The Game of Chess

The Game of Chess

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by Siegbert Tarrasch

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"I have always a slight feeling of pity for the man who has no knowledge of chess, just as I would pity the man who has remained ignorant of love. Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make men happy. The way to this happiness I have tried to show in this book." — Author's Preface
While there are many chess instruction books available, few have…  See more details below


"I have always a slight feeling of pity for the man who has no knowledge of chess, just as I would pity the man who has remained ignorant of love. Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make men happy. The way to this happiness I have tried to show in this book." — Author's Preface
While there are many chess instruction books available, few have achieved the lofty stature of the present volume. Fewer still have been written by a legendary International Grandmaster whose pedagogical skills rivaled the chess prowess that enabled him to demolish opponents at the board. An immediate success upon its first publication, The Game of Chess has become one of the game's enduring classics, considered by some critics the finest book ever written on the game.
Part of its success stems from Dr. Tarrasch's unorthodox approach to teaching chess: "I employ quite another method and one analogous to that a mother uses to teach her child to talk. I play with the beginner from the very start in that I put before him simple positions and from them explain the fundamentals of chess. It is the intuitive method of instruction. In this way the pupil learns chess quite easily, of that I am convinced."
To make it easier for the beginning student, Dr. Tarrasch also reverses the order in which the game is usually taught. Instead, he begins with the End-Game, since "obviously it is easier for the beginner to deal with a few men than the entire thirty-two." Then follows the heart of the book, an important and extensive discussion of the Middle Game. Analyzing the most important parts of hundreds of games, Tarrasch presents a comprehensive treatment of combination play, an aspect of chess for which he was especially renowned. Finally, he deals with the most complex part of the game — the Opening — and offers enlightening comments on many historically important variations.
Illustrated with over 340 diagrams and including 12 complete games, The Game of Chess remains one of the standard texts, a careful reading of which will improve the game of any player.

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Dover Publications
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Dover Chess Series
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The Game of Chess

By Siegbert Tarrasch, G. E. Smith, T. G. Bone

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1987 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-14455-9




BEFORE anything else, the beginner must learn the name —or, rather, the two names—of each of the squares on the board and must practise recognising the squares by their names. This he will be able to do after he has studied the following diagram. (In diagrams the player of the White forces is always assumed to be seated at the lower end of the board, the player of the Black at the upper. The board is so placed that each player has a white square at his right-hand corner.)

The 64 squares form vertical files and horizontal ranks. In the English notation the files are called after the names of the pieces which at the beginning of the game occupy their end squares. Going from left to right in the following diagram —remember White is at the lower end, Black at the upper—we have the Queen's Rook's file, the Queen's Knight's, the Queen's Bishop's, the Queen's, the King's, the King's Bishop's, the King's Knight's and the King's Rook's. The ranks are numbered from 1 to 8, each player counting from his own end of the board. Thus Black's eighth rank is White's first, White's eighth is Black's first.

The beginner will find in diagram No. 1 the names of the squares. The upper symbols in each square show Black's name for it, the lower White's. The abbreviations used are: K for King's, Q for Queen's, R for Rook's, B for Bishop's and Kt for Knight's.

"Sq"—an abbreviation of "square"—is frequently used instead of 1.

* * *

Please take the two Kings—since they are the most important pieces, they are the biggest—and put the White one at White's KB6 and the Black at Black's KKt1. Then take a White Rook—Rooks are the big round pieces that look like the towers of an old-time castle—and place it at White's QKt1 (No. 2).

The Rook moves from QKt1 to QKt8, or in the usual notation 1. R – Kt8 ("–" signifies "to"). As you see, the Rook moves in a straight line. It can move along a file or a rank and, in each case, in either direction. Thus it could go from QKt1 to QR1, Q1, KKt1, KR1, etc. on the rank or to any of the squares between QKt1 and QKt8 on the file. To continue—1. R – Kt8. When the Rook has arrived at Kt8, it is attacking the Black King, which now stands in one of its lines of action. Such an attack on a King is described as a "check" (= "King") and at such times the player making the attack calls "Check!" That is because an attack on the King, a check, must in all circumstances be attended to. In some way or other the King must escape from the check. But where can the King move? Since the King can move only one square at a time in any direction, only KB1, KR1, KB2, KKt2 and KR2 need be considered. He is not allowed to go to KB1 since there he would be just as much exposed to the Rook's attack as at KKt1. At KR1 also he would still be in check. Can he go to KB2? A King must never go too near to another. At-KB2 he would be within striking distance of the opposing King. The King must never move to a square which is attacked by an opposing man since he would thus put himself into check. Therefore he may not go to KB2 nor, for the same reason, to KKt2. But what of KR2? That square is not attacked by any enemy man. He may—and must—move to KR2. Thus the two moves read 1. R – Kt8, ch, K – R2. ("Ch" is an abbreviation of "check".)

