I coach players with a range of standards and it is interesting to compare how different levels of players think.

A beginner of course doesn’t know what to think about and there are so many pieces and lots of possible moves so he just plays the first move that he likes.  The next level player has a better understanding of his possibilities and will consider several moves (or ideas) before making his selection.  These are called “candidate moves” – a term first drawn to my attention in Kotov’s famous 1970’s book “Think Like a Grandmaster”.

To get to the next level a player must not only consider what moves he can do but also what moves (and ideas) are available to his opponent.  This is usually beyond most of my students, even those rated around 1500.  This week I showed my students some positions from Ballarat and asked them to choose White’s next move.  Most quickly found a reasonable looking move, and some even considered several candidate moves, but they all fell for the same trap.  “Have you considered your opponent’s reply?” I asked.   “Err… not really” was their usual response whereupon I had the painfull duty of telling them that Black makes one more move and they would then have to resign!

The higher level player of course considers both his own ideas and that of his opponent and then (this is the hard part) makes a correct decision as to which move to play.  Now that is really hard.  To make a good decision we have to make sure that we look at all the possible candidate moves, even though some of them may look “silly”, and we also have to look deeply enough to draw the correct conclusion.  So many players stop their analysis too early (e.g. “because that move loses my queen”) and miss a good possibility just over the horizon of their analysis.

Of course in choosing moves you can also just choose based on an idea rather than analysis.  For instance in the position below White is considering the idea of trying to exchange queens.  How would you advise him?

[iframe width=”500″ height=”685″ src=”http://chessmicrobase.com/microbases/4068/games/364000?token=gkvd3sla&embedded=1#hcp-” frameborder=”0″>]

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