Saturday 29 November 2014

King of the lounge room

Getting into competitive chess can be tough, especially if you start as an adult. There is a pretty big step between playing with your friends, and turning up to a rated competition where everyone is super serious. As I have noted preciously, this can turn into a big disincentive for new players, as getting beaten in every game can be discouraging, no matter how close you came to winning.
One piece of advice I give to new players is not to worry about their initial tournament results. The rider I attach to this is that even if they don't win any competition games, they will learn enough to at least beat their casual chess opponents. "King of the lounge room" is a term I have coined to describe this.
I do like to quantify things though, so I do wonder what skills you need to be "King of the lounge room". Based on what I have seen over the years, being alert enough to capture pieces for free, and knowing when to capture the last moved piece is a pretty good place to start. I would also throw in a couple of basic checkmating ideas, namely Q+B mating patterns (ie target f7) and Q+N mating patterns. At this level I don't think openings really matter (e4, Nf3, B somewhere is normally fine), but endgame knowledge does help. Nothing too in depth, but certainly knowing when to push your passers, and how to promote them, would provide plenty of 'fluky' wins. Mating with K+Q v K is also helpful, although I have seen enough 'accidental' checkmates to make me wonder if it is essential.
Feel free to suggest other skills in the comment section, noting that this is for players whose ambitions don't extend much beyond bragging rights over a few beers.

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