The Basic Opening Rules

The Basic Opening Rules

Mar 18, 2016, 7:09 PM |

The opening part of the game is one of the most difficult challenges facing any new chess player. Once upon a time, the task was not too tough because most people played a small set of approved opening strategies. In the computer age, however, many previously discarded openings have been rediscovered. You can now find huge books devoted to openings that were once considered so insignificant they didn't even merit a footnote in the ECO. Many young players invent their own opening strategies or use a preferred stock of moves and formations.

They're not concerned what the chess authorities might think of such moves. Instead, they rely on experience. If an opening strategy works then they are likely to repeat it. If it fails, then they are more likely to switch to some other approach. For beginners, the best openings are those that were played a long time ago. Such openings are appealing because they are based on simple ideas and strategies that have stood the test of time.

When you start the game, your pieces are set up according to tradition. Your king is in the center of the board and the army's main forces are sitting behind a row of pawns.


Your army is not set up for battle, it is set up for a parade! Before you fight you must set up a fighting formation. What should you do first? You need to have some idea of what you need to do with your first few moves. I'm going to give you four simple goals.

1. Plant a flag or two in the center

Your first goal is to take control of the center of the board. In most military battles, and a large number of sports, control of the center is a powerful tool in setting up a good attack. You should send one or two of your pawns to occupy important central squares. Ideally, you will place pawns both at d4 and e4 as White, or d5 and e5 as Black.



2. Castle!

Once we've managed to achieve all or part of this goal, you need to turn your attention to your king. The safety of the king is very important To safeguard your king, use the special move known as castling. In order to castle, we must move out all of the pieces that stand between the king and one of the rooks. This also lets us use our rook in an attack on the center.



It is easiest for the king to castle on the side where there are only two pieces standing between the king and the rook, a bishop and a knight. In the other direction, the queen also would have to be moved. That requires more time, and time is very valuable in the opening.

3. Connect the rooks!


After you castle, you have to get the rest of your pieces into the game. It is important to consider the role of the rooks. The rooks normally enter the battle from the center of the board, using lines that are opened when some of the central pawns are exchanged. Your third goal is to connect the rooks, by making sure that all of the pieces standing between the rooks are moved out of the way. After castling, of course, the king will already be on the far side of the rooks.

4. Aim at least one rook

Once your two rooks can see each other, your fourth and final goal is to move one of the rooks onto a central file, either the d-file or the e-file.


You can also use an empty file that is open for business. A rook can act only as far as it can see, so sitting right behind a pawn is useless, and should be done only when the pawn absolutely requires the protection of the rook. Try to think of the rook as the piece that carries your archers on the top. They work most effectively at a distance. You'll be surprised how effective this opening strategy is. Start using it today!