Watch this youtube video first (it’s only three minutes, and worth your time even if you’re only remotely interested in chess). Mato Jelic is one of my favorite chess commentators. He typically does a really nice job of analyzing GM games. In this particular video, we see a fantastic lesson in positional chess. Positional chess, as opposed to combinatorial chess, is chess played with heuristics instead of trying to deeply analyze every possible combination of moves one could play.
There are quiet a few heuristics for playing strong positional chess, but a few of the main ones that this video highlights are:
- Get your pieces into the game. At 0:52, white has 5 pieces developed (meaning they have moved from their starting squares), and black only has 2 pieces developed. This “implies” that white must control more squares than black, which is an advantage.
- Control the center. Almost all of white’s moves are central based. She eventually moves both of her rooks to the center of the board, the queen is centralized, and so are most of the minor pieces. Black, on the other hand, has a queen over on the far side of the board (not central), and also has two rooks and a bishop which are never developed.
- Lining a rook with the opposing king. White does this just before making a winning move in the game. If the file the rook and king are on “opens up” in the next few moves, then black will be forced to waste a move protecting his king, or at least a piece will be pinned blocking the black king.
- Trying not to move the same piece twice. Black moves her Knight twice, which is “wasted” move, since she could have been developing another piece like either of her rooks or bishop. White finds the critical moment right after black moves her Knight for the second time. If black had castled, or developed her bishop to b7, white wouldn’t have had such an easy time winning the game
Admittedly, I didn’t see the critical move for white. Props to Kateryna Lagno for finding such a brilliant move.