KindredSpirit’s Kaleidoscope: The Club Player’s Bible On Traps

Many chess clubs exist with players of all class strengths from top master rankings to classes A-D.  There is as much variety to learn from opening structures whether it be positional, gambits or a combination of different styles that attract players affording the club members to gain experience from a variety of challenging games.  I benefited from the many chess friends met over six decades and having club leadership experience.  In that position, I was able to assist in the many opportunities to broaden the horizons of several junior players and close fellowship with local, state and national figures in expanding interest and a competitive but friendly spirit among the chess public.

One of the major concerns for any student of the game who is just learning to play concerns TRAPS.  I have seen so many beginners and even those with a fair amount of experience fall prey to the guy or gal I call the ‘trapper”. They delight in quick wins or mates that brings some embarrassment to the loser especially with their friends near at hand.

How do you set traps or play to avoid traps?  There are ways to frustrate the trapper.  Play one move at a time. Play a pawn to the center (I favor 1.e4  e5); develop Knights before Bishops; do not move a Bishop or Knight beyond your half of the board until you develop your King Bishop usually to c4 as white or normally either c5 or e7 if black. Once you play out the e-pawn and develop toward the center Nf3 / Nc3; Nc6 / Nf6; add security or attack to the center by your d-pawn advance either defensive one or attacking two squares.  Square count is useful in choosing opening moves with a little experience. That is why I say plan from move one!  Following these suggestions will enable you as a beginner or master to weave your planning to a successful middle game.  Your opponent will realize that you know the basics of chess development and the trapper will lose his or her hope to whip you quick.

Castling has always been linked to doing so early as practical. It connects the Rooks and adds safety to the King behind the wall of pawns.  But it really is a neutral move used initially for defense of the position. It carries no square count value.  Many strong players will delay castling either Kingside or Queenside to exert pressure on the terrain.

Of course playing with a stronger player will undoubtedly cause losses, maybe more than you want to have happen.  The stronger and better prepared player will usually win.  But you have the knowledge that whenever you play a stronger player and expect to probably lose, it is the best way to improve your skill.

Traps can occur in the later stages of a game.  If you or your opponent attacks the center with the d-pawn where an exchange of pawns is offered, exchange it.

Lets look at the following, 1. e4  e5  2. Nf3  Nc6  3. Bc4  h6

This is often played by inexperienced players wanting to play Nf6 but want to stop white from playing Ng5 with a double attack on the f7 pawn.  This seems logical but wastes a tempo.  3. ….Bc5 or Be7, or Nf6 aids square count and furthers development. Once castled an attack by Ng5 on the f7 square is okay because N x f7  R x f7  B x f7+  K x f7 and the Bishop and Knight are worth more than the Rook and Pawn.  White’s plan has wiped out his developed forces which again points to the logic of square count.

A horrible conclusion comes from 1. g4  e5  2. f3 Qh4 checkmate. You can see the effect of neglecting/promoting square count in choosing moves.  Beginners often choose wing pawns to start the game, especially h or a pawns with the thought that the Rook is very strong and should be in the battle as soon as possible.

Finally, here is a dual example featuring a pinned Knight, a Queen sacrifice and a King forced into the open in the center file and squares gobbled up by the Bishop and Knight pair in a classic Smothered Mate!

A famous mating attack is seen even where a pinned Knight is still dangerous. 1. e4  e5  2. Nf3  d6  3. Bc4  Bg4   4. Nc3  h6 5. N x e5  B x d1  6. B x f7+  Ke7  7. Nd5 checkmate.  Again, black fears of Ng5 led to this famous trap.

What is the name given this famous mate trap?

This short article will give you the importance of developing forces that features a short-range plan against violation of the principles I gave to avoiding traps or how to set them.


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