Chess Games and Chess Resources for Linux

I listed below the chess programs and resources I have on my Computer running under Linux. Some of these listed below are also cross platform.

3D Chess – glChess and this manual page were written by Robert Ancell bob27@users.sourceforge.net. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU General Public License, Version 2 any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.

On Debian systems, the complete text of the GNU General Public License can be found in /usr/share/common-licenses/GPL.

http://linux.die.net/man/6/glchess

Gnome Chess – GNOME Chess is a 2D chess game, where games can be played between a combination of human and computer players. GNOME Chess detects known third party chess engines for computer players.

https://wiki.gnome.org/Apps/Chess

Brutal Chess – Brutal Chess features full 3D graphics, an advanced particle engine, and several different levels of intelligent AI, inspired by the once popular “Battle Chess” released by Interplay circa 1988.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/brutalchess/

Chessx – A free and open source chess database application for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/chessx/

Chinese Chess – GMChess is an open source Chinese Chess based on XiangQi Wizard. (link is external) Chinese chess (Xiangqi) is one of the most popular chess games to have originated in China.

https://lgdb.org/game/gmchess

One of many configurable from beginner to winner Chess games for Linux

Dream Chess – DreamChess is an open source chess game. Our primary target platforms are Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. DreamChess features 3D OpenGL graphics and provides various chess board sets, ranging from classic wooden to flat figurines.

A moderately strong chess engine is included: Dreamer. However, should this engine be too weak for you, then you can use any other XBoard-compatible chess engine, including the popular Crafty and GNU Chess.

Other features include music, sound effects, on-screen move lists using SAN notation, undo functionality, and savegames in PGN format.

The DreamChess team currently consists of only a handful of people. We could use help in many areas, such as programming, graphics, sound and testing. If you’re interested in helping out, please send an email to feedback at dreamchess.org.

http://dreamchess.org/

EBoard – EBoard is a user-friendly chess interface for ICS (Internet Chess Servers). While it will focus on FICS (www.freechess.org ), should work with any other ICS. It supports playing against local chess engines too.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/eboard/

Knights – Knights aims to be the ultimate chess resource on your computer. Written for the K Desktop Environment, it’s designed to be both friendly to new chess players and functional for Grand Masters. Here’s a quick list of Knights’ key features:

Play against yourself, against computer opponents, or against others over the Internet.

Customize your board and pieces with over 30 different themes, or create your own!
Audio cues help alert you to important events.
Novice players can preview potential moves.
Save your unfinished matches and play them again later.

http://knights.sourceforge.net/news_archive.php and http://www1.knights-chess.com/?kw=chess+pieces

Pychess –  PyChess is a gtk chess client, originally developed for GNOME, but running well under all other linux desktops. (Which we know of, at least). PyChess is 100% python code, from the top of the UI to the bottom of the chess engine, and all code is licensed under the GNU Public License.

The goal of PyChess is to provide an advanced chess client for linux following the GNOME Human Interface Guidelines. The client should be usable to those new to chess, who just want to play a short game and get back to their work, as well as those who wants to use the computer to further enhance their play.

Use Any Chess Engine

With PyChess it is easy to play a game against the computer or use the computer to help you find the best move during a game with the Hint Mode feature.

PyChess comes with its own built-in chess engine and will automatically detect and work with most popular chess engines as long as they’re installed on your computer. This includes engines such as GnuChess, Crafty, Sjeng and Fruit, and even Windows engines like Rybka.

In the case PyChess doesn’t automatically detect an engine you’ve installed, you can manually add and configure it engines menu. See the wiki for additional engines.

http://www.pychess.org/about/

Scid – Scid is a chess database application (cross-platform, for Unix/Linux and Windows) with many search and database maintenance features.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/scid/

XBoard – XBoard is a graphical user interface for chess in all its major forms, including international chess, xiangqi (Chinese chess), shogi (Japanese chess) and Makruk, in addition to many minor variants such as Losers Chess, Crazyhouse, Chess960 and Capablanca Chess. It displays a chessboard on the screen, accepts moves made with the mouse, and loads and saves games in Portable Game Notation (PGN). It serves as a front-end for many different chess services, including:

Chess engines that will run on your machine and play a game against you or help you analyze, such as GNU Chess, Crafty, or many others.

Chess servers on the Internet, where you can connect to play chess with people from all over the world, watch other users play, or just hang out and chat.

