The 8 imbalances in chess that you must know

The 8 imbalances in chess that you must know

A bad plan is always better than no plan. It is very important to have a plan and to adjust it according to what happened on the board, and the base of any great plan is a good assessment of the position. It is crucial to determine the strength and weaknesses for both sides and that is where imbalances came to be very important to know, so what are the imbalances and how can they help you make the right plan and stop your opponents. Play on your strength and get rid of your weaknesses and get better at chess.

An imbalance in chess denotes any difference in the two respective positions.

“To think that the purpose of chess Is solely to checkmate the opposing king is much too simplistic. The real goal of a chess game is to create an imbalance and try to build a situation in which it is favorable for you.”

“an imbalance is not necessarily an advantage. It is simply a difference. It is the player’s responsibility to turn that difference into an advantage”

                               How to reassess your chess by IM: Jeremy Silman

Superior Minor Piece (the interplay between bishops and knights)

Bishops love open diagonal, so when you have them you should open the position by trading pawns and clear the path for them to be activated, on the other hand, you should not allow your opponent to open the position for his bishops and try to keep the position closed. In the endgame, the bishops can work on both sides of the board while knights can’t. The knights love closed positions so it is logical to keep the position closed when you have them and try to maneuver them to the best outpost for your knight. And they could be very powerful because of their maneuverability and the other pieces do not have that much space to move in.

Pawn Structure

At any time there is a change in the pawn structure you should reassess your plan and look for adjustment to the current. Pawn Island can make your position less advantageous and you should in most cases stay away from any trade that will result in any kind of weak pawns on your side. And you should force your opponent to those kinds of trades.

double pawns

when you have two or more pawns on the same file, it is considered as a weakness on your side unless you can get rid of them easily or they support your control over the center, in general, it is advised that you avoid them.

isolated pawns

 it is a pawn that can’t be supported by another pawn, it is considered as a weakness because it is easy to pressure on and you will need a piece or two to defend it which mean you’re are using a three-point piece to defend one point worth pawn which can result in a bad position.

Backward pawns

It is a pawn that is behind all pawns of the same file and can not be safely advanced, you should pressure your opponent backward pawn by as many pieces as you can, and you should try to exchange it if you are suffering from it. A passed pawn is a pawn with no opposing pawns to prevent it from advancing. And it is a strength because your opponent needs to blockade it by one of his pieces to prevent it from advancing and promoting in the future. And two connected passed pawns are generally considered as a big advantage and it is very hard to play against.


space advantage is usually presented by advanced pawns or pieces in the opponent camp, it gives you more control over the board, more option for your pieces and creates tactical and strategical opportunities for you to exploit and you will be closer to promote your pawns. your opponent will suffer from a lack of outposts, difficult maneuverability and he will get fewer options for his pieces.

Material imbalances

it happens when the total amount of point for both sides is equal but is represented by different pieces (a rook and a pawn for a bishop and knight) You should look for the material imbalances the player with the material advantage should be more open to (if not trying) to exchange pieces. And the one with the material down should keep all the pieces he can on the board so he can get the balance back.

Control of key lines and squares

Controlling open files is often very important and it is done by one of the two rooks or by the queen but you should be able to penetrate the opponent camp or you will be wasting your time and effort for nothing, the control of the open file give your pieces outposts and more options and flexibility. Key squares are usually occupied by the knight but other pieces could take advantage of them too, you should look for opportunities to create those outposts and prevent you opponent from having useful outpost for their pieces as possible, that is why you should be careful when moving pawns when it will create weak squares.


A lead in development is considered as a big imbalance that you should consider when making a plan, it decides in which side you are stronger and your attack will be more successful, and you will see on which side you’re opponent will be likely to attack. despite the current situation you should try to develop your remaining pieces and improve them to the maximum, a common plan is to trade your less active pieces with your opponent’s most active ones and avoid any trade of your good pieces.


When you realize that you have the initiative you should look to create threats that lead your opponent to respond in a very predictable manner to avoid material loss or a bad position. And then create all different kinds of threats and keep your opponent under the alert, it doesn’t mean that you should keep attacking but it is more like you are dictating how to game will proceed. It doesn’t mean you should be attacking all the time but as long as you get a better position and you’re worsening your opponents then you are using it the right way. When you’re opponent has the initiative you should be careful not to move your pieces to bad squares and end up with a bad position, sometimes you may need to sacrifice a pawn or a difference to get the initiative from your opponent.

 King safety

 usually, the king is relatively safe when it has already castle, but if not you should open the position on your opponent’s king and try to prevent him from castling, you will put him on the defensive and stop him from using his second rook, this will result in a very bad position for him.


after assessing the situation using these imbalances you should be able to come up with a good plan for your game, keep in mind that practice makes perfect and with no actual implementation of these principles they may end up useless. putting all these imbalances in action may be difficult in the beginning and may take time but as you train you will get better.
for more in-depth information and analysis you can check How to reassess your chess by IM: Jeremy Silman  a great book that discusses this concept in more depth.

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