* * *

Now please put up the following position: the White King at White's K6, the White Rook at White's KR3, and the Black King at Black's K1 (No. 3).

The Kings are now standing the least possible distance from one another—they may not go any closer. They are immediately opposite to each other, in Opposition, as we say. White moves 1. R – R8. Again the Rook is attacking the Black King, which is now in the Rook's new line of action. Thus the Rook gives check: 1. R – R8, ch. How can the Black King get out of check now? He may not go to KB1 or Q1, for on either of those squares he would be as much in check as at K1. Also, he may not go to K2, KB2 or Q2, since he may not go too near to the enemy King. He cannot move any more, he cannot get out of check. Then he is "checkmated" and the game is finished—for the checkmating of a King is the object of the game. White has won. Accordingly the move is written: 1. R – R8, mate. ("Mate" is derived from a Persian word and means "dead".)

* * *

If in the last line of play a Black Bishop—the Bishops are those slim medium-sized pieces—were at Black's QKt5, then mate could be delayed (No. 4). Black could cover the check—could escape from check—by playing (in reply to 1. R – R8, ch) his Bishop to KB1 where it interrupts the line of action of the Rook, is in its way. Just as the Rook moves in all directions along the ranks and files, so the Bishop moves in all directions along the diagonals. The moves now read: 1. R – R8, ch, B – KB1. But now the Rook can capture the Bishop which is in its line of action. In chess a man can capture an enemy man standing in its line of action, and this it does by removing the enemy man from the board—after which that man is out of the game—and occupying the square vacated by its victim. Let us suppose the Rook does capture the Bishop: 2. R × B, ch. (The "×" signifies "takes".) But now, since the King can move one square in any direction, the Rook has come within moving and capturing distance of the King, who would simply recapture: 2.... K × R. The King at K1 guards the Bishop at KB1. Thus White would have gained nothing; only the two Kings would be left and the game would be undecided—a draw. Neither player would have won, neither would have lost.

But, nevertheless, there is a way for White to capture and win the Bishop for nothing. He has only to think out what his opponent can do at the next move. Black may not move the Bishop otherwise his King would be in check. A player may not make a move that places his King in check. So the Bishop may not move, the Bishop is pinned. So, if it were Black's turn to move, he could move only his King, and since moves to KB2, K2 and Q2 are prevented by White's King, Black's could go only to Q1. But this move would leave his Bishop unguarded, and it could safely be taken by the Rook. Actually, however, it is White's turn to move. He makes a move which does not materially alter the position, viz. 2. R – Kt8. After that Black's King must move to Q1: 2.... K – Q1, and now the Rook captures the Bishop: 3. R × B, or rather, 3. R × B, ch, for at KB8 the Rook is again attacking the King. There is only one possible move: 3.... K – B2. Now, with a Rook ahead, White must win—as we shall see later. A Rook can always force a mate against a lone King.

White's 2nd move in the above play is, on the surface, quite motiveless. Actually, White has done nothing at all but waste time; he has formally fulfilled his obligation to move but merely in order to force his opponent to change the position. Such a move is called a "waiting move". By means of it White has constrained his opponent to move, has placed him, as we say in Germany, in Zugzwang.

White had, instead of the Rook move, another move (2. K – B6) by means of which, in just the same way, he would have forced Black's King to relinquish his guard on the Bishop. In reply to that move, Black's King would have had to move to Q1 or Q2 and then the Rook could have taken the Bishop.

* * *

Let us take once again Position No. 2. After the moves considered there, 1. R – Kt8, ch, K – R2, White again makes a waiting move. He has many such at his disposal—for example, without materially altering the position, the Rook can go from Kt8 to QR8, QB8, Q8, K8 or KB8. Not, however, to KKt8 or KR8 for, if the Rook were played to either of those squares, Black's King would capture it—White would have thrown his Rook away. But let us suppose that White makes one of the good waiting moves, 2. R – QR8 or QB8 or Q8 or K8 or KB8. Then Black has only one move. The King may not move to KKt1 or KR1 because on either of those squares he would be in the line of action of the Rook. He may not go to KKt2 or KKt3 because there he would be too near to the enemy King. Only KR3 is left him, therefore 2.... K – R3. Now the Kings are again in Opposition, always a very dangerous position for the defender since the one King robs the other of three squares. White's Rook gives check at KR8—and not only check but mate since the three squares KKt2, KKt3 and KKt4 are closed to the Black King by the White and the squares KR2, KR3 and KR4 are attacked by the Rook. Therefore 3. R – R8, mate—the game is over, White has won.

