Attacking, Capturing, and the Pawn: How to Practice!

Our Step 1 online chess class for beginners is picking up pace: On Monday, students learned how to attack, how to capture, and how to move the pawn! Again, there are some terrific mini-games you can play to practice these skills.

Attacking and Capturing

Queen against Knight:

White moves first, as always. The queen tries to capture the knight, the knight tries to stay safe. Students eventually realize that in order to win the knight, they must trap it. This can only be done on the edge and on some squares close to the edge of the board. The game helps students develop the concepts of mobility (the knight in the center has more possible moves and cannot be trapped) and vulnerability (the knight on the edge is in danger).

Queen and Rooks vs. Bishop:

The queen and rooks work together to trap and eventually capture the black bishop. Not as easy as it looks, especially for beginners! If a child finds it easy, you can add a rule: Neither rook is allowed to be captured, even if it is protected.

Knight moves without Capturing:

Each knight has to go to all the squares on the back rank in order. The white knight has to go to b1, c1, d1, etc. all the way to h1. The black knight has to go to g8, f8, e8, etc. all the way to a8. The pawns do not move - they are there to make the route more challenging and longer! The point of this game is to internalize how the knight moves.

The Pawn

Pawn Game:

This is an old favorite: Whoever promotes first wins. You also win if your opponent cannot move anymore. A personal note: When I learned the basics of chess as a kid by attending a weekly class in Guelph, Ontario, the coach organized a “pawn game” tournament, with pairings and results written on a whiteboard. The game itself, and the atmosphere of positive competition, definitely conveyed the excitement of tournament chess and planted a seed in my head. Parker Zhao, our Step 1 coach, told the class that he also loves to play this game!

Pawns vs. Bishop:

The pawns win by trapping and then capturing the bishop. The bishop wins by making it to the first rank! In other words, if the bishop reaches a1, c1, or any other dark squares on the first rank Black wins. If both players play well, White wins easily. But young beginners have a very hard time playing with the accuracy required to restrict the bishop. This is a great introduction to trying to play with a plan.

I hope you find these mini-games useful! Experience shows that playing them at home goes a long way towards consolidating the basic skills students need to master.