chess-april-7I was working up the nerve to launch a massive frontal assault that would cost both sides dearly when my arch nemesis Paul Mangone changed the entire game with a single move. He castled—shifting my focus from the center of the board to the side of the board. Problem: most of my pieces are near the center and will have to run a nasty gauntlet to reach the Black King.

Here’s what happened:

Last I left off, I had moved the White Queen to e2. Over the next few days, Mangone and I traded moves, roughly one move a day. Mangone’s next move was Black KNight to e5.

I countered by sending my White Bishop to b5, placing the Black King in check. There was a risk in this move: it was easily countered and would force me to either sacrifice my Bishop at little or no profit—or force me to waste time on protective measures. Still, I did it.

Mangone moved a Black pawn to c6. This protected the Black King and threatened my Bishop.

I could have pulled my Bishop back, but I tend to think Gen. George Patton (or the movie incarnation of Patton) had a point when he advocated constantly advancing. I could have captured a pawn at the cost of a Bishop.

Instead, I moved my White pawn to c3, capturing a Black pawn that had come too close to my side of the board. (A pawn that reaches the far side of the board may be promoted to a higher rank—and is usually promoted to a Queen. The last think you want is the enemy’s most powerful piece on your side of the battlefield.) I assumed my Bishop would be captured at the next move.

Wrong.

Mangone castled. His Black Rook now standing at f8 and his King at g8. The books tell you to castle a soon as possible. Mangone apparently decided to delay the castle until I had committed my chessmen to the center. Smart.

I moved my Bishop to c4, pulling it away from the pawn. Too late I realized that a Black KNight was poised to take that position. Is this a blunder—or an opportunity?

Meanwhile, I must plan on moving my pieces toward the far right corner of the board. There will be casualties, but I have to at least try to win.

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