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Chess strategy: what do you need to know about strategy and tactics? E-mail
Written by Yury Markushin   
Friday, 02 October 2009 17:00

chess strategy and tacticsEveryone wants to learn about chess strategy. Players believe that if they learn more about this magic thing called “strategy” they’ll win every single game. But what chess strategy really is? Is it attack or defense, style of playing or evaluation of positions, set of rules or tactics? No, my friend I’m not trying to confuse you, just to show that chess strategy covers all of the above to some extent.

Wikipedia defines chess strategy as evaluation of chess positions and setting up goals and long-term tactics for future play.


Strategy must also involve tactics, because if there is no tactics behind the chess strategy it becomes pointless. It’s like planning to walk a dog this morning if you don’t have one.

Chess player usually starts out the game with opening, as white or via transposition as black, taking into account future strategy of play. For example if player aims for minority attack he plays Queen’s Gambit Declined, for opposite side castles and pawn attacks – Sicilian Dragon, for play in the center – Petroff or Spanish.

To develop strategy player must evaluate position on the chess board. When evaluating, player must take into account following:

  1. Material on the board
  2. Pawn structure
  3. King safety (own and opponent’s)
  4. Position of pieces (analyze where own and opponent’s pieces are located in respect to king, other weaknesses)
  5. Control of center and key squares (You may want to check out my previous discussion over the Central Squares)
  6. Control of open files, long diagonals
  7. Own and opponent’s weaknesses (isolated pawns, “bad” bishops/knights, developmental problems)

Here are a few example of a good chess strategy:

  • If player sees that he is a piece up, a good chess strategy would be to exchange pieces, to simplify the position and to move into the endgame, which should be no-brainer to win.
  • If player sees that he has 2 bishops, knight and a queen pointing into opposing king castle a good chess strategy would be to sacrifice a bishop and develop a checkmate of win material if possible. We see how chess tactics and chess strategy go together. Tactics is to sac a piece, strategy (or main goal) is to develop a mate or win material. So, chess tactics is an instrument to accomplish chess strategy.
  • If player sees that opponent castles on opposite side in respect to his own king, a good chess strategy would be to develop a pawn attack to destroy opposing castle.
  • If player sees that there is an open position type on the board a good chess strategy would be to exchange knights for opponent’s bishops, since bishops are considered to be superior when game is open. If position is closed however a good chess strategy would be to exchange bishops for opponent’s knights.
  • If there is an open file on the board a good chess strategy would be to occupy file by doubling/tripling heavy material: rooks and queen.
  • If there is an isolated pawn (weakness) on the board a good chess strategy would be to block this pawn and to attack by all available pieces in order to win it.
  • If one player is up in development it would be a good chess strategy not to exchange material, since simplifying the position would be the best option for  the side behind in development.
  • A good chess strategy would be to develop knights before bishops (applicable to the opening only).
  • A good chess strategy would be not to develop a queen early in the game because it can become a target and accelerate opponent’s development. Don’t give your opponent something for nothing! There are exceptions to this rule however. If one wins material by say forking opponent’s bishop and king, it’s sure a good chess strategy to take advantage of it, to develop a queen and to win material.
  • A good chess strategy would be to avoid moving a piece twice in the opening stage if there is no good reason to do so. Again, if one is winning material or loosing that piece it’s definitely better to move it twice.
  • Finally a good chess strategy would be to have a strategy. It is a lot better to play chess with a bad plan than without any plan at all. Remember that!

Further readings involving chess strategy and tactics:

Basic Chess Tips

Seven Deadly Chess Mistakes

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Last Updated on Sunday, 15 May 2011 22:14


0 #5 Yury 2014-03-22 09:32
Hello Selena. Could you please tell me what article you have commented on and subscribed to, what email and user name you have used. For your privacy please send the information to webmaster@thech essworld.com. We will be able to remove you from the list :roll:
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+1 #4 Selena 2014-03-22 00:01
When I originally commented I clicked the "Notify me when new comments are added"
checkbox and now each time a comment is added I geet three
e-mails with the same comment. Is ther any way yyou can remove people from
that service? Cheers!
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+2 #3 how to get rid of 2014-03-08 05:08
Thanks for sharing your thoughts about positional chess. Regards
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+2 #2 Yury 2011-09-03 13:40
Thank you my friend. As you know my main objective and the main objective of this site is to teach players of all levels to feel more confident over the chess board. :-)
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+4 #1 Chessor 2011-08-27 12:24
The minimum I can say is that you are a Legend of teaching Chess. You have an unbelievable way to simplify Chess and make us love it more and more

Keep it up please
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