Tag Archives: Chess Tutorials

Middle game tactics: How to deal with the bad French bishop

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The most important part in the game of chess is the middle game (we saw that in Consequences of Bad Bishop), where both the players, having developed their pieces reasonably well, initiate a series of attacks, counter-attacks, checks, and sacrifices in an effort to gain control over the opponent. The quality of the middle game and the nature of the strategy adopted by the players during this phase of the game are primarily determined based on the positions of the pieces and the kind of development one does take in the opening part.

The nature of the opening game and the favorable positioning of the major and minor pieces determine the tempo for the middle game. We have discussed at length about the Isolated Queen Pawn. Similarly, we might be confronted with an issue of bad French bishop.

What is bad French Bishop? Black’s light squared black bishop is often given this name. In some types of opening games, as part of the development of the pieces in accordance with the classical opening principles, the player playing black might have to move his king pawn at e7 one square ahead to e6 and the queen pawn two squares ahead to d5. These moves, made out of necessity to develop the minor pieces, might appear good in the first instance. However, a second look might reveal that the pawn placed at e6 and/or at d5 might effectively block the diagonal c8-h3 and the diagonal a8-h1, seriously hampering the movement of the light squared black bishop starting from the c8 square. Literally, the movement of the light squared bishop is blocked by its own pieces and sometimes, this immobility of the black light squared bishop might lead to inadequate development, and ultimately present an advantage to the opponent. This situation is referred to as black’s bad French bishop. The name “French” is added to the bishop as this situation typically arises in a French opening.

Let us try to understand this aspect and assess how this bad French bishop plays the spoilsport for the black’s pieces through the review of a game played between two grandmasters

Given below is the position after 25 moves, and it is the turn of white to make the move now.


A cursory look at the position indicates that, among the minor pieces, White has sacrificed both of its bishops and retained one Knight, as against one light squared bishop for black. White’s Knight occupies the important d4 square, and the game is evenly poised.

The game proceeded along the following lines:

26. e6 White decides to open up the position
26. fxe6
27. Qe5 White plans to target f6 square for Queen
27. Rc7 Not a good response from black. It would have been better had he played Qc7 instead of Rc7
28. Qf6 Be8
29. Nxe6 Qd6
30. Re2 Qe7
31. Qb2 This is a smart move by White offering to sacrifice his h4 pawn Black has other ideas and prefers to go with them
31. Rc8
32. Ng5 Qd6
33. Qd4 Bf7 The last move by Black is a blunder, literally gifting the game to white, courtesy Black light squared Bishop

This is the position on the board, which clearly shows the blunder of black’s French bishop, leading to the victory for White.


34. Qh8+ 1 – 0

This is an example in which the light squared bishop, devoid of development in the initial stages, has proved to be more of a burden leading to the downfall than of any constructive support in the attack.

It is for this very reason that in most of the variations of the famous French opening, an early sacrifice of black’s light-squared bishop is suggested.

Middle game tactics: Bad French bishop and its consequences

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Of the three stages in the game of chess, the most important and deciding part is the middle game, where the real action takes place. However, one needs to be aware of the fact that the middle game always follows the opening game. In other words, the course of the middle game is determined by the opening game, and the effectiveness of the opening game and the position of the various pieces as part of the development, more or less, decide the strategy to be adopted in the middle game.

One of the many opening variations played regularly in tournaments is the French opening, where invariably the first and second moves of black are e6 and d5. Whatever might be the reasons behind those moves, the inconsequence of these moves, if not properly attended, might lead to a situation where the black’s light squared bishop is blocked by the pawns at e6 and d5, effectively cramping its development. It is for this very reason, experts in French opening advise that black’s light squared bishop is sacrificed at the initial stages of development. If that light-squared bishop is not effectively handled, this French bishop, as it is otherwise called, might turn out to be a bad French bishop, and hinder the prospects for black in further development.

