Chess isn’t easy by a long shot but it’s definitely more fun than difficult when it’s taught correctly. Chess, above all other things it’s called, is a discipline!!! The challenge is what are you supposed to be disciplined about? There’s a correct way to do everything. Chess is no different. Checks, Captures, Threats, and Sacrifices is the beginning of your discipline training. Lombardi said we are going to get very good at the basics. Your punches, and kicks aren’t allowed o be sloppy because everyone knows you are a Black Belt!? Ask a chess player what they are supposed to be disciplined about and the answers will make you laugh more than provide guidance. The answer should have a common level of acceptance and then gain depth and diversity!! Read your chess instructions again for the 1st time and you will understand that there are things that you are supposed to be looking for on every single turn. Once you know what to be disciplined about and follow it, it’s like making people play any other sport in slow motion!?!
Checks: In the above position, The king has 0 checks, the queen has 6 at d2, c2, b2, e1, d1, and b5, the rook has 1 check at f5, the bishop has 3 at f6, e7, and c1, the knight has 1 at f7, and the pawns have 0. To evaluate the position correctly you should 1st see how many there are then see what your opponent’s response can or can not be for each one. It’s a rotation, so you may get the answer at any time. The key to getting answers is an open mind! You can’t say, “If I play that, they’ll just take me” Ok, if you play there they will take you, but should they, can they, without any risk or penalty? The more disciplined you become about the answer to that question the more you will discover about where everyone really can or can not go!!
Captures: If you did not figure out where to go by looking at the checks, now it’s time to look a the captures. The king has 0 captures, the queen has 1 capture at b2, the rook has 3 at d5, e6, and f5, the bishops, knights, and pawns all have 0. The procedure is the same! Look at each capture and see if they really can take you back or not or where they can or can not go. Again you must look a couple of moves to see should they, can they, without any risk or penalty? This is where the w,b,w,b,w, and b,w,b,w,b, I’ve been sharing with you in the last couple of blogs comes in to play.
Threats: If you’ve looked at the checks and captures and still don’t have moves to play, it’s time to look at the threats. Remember it’s a rotation! You don’t need patience to play chess, you need patience to win at chess. That’s why your blitz and puzzle ratings keep going up, but you still keep losing when you sit down to a real game! You don’t need skill to identify checks and captures, so don’t get all proud of yourself because you got the number right! Identifying threats will require that you use the Magic 10. Look at every piece and asses their range, speed, power, force, time, space, mobility, initiative, their affect on king safety, and if they can snatch any material. The features of the magic 10 in this position are range, force, time, and king safety… Anytime your opponents king, queen, or rook has no escape square, or has to stay on a square, all it takes is 1 good check/threat to take them down. You’re going to have to talk yourself through it. All you need is 1 check on the a1-a8 diagonal and black is toast. How or who has the range, speed, time or force to help me get my queen or bishop on that diagonal? My own rook is stopping my queen and their rook is stopping my bishop.
Sacrifices: The worst trick that has been played on the mind of chess players is that a sacrifice involves the temporary loss of something!! In chess, sacrifices involve the temporary gain of something!! That gain is a change in the Magic 10. Every time a check, capture, threat, or sacrifice happens, the Magic 10 of all the pieces changes!!! So here the question is how can I sacrifice with force and gain time to get my queen to e5? “I know, Rf5!? then if they take my queen, I take their rook and mate on g8!! Oh that won’t work, they just take me with their rook. Let’s look at something else” No, let’s finish looking at what we were looking at. The key to finding a combination is to constantly be looking the length of a combination. Here is the key to the entire system. You must look at the checks until all the checks are gone, you must look until all the captures are gone, you must look until all the threats are gone, and you must look until all the sacrifices are gone. That may take 3, 4, 5, 6 even 7 moves but at the end of your analysis, you will be 100% sure of where everyone can and can not go. So, after 1. Rf5!!(check) Rf5 you must keep checking, capturing, threatening, and sacrificing until they are all gone to get the correct answer about 1.Rf5!!(check)
We are going to keep going until everything is gone. Now the queen has 13 checks!!! e5(3), d2, c2, b2(2), e1, d1, b5, f3, e4, and g4. the bishop has 3 checks f6(2) and c1, the knight has 1 check f7 and the pawns have 1 check g4. We started with 11 checks and now we have 18! We used a forcing sacrifice to gain range, time, and more compromised king safety. We are in the middle of our combination now so we will be going through our rotation using the most forceful moves we can find to accomplish the objective we had set!. 1. Rf5!!(check) Rf5 2. Qe5! Re5 3. Bf6 mate! Visualize everything until they are all gone.
Our last example was using a check against the rook to change the Magic 10 in our favor. The rotation will always be the same. By that I mean we always go in the same order Q, R, B, N, then pawns.
Checks: The queen 9 at b5, c6(2), c4(2), d3, e2(2), and f1, the rook 1 at b4, the bishops 2 at c2(2) and the pawns have 0. If you’ve found the combination by just looking at the checks, then there is no need to go any further. My suggestion is to continue through the rotation until you are 100% convinced and sure that they have no way out and you haven’t missed a defensive resource!
Captures: There’s 1 for the queen at c6, 1 for the rook at b2 and 2 for the bishops at g5 and d4.
Threats: What does the magic 10 say? My pieces are good and that check on c4 looks killer. In this position instead of using the magic 10 for me, I have to use the magic 10 against my opponent. The only thing holding that position together is the Queen. How do we zap her range, space, and mobility?
Sacrifices: Here we know the problem. It’s the queen and here mobility. Oh wow!? the queen doesn’t have any escape squares either! 1…Rb4!!(check) They have to take with the pawn or I win the queen. 2. ab? Qc4 3. Kd2 Qd3 4.Kc1 Qb1 5. Kd2 Qb2 6. Qc2 Qc2 mate. They can’t take with the pawn, so I win the queen and get to keep my attack!!
Sometimes the checks will tell you what to sacrifice, sometimes the captures will tell you the threats, sometimes the threats will tell you which check to use! The point is, if you go through the checks, captures, threats, and sacrifices, every time, you are going to know the magic 10 of both teams, not just your own! You have to win more games when you know where everyone can and can not go for both sides!!
Now you have some idea of what to be disciplined about to win more chess games. It will only take one game of you using the information in these blogs to change the amount of fun you have when you play! This is still the tip of the iceberg. I promised you secret stuff that you’d never heard of that would explain why our students do so well so fast. how am I doing? There’s more coming!!! Your game, your inner talk and thoughts have to evolve. Remember we are a tournament chess training company. If you read and then try to discipline yourself to use this information during blitz games you missed the point!?! You must play longer time controls or be doing extremely difficult puzzles at a board to see how this works! At the beginning, doing what I say will shorten the length of your games, it’s not designed to save you time. For what I’ve explained to shorten your games and save you time. you must take these disciplines and make them habits!!!
Want to learn and see more? Get some lessons/coaching. Got a question, contact me. Mike Callaham 804-426-6058. Until then take what I’ve given you and beat the snot out of somebody!?! lol