English Chinese (Simplified) German Hindi Romanian Russian Spanish

21 Days to Supercharge Your Chess

Give me 21 Days and I Will Show You How to
Become a Dramatically Better Chess Player

Chess Talk

Chess Players Online:

We have 415 guests online

ideas behind openings

5 Chess Positions That Most Players Don’t Understand E-mail
Written by Yury Markushin   
Wednesday, 05 August 2015 08:07

5 chess ideasThere are some typical positions at chess that look surprisingly simple but nevertheless many chess players don’t understand how to play them correctly. Chess is indeed a very complex game and we cannot always generalize and define strict rules to follow. In this article we will share some of the very important ideas that will help you to make right decisions in typical positions.

1. Castling long or short?

This is a very common dilemma that many chess players are facing. Most players are taught that they should castle as soon as possible as this maneuver puts the king to safety and connects the rooks. This is of course true, however, not many resources emphasize exactly what side to castle to. Some players get used to only castling short and never even consider other options. Other players have trouble deciding whether they should castle short, long or not at all.

To make your live a little easier we list some basic rules that guide you in the decision making process:

  • Do not castle if the pawn structure of the castling side is severely damaged
  • Do not castle if that will put your king in danger
  • Do not castle if that will make your opponent’s attack possible
  • Do castle if the center is open
  • Do castle in opposite side with your opponent if you have a clear plan of attack

As you can see from the above listed rules, it does not matter what side to castle. The important idea to always keep in mind is “what it will give me?” You should always pick the side to castle based on these three parameters: safety, attacking possibilities and pawn structure.

In the position below it is fairly obvious that white should go ahead and castle long, because his king’s side is weak and staying in the center is not an option.

5 chess ideas

White to move


In order to understand how to play middle-games well it is important to have deep positional understanding. In order to improve your positional understanding we suggest you to sign up for our comprehensive training course.

Over 1,000 chess players have already benefited from our training . Don't wait, start winning chess games today.

2. What rook to place on the open file?

This is a very common question that arises in all parts of the game from opening to the endgame. Many chess players get confused because they have two equally good options of how to occupy an open file with a rook.

But which rook should you play?

The most important idea to remember in these sorts of positions is to use both rooks as efficiently as possible. That means that the rook you choose to place on the open file, should not interfere with the other rook in case if it needs to move to the other side of the board.

Take a look at the position below.  White can occupy an open e-file with either f or c-rook. What do you think is the better way to proceed? Playing Rfe1 is the correct way, because the c-rook belongs on b or a-file. Always think about how to efficiently use both rooks, not just one.

5 chess ideas

White to move

3. Keep or exchange the queens?

Decision of keeping or trading off the queens can dramatically alter the game and its outcome. By trading the queens the position gets simplified and the attacking possibilities typically get seriously reduced. Here are some basic things to keep in mind while you deciding whether you should keep the queens or not:

  • Is your queen is better than you opponent’s queen? If you answer “yes”, avoid trading the queens
  • If you are under attack, you should probably trade the queens
  • If you have an otherwise winning endgame you should trade the queens
  • If you are losing and want to complicate the position, you should avoid trading queens

Here is a simple example when white should trade the queens. Since they are a pawn up trading the queens would lead to easily won endgame.

5 chess ideas

White to move

4. Pick one: a knight or a bishop?

Most chess players know that both the knight and the bishop are worth 3 points each. Oddly enough, most chess players have a favorite piece and prefer keeping one or another not depending on the positional factors in the game. That is not the best approach, since the strength or a weakness of one or another minor piece greatly depends on the position. In a cramped position a bishop does no good and the knight dominates, in open position it is vice versa.

Important idea to keep in mind, when you are deciding what minor piece to keep or exchange always consider the positional factors, not simply choose your favorite piece. Remember, in chess, the pieces are your tools that help you in accomplishing certain goals, choose them wisely.

In the position below white has a choice between trading the minor pieces or not. Since the position is open, the bishop is generally stronger than a knight. That’s why white made a right choice by playing g4 and keeping the bishop.

5 chess ideas

White to move

5. Sacrifice or not?

Sacrificing material is among of the most unpleasant things to do for most chess players. Even if the sacrifice looks sound and they have double checked the calculations, most players are afraid to give up the material because “what if the calculation is wrong?” Because of that “what if” many good sacrifices don’t get played. Things get even worth with positional sacrifices. That is when you cannot calculate if the sacrifice will lead to a win or return of your material. Players solely rely on their intuition when positional sacrifices are played.

What should you do to avoid the trouble choosing weather to sacrifice or not:

  • Don’t be afraid of the ghosts. If you calculate the variation, double checked it and see the win go for the sacrifice
  • If you are losing the game and have a good sacrifice in mind which may give you some fighting chances (even if you don’t see the full line) go for it, you have nothing to lose anyway
  • If you are up in material and are on the winning side of the board, I would suggest to avoid sacrifices or any other risky play. That will maximize your chances to winning the game and minimize chances of making a mistake. There is nothing worse than losing a won game


To learn about these and many more middlegame ideas in greater detail with examples from real Grandmaster games and step-by-step explanation enroll in our comprehensive training program.

"There Are 3 Main Problems That 95% of All Chess Players Are Facing... "

start winning at chess

You will instantly discover how you can significantly improve your game, adding hundreds of elo points without hiring an expensive chess coach or spending 5 hours a day on chess !

Click Here to Start Your Training

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 August 2015 12:24

Add comment

Please offer your feedback for the article here. Don't worry, your comment will appear shortly after approval. Only SPAM and abusive comments will be deleted.

Security code