Basic opening principles, part 1

| 14 | For Beginners

I’m not here to tell you about the strategic goals of the Caro-Kann Defence’s Alekhine Gambit (1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Bd3!?) or about the world’s best opening (what ever it is). I’m about to tell you the basic opening principles, which can help you to survive the opening with a playable position for the middle game. However, you must remember that a plan in the opening is as essential as a plan in the middle game; you always have to have a plan to follow.

While playing the opening you always have to think about the middle game and its possible plans. It’s not bad to think the end game in the opening either! You can, for example, think about the pawn structure that arouses from that opening you’re going to play – who’s having the advantage in the end game?

But now to the principles:

  • The main idea of opening is to get the pieces (rooks, knights, bishops and queen) off the back rank. This is the best way to prepare castling and connect the rooks, which are very important things. The more you have pieces developed, the more potential attacking (or defending) energy you have.
  • Open the game by playing a pawn in the centre (squares d4, e4, d5, e5) – This is your way to get some space, which can be counted to advantage. By having a pawn in the centre you immediately create some pressure to your opponent’s area and this way “take squares off” from your opponent. Also if you play your king’s pawn two squares ahead, you free two diagonals: one for the king’s bishop and one for the queen. By playing the queen’s pawn two squares ahead you free one diagonal for the queen’s bishop and you have defended pawn in the centre. There still are playable openings where you don’t play a pawn in the centre – I’m not judging them.
  • Develop your knights before bishops. This is one of the main rules. You know where the knights belong in the opening, it’s much harder to tell where the bishop does its best right from the start. Remember to play your knights towards the centre because they enjoy the greatest freedom there.
  • Don’t develop your queen too early because the opponent gets tempi by threatening your queen with minor pieces. The queen shouldn’t be developed too far because it’s also a useful defending piece.


Let’s stop here for a moment. I give you an example game which I played a couple of days ago:

Let's continue with the other principles later. Hope you liked. It's short but comments are more than welcome.
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