Correspondence chess played by electronic mail. The CMail program automates the tasks of parsing email from your opponent, playing his moves out on your board, and mailing your reply move after you’ve chosen it.

XBoard runs on Unix and Unix-like systems that use the X Window System.

https://www.gnu.org/software/xboard/

XShogi – GNU Shogi is a computer program that plays the game of Shogi, also known as Japanese Chess.

https://www.gnu.org/software/gnushogi/

Visualizing Chess to Improve Your Game

In the time since I last talked about chess, I have learned a little more, mostly about myself. I think the biggest challenge for me to learn is to teach myself how to visualize. One of the ‘tricks’ of chess masters when they go on the road is to play multiple chess games without looking at the board, either blindfolded or having their backs to the boards.

This makes it obvious to me, pattern recognition by itself can only go so far. Looking at the board and searching for a pattern that worked before is not the same as really seeing. Perhaps this is how famous warriors throughout the ages planned their campaigns.

They could see them play out, and analyses different situations easier and with more clarity. Famous generals and chess masters I believe are far better at visualizing than the rest of us. I stare at the board, and I see chess pieces. I move them around in my mind in a certain pattern looking for what has worked for me in the past.

When that pattern in the void of my head is interrupted or otherwise disturbed, I am like a lost little child not knowing which way to turn. It is in this moment that being able to visualize the game in my head would be so beneficial.

Plodding through a single turn, thinking about the consequences of moving this piece or that pawn, how it effects the next move or two, and not seeing the game as a whole is a bog handicap. Being able to visualize, see the game as an animated movie must be far superior. Possibilities and paths for different moves and lines that are played out on the screen that passes for thought.

How slick would that be! Being able to holistically watch the effects of different moves, watching sequences, spotting the flaws. Reforming the chess army, playing out athe whole campaign. Having strong visualization skills, especially in chess has to be a major game changer.

Visualization, and the willingness to really think instead of play remembered patterns work sometime, but fail me at other times. When I talk with players that are stronger than me, they too have their glass ceilings. Mostly they talk about not having enough time to give to the game. How their life gets in the way.

Maybe they too are too concrete too in their thinking, and have not imagined the next plateau. Being able to visualize enough to make a difference. How much our game could improve using the ability to play out a chess puzzle in our head away from the game,  waiting for something, or just relaxing for a few minutes.

This is a skill I think is important to improving at chess, and perhaps other areas of life as well. It is a skill I think I want to cultivate. I too lack the time and inclination to learn fifty different openings and their counter play. I can’t give hours a day to chess puzzles, and other forms of chess learning in order to improve.

What I think I can do is learn to better use those resources I do have, mainly those resources between my ears. Maybe I learn to play a little better and have more fun in the process.

Chess Barely Past 1000

I have made it past 1000! Only 1,600 more points to climb before I say I know how to play chess. Just kidding, if I get to 1500 to 1600 I will be thrilled. I now know, there is no magic bullet. It takes time and energy to learn anything, especially chess.

Chess feels to me like a series of interwoven steps. I climb one, and step back two steps to correctly integrate what I think I now know. Some days I feel like a six year old would beat me. Then slowly, my newest learning starts to meld with the little I know. Then, for a few moments, I gloat over my new found skill. Then reality happens, again.

My biggest weakness right now is choosing to move too fast. I can’t seem to stay off the gas peddle of moves. I see a nice move, and I do not see (take time to look for) anything better, so I move. Then I watch one of my pieces I didn’t notice eaten, because I moved too fast. When I slow down, protect my pieces and  not leave them hanging, my chess ability will improve.

As I watch the Masters playing their game via a .pgn file, their play looks so thoughtless and effortless. I am learning, every move made in the late opening is meant to support a later move. I used to think they were wasted moves. For my part, I am busy getting my pieces out so I can castle. For no real reason, I forget what I am supposed to be doing, and poof, another piece bites the dust.

A second learning from the master level games is moves that made no sense to me and looked like errors, are starting to make sense. White moves their pawn to block a two move knight problem before it can be made. Black moves a bishop to tie up a rook, planning to over extend the rook in another move or two, while they plan trap the queen.

They had a plan, and a backup plan. My first plan is to get my pieces active. While doing this, I watch my pieces disappear from the board because I am not thinking and I am moving too fast. That is my current best chess ability.

