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What Is Tempo in Chess?

Learn about the role of tempo in chess from Chess NYC in this Howcast video.


Hi, Coach Tal here with Chess NYC and today I'm gonna talk to you about tempo. Tempo in chess is the measure of time. A tempo move is a move which gains time. Another word for a tempo move is a forcing move or a move that limits your opponents options. Tempo in chess is of upmost importance, it behooves players not to waste their time when they could be doing something useful. Let's look at an example.

White starts E4 and black plays D5. White captures this pawn and black recaptures. Now with a series of tempo moves, white gains an advantage. He attacks the queen and int his particular case, black makes a move hoping to save tempo with check. White now responds by getting a new piece out, black goes to attack a pawn, and white ignores. When black takes this pawn, white gets yet another piece out and we see in the end, although black has an extra pawn, white has five pieces out versus one, and this is a big advantage for white. So remember, when you're playing chess, don't waste time.

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