Would You Like To Have New Insights On Chess Openings?

This section will be devoted to chess openings. There is a lot of theory regarding chess openings, so this may become a very large section of the site.

Here you'll find (if not now, then some time in the future) ideas and insights on all kind of chess openings. My goal is, to help you understand the opening ideas, so you can profitably use them in your games.

You'll probably know the almost endless possibilities in chess.

There are also many ways to handle chess openings, so this part of the site will grow over time. I think it will never be complete or finished.

This being said, lets start with...

Golden Rules in the Opening

You may think of an opening as being a very clear sequence of moves. In this case you are probably thinking of opening-theory. This investigates all the possible opening lines and offers a clear valuation. If you are thinking of openings this way, you'll have to study (and know) a lot of theory. If you don't know the theory, you may be lost the moment your opponent makes a move you do not know.

Another way of thinking is to see the opening as the initial phase of the game. In this phase there are some tasks to perform to prepare for the middle game. If the opening tasks are finished, you can move on to the middlegame.

In this way of thinking, some tasks have to be performed in order to have a good middle game later on. These tasks form the golden rules.

The golden rules in the opening are:

Put a pawn in the centre. This gives you control over the central squares and the enemy territory as well. It also gives your pieces a lot of opportunities. If you play 1. e4 you can choose between 30 moves when it's your turn again. If you play 1. h3 you create no useful new opportunities for your pieces.

Develop your pieces. Develop the knight and bishop first. Make them control squares on the other side of the board. Make room for your king to castle.

In order to have a good game, your pieces have to be active (useful) and safe. So you give your pieces useful and safe positions.

When is a piece useful? When it has many possible moves to play, when it attacks one or more enemy pieces, when it controls squares in the enemy territory, when it is cooperating with other pieces.

Don't move the queen too early. If you move the queen out early, she's an easy victim to an attack.

So, how do you decide which piece to move? Decide by the rule of "the least active piece" and "the maximum activity". So, you should move the least active piece and you should move it as much forward as possible.

You can also use the "principle of flexibility". If one move needs to be done anyway, play it. This way you'll have maximum flexibility to develop your other pieces afterwards.

Move each piece only once. If you don't have to, don't move a piece twice. Move all of your pieces to the best squares in the minimum moves possible.

Make your King safe. In the starting position your King is in the middle of the board. Here it will be an easy victim to an attack. Pieces have easy access and attacks will come from all directions. The king is often safer after castling. Castling moves your king away from the centre while simultaneously activating your rook.

Connect Rooks. To connect the rooks, you'll have to move the queen. So now is the time to move the queen.

After performing these opening tasks, you have to start an attack as soon as possible. However, it is not always possible to start an attack immediately. Therefore it may be necessary to perform a sixth opening task.

Bring the rooks to the central squares. Rooks on the central squares may help with an attack in the centre.

Don't Worry About Openings

When you've just started playing chess, you may use these golden rules as your guidelines in the opening.

You don't have to worry about opening theory at all.

Your first move may be 1.d4, 1.e4, or even 1.c4. These pawn moves all gain influence in the centre. I suggest you to try them all. This way, you'll learn to play all kind of different positions.

You may also experiment with 1. b3, 1.Nf3. These openings aren't bad at all, they just don't put a pawn in the centre immediately. Here you'll try to influence the centre without immediately putting a pawn there.

This strategy doesn't follow our golden rules. My advice would be to experiment with these opening moves, after you've played some games using the golden rules.

How Important Is Opening Knowledge?

Here I offer you a not so well known idea.

Most chess players don't win or lose because of their opening play.

Very often chess games are decided by other things.

Tactical abilty as well as strategical insights play an important role here (how many blunders do you make?). Your willingness to find the best move and play it in every position (even if things get very complicated) is also an important factor.

Some chess players don't like to play very complicated positions, always trying to simplify, resulting in lazy chess. Calculating abilities play an important role too, as is the ability to keep your focus until the end of the game.

All of these elements (and more) make up your overall playing strength.

Your knowledge of openings is one of the last things to focus on.

When you're approaching the master level (elo 2300), opening knowledge becomes more and more important. But when you're nowhere near this level, you're better of improving other parts of your chess.

Next Step

Ok, now you know the golden rules and the (un)importance of the opening.

How do you proceed?

Take a look at my list of openings .

Pick one (they're all playable) and start playing it.

Back to Chess Insights from Chess Openings