I am a master at allowing my pieces to be taken. I am starting to appreciate the focus and thinking needed to pay chess well. I need a forced pause between mouse clicks. Counting does not work. I can not count and think at the same time. Perhaps having a clock close by would help, so I know when an acceptable amount of time has passed. Or in my case, an acceptable amount of looking and thinking has not yet passed.

When last spring rolled around, my frustration with chess was high. It was easy to set chess down and pretend chess is something for people with a lot more free time than I have. That is what I did. I told myself, it was not worth the effort. There were better things to do with my time.

This fall however, I started spending more of my spare time with chess. I am finding chess is a lot more fun, as long as I am willing to do some thinking as I play. My frustration level has dropped because the more I think, the more I see good changes in my chess, and in my life.

If you work in a group, I strongly suggest you take up learning chess (again if you stopped). The need to focus and analyze in chess will help you in your work and with the problem of office politics.

It is a good feeling to create a situation where a potential problem is either solved or deflected before can cause you harm. Chess also helps one focus on actually doing work. I’m my case at least, it helps me see ways to be more valuable by using the tools I have to work with in new ways.

Beginning Chess Books you can use

I wanted to talk about chess books. Over the past years I have collected about a dozen books on various aspects of chess. A few of the books I own are for a beginner. Content wise – this is a chess board type of book. Other chess books I own are about finding and preventing mistakes in your play, playing a complete chess game, chess openings, and other topics.

There is a problem with my book collection though. All my books except the beginner level books, have a lot in common foreign language. I know generally what they about, but most of the concepts are lost on me. I am not comprehending what I read.

These more advanced books have had little impact on me because I barely have the basics down. I have a large stack of paper with foreign language typed on the pages in the form of chess notation and higher level concepts. I look at some of my books and my eyes glaze over after the first three or four sentences.

After a few months of really trying to learn how to play better chess, I now understand most of the gibberish my books contain. I can not follow all of them without breaking out a chessboard though. What these books try and do is teach some intermediate chess skill(s). For a beginning player like myself what these books become  are paper weights.

I did not know there was such a thing as a beginner level chess book. I was under the impression there were beginner chess books that teach you how the all the pieces move, and the rest of the chess books teach you how to play better chess.

I have a strong collection of chess books however. An added plus is three of the chess books are worth many times what I paid for them. Perhaps not because they are great books that will take me to the heights of chess-land, but because they are rare chess books. Kind of funny because I bought them because they were cheap – as in less than eight dollars each. They may be worth the real asking price, but I am not there yet.

The rest of my chess books, (I thought) I picked using a brilliant method. I checked and cross checked ratings on popular chess books. Now a few years later, I have some of the most popular chess books, and my few rare chess books. I know now most of the books I have are not intended for readers at my level of play. I have learned chess annotation I can follow the thought process for a short time before I am lost in following the annotation.

So what is in this post for you? If you intend to buy chess books, ensure the books you think you want are written for your level of chess ability. It is rather frustrating to buy a highly reviewed and recommended chess book only to find it is way above your level.

If you buy more challenging chess books as I have, they will only sit on your book shelf until you are ready to think while you read. Reading a chess book past the intro is work. I know once I want to move past beginner level chess and still want to progress, I will need to read, and think about what I am reading.

I recommend when you search for books, you look for the words, beginning, intermediate, or advanced. I have found certain authors tend to write for a certain level audience. If you find an author you like, and you understand what they are writing, chances are their other books will be books you can use right now. The highly skilled master level players are brilliant, but generally their books are far removed from basic chess concepts unless they state they were written for new(er) players.

One final thought about Chess books. In mathematics the words: elementary topics,  reads   like a math topic any child can read. In truth elementary topics is a level of math most of us never get to. Some chess books are the same way. Titles that contain words such as simple, basic, or the like may not be what they seem. Ensure you know what is between the covers.

Learning Tactics now to survive to the Endgame

When I started chess tactics training last month, I shot way up into the 1400’s! I thought I was doing well. The next day of tactics training, reality arrived and I was at 897. The day after my 897 day was nothing to get excited about either score wise. I was missing the most obvious simple moves and attacks.

Now a little over a month later and almost daily Chess Tactical Puzzle solving, I am showing improvement. I now manage a score between 925 to 1050. The higher end if I do not have any pawn end game tactical problems that session. With too many pawn endgame problems and I am scraping 900 for tactical ability.

