I had achieved a decisive advantage against my regular opponent in a recent “over the board” game of chess, but he was hanging in there and not resigning, even though I was about to promote my pawn (see diagram, left).
There were just a few minutes left on the clock, so perhaps he was hoping to survive until the flag dropped, but at best it was a forlorn hope.
The game could be easily finished off in a couple of moves by Black promoting the e2 pawn to a queen and then moving the rook to f2, so this game is not really a perfect illustration of the title of this blog post, but what happened in this game did make me think about those occasions when it can actually be better to promote the pawn to a knight instead of a queen.
In this game, which I played on Gameknot against a player rated at the time in the lower 1600s (and with an all-time-high ranking of 1691), my opponent, playing Black, castled into danger on the kingside.
In the illustration, the critical moment has arrived. Black’s kingside pawn structure has been disrupted by an exchange of minor pieces, leaving an undefended Black pawn on g6. Now would not be a good time for Black to castle on the kingside, but that is exactly what Black did!
When it comes to castling in chess, we are usually taught to castle early, after developing some of the minor pieces.
The idea is that it can be dangerous to leave your king stuck in the middle of the back row where he may be exposed to an early attack. Generally speaking, it is more secure to get your king off to one side of the board, behind a barrier of pawns, and perhaps a knight, a rook and/or a bishop.
In the diagram both White and Black have castled early. White’s king is defended by three pawns, a knight and a rook. Black’s king is even more securely defended by three pawns, a rook, knight and bishop.
Quite often, however, other concerns cause one or both players to delay castling, or not to castle at all. In a situation where you have castled and your opponent has not, Jeremy Silman offers a “basic thesis” for you to follow, which is,
No Stress Chess is a chess game that beginners of any age can immediately start playing. It is a fast way to learn how to play chess for kids. Adults with no experience of the game can also quickly learn to play chess with this game.
No Stress Chess really does take all the stress out of learning the game and teaching it to children.
The game comes with a folding board, plastic playing pieces, a set of 56 action cards. A plastic a storage tray holds the cards both inside the box and during play.
The folding two-sided chess board has a training chess board on one side. It shows you exactly where to put your pieces at the beginning of the game.
Once you have played a few times and are familiar with the set-up, you can flip the board over and play on a regular chess board.
If you are playing Black, and White opens with “e4” (also known as the King’s Pawn Opening, or P-K4 in the old notation), one solid response that I prefer is to reply with “e6” – i.e. move your own King’s Pawn one space forward.
White’s second move is typically “d4” – i.e. moving the Queen’s pawn forward two spaces next to the King’s pawn. Black then plays “d5”, advancing his Queen’s pawn two spaces forward. Those are the opening moves of the French Defense (or French Defence in British English):