* Winning a Chess Game by Patience * Chess for Beginners * Chess Rules * Queen versus Rook * Brave Women
This is for the beginner who knows the rules of chess, at least to some extent, but knows nothing about tactics or strategy. You’re in the right place.

What are chess tactics?

A sequence of moves that confine what the opponent can do and which can lead to gaining a material advantage or checkmating the opponent’s king—that is the tactical side to chess. The motifs of chess tactics include the pin, the knight fork, discovered check, removing the guard, and the double attack. These can sometimes lead to a capture of an enemy piece or to a net gain of material in exchanges.

Where to begin, to learn how to win?

The first sentence of the first chapter in the book Beat That Kid in Chess makes it clear: “What’s the most important thing to see in chess? See how to get an immediate checkmate.” In other words, when you play a game of chess, when it’s your turn to move, look at the possibility of checkmating your opponent’s king, and if you see an immediate checkmate then make that move. Actually finding a move that is checkmate, however, will be futile for well over 90% of your moves, in a game of chess. So how do you make progress during all those moves in which a quick mate is impossible? You try to gain some advantage that will lead to eventual victory. But all the details in gaining advantages leading to checkmate—those are best learned from a chess book and from experience. For the moment, let’s look at a typical checkmate.

Chess Beginner

© 2015 Jonathan Whitcomb
“Beat That Kid in Chess” uses the ideal method of teaching tactics: nearly-identical positions. What other chess book uses that new method? (reading level: teenager and adult)

White to move, in the above position

Can white make an immediate checkmate in the above position? The

only piece available to white for any potential mate, in this position,

is the rook. Moving that piece up to the c8 square does give check to

the black king, but is it mate?

That move by the white rook would indeed checkmate the black king. But we need to look at three potential ways that a check might not be a mate: 1. Can the checking piece be captured? 2. Can a defending piece interpose, blocking the check? 3. Can the defending king move to a safe square? If at least one of the above applies, then it’s not checkmate. In the above position, none of those three remedies for the check from that rook move, so it would be check mate. But what if it were black’s turn to move, in the position shown? Would moving the black rook down to b1 checkmate the white king? That king has an escape square, so the black rook moving to b1 would be check but not checkmate. The white king would move to safety on the h2 square. That’s a critical difference between white’s pawn structure in front of the white king and the black’s pawn structure.
Playing chess has social benefits, beating those one-person video games hands down.