I find chess tactics to be a lot of fun. The puzzles are getting more interesting now. The newest twist in Tactics is the process of making the best move, not just a good move. That is good for me because I know one of  my major faults is completing the first move I see without looking for what that move does or does not do, and what my opponent will do thanks to ,y poor choice of moves.

I have read some complaining by people who’s Tactics score was dropped after missing problems of a certain type. I think it is fine if my Chess Tactics score drops. It shows a major weakness in my already weak chess game. I suppose I have the advantage as I really have no score to worry about.

I believe it is a lot better to discover what we need to know from Tactical Puzzles and press on than it would be to stop Tactics Training due to frustration. All stopping practicing Chess Tactics would accomplish is one opponent after another discovering this gaping hole in our learning and beating us soundly from the other side of the chessboard.

I know now I am going to have to learn the endgame better. Give me a Tactical Puzzle with a few pawns and a King, and I am in serious trouble.  At first the endgame did not seem important because I was barely surviving the opening. As I mentioned my chess games seemed to go from the opening moves straight to the endgame with little or no middle game. Such is the result of  having the skill level of a beginner while playing more experienced players.

Chess Tactics, walking before running?

It appears from my scores my tactical chess knowledge is well behind my positional chess knowledge. How this relates to the chess board is interesting. I know good position from bad position, but I miss opportunities that I should not be missing such as simple forks, pins, and skewers.

For example, I miss a two move checkmate, or a simple pin or skewer. I did some web research on Tactics, and there seems to be general agreement that Tactics are what makes a player strong up to the average or strong club player level.

So I have the Positional knowledge of an average club player and the Tactical knowledge of a beginner. No surprise there, or I would not be struggling in games I should easily win. I am not the expert though as I do not have enough experience. There does seem to be a general consensus the only way to improve tactical knowledge is to practice tactics.

Sounds kind of funny to read, and it sounds obvious, but it is/was not, at least not to me. I thought learning how the pieces move around the board and work together could be better learned by playing many games with opponents slightly worse, and slightly better than my level of play. My plan may work, but obviously not as quickly as skipping most of the game and simply solving tactical puzzles.

What I have learned to this point helped me become aware of stronger positional play, and still be quite ignorant of attacking play – or tactics. I have started practicing tactics. I can see already, I have some major gaps in my learning. I seem to be able to solve problems of a stronger recreational player level, but I do poorly on problems just above the beginner level.

This has taught me that walking fast does not help me to walk slow. On the bright side I find tactics a lot of fun. They are quick puzzles. Some are obvious, and many are not. Solving Tactical chess problems is almost like playing a game with a lot of action.

Chess and Thinking Correctly

When playing Hold’em poker or Craps, I learned there are good times to play, and there are good times not to play. It took years to understand when and why this happened. The idea was first presented in a poker conversation some years ago and I missed it completely. One player said in passing, “…if you are not winning in the first forty-five minutes of sitting down, it is time to go home for the day.”

The comment was made by a middle aged player with some years of experience behind their comment. At the time, I attributed the comment to personal superstition. I thought they were referring to luck, and deduced the comment to mean: if your day is not lucky, your luck won’t change by sitting down in a poker game.

Starting to play chess again brought clarity to their comment. At the time however, I we all went down a side path with what the comment really meant. Playing Chess brings clarity to their comment. Applying their comment to Chess is easy. Having position in Chess to discover a Knight Fork, the meaning of the comment becomes obvious.

Pretend you are playing a game against an equal or better opponent. By good planning you discover you have the opportunity to trade your Knight for a Bishop. You get excited to trade up, and make the exchange. Your opponent counters and takes your Knight and it is your turn again.

While pondering how you can reclaim the space taken by your opponent, you realize you had not only the trade of your Knight for a Bishop, but you missed the move where you could have traded the same Knight for a Queen!

These misses happen in my situation due to inexperience and being in a hurry. Other times I am not looking for better moves. I have found a verifiable third reason. These mistakes happen because for reasons unclear to me, my thinking is muddled and not as clear as it normally is. I do not see the second Knight Fork even though I am looking for other moves before taking the bishop.

Lately, I remembered the great chess matches of the “Cold War” era that never happened. There were chess matches that never took place because one of the Masters refused to play that day. I thought (in my youth) they refused to play because they did not want to suffer defeat with the world watching. They knew their opponent was going to outplay them, and they wanted to avoid the embarrassment of defeat.