Let us try to assess the consequences of the bad French bishop with the help of this following game played between two grandmasters. This is a typical French defense or French opening. The opening moves are as follows:

1. e4 e6
2. d4 d5
3. Nc3 Nf6
4. e5 Nfd7
5. f4 c5
6. Nf3 Nc6
7. Be3 cxd4
8. Nxd4 Bc5
9. Qd2 a6
10. 0-0-0 0-0
11. h4 Nxd4
12. Bxd4 b5
13. Rh3

The position is given hereunder:


As can be seen from the position, black’s light squared bishop is rooted to its original square at c8, unable to be deployed effectively. Black tried to break the shackles with the following move, which most of the grandmasters tried and tested but without much success.

13. …. Bb7
14. Ne2 Bxd4
15. Nxd4 Nc5
16. Bd3 Ne4
17 Bxe4 dxe4
18. f5 Bd5

Instead of the routine Bb7 move, had Black tried the variation

  1. ….. b4
  2. Ne2 a5
  3. ….. a6 (his bad French bishop would have got a better opportunity to play an important role in the game)

The position after the 18th move is given hereunder:


The game proceeded with black literally in the doldrums having committed a blunder of moving the bishop to d5.

19. f6 gxf6
20. Qh6 1 – 0

This is yet another example of bad French bishop playing the spoilsport in Black’s party, and coupled with some avoidable blunders, Black has surrendered the advantage and the game to the smart play of White who capitalized on black’s light-squared bishop.

Chess tactics : Simple tips to master tactics and strategies

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Chess is also referred to as a War game. The names of the pieces such as King, Queen, Bishops, Knights, Rooks and Pawns symbolically refer to a battlefield with you being the commander-in-chief of the pieces directing what must be done to say checkmate and win over the opposition King.

One should understand the various chess tactics and chess strategies in the pursuit of winning over the opposition. Any attempt to play the game without any tactics and strategies in place would be foolish and the opponent will have an opportunity to say checkmate against you.

Let us understand what tactics and strategies mean in the game of chess? Does the two mean one and the same? The answer is NO. Tactics and strategies are not one and the same.

Strategies may be the broader goals or major goals planned as part of the game. For example, it is obvious that checkmating the opponent is the broader strategy, and the most important one. Developing the minor pieces and controlling the centre might be one major strategy.

Tactics, on the other hand, can be defined as a series of moves, ranging from two moves to five moves at the maximum, aimed at achieving the broader strategy of say, controlling the centre game.

Let me put it in this way to make you understand the importance of tactics and strategies in the game of chess by an example.

You are playing a game of chess and your strategy or goal is to say checkmate to the opponent and win the game.

For example, assume that you are a sculptor carving stones and making beautiful sculptures. The materials required for making a sculpture include the big stone, chisel and hammer. Using the chisel and the hammer, you carve the stone to make a beautiful sculpture. If you use the hammer with force, then the stone may break out. Using the chisel and hammer in a nice way, you make the sculpture look beautiful.

Now, imagine the stone to be the game, and the sculpture or beautiful image to be the victory for you or the broader strategy, then the chisel and hammer are the tactics.

In a nutshell, a series of tactics leads towards a broader strategy and the ultimate victory.

One can employ a number of different tactics to achieve a specific strategy. It depends on the intuition of the player and what he thinks would be the best move in the circumstances. Of course, there are some general tactics such as pin, fork, discovered checks etc, which can be effectively employed to achieve a specific goal.

As chess is a thinking game, the opponent will also have similar ideas as what you think and then he or she may try to thwart your ideas. You may have to think differently as part of tactics.

Tactics might include offering a piece for sacrifice in an attempt to distract the opponent. Tactics might also include moving a piece in the queenside to divert the attention of the opponent while your idea is to develop pieces along the kingside. As part of tactics, you need to make some unusual moves, which conceal the motive and distract the opponent, that need to be taken to achieve the broader strategy.

