Game#40 – A chess miniature

A chess miniature

A chess miniature is an instructive game that lasts between 20 and 25 moves. They key word is instructive – the game has to have some value beyond watching one player hanging a piece or falling for an early checkmate.

This next game focuses on square control. Rarely does a battle for a key square happen so early in a game but this is the exception to the rule. Black played too passively and thought he could march his a-pawn down the board to create complications. Instead, his kingside came under fire early and was quickly on the verge of losing a piece.

Game#40 – Short and sweet, a chess miniature

Paul H.– rexthedoggy
Caro-Kann Defense [B10]
3 minutes 2 seconds

Post-game analysis

Focus on weak squares. While Ng5 was played to capture the e6 bishop, the main reason was to allow me control of the c4 square. If I could play Nc4, I would have a double attack on the d6 bishop and the e5 square. Does that win for me? No, but it gives me a positional advantage. Remember, chess is about occupying space and controlling squares. The more you can do this with impunity, the easier your game will be.

Dealing with aggressive play. The best way to handle aggressive attacking moves is by either developing a piece or maneuvering it to a better square. In this case, Nc4 followed by Qg4 was devastating enough where my opponent resigned. When you analyze a position, always looks to for active moves that threaten to gain material, space or occupy a critical square.

Pawn structures often decide games. The final position of this game is telling – doubled pawns on e6 and d6 against White’s bishop pair and rooks that will soon occupy the open d-file. Black’s pieces are completely defensive – his knights are on b8 and c8 and his rooks are uncoordinated. But if we remove even some of the pieces, we can see that Black will have a difficult time defending his awkward pawns. The best he could hope for is to tradeoff pieces to arrive at an ending where he is only slightly worse. Good luck with that.


Short games can be instructive. A chess miniature can help underscore a particular theme in a game. Here, we saw how the poor placement of pieces can have disastrous consequences. The d6 bishop, is a good example. Black played 4…Bd6 to protect the e-pawn and wound up resigning less than ten moves later. How did that happen?

The main reason for the loss is not Bd6, it’s 5..dxe4?! Black opens the d-file and allowed Nc4 which threatens to win material. Instead, Black should have stuck with a developing move like Nf6 and the position would just be equal.

The moral of the story is this: in the opening, develop your pieces. This is something we amateur players are told over and over but we still fall into the same mistakes. So, the next time you are tempted to make what seems like an innocent capture, ask yourself: Should I really take this pawn or should I develop a piece instead? More often than not, you will choose the latter.

If you are interested in studying chess miniatures, I would highly recommend the following book. Marvelous Modern Miniatures, 2020 games in 20 moves or less. The book covers modern chess games between strong players (2200 or above). It is ideal for students who don’t want to spend a lot of time playing through a long series of moves. If you want practice in the opening phase of the game, this book is definitely for you.

How many chess miniatures have you played before? Please share your thoughts below!

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