Chess strategies are driven endeavors to gain an advantage over your opponent.

Unlike tactics, strategies are long-term. Strategies can be combinations of tactics or combinations of different strategies. In this article, we will discuss the five strategies advanced chess players are considering in their gameplay.

These five strategies are

The Center

The center is the most important square on the board. It gives a great advantage from opening to mid-game. The idea of this strategy is to control the center and this strategy aims to control the four center squares at the beginning of the game. E4, D4, E5, and D5.

A chess piece becomes more powerful when placed in the center. They cover more squares and amplify their power. Let's have a demonstration to understand why the center is the most important square on the board.

Look at the two bishops on the board. The one in the corner controls the diagonal from B2 to H8. On the other hand, the one in the center controls the diagonal from A8 to H1 and the diagonal from B1 to H7. The bishop in the corner controls seven squares while the bishop in the center controls 13 squares. Between those 2 positions, the bishop in the center is more powerful because it can go to 6 more squares that the one in the corner.

Let's try the knight next. The knight in the corner can only move in two squares while the knight in the center can move to eight squares. In this scenario, the knight in the center is 4 times more powerful than the knight in the corner.

The same goes for the queen where the queen in the center will have 6 more squares than the one in the corner. Rook is an exception on the other hand. It moves vertically and horizontally and has the same squares that can cover whether it's in the corner or the center of the board.

Expect your opponent to try to control the center as well. Your opponent will try to dominate the center squares as well to gain an advantage over you. To make sure you control the center, you need to consider the second strategy, the development of pieces.

The Development of Pieces

The development of pieces is the most important move in the opening. It means moving the pieces from their original position to a strategic one. It is placing your army ready for battle or placing them to make a good defense. Some players make mistakes by moving one or two pieces and only bringing reinforcements when it is too late. The faster you can develop your pieces the faster you can attack.

The bishops and knights are the ones that need to be developed first. Usually, you move the bishop and the knight on the side you want to castle so you can castle early. Don't move your Queen too early. Remember that your opponent is developing his pieces as well so, moving your Queen early makes it an easy target for your opponent and you can't afford to lose your Queen in the early game.

Don't move the same pieces twice while developing your pieces unless you need to take your opponent's piece. All pieces must come into play. You need all your pieces to get ready to battle so make the most of your other pieces.

There are so many ways to start developing your pieces. One of them is using the King's Pawn opening, E4. It is a strong opening of controlling the center. It opens the way for the bishop and the queen.

Let's analyze the first three moves of this game. The white using the King's Pawn Opening has more developed pieces. Two pieces on the white side are already out. The white bishop is B5 is restricting the movement of the Black Knight is C6. At this point, the white can castle and start the attack.

The Castle

A castle is a special move in chess to protect your king and activate your rook. It is the only time you can move 2 pieces in one move and it is the only time you move your king 2 squares. The king moves to squares to the side you want to castle and the rook moves to the other side of the king. However, you can't castle if the king is in check or through check.

A castle before the 10th move is a rule taught when we are learning. However, the timing of the castle is also important as well as the side where you castle. You need to determine which side is safer to castle.

There are also a few instances that it is not advisable to castle.

The Rook on Open File

An open is a file with no pawn. A rook on an open file is more powerful. It can penetrate the opponent's position and defense since it can move up and down. Having it in the open is taking advantage of its movement. Let's do a simple demonstration of a rook on an open file.

In this example, the Black can't go to the file to escape because there is a white rook in G1. Black king's only move is to go to E8 which will result in a mate. Let's get another great example.

This is a game between Topalov and Anand in 2008. We can see that the white rooks are strongly controlling the D file. The black is planning to outsmart the white by moving his rook from F8 to D8, however, the white made a strong move. Queen to E4. This move prevents the black from moving his rook to D8 because if he does it, he loses. Instead, the black played queen to E8 preparing his other rook to move to D8. White then played knight to F3 preparing to move his Queen to H4 then black played C3. At this point, the white is winning in spaces and position.

The Checkmate

The checkmate is the ultimate goal in playing chess. It defines who wins in the match. The checkmate is when the opponent's king is in check and has no legal moves to escape. When planning a checkmate, you need to understand sacrifices and positional strategy. There are lots of variations of checkmate. I will show you some of the best checkmates from grandmasters and I encourage you to study the moves so you can apply them in your gameplay.

This is one of Bobby Fischer's games and he played white. White is in the attack here and his queen is aligned with the black king. One of the ideas here is to play E5 triggering a mate however black can simply play F5. The move F5 will block the white bishop targeting H7 squares and try to exchange queens which is a clever idea. So, what do you think Bobby did in this situation? Right! Bobby played rook to F6, sacrificing it and blocking the F5 move of the opponent. Now, the E5 can be played and result in checkmate.

Let's see another example.

This is a match between Kasparov and Topalov. Kasparov played white and made sacrifices to get a checkmate. Kasparov takes the black pawn in D4 using his rook, sacrificing his rook but weakening the pawn structure of the black. Black took the rook in E4. White moved his rook to E7 checking the black king and black captured the rook using his queen. The white queen took the pawn in D4 checking the black king. Since the pawn structure of the black is weakened nothing can block the white queen. The black king moved to B8 and the white queen moved to B6. Black bishop to B6 then white knight to C6 and a checkmate. In this example, 2 pieces are sacrificed by Kasparov to get a checkmate.

Chess Strategies are used to gain an advantage in pieces, position, space, and others. Checking mate is the goal of the game. To do it, you need combinations of strategies and gain an advantage over your opponent.

Practice makes perfect as they say. Practice these strategies and surely, your gameplay will improve. Hope you learn something.