Increase Your Tactical Skills by Learning These Important Three Steps

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It is common knowledge in the game of chess that a “tactic” is a series of short term maneuvers which have specific goals in mind. All players, beginners to grand masters, need and use different types of tactics that will help them win the game. Typical tactics will fall into patterns you can recognize in many different varying positions. The three basic types of tactics you need to learn are the fork, pin, and skewer. These three tactics are for everyone to use, especially the beginning chess player, as these three prove to be the most useful. Once you learn and understand these three basic tactics, you will be able to easily see and anticipate them from your opponent—you will be able to use them to your advantage.

The “fork” tactic is when a single chess piece of yours is able to attack two chess pieces of your opponent at the same time. For example, one pawn piece of yours can either attack one of the two opponent’s pieces within the pawn’s attack range. Also, when an attack is against two enemy pieces at the same time by two of your pieces, it is called a “double attack”.

The next of the three tactics you need to learn is the “pin” tactic. The “pin” tactic is when you attack an opponent’s piece, and that targeted piece cannot move without revealing another piece behind it to capture. You essentially are “pinning” the first piece to the piece behind it. The only pieces that can pin other pieces are the rook, bishop, and queen. However, if you are ever a victim of a “pin” from your opponent, follow these four tips to escape the “pin”.

1.Block the pin by moving another piece of yours between the piece being pinned and the pinning piece.

2.Move the piece that is being pinned by your opponent’s pinning piece.

3.Capture the piece that is doing the pinning.

4.Attack the opponent’s piece to force your opponent to move it away.

The “skewer” is very similar to the “pin” tactic but this time, you attack your opponent by forcing the targeted opponent’s piece to move away in order for you to capture the more valuable piece behind the “skewered” piece. To some chess players, this is also known as the “bully move,” where you have your piece bully its way on the board to make your opponent decide which piece they will need to give up to you.

Continue to practice to recognize and memorize these tactics in order to win your opponents pieces that you target during the game and eventually the “checkmate”. The key to becoming a better chess player is to understand these aforementioned tactics. The beginning chess player should always remember that the back row of your pieces are critical in winning the game, so by moving them out at a first chance is critical. The quicker those pieces in the back row have been moved out, the quicker you can apply your own tactics and strategies that will help you gain a checkmate against your opponent.

5 Ways Of Playing Safe In Chess

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Chess is a game of attack or eliminate your opponents’ most important pieces on the board. This can scare a beginner because it will seem like every move is basically to get him/her out of the game. Despite the fact that this may be true, chess is also a game that eventually changes your outlook in life. Expert players say that chess has improved the way they handle sticky situations in life. This is happens because they have learnt ways of playing it safe when facing tough situations. Let me show you some safe way of playing chess.

As you play chess, you will get so many chances to trade your pieces for your opponents’ men or pieces. Just like any trade, the trader wants to get something that is valuable and will help him in the long run. Since the value of a queen in 9, this is what most players would want to trade anything for. Your opponent is very aware of this fact and will do everything to protect the queen from attacks. Therefore look at your stand in the game, if you feel that your pieces are in good position then you will not need to trade.

Keep in mind all the values of each piece on the board. This will help you when knowing which piece to trade and also which one to protect. If your players or pieces add up to a bigger figure than your opponents then you have an advantage. A knight and bishop are equivalent to three pawns each. Remember the knight has an advantage because it can jump over all other pieces. A rook is equivalent to 5 pawns can be subdued by both the knight and bishop. The queen who is worth 9 pawns is the most valuable.

Keep your king in a safe position by castling early enough. Never forget that the game usually ends with the king in a fixed position and therefore you should always have your eyes on him. After castling do not move your pawn too far away from king because they are his guard and you will be cornered if they are far off.

As a beginner, you have to keep a fast pace by moving your pieces without delay. When you move them fast you will be the one in control of the whole game. Your opponents moves will be based on your move and this will give you an advantage. Do no fear to let out your bishops, Knight and rooks early in the game, remember they can easily move forward. Use your pawns to protect the knights, rooks, and all other pieces.

Take control of the center part of the chess board. This most coveted position also gives you control of the overall game. You have the privilege of moving easily moving on your opponents’ side and attacking his king. If your knight is at the center he has the ability to move to eight squares while your opponents on the side move only two.