Now that I am working to improve my level of chess play, I have learned more of the story about those sixties era Chess Masters. The Masters of the day being around middle age, knew their thinking was not top notch on that particular day.

The Master’s chess thinking may have only changed by a few points, perhaps one small mistake in a practice game was missed. They knew however that one small mistake would cost them the match because their opponent was their equal and most likely would not be making a game changing mistake.

For myself, mistakes I make during these times are a lot more apparent. I lose games against the computer I should have one, or at least made a better showing. My tactics solving ability takes a steep downturn. Simple ten second tactical puzzles now take me thirty seconds and I get too many wrong.

My frustration level goes up. In these poor thinking periods, I play some of my worst games. Through experience I have learned to find something else not thought intensive to do. You can guess what has happened on the Hold’em or Craps tables during these times.

Earlier or later my thinking may be as it should be, but it is too late by that time, the damage is done. This may not be an age thing, and may happen throughout all stages of our life. Perhaps it takes many years of living with ourselves before we realize it is happening.

My best advice before playing any game, money involved or not,  you are serious about winning is to make sure your thinking is as it should before hand. If you are not thinking clearly at the moment, and your frustration level is lower than normal, find something else to do.

With Chess there is generally no money on the table, and the most that is damaged is one’s ego. In other activities, there may be money or the safety of yourself or another. Carpenter’s of old seem to have been the first to implement a check or stop point for times when cloudy thinking is a possibility of incomplete thinking.

I think it is a good saying, and while not foolproof helps save me from some serious mistakes. The old Carpenters adage we all need to keep in mind, “Measure three times, cut once”.

 

Chess Dance, beginning Chess is learned in small steps

When learning to play chess, it is difficult to know who to play chess against. After friends and family, I started playing on FICS the Free Internet Chess Server, but I found I play well below almost everyone who played on FICS on a regular basis.

Playing the people I normally would play was no fun for them because they lose. There is little luck in chess, you are either the better player or you are not. There are not too many people who are willing to play you and lose most of the time. Neither are there people who want to play you and win with little effort.

This left me with built in chess games on my desktop. On both Windows and IOS, I found the lowest levels played to low. The computer made really stupid moves. The higher levels of course played to brutal. I never finished the opening as the computer was into the end game. Setting above the lower levels play ok for my skill level.

There is a general agreement that to improve one should play someone at a slightly higher skill level than themselves. While this is true for someone wanting to improve, I am not sure this is good beginner advice. I found for myself that playing computer chess at about the same level I am at was appropriate for me.

I also my play chess against someone better than myself part of the time. Whether that opponent is human or computer chess does not yet seem to matter too much, although computer and human players seem to play differently.

I think the level we play at is determined by our understanding, our ability, and the number of mistakes we make per game. I think in humans we make different and more creative mistakes, where the computer players make more or less the same mistakes every game.

When I started only playing opponents who play better than myself, I found was, I was learning how to get beat, or block a move or two, but I was rarely given the opportunity to explore using how my pawns and pieces function.

Playing a computer opponent at slightly worse play than my own level of play, allowes me to make moves, set up combinations with two or more pieces, and learn how to manage so many pieces on one small board without struggling to maintain a crumbling defense.

I wonder if perhaps chess coaches were available or affordable this would not be the case. I thought it important to learn how to walk on the chess board before I started to  run. Fortunately there are a lot of chess resources on the net to help me improve.

How well this plan of action works is hard to tell as I am my own student. For now however it seems effective. One are I do find I am weak in is tactics, as I am sure every beginning player has problems with. If I were tactically proficient I would be playing speed chess, and not clumsy beginners chess.

Chess is a dance of sorts, and like dance, one has to learn the basic steps and become competent with the basics before moving on to more intricate learnings. How well we do and how long that takes depends on time, circumstance, and want.

 

 

Is that Pawn or Piece poisoned?

Grandmaster Igor Smirnov created a great video aimed at players who want to improve their play. The video is named: “Chess Lesson: The most common mistake“. While the video is aimed at better player trying to get over a hurdle in their game, the video opened my thinking in a new direction, and has lead to improvements in my own game.

For a beginning chess player any improvement we make or learn is a big step up the ladder. What I took away from the video was two major thoughts. Both thoughts center around a big mistake I think most beginning player make. Grandmaster Smirnov emphasized, or at least for me he did, one major thought about playing chess. That thought he branded is, “To take is a mistake”.

