GW-KW, Point Count Chess Raw Discussion, File #9:
Part of the Advanced Beginner's Chess Guide (Section 2)

KW explains Bent Larsen's
8-Point Method for Assessing Moves

[August 16th-22nd 2011]

Bent Larsen's 8-Point Method
for Assessing Moves

  1. What type of pawn structure is it?

  2. What is good and what is bad about my position?

  3. Which pieces do I want to exchange, and which do I want to keep?

  4. Which side of the board should I play on?

  5. What is my dream position?

  6. What does my opponent want to do?

  7. Can I take a step in the right direction?

  8. Which moves are worth taking a look at?

6. What does my opponent want to do?
If your opponent has an obvious plan, it is good to hinder it. You take the sting out of the attack before it even begins.

(KW, August 16th) EVERY time there is a move, this question should be asked and answered, even if you have considered it before. Here we get into tactics, which some have estimated as being 80% of chess.

Until we get our Chess Vision to where we can see the board clearly many moves down the line, things sometimes look different once a move is actually made. The way to understand this question is to break it into four parts:

  1. What squares does my opponent now attack ...
    ... that he didn't attack before (think Mobility)? Does that change the exchange count (think Vulnerability) on any of those squares? Does it change the balance on light and dark squares? What weak point in my position is he targeting by this move?

  2. What squares is my opponent no longer attacking/defending ...
    ... that he was before? Does that change the exchange count on any of those squares? Does it change the balance on light and dark squares? Can I take advantage of any of this?

  3. What object on the Rank, File, and Diagonal does the move attack ...
    ... (this is for Queen, Rook, and Bishop moves)? If the intervening pieces were gone, or an exchange of pawns happened, what would the opponent's move accomplish? What pawn or piece would it attack? Does this give me a clue to where he may attack next?

    Does it change the exchange count later? For all pieces that move in a straight line, if your opponent moved the same piece the next move, where would it go on the rank, file, or diagonal?

    What threat is on that spot (a two-move threat, or pins, double attacks, x-rays, discovered checks, etc.)? For Knights, are two of your pieces on the same colored square that their Knight can attack next move - that is, can he fork you his next move?

  4. Finally, enemy-plan prevention ...
    ... if you see something your opponent is trying to do, what can you do to prevent him from proceeding with their plan? What move can you make that will hinder their plan, while enhancing yours?

The four main questions should be asked each time. Obviously, not all these sub-questions are relevant for every piece on every move, but you should be asking several of these sub-questions each move, and they will suggest others to you that should be asked.

Right-thinking will lead to better decisions, and better chess.

Here is another tip, especially with Queen moves, and how to hinder her from gaining an advantage on a file:

  • Once the Queen moves to a file (especially with a player the strength of Fritz), she normally doesn't move for a while. Consider your opponent's moves that would open the file (here the c-file). Consider placing a Rook on the first rank on that file (Rc1 as a present or future candidate move), if it can be protected (connected Rooks, for example). If the file opens, the Queen will be staring down the barrel of the Rook's guns. This hinders the opposition's plans significantly.

Another Example:

In Game 4, on Move 6, we had a discussion of what Black intended ...

We went a different way because of the various threats. Good example of looking at files and diagonals before making a move, and eliminating the intervening pieces.

(GW) On Page 8 Ken explains Bent Larsen's seventh point: 7. Can I take a step in the right direction?.

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