Rules of Chess Strategy and Chess Tactics: how important are those?

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In earlier articles like winning chess strategies, eight attacking chess tactics and some others, we tried to explain to chess beginners how these would help them to raise their games. When you are an amateur, you will achieve quicker progress by following good principles. These will also help your chess games to be less prone to error.

Does it mean that you are bound to these principles as ironclad rules. Not at all. What I want to say is that only when you become thoroughly familiar with the rules (and expected results), you can afford to break the rules. In fact, that is where the difference comes between a good player and a great player. But no one becomes a chess master overnight. As an amateur, build your foundation by learning the basics of chess strategy and chess tactics. As you start progressing and winning more chess games, you will gain in confidence and from that confidence will come the ideas of bending the principles in certain positions.

In explaining chess strategies, particularly in the openings, we said that White gets a marginal advantage because of having the first move, and White’s strategy will be to carry that advantage, however minimal, into the middle game. So Black’s strategy is to deny White that advantage so as to gain an equal position at the end of the opening phase.

If you play through the following game, you will wonder if Black ever heard of those principles! It is of course held by certain experts that Black was not a great exponent of opening theories and had not contributed much to that area. But his combinatory skills were so astounding that all those chess theories did not matter, he could just floor most of his opponents by his astonishing and ever inventive chess tactics! No wonder that he is regarded by many as the greatest attacking player of all time!

Instead of trying to comment on Black’s moves or analyze the positions, I will presume that I am the White player and give vent to my thoughts as Mikhail Tal keeps spinning his magic!

1. d4 Nf6  
2. c4 g6  
3. Nc3 Bg7  
4. e4 d6  
5. f3 0-0  
6. Be3 e5  
7. Nge2 c6  


I think I should have placed my KB to d3 before the Knight move to e2.

8. Qb3 ed4  
9. Nd4 d5  
10. cd5 cd5  
11. ed5 Nc6  


My God, he is at his ‘tricks’ (Smyslov’s comments about Tal’s moves) again! He wants to sacrifice his knight for a pawn! In any case, he has at least started it in reverse order!

(Tal once said that at any position, he thinks of sacrificing his Queen or Rook or Bishop or Knight or Pawn, in that order, to gain an attack!)

12. dc6 Re8  
13. Kf2 Re3  


Position after Tal’s 13th move.

Position after Tal's 13th move.

As I thought, he has started his sacrifices in reverse order! Now he wants to give up Rook for a Bishop. But is it safe to take that Rook and expose my King on the open e-file and c1-h6 diagonal of Black’s KB? Let me bring out my Rook to support the Knight on d-file first to put some pressure on Black Queen.

14. Rd1 Ng4+  


Won’t he ever stop? His Rook is en prise, and now he offers his knight also! Well, I have to take the Knight as otherwise my King will have very few places to hide.

15. fg4 Bd4  
16. Rd4 Qd4  
17. Qd5 Re2+  


Position after Tal’s 17th move.

Position after Tal's 17th move

Gawd! I was thinking of exchanging Queens to get some relief, but that double check puts paid to everything! Double check means King has to move as there is no other defense against two simultaneous checks! So I have to take the offensive Rook by my King only.

18. Ke2 Bg4+  
19. Ke1 Re8+  
20. Be2 Re2+  
21. Resigns  


Position after Tal’s 21st move.

Position after Tal's 21st move

Black took advantage of the ‘overloaded’ Knight, which has to guard e2 as well as d5 squares. The King is only one move away from checkmate, so the Knight has to take the Rook, allowing Black to capture the Queen! And White Knight and Rook (still blocked) are no match to Black’s Queen and Bishop! What is the point in extending the agony, better to resign.

What a lesson in Chess Tactics!