Chess openings shouldn’t be played simply by rote, churning out one memorized move after another. Four-time Women’s World Champion GM Susan Polgar strongly believes that chess isn’t something you simply memorize – chess is something you understand.
So, how can one understand chess openings? Or middlegames or endgames for that matter? Coming up with a chess strategy is one of the hardest obstacles new players face. Just as with everything else in life, there are short term plans, and long term plans to consider in each phase of the game.
In this video, Susan Polgar explains how to assess the positions that arise on the board, and how to come up with a chess strategy. Susan shows how to consider the pawn structure, where the kings have castled and where the pieces have been developed in order to formulate the best plan.
For example, your short term plan may be to capture an opponents piece or move to a specific square. Your long term plan may be to launch an attack down the kingside that may not come for another ten, twenty or thirty moves! If you can play solidly in the openings, you can achieve good positions early on and convert your initiative into a lasting advantage.
First, Susan Polgar looks at a position in the King’s Indian Defense, which arises after 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7. The plan is to break with c5 and open up the c-file and try to enter Black’s position via the c7 square!
Next up, The Meran Defense, which is a position that occurs in The Slav after 1.d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 e6 5. Nf3 Nbd7. Susan takes a look at what the opponent’s plan is (in this case to activate a bishop) and how knowing this can shape your own plans for the next stages of the game.
Finally in this video, a look at the Dutch Stonewall Defense which occurs after 1. d4 f5 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nf3 e6 4. g3 d5 5. Bg2 c6 6. 0-0 Bd6. White’s immediate plan here is to get a knight onto the e5 square, preferably after trading the dark-squared bishops off the board.
By learning how to create good plans and by being decisive, your moves will have more meaning and purpose, which will result in more wins.