My favorite Chess advice was given to me when I was around 10 years old. My Coach back then, a Swiss player with around 2050 rating, told me “to talk to my pieces”.
Obviously I looked at him with big eyes and thought he consumed some kind of drugs or made a joke. But to my surprise he just continued with his calm voice “if you want to lead your pieces in the game of chess, you need to have a feeling for them”.
I still was not really sure what was going on. Leading my pieces and getting a feeling for them? I thought chess was a rather brute force game, not some kind of esotheric “feel your pieces” thing. Still he did not give up on me and continued:
“The best way to get a feeling for your pieces is to talk to them. Before you make a move, just ask each piece how happy it is. The one which is most unhappy you will improve, until every piece you have is happy.”.
I started to understand that it is no joke. My Coach wants me to talk to my wooden chess pieces. What will my classmates think of me? Playing chess I am already a big nerd, but talking to wooden pieces? They think I will be totally insane!
And anyway it is forbidden to talk during the game. So how should that work?
Learn To Talk To Your Pieces
In order to make a point my Coach started to set up a position and told me: now start to talk to each piece. Who is happy, who is unhappy? Reluctantly I started to ask one piece after another.
“Rook, are you happy on a1?” I said, half giggling, half being afraid to make a fool of myself “No Noël, I am not doing anything, I would like to join the game and be helpful” the rook answered.
Wow, this works! After asking all my pieces, it was so obvious to me that I had to bring this rook into play.
Just when I wanted to move the rook my Coach intervened: “ask him where he would be happiest, so you know where exactly to put him”. “Hmm, Rook where would you be happiest?”
“I want to support the Queen in order to give checkmate! If I arrive on g3, there is no way to defend against mate” he said to me.
Hmm g3. That seems difficult to do. How on earth will I get the rook from a1 to g3?
As I understood the way I stared at my Coach with even bigger eyes than when he initiated this conversation: I need to play a3-a4, then Ra3-Rg3 and then I win, I screamed out loud. He looked at me with a smile, in this moment he understood I will never forget that advice again.
Start Talking To Your Pieces Now
Up until this point in my carreer talking to my pieces has helped me gain dozens if not hundreds of points already. It is a very simple, yet effective method. It makes sense to test it at home, using the method for a couple of blitz games and exercises.
The more you do it, the more natural it comes. At some point you will not have to actively ask your pieces, but you just feel bad for that poor rook standing on a1 not doing anything. You will automatically bring him into play!
Use the method in the following way:
Find out which piece is most unhappy. Go through all your pieces (pawns excluded) and pick the most unhappy one.
Before you start to move this piece mindlessly somewhere, use the “dream” method. Where would that piece dream to be?
Then start to make a route to that dream square. As you saw in the above example, you may have to prepare the route to your dream square!
If this dream square is pure ideology and not realistical at the moment, keep it in mind and just improve the piece for the time being.
After you have improved one piece, start the process again. Typically if all the pieces are happy there should be some winning tactic in the air!
I will leave you with a very instructive position. This is courtesy of GM Ganguly, as part of a training game in prochesstraining. Test yourself by using the above method. It is white to move.
Take some Minutes and let me know in the comment section which piece is the worst placed piece and how you would improve it!
I will share the solution on Tuesday on my Twitter, so make sure to follow me if you haven’t yet!
As always, I hope you enjoyed the article. If you did, then do not forget to share the blog with friends and family, in order to help more people improve their chess!
Until next time!