Category Archives: Chess Fundamentals

Chess Fundamentals #2: Mobility and Space

The idea of mobility and space is directly related to the opening phase of the game and also tied to development. In a typical game both sides fight to control the center and gain space in which to deploy and maneuver pieces in. The French Defense for Black is one such opening where White is allowed a spacial advantage by the line 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 which leads to the Advanced variation of the French Defense seen below.

French mobility
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5

As you can see here White’s e6 pawn controls the d7 and f7 squares which the Knight or Bishop could use in the future and additionally the Bishop on c8 is blocked in by the pawn chain on e6. In a position like this if Black isn’t aware of the plan needed his position could become overwhelmed and cramped by the loss a couple of squares and Bishop mobility. There are benefits to a closed structure that you find in an opening like this, the game becomes more positional and the tempo slows down which works well against a tactical and attacking opponent.

French mobility2
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Nc6 4. f4 f6
5. Nf3

Above a continuation from the previous image with what could be normal development for Black has actually lead to quite a good position for white. The Knight being placed on c6 is incorrect as it blocks the pawn from advancing to c5 and breaking the pawn structure which is a typical idea in the French Defense. Pawn to …f6 was played after which attacks the forward point of Whites pawns however f4 can recapture and White is left with a strong center and open diagonals along the c1-h6 and f1-b5 for the Bishops.

French mobility3
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Qb6
5. Nf3 Nc6 6. Be2

In this position you can see that Black is no longer as cramped as in the other opening, the Knight has a purpose in the center, the Bishop defends the c5 pawn, and the Queen eyes the b2 pawn if White moves the c1 Bishop. The computer rates this as equal currently, White has the space advantage on the King side and Black on the Queen side and both play on their respective sides. The French has a chance to be either a slow and quite game or an exciting one since both sides have chances to attack.

Linked is a French Defense Advanced Variation game where White Mates in 20 moves showing the more aggressive side while playing against the French. White plays a sacrificial line drawing the Black Queen into fire while simultaneously developing an attack.

View Game

Chess Fundamentals #1 Schools of Developmental Thought

The start of any Chess game begins with the development of pawns and minor pieces generally with the aim to control and contest the center of the board. The center is so important because it has the most influence, for example a Knight placed in the center of the board will have more squares available to attack than one on the edge. These two ideas show the basic schools of thought as an objective process in the opening of the game.

Classical School 

The goal of a Classical opening starts with 1. d4 or e4 taking control of the center by attacking c5, d5, e5 and f5 with two pawns. From there the usual course of action is to play a Knight to c3 or f3 which supports the central pawns and also attacks e5 and d5 again. Black typically will follow in a similar suit attacking with pawns and knights initially.




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Hyper modern School

Here the goal of White’s opening is to attack the central squares with minor pieces and prepare the path for a pawn thrust after. The move order would look something like 1. Nf3 2.g3 3. Bg2 4. e4 thus controlling the c5 and d5 squares with more of a long term idea of using the bishop and knight to influence the center.





Now with the overall ideas of the two primary types development we can talk about the nuances of the opening phase. There are some principals to make it easier however these aren’t set in stone and are always flexible.

  • Develop your pieces- Without getting your pieces in the game you simply cannot do anything, many beginning players will develop one side of their board and neglect the other side while unleashing an early attack. An opponent who is fully developed will always be able to out play a lesser coordinated player as they have more resources at hand.
  • Control the Center- As stated before, the center has the most influence over the board and is generally the focal point for the most engagements. Other strategies will aim to attack the center from the flanks but for a start the center is the most straightforward way to play
  • Don’t Move the Same Piece Twice- In the opening you want to set yourself up for the middle game and to do so you need to find squares for all your pieces to occupy where they are contributing to the game, the most efficient way is move pieces once only and then follow into the middle game plan.
  • Be Careful With the Queen- Many beginners will try to bring the Queen out as an early power presence, while this is true it also give your opponent and easy target to attack. You never want to lose the Queen to a lesser piece and forcing you to move her again away from an attack gains important tempo.
  • Castle- Arguably the most important part of the opening, castling allows you to get your king safe and bring a rook into the game completing two things in a single turn

Lets take a look at the opening phase of a game, this stems from the Ruy Lopez which is a well known and highly studied.

Here is the annotation for the position 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 d6 5. Bg5

White has two central pawns d3 and e4 as does black e5 and d6.

White has 3 minor pieces developed and black has two with it being black to move.

Typically Black can play Be7 which protects the knight and develops the Bishop. After that point both players have the chance to castle and then continue on with the rest of the game.

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