The side with the initiative is generally more advantageous as it is more in control of the game than the side that is reacting to the initiative. If you have the initiative in the game, you’re the one in control of the position. For example, if you are attacking a weak piece, that means that your opponent is spending their moves on defending that weak piece and is responding to your moves.
What is an Initiative in Chess?
In Chess, the side that is forcing its ideas and strategy on the opponent has what is called the initiative. The side that has the initiative is causing the other side to react and respond to their moves instead of you causing your opponent to respond to you.
There are dynamic and static positions on the chessboard. If you have the initiative based on a static position, that means you can play in a slow and more calm sequence of moves because a static position is generally longer lasting than a dynamic position.
If you have the initiative on a dynamic position, this means that generally you would want to aggressively go for a checkmate because in a dynamic position, your advantage and control over the game dissipates rapidly compared to a static position.
If you’ve ever had a sales position or took a sales class, one of the first things they teach you is that whoever is in control of the conversation has control over the direction of where the conversation goes which if you’re in sales the direction would be directed closer and closer to the sale. In chess this principle is one in the same. Whoever is in control of the position, whoever has the initiative can generally be in control of where the game goes, which of course would be directed closer and closer to a winning position.
With that being said, the initiative is one of the more important concepts to grasp in the game of chess. From the very first move of the game both sides are competing for control over the position, and most of the time whoever succeeds in gaining that control over the game finds themselves in a better position than the opponent. If you are in control of the game from the first move and maintain that control all the way to the end game, you can see that it’s very likely that you’re all going to win the game.
How To Gain The Initiative
There are many strategies and tactics you can use to try and Gain initiative in the game. The name of few, you could use a Gambit, a attack like a fork, a better pawn structure, or it could be something as simple as a marginally better position on the board.
Having a lead-in development early in the game can nearly guarantee that you gain the initiative in the game. You see this often when gambits are being accepted by the opponent. The person implementing the Gambit is losing one, two, or even three ponds, but is also gaining a massive lead in development of the minor pieces and more than likely also gaining the initiative over the opponent.
If you find yourself reacting to every move your opponent makes, that should be a huge warning flag to you to not let them continue controlling the position. Do everything you can to try and gain an advantage in the game to try and win the initiative back.
Practice Gives You The Initiative
This will come with practice of course. One way you can gain the initiative right off the bat is to practice one chest opening over and over and become a master of that opening so that more than likely you’ll have the initiative from the very first move since you will be more familiar with the positioning than your opponent will depending on the level of practice your opponent has had against the opening your playing as well as the opening they are playing.
I hope this guide on what an Arena is in Chess. If you want to read more Chess Terminology terms and definitions, these are important to know.