* * *

The following play, very curious but extremely instructive for beginners, runs on similar lines:

Once again the Kings are in Opposition (No. 5); once again, therefore, mating continuations are possible. Curiously enough, White can start with whatever Rook move he pleases—he will always mate in three moves. Only he must always force the Black King back again into Opposition. For example, 1. R – KR5, K – Q1. Now White must prevent the escape of the King across the King's file. This he manages quite easily by placing his Rook in that file: 2. R – K5. Now the King must return into Opposition: 2.... K – B1. There follows 3.R – K8, mate.

Or, (after 1. R – KR5) 1.... K – Kt1. Now White by 2. R – QR5 forces the King back to B1; 2.... K – B1; 3. R – R8, mate.

Or 1. R – K5, K – Q1; 2. R – K1, K2, K3, K4 or K6, K – B1; 3. R – K8, mate.

Or 1. R – Q5, K – Kt1; 2. R – QR5, K – B1; 3. R – R8, mate.

Or 1. R – QKt5, K – Q1; 2. R – K5, etc.

Or 1. R – QR5, K – Kt1 (or 1.... K – Q1; 2. R – K5, etc.); 2. R – R1, R2, R3, R4 or R6, K – B1; 3. R – R8, mate.

Or 1. R – B1, B2, B3 or B4, K – Q1; 2. R – K1, K2, K3 or K4 respectively, K – B1; 3. R – K8, mate.

Or 1. R – B1, B2, B3 or B4, K – Kt1; 2. R – QR1, QR2, QR3 or QR4 respectively, K – B1; 3. R – R8, mate.

It will be good practice for the beginner to try all the possible first moves for the Rook that I have not mentioned and to bring about a mate according to the given scheme.

* * *

Suppose we change the position somewhat and introduce a Black Bishop (No. 6).

It is Black's turn to move. White has just moved his King from B7 to B6. (It is not necessary to say from KB7 to KB6.) He now threatens R – R8, mate. (Again, it is not necessary to say R – KR8, mate). Black has now at his disposal a splendid move which prevents mate and at the same time destroys all White's hopes of victory. It is 1.... B – R5, ch! (An exclamation mark denotes a very good move, a question mark a bad one.) After that move White cannot carry out his intention of mating his opponent. The check has precedence, the check must be attended to. Therefore the White King moves from B6 to either B7, K6, K5 or B5. Naturally, he cannot move to K7 for there he would be as much in check as at B6. After any one of these moves by the King the Bishop captures the Rook. The move of the King to B6 was, obviously, a glaring oversight which cost the Rook. White overlooked the check at R5 by the Bishop. Black, for his part, made full use of his opponent's oversight. Admittedly, after 2.... B × R Black cannot win the game since a single Bishop cannot mate the opposing King. But at least he has saved the game, has made it a draw.

* * *

Between a Rook and a Bishop very interesting struggles are possible—for example, in positions Nos. 7 – 10 in which the essential feature is the Opposition of the Kings which (as we have already seen) makes mating continuations possible. In No. 7 White plays 1. R – KR1 and attacks the Bishop, that is to say, threatens to take it. The Bishop can now move to Kt6, B5, B2 or Kt1. If it moves to K4 or Q3, it is taken by the White King into whose sphere of action it has placed itself and, if, instead, to Kt8, then it may be taken by the Rook. If it moves to Kt6, B5, B2, Kt1, or Kt8 then the Rook gives at R8 the mate we have already met. If, instead of the Bishop, the Black King moves, then the Rook takes the Bishop and White wins through the advantage of being a Rook ahead.

Again, in this position (No. 8) White has at his disposal a very strong attacking move, viz. 1. R – KKt3! The Rook is attacking the Bishop. If the latter moves just anywhere, e.g. to Q7 or R5, then the Rook gives mate at Kt8. If, as is better, the Bishop moves to R3 or K2, then, in reply to 2. R – Kt8, ch, it can interpose at KB1 and cover the check. But now, as we have seen before, White by the waiting move 3. R – R8 (or by 3. K – B6) wins the Bishop and the game: 3.... K – Q1; 4. R × B, ch.