When we start learning to play chess we watch better player trade off pieces, and they are successful in their games. We get the idea we should be trading or taking pieces ourselves whenever the opportunity presents itself. Grandmaster Smirnov shows in his video, many examples where taking a pawn or a piece is a mistake and whenever we are presented with the opportunity, to pause and consider what taking the pawn or piece does for our game, and our opponents game.

Occasionally the opportunity to take a pawn or piece does much more harm to our game, or helps our opponent than the pice is worth. I learned some apparent are ‘poisoned’. Poisoned is a chess term that means about what the word says only in the context of chess rather than the act of being poisoned in the regular sense.

Taking a pawn or piece at the wrong time can destroy the placement of our army by weakening them with the movement of a pawn or piece which was until the moment we moved it, doing a very important job. By moving that one pice to take a pawn or piece that appears to be easy picking, cost us the game by giving our opponent an advantage by a weakness we created. At times this weakness is so great we lose the game.

If we do not create an unrecoverable weakness in our game, taking a piece could allow our opponent to bring a rook or bishop into the game where previously it was trapped on the back row doing nothing.

A final help this video was for me was understanding there are times when moving my pawns it is a better move to move my pawn forward rather than trade it off. For example my pawn has made it five rows down the board, and it is chilled by a pawn moved up from the other side. If taking the enemy pawn means losing it, and simply moving it forward one more time means there is a possibility it will move forward and be promoted, a better choice is to move the pawn forward.

It is well worth your time to watch this video and understand the points  Grandmaster Smirnov makes in his video. The link once again is: “Chess Lesson: The most common mistake“. I hope this video helps you in your game too.

What is a Chess Opening?

Understanding pawns and their usefulness helped me discover openings. Openings in chess are a strange concept until you understand them. A Chess opening is primarily the way to start moving your army out onto the field, or center of the board.

I found there are good ways to start moving my pawns and pieces, and poor ways of moving my pawns and pieces. I was using a rather poor method until now. Searching the net, I found there are many openings. Each opening has one or more variations and purpose. Many of the openings can also morph or transform into other openings.

There were so many openings and variations it all became confusing. The confusion was made worse because an opening for the white pieces was not necessarily a good or even ok opening sequence of moves for black pieces. The moment where understand an opening attack or defense is learning to play a better game of chess, the fact white gets the first move makes a difference. It is thought that because the armies are evenly matched and white moves first, white has the advantage.

Whether this is true or not, depends on your offensive or defensive type of opening. There are special openings created for the black pieces which are meant to offset the advantage white has of the first move. As I have chess games on youtube, the advantage white has by having the first move can mean little to a player who is very comfortable playing black.

What kind of opening to use is a problem. With too many choices and not enough knowledge to make a good decision, I went to the net and looked for beginner openings. Some openings are very conservative. some are simple, and different openings lead to different types of games.

Matching my personality and skill level with an opening helped me decide what opening to use. The first problem I found with openings is the sequence of moves. Most openings list a sequence of moves in algebraic notation.  After I learned what algebraic notation was and how to use it, I found my opponent did not always move their pawns and pieces in a manner that let me complete the sequence correctly. This is an important learning.

Trying similar openings had the same result. Trying more complex openings led to frustration as I do not have the skill level to take advantage of the complex openings. What I decided I needed to do was decide on some general opening principals, and follow them.

This plan almost works. I found I sometimes need to modify the sequence of opening moves, and or change them completely, depending on what my opponent is doing. I found it does no good to move my King to safety as my rook, bishop, and knight disappeared on the other side of the board. Having a safe King, and no way to threaten the other side does not work very well.

This is where I made another ah ha moment. I made the connection that chess is about balance. The opening moves must be balanced, or the game will be a short one. There must be balance between getting the King to safety, protecting the center, protecting the side opposite of where the king is castled, and threatening an attack on my opponents King.

It was a great moment realizing these conditions or rules . It is another thing to make it all work. I think at this point this is what separates beginning chess players from good and expert chess players.  How well we can keep a balance going during the game. For beginning players, losing a rook or maybe even a queen is not the end of the world, or at least the end of the game. For master class players, losing a pawn is a reason to resign.

All this starts with the opening moves. Finish the opening moves well, and we survive to see the middle game. If the opening sequence of moves does not go well for whatever reason, our opponent forces us straight into the end game. When this happens, the end is near because we are overpowered. Our pieces are slaughtered or ignored, and checkmate follows shortly.