Moving Pieces and Advancing pawns – Part 4 of 4

IV.    Basic Principles and Rules for Moving Pieces and Advancing pawns;
Basic Tactical and Strategic Concepts.

The following basic fundamental rules, principles, and concepts should be learned as quickly as possible.

A.   White always moves first.

B.   A player may never move a piece or advance a pawn landing it onto a square occupied by another of that player’s pieces or pawns.

C.   A player may never move his or her King onto a square which is adjacent along any side of a square or touching at a point diagonally a square upon which the other player’s King is located.

D.   A player may never move his or her King onto a square which results in the King immediately being in check.

E.   A player may never move his or her King across a square upon which the King would be in check if the King moved to that square when castling. This is sometimes called an in-check square.

F.   A player may never move a piece or advance a pawn which results in his or her King immediately being put into check.

G.   Only pieces (except the King) and pawns may be captured and removed from the chessboard. Kings are never captured and removed from the board. Remember the prime objective of the game – checkmate. Or alternatively, a draw or stalemate.

H.   Only pawns advance-the act of physically moving a pawn ahead row by row toward the opposing player’s home or back row, which of course is moving it; as discussed later, the reason for this is because the pawn may not move backward. Therefore, pieces move, pawns advance.

I.   Only pawns promote – the act of changing from a pawn to a Queen, Bishop, Knight, or Rook at the player’s election, when the pawn lands on a square on the back rank of the opposing player (rank 1 for Black’s pawns or rank 8 for White’s pawns). Theoretically then a player could have nine (9) Queens or ten (10) Bishops or Knights or Rooks, in a game! Naturally, the chances of that occurring are so infinitesimal, that it never occurs in regular games of chess.

J.   The strongest maneuver on the board naturally is one which effectuates checkmate. The second strongest maneuver is pawn promotion, usually resulting in queening the pawn, because “it signifies an enormous gain in material…and makes victory practically certain….” [source: How Do You Play Chess? by Fred Reinfeld (pamphlet, Dover Publications, 1958, reissue 1972), at p. 16]

K.   Some Basic Tactical and Strategic Principles for Conceptualizing and
Executing the Game Plan (moving pieces and advancing pawns).

1.    Second only to mating or not being mated is material parity or material advantage. A player should always develop a material acquisition disposition (material capture), and should always seek to capture an opposing piece or pawn when it is safe to do so. Failure to capture a piece safely is the same as losing a piece!

2.    If a player has a material advantage (especially if up a pawn) usually an endgame will be in his or her favor, therefore trading and/or exchanging pieces to remove the opposing player’s better fighting units from the board as quickly as possible is often the best course of action. As more of the opposing player’s pieces are removed from the board, the chances of the player with the material advantage to win in the endgame exponentially increase very rapidly. The player with a material disadvantage does not have the option to engage in a exchanges and trades of pieces; instead. if behind in material a player should seek to exchange pawns. A general rule for endgames is to win, exchange pieces; to draw, exchange pawns.

3.    If a player has a piece advantage, especially a Knight, he or she should make it active as soon as possible and put it to work to further the game plan. Letting the piece sit passive and inactive can cause it to become a liability due to the player having constantly to be vigilant that it does not get captured or entombed. If the player is actively engaging it in play, the chance of forgetting about it and losing it to capture or getting it entombed are greatly lessened.

4.    If a player cannot put the extra piece to work right away, he or she should keep it in the forefront of game concentration when considering possible lines to pursue toward the endgame within the game plan. The player should activate it as soon as possible to assist in the battle for supremacy. Material advantage often will simply result in an extra pawn advantage in the endgame with a great likelihood of being promoted to a Queen (usual piece to which a pawn is promoted, but also may be a Rook, Bishop, or Knight which might be better in certain mating patterns (attacks) and an intended mating net).

5.    Once a material advantage is gained, a player should begin immediately to move his or her pieces to a focused attack point on the chessboard (called a focal point, but focal points can also be not the area where an attack will occur, but also where an attack is intended to be launched from by a player, or regarding central key positions for a player’s defensive structure). Focal points further provide an avenue to consider in evaluating an opposing player’s weak points on the chessboard, and also where a player has weak points on the chessboard.

