Tag Archives: Chess lessons

Lessons for life in the game of chess

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I came across an interesting sentence that made me ponder a lot. Playing chess is one of the most invigorating exercises to the mind that not only helps one refresh physically and mentally, but also paves for enhancing the quality of life in many ways. After reading this sentence, I was a little perplexed and at the same time little surprised. How can a game played for killing time or for relaxation can help in enriching the quality of life – my inquisitive mind questioned and the result is this article.

We all know and accept that indulging in some sort of physical activity or sports activities can help a person keep his body in a fit condition and proper shape for a considerable amount of time even if one retires from the sports activity or physical exercises.

As a chess player or ardent lover of chess, we also know that chess is a thinking game and also a fair game in that there is no room for chance or luck whatsoever. The outcome of the game is entirely in your own hand. The fair outcome of the game is only a Draw and winning over the opponent is nothing but an accident caused as a result of the opponent’s mistake and exploited by you.

Moving away from the concept of chess for a while and thinking about ourselves or our life, let us try to find answer for a simple question – what is life? Is it a science or an art? The body which we have in which our soul resides can be explained in a scientific manner to a great extent, thanks to the advancement of medical sciences. Body and life are not one and the same. Though not trying to sound philosophical, it is but true that the body is only a carrier of the soul and not the soul itself. The soul or the life is not scientific in any feasible way. How one leads a life, though bestowed with the same basic capabilities as any other person next door, is an art in itself, and you are the designer of your art or life. It might sound a bit vague to start with, but introspection would help you get the point clear I believe. Life is a bit of science and a bit of art and the right blend of the two defines one‘s success in life.

Now, coming back to the game of chess, there is a specific set of rigid rules that one needs to follow in the game. There are only 64 squares in the board, of which 32 squares are already occupied by the pieces at the start of the game. A number of theories, combinations, variations, openings are there to help a player in the game. In spite of all the proven methods and combinations at the disposal, why one finds the game fascinating enough to play again and again and get different results each time. I feel that here comes the role of art in the game of chess. While the rigid rules, combinations, proven opening theories and such other things can be roughly compared to the science of the game, the execution part is an art.
The game of chess is also a bit of science and a bit of art – is it not.

It is in this context that I find some similarities between the life and the chess game. Chess is nothing but a miniature of life. May be that is the reason this game of chess withstood the travails of time and technology and will be there as long as one derives inspiration for life from the game of chess.

The game of chess, as a thinking game, requires concentration, attention, intuition, planning, execution, defense and patience. These are some of the traits that a person does need in his life to weather the day-to-day challenges in life.

As such, playing chess helps a person develop these invaluable traits that will help in enhancing the quality of life.

Playing chess means involving two people as well as an ideal time and place. In this fast-paced world, there is not much possibility of matching all the three at once and then playing chess. Online chess is the answer as people, separated by distance, can be found in the Internet at your convenient time. So free time can be effectively spent on the computer playing online chess with players like you might be the answer to enrich one’s life. Ponder over the same and Prosper in your quality of life.

Lessons in Chess Tactics: Attacking a castled King

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Alekhine is regarded by many top level chess players as the most versatile among the greatest players of chess, being at home in different styles of play. He knew the openings and contributed to opening theories, had a great positional sense about situations on the chessboard foreseeing things beyond the grasp of most players, and had a consummate end game skill. But he was really in his elements in very complicated positions because of his combinatory (or chess tactics) skills. This made him one of the greatest attacking players in chess and some of his combinations were so complex that even now experts disagree in their analyses of those moves.

In the following game, he plays with White pieces against Emanuel Lasker, another world champion and one of the greats in chess history. Alekhine shows how to read the position and deploy tactical play to bring down his opponent.

Position after Black’s 17th move when he has just played Qb6.

Position after Black's 17th move

White has a Knight menacingly posted at f5, his Q is ready to move along the open d-file and d1-h5 diagonal (after taking care of the Knights), KB is strongly positioned controlling the a2-g8 diagonal, R on semi-open c-file via which it can go to the 4th rank to move to h-file etc. – everything points towards a possible action against the Black King.

You may remember the general principle of not putting the most powerful piece, in fact any active piece, away from where the action is brewing. What purpose the Black Q is serving at b6?

We also know the principle of attack being the best defense. Were Black Q posted at c7, it would be ready for defense and would also target Black’s RP at h2. If the Black Knight could occupy g4, White would have to pay some attention to his castle and might even need to advance NP to g3 to block the Black Q, but at the cost of creating weaknesses in his own King’s position. As you have understood, you may not be able to visualize all that could happen but any weakness could be a target for counterattack. Any counterplay prevents White from having a free play for his attacking moves.

But even after studying the position, can you find the right chess tactics to utilize the advantages? Follow the moves of Alekhine to see how.

1. Qd6 Ned7  
2. Rfd1 Rad8  
3. Qg3 g6  


Black had to suffer the weakness to prevent check by Q at g7. The Knight of course cannot be taken so long as White Q and Black K are facing each other.

4. Qg5 Kh8  
5. Nd6 Kg7  


Black’s KBP was under attack, so the King had to move to support it.

6. e4 Ng8  
7. Rd3 f6  
8. Nf5+ Kh8  
9. Qg6 Resigns  


Was White’s Queen move something you could see? White is threatening mate by Qg7+ and if Black’s RP captures Q, Black is still helpless against Rh3+ with mate to follow.

Position after White’s Qg6.

Position after White's Qg6

You will find similar situations, so make a note of the position. This game can be an illustrative chess lesson to show how the Queen, Knight, and Bishop can combine and the maneuvers to bring the Rook to h-file for the final punch!