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Mixed Chess Training Exercises #5

In this position it’s black’s turn to move. What would you do here? You can pause the video to think about it or you can click on the link in the description to see a high-resolution diagram.

Black to move. What would you do?

You can watch the solution on Youtube

or scroll down to read more about the solution in text.


Now just before I discuss the solution, I want to ask you a quick question. How much time did you spend calculation variations and evaluating the position? I ask because if you spent more than half a minute on that, then I want to say, respectfully, that you wasted that time. Ok maybe the time wasn’t wasted because you will learn something important from it, and that lesson is that in a position like this it shouldn’t take you long to realise that this position isn’t about tactics and it isn’t about improving your position.

Obviously white is threatening to capture either your c-pawn or e-pawn and the only thing you really need to consider here, is how to capture white’s pawn. Will you capture with the c-pawn or with the e-pawn?

exd5 is better because cxd5? would leave your e6-pawn weak.

In principle, you should always capture towards the centre, because, as you know, you want to control the middle of the board, but principles aren’t always right – and you need to consider other factors as well. In this case if you capture towards the centre, with the c-pawn, then you will end up with a very weak pawn on e6 and white will take advantage of it by playing Re1, forcing you to find ways to defend the weak pawn. On the other hand, if you capture with the e-pawn, then you won’t have this problem, and at the same time, you open up the e-file and probably you will bring this rook to the e-file at some point.

The purpose of this exercise was twofold: Firstly, to illustrate that you shouldn’t blindly follow principles. Principles are true most of the time, but you must check if they are true in your specific situation before you just follow them, and secondly, this exercises was meant to help you understand that you can’t always use the same thinking process on every move. You must be logical in your approach. There is no need to waste your time and energy on calculating variation that aren’t relevant to the practical situation on the board when it makes no sense to do so, and that is why I recommend you develop a logical thinking process. In other words, you should identify the need of the position and focus on serving that need.

If you want to know more about to develop a logical thinking method in chess, then you should do the exercises that I offer in this series, and it will also be a good idea to download The Analytical Thinking System. In the Analytical Thinking System I reveal all the important aspects of a logical thinking method in chess.

That’s it for now, I’ll see you in the next exercise, cheers.

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