Often, in the opening and middlegame if one has an extra move that is unanimously an advantage for the player who has the extra move. We can also simply confirm this from the fact that masters like Paul Morphy who used to play against lower rated players used to give them odds like extra 2 moves.
If you didn’t know, Zugzwang is a German word that literally translates to “move compulsion”. This is a situation where every move a player could make causes him/her to lose the game (or at least significantly worsen the position). I know this is might sound strange at first but with the following examples, it will all become clear.
Let’s take a look at a very simple zugzwang puzzle here:-
Ok, now that you know the definition of Zugzwang and have seen a simple position related to it. Let’s dive in.
Firstly, I know what you’re thinking. How does one incorporate this in one’s own game? You need to remember that this tactic is mostly deployed in the endgame as there are less pieces in the endgames and therefore less moves that can be made and bringing in ‘move compulsion’ is theoretically easier. It all makes sense once you connect the dots.
Since many beginners and intermediate players don’t study endgames often when compared to advanced players, they rarely see this tactic in the endgame. But if you have even the slightest knowledge of king-pawn endgames, you’d immediately recognize the following position:
Whoever moves loses. If Black moves, White wins the game. If White moves, the game is a draw. That was pretty easy to understand but let’s look at a slightly more complicated case,
Here, white did not play the fastest sequence. The goal was to acquire a zugzwang without the loss of white’s own pawn. Simple foresight and basic calculations are needed to achieve the zugzwang.
Remember even in the most drawn position, one should be in a search for these tactics and play properly. I know many people who would call a draw in these types of positions thinking that the white bishop is worthless because black’s pawn is on a dark square and they cannot progress their own pawn due to that but you’ve got to be one step ahead if you want to win. Think smarter, Think harder.