Day 1: Today I set up this blog page, and I am researching what are the best openings in chess, and watching games of some of the best players ever to play the game.
Day 2: I am researching about some good chess openings, and found a common and strong opening called the Sicilian Defense. This is one of the best openings in the game for the black side. http://www.thechesswebsite.com/queens-gambit/ states that a good opening for the white side is the Queens Gambit, in which the white side gambits, or gives up a pawn for better development and to get ahead in the game. These openings will help me to get a good start in the chess game, and will also help me play against them in a real match. I found it easy to understand the openings with lest than 5 steps, but the openings with more than 5 are confusing and hard to understand.
Day 3: I researched some more chess openings, and started to look into how to negotiate the difficult middle game. I found that it is important to make sure that you get all your pieces into the action, so you can have the best chance of checkmating your opponent. I also found that it is best not to bring your queen into the action early, and that you should wait to bring your queen as she is a powerful piece, but she is also very valuable. Therefore, you will keep having to move her as your opponent will constantly attack her while developing their pieces if you bring her in too early. I also learned that it is important to castle to bring your king to a safe position, and that castling king side is usually safer and more commonly used. The notation used to represent a king side castle is O-O. Finally, I found that the value of knights and bishops depends on the type of game that you are engaged in. If the pieces are locked and there is not that much space to move, knights are more valuable as they can hop over pieces. If the diagonals are open in a game, and there is a lot of space to move, bishops are more valuable, and you should not trade them for knights. The most difficult and challenging part for me to understand today was why some resources state that the knight is worth less than the bishop, while others state that they are worth the same amount of points in the game. Next week, I plan on seeing how to end the game, and how to gain strategic advantages in the game in more depth.
Castling King's and Queen's Side
Day 4: Today, I began to learn how to end chess games and how to gain strategic advantages going into the end game. One of the most important points is to have more value of chess pieces going into the endgame. The more pieces you have, the better chance of winning. Also, passed pawns are also really useful in the endgame, as if you can promote this pawn, you can get a queen and destroy your opponent for an easy checkmate (https://www.chess.com/chessopedia/view/passed-pawn). Another way to win is to corner your opponent's king, and checkmate him before the opponent has time to capitalize on a material advantage. Finally, having a power combo going into the endgame can be useful, such as having 2 rooks for one combo. Another useful combo is a knight and a bishop. These pieces can help corner and checkmate an opponent's king efficiently. Next week, I will research time efficiency.
Day 5: Another important aspect of chess is to manage your time efficiently, as you usually only have an hour to checkmate or draw with your opponent. Otherwise, you will lose the game. To manage your time, the first thing do is to memorize your opening, and play it without hesitation, as you can save time here by carrying out your plans without thinking. Another way to save time is to think about what possible moves you can make to counteract your opponent's likely move while THEY are moving. (https://www.chess.com/article/view/time-management2) This saves time for you during your move so you do not have to have to waste any of your time. Also, you can predict your opponent if you know their strategy very well. This helps you think of ways to exploit your knowledge of your opponent's strategy. A final, more advanced tip is to always protect your king side pawns if you castle king side, as if they are removed your king is very vulnerable. Some challenge, though, include high memorization and critical thinking, which takes time and practice to develop
Day 6: Today, I learned about creating a positional weakness in your opponent's side of the board. You can do this by having multiple pieces occupy or have control over a key square, helping you launch an attack on the opponent's king by exploiting this positional weakness. Also, you can use this strength to fork pieces. Forking pieces means that you are attacking threatening to capture two pieces of higher value than the piece you are attacking them with (http://www.chesscorner.com/tutorial/tactics/forks/forks.htm). Since they can only move one piece away, you are guaranteed to capture on of the pieces, usual the one of lower value. Knights are very useful for forking as they have prong shaped attack, but you can also fork with all of the other pieces, even pawns! This creates opportunities for huge positive trades. Although, to get these opportunities, you have to plan 3-4 moves ahead, and make sure that your opponent doesn't notice, which can be hard if you are facing an advanced opponent. Next week, I plan on learning about pins in chess.
Day 7: Another important strategy in chess is using pins to your advantage. A pin is when you attack one of your opponent's pieces, and make it unable to move. An example of a situation like this can be when you attack a knight with your bishop, but your opponent cannot move there knight, because if they did, their king would be under check (http://www.chesstactics.org/index.php?Type=page&Action=none&From=4,1,1,1). This is one example of a pin, and is called an absolute pin, as you cannot move the knight under the rules of chess, because your king would be under check. Another type of pin is the relative pin, where the piece is pinned by your piece because if your opponent's pinned piece moves, the piece of higher value shielded by it would be captured. Pins can be useful for gaining materials as you opponent is forced to give up some materials to prevent a bigger loss in material. Also, it can be strategic, as it can prevent a powerful piece from moving as it is pinning. Bishops, rooks, and queens are conventionally the best ways of pinning, as they have long range, and can attack from all the way across the board. Although, some challenges with pins is that you have to make it concealed and find a way to distract your opponent for the pin.
Both Relative and Absolute Pins
Day 8: Today, I played my first game after this project. Although, I played this game without using ANY of the strategies that I learned during this project. In the match I played, I noticed a few things. -First off, without an organized opening, I did not have a strong structure to build an attack, and was not able to get my king into a safe position. I also was not able to stop my opponent from capturing many squares in the center, allowing him to build a strong attack in the center. This also left many of my pieces unable to make any good or powerful moves, making me having to stall many moves off. Also, I traded one of my good bishops for a bad knight, making my position all the worse. Worst of all, I let my opponent fork my king and queen, making me lose my queen for a knight. After this horrendous mistake, things got no better, and I got checkmated in a few moves. I stood out to me that the subtle things that I learned from researching can all add up for a huge effect, as you make more and more mistake, your hole becomes deeper and deeper. Although, its takes time to learn and fix these mistakes that you make.
Day 9: This time, I played a chess game USING these important strategies, and the results were fantastic: I started with the Sicilian defense, and had a strong position and control of the center going into the middle game. Next, I made sure to only trade my bad position pieces for my opponent's strong pieces. Also, I gained a few pawns in the middle game to set me up for the end game. I also got a huge advantage when I forked my opponent's queen and rook with my knight. This help me beat my opponent with a quick and efficient endgame, in which I checkmated my opponent fast. What I learned from my research was that these smaller strategies have a huge effect together, and that by improving these small things, my chess rating and skill will massively increase. Also, the challenge is that only after you play a lot of chess can you start to get better.