Opening,Middle game and End game..

Dec 15, 2014, 4:15 AM |


#1 "Move Every Piece Once Before You Move Any Piece Twice" - unless it is required by a tactic.... Believe it or not, most players absolutely cannot follow this guideline no matter how hard they try!

#2 "It is usually MUCH better to take a piece that is doing nothing and make it do something than it is to take a piece that is already doing something and make it do a little more!"

#3"Develop the pieces on the side you are going to castle before the pieces on the other side." or as a corollary, "Develop the Bishop on the side you wish to castle before the other Bishop."

#4 Don't develop your pieces to squares where they can just be efficiently attacked by enemy pieces of lesser value (often pawns) and therefore have to retreat.

#5 "Castling is usually the most important move in any opening." It is the only move which may save a tempo by moving two pieces at once!

#6 "If your opponent plays something you don't know, don't panic - just follow the general principles (like the ones on this page!)"

#7 "Develop Knights Before Bishops." (Note: This usually means the Knight before the Bishop on the same side, not necessarily both Knights before both Bishops).

#8 Don't play the opening like the middlegame

#9 "The player who uses his Rooks best probably wins the opening." Alternately, "The main goal of the opening is to properly develop your Rooks."

#10 "Don't put your Knight in front of your c-pawn in double d-pawn openings." (In general, don't block your break moves and put your Rooks behind your break moves).

Hon. Mention: Play the moves you have to play before the moves you want to play

Hon. Mention: "Develop a rook to the same file where you opponent has his queen, especially if the queen has already moved. This even makes sense if the file is closed, so long as there is any possibility it could open up due to exchanges."

Hon. Mention: "Don't start a fight until either all your pieces are ready or at least you have a lot more pieces active than your opponent."

Hon. Mention: *"Don't start a fight until your King is safe!!" (especially if your opponent's King is already safe) or "Don't fool around until you are castled."

Hon. Mention:  "If you are White and your opponent does not stop you by his opening moves, set up the 'little center': e4 and d4"

Hon. Mention: "Play the piece to the square where you KNOW it must go before you play another piece to the square where you think it might go. The extra move might help you determine to which square the latter piece should move."

Hon. Mention: "Moving just two pawns in the opening is usually not enough to give your pieces space; on the other hand, moving six or more pawns is usually too weakening and takes too much time."

"Low rated players should play tactical openings to improve their tactics."

"The King always moves two when you castle."

"The best way to refute a gambit is to accept it."

"A good metric is how many moves it takes for you to move all your non-pawns.  12-16 is normal. If you use a lot more than that, you are probably neglecting your development, likely your Rooks."

"In the opening, if you can drive a Knight out of the center by attacking it with a pawn, it is usually correct to do so."; similarly, ""If you can push a pawn up and safely drive a Knight out of the center, it is probably good to do so, especially if in doing so you don't weaken any squares."

*"Any opening that you know well is good no matter what its reputation."

"For most players, it is not memorizing opening sequences that are important, but following good general principles that apply throughout the game and especially those in the opening." Of course, the stronger you get, the more specific opening knowledge is helpful.

*"It is good for most developing players to play the King's Indian Defense and the French Defense for a while, since you cannot avoid their pawn structures in many irregular openings anyway."

"In the Ruy Lopez, the play is rich enough that the better player almost always wins."

"Until you can develop ALL your pieces every game during the opening, you are not ready for intermediate play."

*"Bd2 is usually bad for White in almost any opening unless it is tactically required."

"Don't pin the adverse King's Knight to the Queen before the opponent has castled." (One of Lasker's rules)

"Don't play your f-pawn up one (f3/f6) unless your opponent's Queen is off the board, you are already castled, or are soon going to castle the opposite side. Especially avoid guarding the e-pawn from a pawn capture, e.g. 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.f3?! dxe4 4.fxe4?? Qh4+ 5.g3?? Qxe4+ and 6...Qxh1.

"Don't prevent pins with h3/h6 and a3/a6 unless those are the only good squares for the Bishop; on the other hand, playing h3/h6 to prevent a Knight from harassing a Bishop on e3/e6 is often correct."

"If a Bishop plays Bg5/g4 and is NOT threatening to take a knight (it can do so, but it is not a threat), it is often correct to hit it with ...h3 or ...h6 to force it to decide which diagonal it is going to stay on."

"Don't move all pawns onto the same color squares as this creates weak squares of the opposite color."

"Put your pieces on the 'right' side of the pawns (usually meaning behind them!). For example, in non e-pawn (and many e-pawn openings, like the Ruy Lopez) openings, it is usually right to put your Queen's knight behind your c-pawn, like c4/Nc3 or ...c5/...Nc6."

"A premature attack is doomed to failure."