6.    In a closed game (pawns in center blocking diagonals for Bishops and central files for Rooks), the positional structure favors diligent, active use of the Knights because they can jump over other pieces and pawns, and thereby be especially useful in evading the blockade of pawns in the center of the chessboard.

7.    If a player has two Bishops against an opposing player (called a Bishop Pair) who only has one or no Bishops on the board, the opposing player should seek to exchange a Knight for a Bishop or trade a Bishop for a Bishop (if the player has a Knight to exchange or a Bishop to trade off), as soon as possible. Conversely, the player with the Bishop Pair should seek strongly to preserve the Bishop Pair because it is a very powerful combination of fighting pieces to have against an opposing player.

8.    Principle of Two Weaknesses: if a player can create a second weakness on the chessboard for the opposing player then it tears at the very fiber of the opposing player’s ability to stretch his or her fighting forces adequately and often to unmanageable proportions for the opposing player. With two weaknesses to try to defend and protect against, the opposing player’s fighting units are simply often overwhelmed and smothered in an unstoppable onslaught of threats, traps, checks, and one or more mating patterns.

9.    A player with a pawn advantage with a pawn situated in either the a file or the h file for advancing and promoting, should take care to protect the Bishop of the same color square upon which the pawn would promote in the endgame, so as to provide the necessary defense and protection to permit promoting instead of a draw. The situation of having a Bishop on the opposite color than the promotion square is known as the Wrong Colored (Coloured) Bishop (and soemtimes “wrong rook pawn”>, and if there is a King, a Bishop of the wrong color, and a Rook pawn in the a or h files against a lone opposing King, absent a blunder by the opposing player, the game must necessarily end in a draw because the player will never be able to safely obtain the pawn promotion. This is the prime situation where application of the principle that a Bishop and a King may never checkmate a lone opposing King comes into force during a game.

10.    A player should develop a strong bias trait never to cross over or move a piece or advance a pawn to the player’s 5th rank unaided (not defended or protected) as a general rule. However, if a player can safely seize control of key a central square (centralization) such as White seizing control of e5 if Black creates a hole at e5 (square unprotected and undefended by a Black pawn), this general rule can fall by the wayside because seizure of the square often creates a formidable positional superiority and a forward point from which to launch attacks.

L.   As a generally sound rule, a player who launches an attack is wise to press his or her attack on the side of the board where the player has more space. Oftentimes, the opposing player will find it difficult to get pieces to that side to defend against the attack.

M.   Similarly, in endgames with few pieces left on the board, a player with an isolated pawn or a pawn couple/pawn chain on a side of the board away from the opposing King usually is wise to begin pushing it or them toward pawn promotion.

V.    Classification of Movement.

Pieces are classified as linear, non-linear, or multi-linear.

A.    Linear Pieces.    The linear pieces always move only in straight lines along only two available lines on the chessboard from the square upon which they are located:

1.    The Bishops which move diagonally on squares of its own color, forward or backward from the squares upon which they are located; and

2.    The Rooks which move left or right (horizontally), and forward or backward (vertically), from the squares upon which they are located.

B.    Non-Linear Pieces.    The non-linear pieces are only the Knights which always move other than in a straight line (always in an L-shaped pattern). Knights are the only piece which always changes the color of the square upon which it is located after moving.

C.    Multi-Linear Pieces.    The multi-linear pieces – the King & Queen – always move in a linear line, but may do so forward or backward (vertically), and right or left (horizontally), or diagonally forward or backward.

The pawns are also multi-linear in that while they are restricted to advancing only vertically forward on their own file, they advance to capture an opposing piece or pawn (other than the King) which is on a diagonal square one row ahead on the diagonal in either the file to the right or left of the file in which the pawn is located, thereby changing the file on which the pawn is advancing forward. There are two special pawn advances: an optional one-time two-move advance for each pawn; and, a special one-time capture advance called en passant, which do not follow the above two patterns for advancing pawns. These are reviewed in The pawns tutorial.

Click on a link below to bring up its tutorial page. My recommendation is to start with The King tutorial, and proceed in consecutive succession with the tutorials for The Rook, The Queen, The pawns, The Bishop, the Knight. Links also provided to view/download/print this lesson in pdf format, to the next tutorial, the main chess page, and my web home.