In position No. 9 White wins in a similar manner by 1. R – B2, attacking the Bishop and at the same time threatening mate by R – B8. Black's best move is 1.... B – Kt4 so that in reply to 2. R – B8, ch he can interpose the Bishop at Q1. However, he loses it after a waiting move by the Rook to Kt8 or R8 or after 3. K – Q6 since the Black King must move and relinquish the guard on the Bishop, which is then taken.

* * *

In position No. 10 the winning move is 1. R – R6. If the Bishop moves in the diagonal from R2 to Kt8 (except to Kt3, where the Rook takes it), then 2. R – R8, mate. If, however, the Bishop moves to Kt1, 1.... B – Kt1, then once again we get 2. R – R8. By this move the Bishop is attacked, the Rook threatens to take it. The Bishop cannot escape for, if it were to move, the Black King would be in check and that must not be. A player must not make a move which places his King in check. So the Bishop is pinned—and its King cannot protect it (as he could do, if at Q1, by playing to B1 or B2). The Bishop cannot be guarded, it is taken, and White wins since later on he forces a mate.

* * *

Please put the White King at White's K2, the Black King at Black's KB5 and the Black Queen—the Queens are the second largest pieces—at Black's QKt6 (No. 11).

The Queen combines the moves of the Rook and the Bishop, she moves along ranks and files (like the Rook) or along diagonals (like the Bishop) and in each case for any number of squares. That is to say, she moves like the King, only for any number of squares. She is by far the strongest piece. To mate a lone King with her is not difficult. The King is forced to the edge and our King placed opposite to him. We have only to take care not to "stalemate" the enemy King. Stalemate is reached when a player whose King is not in check has no move of any piece open to him. The game is then a draw.

In the above position mate is brought about in the following way: 1.... Q – B7, ch. This drives the King back to the first rank and almost opposite to the Black King. 2. K – B1, K – B6; 3. K – K1, Q – B8, mate, or 3. K – Kt1, Q – KKt7, mate. If 2. K – K1, then 2.... K – B6; 3. K – B1, Q – KB7, Kt8, B8 or Q8, mate.

* * *

If in position No. 12 White moves his King to B6, Q6 or K6, then Black cannot move. The squares Kt1, Kt2, B2 and Q1 are closed to him by the Queen and the square Q2 by the King. Therefore, while his King is not in check, Black has no move. Accordingly, it is stalemate and the game is a draw. White must avoid this mistake and bring about the mate as follows: 1. Q – R7, K – Q1; 2. K – Q6. Always take up this so effective Opposition! The Black King can now move only to B1 or K1. In the first case he is mated by 3. Q – QB7 or R8 (the square Kt2 is taken from the King by the Queen), in the second by 3. Q – K7.

* * *

It is not difficult to bring about the mate of a lone King by Queen and King from any position, e.g. No. 13.

We gradually force the White King anywhere on the edge of the board. First, however, we must bring our own King up to him.

1. .... K – Kt7

2. K – Q5 K – B6

3. K – K5 Q – KKt3

Thus we prevent the return of the King to the sixth rank. Q – QKt3, with the same object, is also quite good. We want to force the King to the first rank. No useless checks, however. Let us systematically and gradually take one rank after another from the King.

4. K – B4 Q – R4

Thus we already take the fifth rank from him.

5. K – K4 Q – KKt4

By this quiet move in conjunction with the next we capture the fourth rank.

6. K – B3 Q – R5

7. K – K3 Q – KKt5

Now the King must go to the second rank. The net is being drawn closer.

8. K – B2 Q – R6

9. K – K2 Q – Kt6

10. K – B1

Or 10. K – Q1, Q – B7; 11. K – B1, Q – B8, K8, Kt8 or QB7, mate.

10. ....Q – R7

Thus the King is forced right to the edge. (Not 10.... K – Q6? or K – Q7? on account of stalemate.)

11. K – K1 Q – KKt7

12. K – Q1 Q – B8 or Q7, mate.

The mate could have been brought about in 9 moves, but the line of play given is the most systematic and consequently the simplest.


Excerpted from The Game of Chess by Siegbert Tarrasch, G. E. Smith, T. G. Bone. Copyright © 1987 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Game of Chess 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wether your a beginner or master, Tarrasch's classic will both challenge and enlighten you.Anyone who sits down and reads this book and seriously contemplates on and puts into practice the instructions laid down within, will surely improve their chess play, guaranteed. A must have for any serious chess lover.