Hi guys, it’s black to move here. What would you do?
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Ok, so first of all, what is white threatening? If we think about it then we can see white doesn’t have any tactical threats. As a matter of fact, the only white piece that could potentially threaten us, is the queen, or maybe one of the pawns, but the queen is actually not very well placed either since she can easily become a target to black’s pieces.
So the next question is – are there any tactics that work in black’s favour. You probably noticed that if black moves the knight, then there will be a discovered attack on the queen. But Nf3+ doesn’t work, because white can get out of check by capturing the knight and at the same time move his queen out of danger. The same goes for Ne2+, white can simply capture with the queen.
The other tempting idea is to play Nxc2, which forks the white queen and rook. And many inexperienced would probably play this move without giving it much thought, however, and this is the purpose of this exercise, you should always consider your opponent’s possible replies before you make your move. And in this case, white can now play Qb3+, followed by capturing your knight.
So after you calculated the forcing variations, you will discover that there aren’t any tactics that work in black’s favour. That means, you must move on to the next step in your thinking process and that is to see how you can improve your position or how you can increase the pressure against your opponent.
When you start thinking about how to improve your position, you will realise that you want to develop your remaining pieces as quickly as possible, and a good way to do that here, is to play Be6.
This move is good, not only because you are developing your pieces, but also because you now renewed the threat of Nxc2 since white can’t play Qb3+ anymore – your bishop is covering that. This is how you keep your opponent on the back foot, don’t give them a free opportunity to fix their problems is you prevent it, but instead look for ways to renew your threats and force your opponent to keep making as many passive moves as possible.
To conclude this exercise I want to say that the most important lesson here is that you should think about your opponent’s options before you rush into making a move that looks great.
I hope you enjoyed this chess training exercise and that you will also enjoy all the other exercises in this series, cheers.