifth rank.}
  1... Ke6
2. Ke3
{The White King comes to support the Rook.}
2... Kd6
3. Kd4 Ke6
4. Rd5
{The Rook confines the Black King even more. The King is now restricted to rectangle shown in the diagram.}
  4... Kf6
{The box is made smaller.}
5... Kf7
6. Kd5 Kf6
7. Kd6
{The Black King is forced to move closer to the edge of the board.}
7... Kf7
8. Re6
{The Rook restricts the King.}
  8... Kg7
9. Ke7 Kg8
10. Rg6+ Kh7
11. Kf7 Kh8
12. Rh6#
Checkmating with a lone rook is more difficult than with a Queen or two Rooks. The stages to keep in mind are summarized below:
  1. Use the Rook to restrict the opponent's King.
  2. Support the Rook with the King.
  3. Confine the King to a box and make the box smaller if possible.
  4. If it is not possible to make the box smaller, move the King (a waiting move to force back the opponent's King.)
  5. When the opponent's King is at the side of the board look for one of the checkmating patterns to win the game!
Generally, with correct play, it is possible to checkmate with a Rook and King in 15 to 20 moves. One of the dangers is that a draw may result due to the 50 move rule (see How Games are Drawn ).
Set up various positions with the White Rook and King against the Black King and practise checkmating with a friend or a chess computer until you are sure of it.

There are many checkmating patterns. It is a good idea to know them so that you can recognise them in your games and plan how to achieve them. Here are some of the patterns to watch out for: 

How to play chess 4

The En Passant Pawn Capture

smpawn.gif (1851 bytes)   smpawn.gif (1851 bytes)
Every pawn, on its first move, has the choice of moving either one or two squares forward.
Look at this diagram.
pass1.gif (5512 bytes)
Black may think, "If I move my pawn one square White will capture it so I'll move it two squares." and the position would be as shown in the diagram below:
pass2.gif (5546 bytes)
However, White can still take the Black pawn as if it had moved only one square.
pass3.gif (5641 bytes)
The new position would be as shown in the diagram below. White removes the black pawn from the board and places the White pawn on the square the Black pawn would have moved to if it had only moved one square forward.
pass4.gif (5423 bytes)
This special way of capturing is called capturing en passant and is abbreviated e.p. En passant is a French expression which means "in passing" The en passant capture must be done immediately after the black pawn advances two squares. If White plays another move she cannot then decide to capture en passant!
How Games are Drawn
There are six ways to draw a game of chess:
1. Perpetual Check - If an opponent checks the enemy King repeatedly we call this perpetual check. Perpetual check is usually used by the weaker side to avoid losing the game. In the diagram below White is ahead on material and is threatening checkmate by moving the Queen to g7.


  Black has a saving series of moves which give perpetual check:
1. Kh1 Qf1+
2. Kh2 Qf2+
3. Kh1 Qf1+
4. Kh2 Qf2+
There is no way White can avoid Black from checking her King so the game is a draw.

2. Stalemate - If the King is not in check but it is unable to move to a safe square we say that the King is stalemated and the game is drawn. Many beginners who are ahead on material mistakenly stalemate the enemy king. Beware! In the diagram below the White King is not in check but it has no safe squares to go to so the game is a draw.

3. Insufficient mating material - When neither side has enough pieces on the board to checkmate the enemy king then the game is drawn. It is impossible to checkmate with:
  1. Just the two Kings on the board.
  2. King and Bishop against a King
  3. King and Knight against a King
  4. King and two Knights against a King
4. Repetition of moves - If the same position occurs three times in a game then a player may claim a draw. The perpetual check position above is also a draw because the same position occurs three times.
5. Fifty move rule - If both sides have made 50 consecutive moves without making a capture or pawn move then a player may claim a draw.
6. Draw by agreement - Both players may feel that the position on the board is equal and consequently agree to a draw. Many Grandmaster games end in a draw in this way.