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Chess Strategies: Accumulating small advantages in development

The purpose of aiming for objectives is to obtain an advantage that improves your chances of achieving your goal – to gain control and checkmate the opponent’s king.

Against strong players it won’t be easy to get a big advantage and you must first focus on small advantages.

Inexperienced chess players often make mistakes and you can exploit it. However, strong players rarely make such mistakes and therefore you must aim at accumulating small advantages.

This is how masters play – they aim at obtaining a small advantage, then another one and so on, until the cumulative force of the small advantages becomes too much for their opponent to defend.

When you become impatient and try to win quickly, you end up playing “hope-chess”.

Weak players play “hope-chess” – they put all their hopes on a certain idea or trick and hope that their opponent won’t notice it. They aren’t willing to work hard and accumulate small advantages. Instead, they hope to win the game with a move that their opponent missed.

“Hope-chess” doesn’t work against strong players

The example below illustrates why you should give up “hope-chess” and start playing real chess if you want to beat strong players.

Black just played Be6, threatening Bxb3.
Black just played Be6, threatening Bxb3.

The sensible response for white would be to play Nd4, improving the position of his knight and dealing with the threat. However, white got too optimistic and play Qh5?

White ignores black's threat and plays Qh5, threatening Qxh7#
White ignores black’s threat and plays Qh5, threatening Qxh7#

White is hoping that black will grab the knight on b3 and miss the checkmate. However, black saw the checkmate threat and calmly played, Rxd3! (removing the bishop that helps Qh5 to attack on h7).

Strong players WILL see your threats!
Strong players WILL see your threats!

And after white recaptured, Rxd3, black took on b3, Bxb3. All in all black gets a bishop + knight (6 points) for his rook (5 points).

Note: There is nothing wrong with making threats that force your opponent to defend. However, the problems start when you ignore your opponent’s threat and try something that you hope they won’t see. If they’re a strong player, they will see it.

“Hope-chess” is only effective against weak players. If you want to start beating stronger players, you must give up “hope-chess” and start thinking like a strong player. You should understand the difference between a weak threat and a strong threat. Strong threats forces your opponent’s pieces into defensive positions but weak threats just helps them improve their position. To become a strong player you need to start thinking like one – be willing to work hard and to build on small advantages.

Maximizing the development of your pieces is one of the most important aspects of accumulating small advantages.

Next Lesson – 5 Ways to achieve your development objective in chess

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