CHESS INSTRUCTION FOR BEGINNERS
DONT BRING YOUR QUEEN OUT TOO EARLY!
Newly born chessplayers are often fascinated by two pieces: the Knight and the Queen. The Knights odd leaping motion terrorizes them since the unchained horses seem to descend out of the heavens and eat (or fork!) their pieces in a very undignified manner. However, as interesting as this expressive (the grinning [or is that a gnashing of teeth?] face alone is enough to make a players hair turn white) piece might be, most beginners dont use them much since they cant quite seem to get a handle as to the correct way to harness its (seemingly) supernatural powers.
I will help you break the chessic horse in my next article. This discourse, though, is about the games most powerful unit: the Queen! This walking, sliding, and leaping power plant mixes the movements of a King, Rook, and Bishop all in one Amazonian package. Naturally, with so much punch available in a single unit, it seems logical to get it out as quickly as possible so as to inflict medieval damage upon the opponent. It turns out though, that this is usually a huge, but oh so common, mistake.
The truth is, the Queen should (and this is a generality, of course!) be one of the last pieces to step beyond its protective wall of pawns. Why? Because the Queens strength is also its weakness! Okay, I had to through that in, though it most likely does more to confuse than explain. Allow me to translate: If your opponent attacks one of your protected pawns with one of his pawns, you usually dont care since an even exchange of pawns is nothing to fear. If he attacks a protected pawn with a piece, you are even less concerned because exchanging a piece for a pawn usually depicts a certain amount of masochism on the part of the opponent. The same can be said for a Knight or Bishop: if the opponent attacks a protected Knight or Bishop with a Bishop, Knight, Rook, or Queen, you are usually happy to ignore it since, at worst, the exchange will simply be a trade of equals.
Now we come to our Queen. If we bring her out without good reason, she can be attacked by a pawn, Knight, Bishop, or Rook and, even if shes protected, she must still run away in terror because you simply cant afford to exchange your most powerful piece for any one of these inferior bits of wood or plastic.
In the early phase of the game, a quick journey by the Queen often allows the opponent to develop with gain of time via attacking the vulnerable Queen. Lets look at an extreme example:
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5
Blacks Queen has come out early and, if she couldnt be attacked in a constructive manner, the Queen would be very happy on this central square (its radius of control is enormous the squares d8-d2, a5-h5, b7-g2, and f7-a2 are all part of its zone). So why doesnt everyone use this opening? As explained earlier, the Queen is far too powerful to be vulnerable to lesser pieces.
The following moves will highlight this concept:
Developing the Knight to a nice central post and simultaneously gaining time via an attack on the Black Queen.
Poor Black just doesnt understand that you cant place your Queen in harms way! Far better is 3Qa5 when Whites pieces will have a harder time making threats against the Black empress.
Another free move for White. This grabs central space and creates a discovered attack against the Queen via the Bishop on c1.
Black thinks hes being aggressive by keeping his Queen hear the White army, but all hes really doing is allowing White to kick the Queen around like a dog.
Another developing move, and another attack on the vulnerable Queen.
By now you see the picture: Black is moving his Queen over and over while White is bringing out as many pieces as possible.
Seeing that 6Qf5? 7.Bd3 would give White yet another free developing move, Black finally decides to retreat and get his Queen out of harms way. However, White isnt done torturing him yet!
The Knight takes up a threatening post with gain of time.
Black couldnt bring himself to return home with 7Qd8. Accepting that his previous play was an abomination is hard to do, but it was nonetheless his only chance for survival.
Not the only good move, but it does bring yet another piece out while making Blacks Queen very uncomfortable (staring at that f4-Bishop is like staring down the barrel of a gun).
The position in the diagram illustrates Whites lead in development in stark fashion.
The poor guy just doesnt learn. After this game hell hopefully figure out that he has a whole army that should be employed.
Another attack, this time daring Black to eat the pawn on b2.
He cant resist!
The Black Queen has made eight moves in a row and finally finds herself trapped behind enemy lines. Since 10Qxa1 11.Qxa1 is the best Black can do, and since the material loss is akin to Armageddon, Black gave up.
*Use your whole army. Attacking with one or two pieces is a doomed strategy.
*The Queen should not be placed in harms way!
*The Queen should be one of the last pieces to come out. If you bring it forward too early, the enemy pieces will hound it without mercy.