The War Guide

The War Guide

Is a compilation of all the lessons learned about the game of chess. It is a comprehensive collection of the rules, tips, tactics, and strategies gathered by SWAT team members and boiled together in one place. It is the Journal of chess genius.

Rule #1 - Control the Center

The central four squares on the board are the most important in the game. They are the high ground of the battle field. The one who controls the center, often controls the game. Opening moves used to control, occupy, or contest the center of the board are the strongest beginning moves to make, and players who neglect this basic essential often find themselves at a sever disadvantage quickly in the game. Central pawn and knight movements are the most common opening moves and are vital to beginning players developing their openings with strength.

Rule #2 - Develop Your Pieces

Develop your pieces means to advance your pieces early. Push your minor pieces like knights and bishops forward so that they influence more space on the board and cause your opponent's position to be cramped and lacking in space. Do not waste time, or move a bunch of pawns forward when your pieces still sit on their beginning squares.

Rule #3 - Castle Early

Castling is a move which serves three purposes. It protects the king, it develops two pieces at the same time, and it activates the rook. One can castle king side or queen side, and it is generally done within the first 10 moves of the game. Kings left uncastled are often vulnerable, especially in the end game. But beware! Castling can only be done when 1: The king or the rook have not moved yet. 2: The space between them is empty. 3: The king is not in check. 4: The king will not pass through check in order to castle.

Element 1: Material

Material is the measure of how many pieces and pawns a player has. Each piece is worth a certain number of points dependent on their power and influence in the game.

Pawn = 1 pt

Knight = 3 pts (but may be stronger in the beginning)

Bishop = 3 pts (but may be stronger in the end game)

Rook = 5 pts

Queen = 9 pts

King = ∞ (Since the king is worth the entire game)

Exchanges and sacrifices are ok in a game of chess. So long as you come out with more material than your opponent, it will likely fall in your favor.

Element 2: Space

Space advantage is defined as owning control or influence over the most squares or the most important squares. Positional play gaining important squares is difficult to master but nearly impossible to counter. Those who control space often control the game. Masters are known to even give up elements of material to gain a positional advantage. Space becomes even more important in the end game where there is much less material on the board. Someone with an advantage of 3 pawns to one can still lose if that pawn is in the right position to queen.

Element 3: Defense

The third pillar of chess is defense. Your king is the most important piece on the board and should be protected at all costs. No piece or pawn or any number of losses is more important than the defense of your king. To give your king strong defense, make sure that you castle early when possible, and keep a strong watch over the squares surrounding or leading to your king. Always view the board from your opponent's perspective and do not make moves without first anticipating what your opponent may do to attack your king. It is just as important to deprive your opponent of good moves as it is to make them yourself. Never let go of a piece before you have first considered how the defense of your king stands.

Element 4: Time

Time is perhaps one of the most important aspects to use well in a game of chess. What is it? It is not actually the number of seconds left on a clock, but is the manner in which you use your moves. If you advance a piece forward, you are using your time well. If you are being forced to retreat, you are practically losing a move, because you had to waste your turn protecting a piece or fighting off against a threat. This is called "losing a tempo" and it gives your opponent the time advantage. If you cause your opponent to retreat, you have "gained a tempo" and are pressing them for time. Discovered attacks are excellent ways to gain time because they serve two goals (an attack and development) in one move. The ability to press your opponent for time and steal their moves countering or addressing your own is one of the most powerful strategies used in the game of chess. In fact, when computer simulations were pitted against each other in a study, they were given imbalances in certain elements. Some sides had more material, other sides had a space advantage, and others were allowed to make two moves instead of one throughout the game. By far and away, the most powerful advantage that resulted in the most wins was the advantage of time.