THE TWO CHAMPIONS
When snooker champion Steve Davis was a boy he enjoyed playing chess. But after a while he got bored with it because whenever he played against his dad he kept on getting really stodgy positions where nothing happened. "If this is all there is to chess", he thought, "I'll take up snooker instead." It was only many years later that he realised how interesting chess really was. The way to make chess interesting is to use your pawns to OPEN the position up and ATTACK your opponent. To attack you usually need room for your pieces. The way you make room for your pieces is by getting rid of your pawns.
The simplest opening where pawns get exchanged early on is the SCOTCH GAME. If you practice this opening you'll learn a lot about attack and defence.
Let's start like this.
1. e2-e4 e7-e5
2. Ng1-f3 Nb8-c6
Now the move that makes it the SCOTCH GAME is 3. d2-d4. But you might prefer a different move order that gives Black less choice.
3. Nb1-c3 Ng8-f6
This is called, for obvious reasons, the FOUR KNIGHTS GAME. Now White can choose how to continue his DEVELOPMENT. 4. Bf1-b5, the SPANISH FOUR KNIGHTS, is good, but rather boring. 4. Bf1-c4, the ITALIAN FOUR KNIGHTS gives Black an easy game after 4... Nf6xe4! (THE FORK TRICK. After Nc3xe4, Black gets his piece back with d7-d5! a PAWN FORK!). But the move we'll look at, the SCOTCH FOUR KNIGHTS, is...
4. d2-d4 (Diagram)
White ATTACKS the Black Pawn on e5 a second time. Stop and count the number of ATTACKS and DEFENCES on d4. Black is ATTACKING d4 twice: Pawn and Knight, and White is DEFENDING it twice, Pawn and Queen, so the move's safe.
After 4... d7-d6, White can exchange Pawns and Queens: 5. d4xe5 d6xe5 6. Qd1xd8, when after 6... Nc6xd8 White can take a free pawn on e5, and after 6... Ke8xd8, Black can no longer castle.
So Black's best move is to take the Pawn:
Now 5... Nc6xd4 puts White's Queen on a strong square where she cannot easily be attacked. Black's best move is...
5... Bf8-b4 (Diagram)
Stop and look carefully at Black's move before suggesting a move for White.
Why did Black play his last move? It's a PIN! The Knight on c3 cannot move: it will leave White in check. So what does this mean? What is Black THREATENING? He's THREATENING to take the Pawn on e4!
So if you played, say, Bf1-c4 or Bf1-b5 you'd lose a pawn. Black could play Bb4xc3+ followed by Nf6xe4, or even Nf6xe4 at once. If you played a2-a3, again Black would take the Knight followed by the Pawn. Perhaps you were scared of the PIN and played Bc1-d2? Is that a good move? Certainly not! Black can take off a Knight for nothing: Nc6xd4 - the Bishop on d2 blocks the White Queen's line of defence.
Well then, we need to find a way to defend e4. What would Black play after Bf1-d3? Again, he'd take the Knight: Nc6xd4. Or after Qd1-f3? Another free Knight: Nc6xd4 again. Or after Qd1-e2? Thank you for the Knight: Nc6xd4 yet again. What about f2-f3? Better, but it's dangerous to move Freddie in the opening.
So is White in trouble? Not at all. Let's travel back in time to 1912 to find out the answer. We're in Moscow, watching an exhibition game between two of the world's greatest ever players. Playing White is Alexander Alekhine, of Russia, who was to become World Champion in 1927 and hold the title, with the exception of a couple of years, until his death in 1946. On the Black side is Dr Emanuel Lasker of Germany, World Champion from 1894 to 1921. It's Alekhine's move and he plays...
6. Nd4xc6 b7xc6
7. Bf1-d3 (Diagram)
Yes, this is the best way to protect the Pawn on e4. White exchanges off the Knight before Black can take it, and then DEVELOPS his Bishop to DEFEND the THREATENED pawn.
What would you advise Black to play next?
Not the only good move: 0-0 and d7-d6, for example, were possible. But Black prefers to get rid of White's central pawn.
8. e4xd5 c6xd5
9. 0-0 0-0
The centre is open so both players CASTLE to get their Kings into safety. Remember DCK and watch how the two World Champions DEVELOP their pieces, CONTROL the CENTRE and make their KINGS SAFE.
Black is now stronger in the centre, but it's White's move and that's also important.
10. Bc1-g5 (Diagram)
What is the point of this move? That's right, it's a PIN. White would like to play Bg5xf6 and then if Qd8xf6, Nc3xd5, or if g7xf6, Black has a DOUBLE FREDDIE, which will leave his King in danger.
Black defends the d-pawn again.
What do you do if you've got a PIN! Do we exchange Bishop for Knight now? No - we look for ways to ATTACK the PINNED piece again.
It's starting to look scary so Black retreats his other Bishop to BREAK the PIN.
It's time to bring a Rook into play. Do you know what we do with Rooks? We exchange pawns to open FILES and then stick our Rooks on the files where we no longer have pawns. Steve Davis never exchanged pawns, so he was never able to use his Rooks. No wonder his games were so boring.
12... h7-h6 (Diagram)
Black's starting to get annoyed with that Bishop on g5 so he kicks it to see what happens.
Now we stop the camera and, as in A Question of Sport ask you the question "What happened next?"
You almost certainly won't be able to work out the answer, but feel free to have a guess.
What happened is that the young master saw a clever way to force a draw against the World Champion. He gave up a Bishop to get rid of one of the pawns in front of Black's King.
There goes Harry!
Gerry steps across to take Harry's place.
Another SACRIFICE, this time to force Freddie abandon his King.
The White Queen CHECKS the Black King, forcing him into the corner.
16. Qg3-g6 (Diagram)
Now she moves forward to menace little Harry (the one who used to be Gerry, remember).
How can Black defend Harry? If he tries Nf6-g8 what would White play? Think CCT. That's right: Qg6-h7# - the KISS OF DEATH. And if Nf6-g4? Again, the same thing: Qg6-h7# If Harry moves to h5 White can keep on checking on h6 and g6.
Alternatively, Black can play 16... Qd8-e8. Then play continues 17. Qg6xh6+ Kh8-g7 18. Qh6-g5+ Kg8-h8 (What happens if he goes to f7 instead? Qg5-g6 is mate!) 19. Qg5-h6+ Kh8-g8 and so on.
There is a Law to cover this sort of situation. It states that IF THE SAME POSITION OCCURS THREE TIMES WITH THE SAME PLAYER TO MOVE THE GAME IS DRAWN. (In fact if you play in a tournament it's slightly more complicated than that.) If, as here, one player keeps on checking and the other player keeps on moving out of check it's called PERPETUAL CHECK. So after Qg3-g6 both players saw what was going to happen and agreed a draw.
1. Look for ways to use your pawns to open the position up for your pieces.
2. Think DCK in the opening: DEVELOPMENT, CENTRE CONTROL, KING SAFETY.
3. GET YOUR ROOKS ON OPEN FILES. An OPEN FILE is a file with no pawns on it.
4. When you've thought of a move, make sure that your opponent has no good captures before playing it. EBH - EYES BRAIN HANDS before you play the move - don't touch until you're certain. CCT - CHECKS CAPTURES THREATS for your opponent as well as yourself.
5. Learn the opening and practice it yourself.
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