Mixed Chess Training Exercises #2

Here is the second exercise in this series and I want to remind you that one of the unique features is that I won’t tell you beforehand what the objective is. You must, on your own, identify the likely objectives in the position. The reason I do it this way is that it helps you improve your chess thinking skills.

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.

Solution

As I’ve said before, the first step in your thinking process should always be that you must think about your opponent’s threats. Now here, white doesn’t actually have any serious threats, but that said, there are 2 possibilities that you should have, at least, considered. The first one, is that you should be aware of Bf4… which takes advantage of the vulnerable position of your queen… but this is not a serious threat because you can simply play e5, attacking the bishop, and the bishop will simply have to retreat. The other thing you should be aware of, is that if white moves the knight, then there will be a discovered attack by white’s queen on your b7-pawn. But again, this isn’t a serious threat because the isn’t anything useful that white can do with the knight.

Once you understand your opponent’s threats, you are free to start thinking about your next move. And the first thing you do, is to calculate all the tactics in the position and see if any of them are in your favour. In this position black doesn’t have any tactical ideas. When you’ve checked for tactics, and you didn’t find any, then it’s time to move on to the next phase of your thinking process – which is to look for a way to improve your position. The 5-step evaluation method that I discuss on my website (you can find also find it in the document – The Analytical Thinking System for Chess Players), will guide you in the right direction. And if you evaluated this position correctly, you would have noticed that black should do something about his development, particularly with regards to the bishop on d7, which is not only blocked in by it’s own pawns, but also it’s blocking the d-file, which could later become useful to your rooks. So now you’ve established an objective, you want to improve the role of the bishop. The next logical step is to identify the candidate moves that would serve in help you achieve it. And clearly, you have two options, e5 or c5.

1… c5 gains a tempo against white’s knight and clears the c6-square for black’s bishop.

Now you know you must compare these two moves to help you decide which one is better. The move, e5, looks good because it would help you take control of the d4-square and it opens the diagonal for the bishop, not bad, but the move c5 seems much better, for two reasons – firstly, this moves comes with a tempo, black is threatening to capture the knight, and so white will be forced to make a passive move, which means black is the only side that is making some progress here. It’s almost always a good idea if you can make some progress whilst your opponent can’t. The second reason why c5 is better than e5, is that it clears the c6-square for your bishop. This would be an ideal square for the bishop because it will be very strong on this long diagonal and at the same time you’re defending the pawn on b7.

To conclude this lesson I want to be sure you understand that these exercises will help you improve your game a lot, not only because you learn new things, but mainly because they are aimed at helping you improve your thinking methods. That is why you should do as many as possible of them.

I hope you enjoyed this exercise and that you will also enjoy all the other chess training exercises in this series, cheers.

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