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By the way, a couple more things to think about: Always think about your pawn structure. Beginners tend to move and/or recapture with pawns without thinking about it, and the truth is that pawns are critical. Imagine a game in which you trade pieces evenly until you each have nothing left but your king and a few pawns. The guy with the biggest pawn chain(s) will win. If you have three isolated pawns and your opponent has three in a chain that protect each other, he will win. If you have a group of two and a group of three, and he has all five of his in a single chain, he will win. You want to always think in these terms, even in the first few moves. Yes, you have to move a pawn or two or maybe even three in the opening (you really want to be developing pieces and not pawns), but always think about what will happen if you trade. Will your pawns be doubled? Will you end up with an isolated pawn (one without another pawn on either side)?

So if you have your knight out in the third row, and your opponent captures it, forcing you to double your pawns in order to re-capture, he has gained an advantage even though you each lost an identical piece. This is even worse if it disrupts the pawns in front of your king after you have castled. A good opponent is always looking for such a trade, even one that costs each of you your queen and a couple of other identical pieces. If he's got pieces that are able to capture your pieces, and your pieces are only protected by pawns, that means he can trade evenly, but your pawn structure gets screwed up.

You've seen the scenario where two queens are facing each other, and one queen captures the other queen, forcing the other guy to use his king in order to capture the enemy queen, and this costs him the ability to castle, right? It's an even trade as far as "points" are concerned, but the guy who moved his king got screwed. Watching your pawn structure is along the same principle. Even if you each lose an identical piece, it's not an even trade if your pawns get disrupted!

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