I'm only a beginner, and I've found that sometimes a piece of mine (esp Queen) will just get chased around relentlessly causing problems, so I've started trying to do the same, but I seem to sometimes overextend and it feels like I am "following" not chasing. Any advice on when to stop chasing? What should I be looking for when deciding to chase or not?

Particularly bad example (playing Black)

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1. f4 d5 2. d4 c5 3. Nf3 cxd4 4. Qxd4 Nc6 5. Qe3 d4 6. Qb3 Be6 7. Qxb7 Na5 8. Qb5+
  • Why is this example "particularly bad"?
    – JiK
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 11:41
  • 2
    I've lost a pawn for no reason? And I'm embarrassed to say now that I look at it, I also then lost my knight, because I blocked with the queen instead of the bishop. Didn't see that before. Oops.
    – Corvus
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 11:46

5 Answers 5


If you chase an enemy piece, you should probably consider three aspects:

  • Basic tactical considerations.
  • Do you improve the position of the piece you use to chase the enemy piece?
  • Do you force the enemy piece on a worse or a better square?

In your example this means if you don't see that you are blundering pawns and pieces, all considerations of chasing or not chasing are pretty moot i.e. you have to think about whether you blunder something (like your b-pawn), whether your opponent blundered something (i.e. maybe you can already use his disorganised pieces for a tactical blow).

4…Nc6 was good, because you improve your knight and you chase the white queen away from a central square.

5…d4 is already somewhat more ambiguous because the queen is pretty bad on e3 (blocks the e-pawn) and probably better on b3 (attacks b7).

6…Be6 blunders the b7 pawn, but maybe you could have continued Bd5 to set up even more attacks on the queen, like Rb8 or a knight move. This starts to look dangerous for white, because you are building up a big development lead.

7…Na5 puts your knight on a worse square (knights on the rim...), so you'd need a good reason to do so and apparently you didn't have one.

  • The move by move analysis is very helpful.
    – Corvus
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 14:25

This issue arises when you don't know the openings well enough.

First off your objective in the opening is to occupy the center and gain an advantage using that. Chasing after pieces will most likely end up getting you in trouble especially if you're the type of player who prefers not to give away the queen.

So for starters you need to actually check out some openings and how they go, preferably don't start with complicated openings that have a lot of lines and have a certain objective... Rather take simple openings (and by simple that doesn't mean they are bad, in fact they are very good). I usually advise beginners with the Italian Game opening for white and French Defense for black.

However, no one can really tell you when to stop going after a piece... It is completely situational, you have to know whether or not you will get cornered if you go after the piece or if you will win it... And in the end, the most important question, is it even worth it? There might be other moves that make your position better and that don't involve taking a piece.

^^That was the main answer, if you're interested in more, please do keep reading :)

f4 (Bird's Opening) is definitely not an opening a beginner should play. There are main disadvantages to pushing an early f4 in the game that literally make holes in your defense but at the same time improves your offense. So try to avoid Bird's Opening for now if you can.

Now for the most important part, try not to be a materialist... There are many type of players and Materialist is one of them. It's the type of player that values pieces and doesn't want to let them go (like Queens Knights etc...) Being a materialist will hinder your development later on. Ignore the queen, and see the beauty of the other pieces. The queen alone will never win you the game, there's a reason you have knights, bishops and rooks on the board.

For the most part you will most likely have trouble knowing when to exchange a good piece for a bad piece and vise versa... But you'll learn that as you play.

Also, sacrificing pieces in chess is one of the classical ways of attacking an opponent... Never overlook a sacrifice, don't limit your imagination and keep thinking ahead! That's how you improve in chess... Don't even ignore a stupid sacrifice, you might see it as a stupid one, but it might actually be a good one... And the only way you will know whether or not it is, is to actually try it.

Hope I helped and if you have anymore questions feel free to ask I'll answer to the best of my abilities :)

  • I was playing black - f4 from white threw me a bit hence going after the pawn initially. I suppose I thought my opponent had done something silly by bringing his queen out, and then it all went pear shaped...
    – Corvus
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 11:49
  • Like I said :) Opening theory is the reason for that mistake. Just learn those 2 openings I mentioned, those will help you improve in chess since they can open up in many kinds of positions.
    – Chessbrain
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 11:51

Opening theory is NOT the answer to this. Beginner and novice players should NOT be studying opening theory for any reason whatsoever.

This is just simple chess strategy. There is no reason to chase a piece unless you get something out of it, either improving the position of your own pieces or degrading the position of the opponent's pieces. Just chasing a piece for no reason is pointless.

  • Why shouldn't we study opening theory? Could you clarify on why it is detrimental?
    – Corvus
    Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 13:54
  • @Corone I think he is refering about, novice spend a lot time memorising opening when the basic theory is other like control center, pawn structure and the check mate
    – Wilfredo P
    Commented Mar 8, 2015 at 0:06

In this case ...d4 might be overextending. The answer might not be "when do I stop" but "when can/should I make my threats subtler." I remember I used to like to attack the opponent's queen a lot. I felt active. But the thing is, ...Nf6 instead of ...d4 is a good idea as Nd5 and Ng4 may both be threats.

Similarly, ...Qc7 before ...Be6 might be a good idea, too, as you can hold on to the pawn.

I remember telling myself you don't get hustle points for attacking pieces for its own sake. But if you can do so with gain of time, it's pretty wonderful.

One example of this may be 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 Nxd4 4. Nxd4 exd4 5. Qxd4 Ne7 to attack the queen...but you're taking two moves to make the queen move once.


The best strategy is to feel out your opponent. If he/she is the type of player that tends to sacrifice or maybe tends to defend and doesn't take risks. Whatever the case play each game to your advantage and adjust your game for different players. I swear chess is 90% mental 10% logic reasoning. It may be difficult as a new player but start looking at your best options and planning ahead, forcing plays. You'll start progressing well if you pay attention and scan the board. Don't chase pieces, instead find the best moves that will force your opponent into making rash decisions. Good luck.

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