Chess Lessons by Lee Duigon: Lesson Five

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Lesson 5: a few more thoughts on Pawns.

You need to move your Pawns in order to create space for your Pieces, starting on the back row, to operate. This takes some good judgment. If you move too many Pawns too far, your defense will suffer. But if you hold too many Pawns back, you’ll cramp your own army.

Most chess games start with moving the Pawn in front of the King, creating space for your Queen and bishop to come out: e4 if White, e5 if Black. Starting with the Queen Pawn is also popular: d4 or d5. Any Pawn, of course, can be moved for your first move, but for beginners the Pawn move, e2-e4 or e7-e5, is best. Note these Pawns are taking advantage of the opportunity to move two squares instead of one.

Remember, Pawns are the only men who can never move backward, never retreat. Devote some thought to any Pawn move.

During a game, as a result of captures, you may wind up with “doubled Pawns”–for example, on e5 and e4. This creates a weakness because Pawns are only able to capture diagonally: doubled Pawns can’t defend each other. This doesn’t seem to bother experts very much, but it’s relatively easy to attack a beginner who has doubled Pawns. Try to avoid them–but don’t try too hard. If capturing an enemy Rook leaves you with a doubled Pawn, you’re coming out ahead.

Always be on the lookout for the deadly “Pawn fork,” the first tactical coup I ever learned in chess. Imagine you have a Rook on c5 and a Knight on e5, and your opponent has an unmoved Pawn on d7. If it’s his move, he can move that Pawn to d6 and simultaneously attack both your pieces, each of which is much more valuable than a Pawn. Very hard to escape without losing one or the other!

And that, I think, is enough for you to digest for now.

For the next lesson we’ll take up the topic of your chess army’s special forces–the Knights.

Lee Duigon (Nov. 14th, 2018)

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Stay tuned for Lesson 6!

Chess Lessons by Lee Duigon: Lesson Four

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Lesson 4 – a bit more about Pawns.

The job Pawns do best is to defend your Pieces and your territory. Remember, they can only capture diagonally. Whole books have been written on this subject, but I can’t do that here.

“Pawn chains” often play a major role in defense. A simple chain of three Pawns might be placed on, for example, squares C5, B4, and A3. The A-Pawn defends the B-Pawn, and the B-Pawn defends the Pawn on C5. The weak link in the chain is the A-Pawn, which cannot be defended by another Pawn. When you have to attack a pawn chain, always aim for the weakest link.

There is a dirty trick in chess involving any Pawn you might have on the 5th rank. If your Pawn is on, say, E5, your opponent may attempt to move a Pawn *two* squares, as its first move, to D5 or F5. If he does, on your next move, *and only then*, your E5 Pawn may capture it by moving diagonally to D6 or F6, just as if your opponent’s Pawn had stopped there, having moved one square instead of two. This move is called Capturing En Passant, “In Passing.” It’s a legal move, and you should always keep an eye out for it. I find that when you take an opponent’s Pawn en passant, it usually shocks and confuses him: he loses his cool, and sometimes his train of thought as well. It’s not a move that shocks a very experienced player, it’s a perfectly legal move, but it often has a disproportionately powerful effect on the game. Personally, I’m always on the lookout for it.

The next lesson will be more about Pawns. I’ll try to stick to the basics. But as the 18th century French master, Philidor, famously said, “Pawns are the soul of chess.” So don’t sell them short.

Lee Duigon (Nov. 3rd, 2018)

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Stay tuned for the next chess lesson!

Chess Lessons by Lee Duigon: Lesson Three

(It has been 6 months since I posted the last chess lesson by Lee Duigon, so here’s Lesson Three, the first chess lesson I will share in 2020!)

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Lesson 3 – Moving the Pawns ♟

You start with 8 Pawns lined up on the 2nd rank, in front of your pieces. Individually expendable, Pawns are nevertheless important. Beginners often don’t realize that, because it takes experience to get good use out of them. But before that, the moves.

On its first move, and only then, a Pawn may be moved either one square forward or two squares forward. All other moves are either one square straight ahead–or one square diagonally, when making a capture.

In chess, all captures are made by moving one of your men onto a square occupied by an opponent’s man, who is then removed from the game. When a capture is made, the capturing man’s move ends.

So a Pawn cannot advance if there is another chessman directly in front of it.
If a Pawn is moved all the way to the opposite end of the board, it is cashed in for a Piece of higher value. Usually that’s a Queen; occasionally, a Knight.

During the course of the game, Pawns are valuable mostly in a defensive role.

Only the Pawn can never move backwards. Remember that when you decide to move a Pawn: it can’t retreat.

The next lesson will deal with some finer points about Pawns.

Feel free to ask any questions! I’ve never done this on line before, so I may sometimes leave out something.

– By Lee Duigon, October 26th, 2018 (Posted with permission)

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Chess Lessons by Lee Duigon: Lesson Two

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Lesson Two–Relative value of the pieces.

This is very important for beginners, who tend to make bad trade-offs. A good position is even more valuable, but it takes experience to gauge this.

For the time being, keep these numbers firmly in mind: Pawn-1, Knight or Bishop-3 (although two Bishops are a little better than two Knights), Rook (or Castle)-5, with both Rooks together being very valuable indeed, and Queen-8 (because it’s like having a Rook and a Bishop in one piece).

The King is priceless, because if you lose your King, you’ve lost the game.

These values become less important as you gain experience, but for the time being, they’re very important to your play and understanding of the game.

Chess is a game that simulates war, and it’s not a bad simulation. Think of the Pawns as foot soldiers, Knights as special forces, Bishops as tanks, Rooks as heavy artillery, and the Queen as a bunch of heavily-armed helicopters. And then always try to devise the best way to blend their different powers and abilities into a productive combination.

(October 22nd, 2018, from The Scrabble Game)

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Chess Lessons by Lee Duigon: Lesson One

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I am very grateful to Mr. Lee Duigon for teaching me how to play chess! Thanks to Mr. Duigon, I can play chess now! Here is the very first lesson he gave me…

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OK–the first thing you have to learn is how to read the board. It’s the same as a checkerboard, but in chess, each square has a name. This is called chess notation.
Set up the board with a white square in the lower right-hand corner. The back row, the row nearest you, is lettered, left to right, “a” through “h”. The a1 square is in your lower left-hand corner, with h1 on the right. These horizontal rows are called “ranks.”
The vertical columns, 1-8, are “files.” Your back row is a1 through h1, if you’re playing White. Black’s back row is a8-h8. You need to learn this simple notation so you can read and replay chess games. That’s Lesson One.
When you’ve mastered the notation, we’ll go on to the next lesson.

(By Lee Duigon, October 21st, 2018, on The Scrabble Game)

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