Welcome back to iPlayoo beginner chess! In Lesson #001 you saw how every chess piece was using its power to control space on the chessboard. Pieces show activity, they are active at all times.

As the main strategic principle of warfare is to put restraint on enemy forces (as covered in the first post), in this lesson we’re going to show what we need to do to fight against active enemy troops.

chess art by Samuel Bak

Supervision, chess art by Samuel Bak

Blocking by using body

As you know from space-control sports (football, American football, ice hockey, basketball, and so on), the moment the opponent team gets the ball, or takes the initiative, you immediately take measures to restrict their active play. Whatever the opponent does, you try to neutralize their activity.

How do you do that? Do you have any idea? (your unconscious brain does know the answer, but the conscious part may be unaware of it right now. When you read the lines that follow you might experience an aha moment. That would be a further proof of power of thinking without thinking.)

So, how do you put restriction on an aggressive enemy? (that’s how, after all, you may expect them to behave:)

We do it by mere physical presence, by using our body to stop them in whatever they are up to. You tackle them. Think ice hockey. Body check is a defensive technique where you use the body to knock an opponent against the boards or to the ice. Or think American Football, where by blocking, one player obstructs another player’s path with his body.

In chess you apply that very same approach. Let’s give it a look.


Diag. 1

In the Diag. 1, you see the White Rook on the c1-square showing off its aggressiveness by spewing fire down the first horizontal and c-vertical.

On the c4-square you see a Black Pawn. It’s an infantryman, a foot soldier. It’s exposed to attack (as you know from Lesson #001), and in general, unless protected by friendly pieces it may be destroyed in this position.

On the other hand, the Pawn actually stops the enemy fire at c4-square. It closes the entire c-line behind it. As a result, squares c5, c6, c7 and c8 are not under the Rook’s fire any more.

Important: You should draw up the lines of force in your mind’s eye as if the Rook and all squares it attacks were one entity. These emitted rays of force from the Rook enliven the piece, giving it an ‘aura‘. Try to mentally fuse the piece to its aura every time you see it on the board. Check here.

Body effect definition

Every piece, by occupying its square closes four lines (remember a vertical, a horizontal, and two diagonals) that pass through that point.

By doing so they cut off the fire of any active pieces (enemy, or friendly alike) along the four lines at that point, reducing their fighting potential. The more obstructed a piece, the lesser its value.

Another important consequence of the body effect is that by leaving its post, every piece opens/clears up the four lines at that point.


Look Ma! No Hands!

We covered the two central principles of chess (power and body effect) in two lessons with just two pieces and two diagrams, without making a single move – no hands involved! The mechanics (for example, how pieces make moves, how they trade) we will address later on. Yet, every chess book for beginners starts with the moves. By a curious paradox, teaching the piece moves first is fundamentally wrong as it doesn’t take into account how human brain works and how we learn (more on that in a post to follow).

What we’re trying to accomplish here is to train your unconscious brain to understand chess concepts finding visual patterns on its own, well before you are aware you have learned them. This is known as perceptual learning and has made the news recently.

* * *

We’ve seen quite a lot today (not necessarily learned, leave it to your unconscious to do at its own pace):

  1. the body effect,
  2. the main strategic principle in chess – restraint on enemy forces, which is actually just an application of the body effect (and should be constantly on your mind during the battle),
  3. line blocking, or line closing,
  4. line opening, or clearing up,
  5. importance of including the unconscious brain in the learning process,
  6. need to visualize the piece and its ‘aura’ as a whole (in order to develop a great eye, or strong chess vision)

Next time we are going to have some exercises to solidify the knowledge your unconscious brain has acquired so far.

Don’t underestimate the power of your unconscious brain. Just relax and let it do its job for you.

Set it on auto-pilot!

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