Making sense of Kasparov’s TQM

I received an interesting question from the readers of the column last week. He wanted a summary of building blocks of a good chess move; those elements that need to be gotten right by a chess player in a game when making a move.

Interestingly, though he had ticked all boxes of a good chess player as relayed in the previous week column; He had a plan before he could start playing, had and mastered his playing style, had an opening repertoire, and really applied himself to the “t” when playing.

The tripeptide Time, Quality and Material, shared by Garry Kasparov critically acclaimed book “How Life Imitates Chess” gives a one size fits all answer to the reader. In the book, the now retired GM postulates that the three most important factors in a chess game are material, time, and quality.



The first element which is the most basic and which when gained gives visually attractive advantage is the material. In chess every piece is regarded as a resource or material, material used in pursuit of chess victory. All chess pieces are ranked and given points as strength and value measure.

The Queen is the most value piece followed by rooks then knights and bishops and pawns in the end. The pieces value also differ depending on the position they are on in the board as well the phase of the game in which they are moving. The value of the pieces or material also changes when being paired with other pieces.

It is, therefore, of most importance to always think of material gain or losses before moving- always look us for those combinations that grow your pieces value and guard against unnecessary material loss.



Kasparov outlines two types of time on the chess board- the ticking clock as well as the number of moves or turns a player has in order to implement and seals an attack. We will start with the latter; every move a player makes should be assess by time advantages gain. Moves should be made in such a way that they reduce the number of turns needed to get a win or give a solid attack and moves should always be part of a grand plan which is not far from the future.

The first definition of time in chess will be perfected when the second is perfect. Sharp moves that get the finish line quicker reduces the time on the board, therefore preserving some of the valuable time for important things like calling our “Checkmate”.

Piece positioning as well as the pieces themselves play a fundamental role in gaining advantage out of this factor- for one, knights are the slowest pieces on the board and it takes them about four steps and turns to get to the other side of the boards from its initial place of dwelling, while bishops, queens and rooks are quickest as they can get to the place in just one move.



Adding the value of a piece with its position on the board refers to quality. The fact that all pieces’ relative strengths is measured gives them some sort of value on the board. That coupled with all possible moves they can make from their stationery position gives is the quality.

The terms bad pawn, bad bishop refers to situations where both pieces are placed in a very bad sport where they can make minimal to zero moves on the board. Most of the times these pieces are called bad when they are entirely blocked for making any sound moves. A players should therefore be in the gunning for correctly positioned valuable pieces when cogitating their second move.

The quality can alternatively, though incorrectly be synonymously used for development. Be it as it may, well place piece generates advantages. Now the building blocks of a good chess moves are in summary Kasparov’s MTQ and though they do not guarantee a win, they set you up for a good game of chess.







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