The objective of material states that you should try to win pieces and/or pawns when you can because the player with more material can overpower his opponent’s forces.
Now we will look at 5 other practical things you can do to help you achieve your material objective.
- Take material when you can (unless you see a good reason why you shouldn’t).
- Use tactics to win material
- Exchange pieces when you are ahead
- Force your opponent’s pieces into defensive positions
- Aim to create a local majority of forces in the right place
- Create a passed pawn (ideally a protected passed pawn)
Below you can see some instructive examples.
1. Take material when you can (take advantage of your opponent’s mistakes)
The first and easiest way to win material is to exploit your opponent’s mistakes. In the position below black just played the move Bf5 – attacking the white Qc2. What would you do here?
You might be surprised how often a beginner chess player would be thinking that their opponent wouldn’t make such an obvious mistake. There must be some hidden motive behind the move? And of course, you must keep in mind that it could be a trap, however, mistakes happen and in this position there is absolutely no reason to not take the bishop.
Don’t let your opponent get away with their mistakes just because you wrongly suspected it was a trap. Take material if you can get it, unless you see a good reason why you shouldn’t.
2. Use tactics to win material
A chess tactic is a move or combination of moves whereby you achieve an advantage. The field of chess tactics is a very large one and reaches far beyond the scope of this page.
Here is a few resources you can use to study tactics:
- The Best Chess Tactics Training Method
- Chess vocabulary: Important words in the language of tactics
- Tactics Course: 20 Important Chess Tactics Motifs