"If you opponent is castled and you are not, be especially aware about catching up in development, especially castling too, and not prematurely opening the center to his (big) advantage."

"If you castle opposite sides and Queens are still on the board, the side that gets to the opponent's King first with the most usually wins!"

"If you are already winning, try to castle on the same side as your opponent. Castling opposite sides tends to make the game sharp and minimize any material advantage."

If you move a pawn to open up a diagonal for a bishop, then should you usually NOT move up another pawn to develop the bishop on the other diagonal. It should be developed on the original diagonal without wasting time to push the second pawn.

Don't fall too far behind (in development) in the ability to castle. In particular, if you are opponent has the ability to castle or has already, make sure you can get your king out of the center too before it is caught in a crossfire of centralized rook checks.

Botvinnik's Rule: In slow games, use about 20% of your time for the first 15 moves. In fast games, use LESS than 20% of your time for the first 15 moves; 

Botvinnik's rule would not apply in exceptionally tactical openings, ones where you get out of the book in one or two moves, or of course ones that go book for (almost) 15 moves.

The Three Main Opening Goals (not to be confused with principles):

  • Activate all your pieces safely, efficiently, and effectively

  • Get as much center control as possible (occupation is not always necessary)

  • Find a safe place for your king and get it there as quickly as possible


"When looking for tactics - for either player - look for Checks, Captures, and Threats, in that order - for both players."

*"If you are winning by a piece or more, THINK DEFENSE FIRST.  That does not mean play passively."

"The Exchange (winning a rook for a bishop or a knight) is worth about half of a piece."

*"If you are interested in learning, think of a  draw offer as an offer to remain ignorant!"

"Putting out your hand when you offer a draw is presumptuous; always put it out after the draw is agreed upon, not before."

"If you get way ahead, it is more important to use all your pieces and safeguard your King than it is to try and get further ahead."

"Most games between lower rated players are won or could be won on tactics, so studying tactics when you are lower rated is much more important than anything else."

"Attack pinned pieces with pieces worth less than them; never take a pinned piece unless it leads to some sort of tactic or you cannot maintain the pin."

"Having the 'Bishop Pair' - two Bishops when your opponent does not - is worth about half a pawn."

"Bishops are better in open positions - Knights are better in locked/closed positions - Bishops are also better when there is action on both sides of the board."

"When ahead pieces trade pieces, when behind pieces, trade pawns."

"If you have a pair of Rooks and your opponent only has one, it is usually correct to trade Rooks."

"Knights are 'Path' pieces.  Have an idea of where you want one to go!"

"Patzer sees a check - gives a check," but "Always (consider) a check, it might be mate."

"Doubled pawns are not always weak."

"When capturing with pawns, it is correct most of the time to capture toward the center.  If the result is doubled pawns, this is correct even a higher percentage of the time." It is also more likely correct when capturing on a Knight file (b or g).

"A premature attack is doomed to failure."

"You can't attack where you don't have an advantage."

"An attack on the flank is met by a counterattack in the center." Especially if the center is not fixed/stable.

"Rooks need open and semi-open files.  Don't let your opponent control open files with his Rooks."

"Don't 'give up' control of an open file by trading Rooks and bringing your opponent's other Rook to the file unless you can either neutralize the file by moving a Rook/Queen to that file or have some tactic."

*"It is not enough to recognize tactics.  You must recognize them quickly enough that you will see them - even without prior knowledge that they are there - during the short time you have to move in a normal game"

"If the four e and d pawns are all locked together, then the 'pointing rule' says 'put your hand across your d and e pawns so that it points toward your opponent (the other way hurts your hand!); whichever side of the board your hand is pointing is the side you should attack - and also the side you should play the pawn break on the c or f files'" Note: Don't apply this guideline unless all four pawns are locked against each other!

"When the game gets complicated and there are a lot of captures, it is usually correct to make a capture (or at least an extremely strong threat) to hold the initiative. To make a quiet move usually leaves your opponent the opportunity to take the initiative." In any case, specific analysis and not general principles are required to make the decision!

"If you have some sort of structural or minor material deficit, it is better not to trade and to play aggressively, or else your opponent's long-term advantage will tell in the late middlegame and endgame."

"When both Kings are exposed and the heavy pieces are still on the board, the initiative (or attack) is often worth everything – so you usually should keep checking (or capturing) if you can." In these positions sacrifices of material are often quite common as you cannot let your opponent start attacking with tempo.

"Talk to your pieces. See which ones have the best arguments for moving them next. Never ignore a piece completely!"

"When your opponent has weak pawns, trade a few pieces. Then the weakness of the pawns often becomes easier to exploit."

*"If a piece is attacked defended, but some of its defenders are removable, then you can't count them as defenders - so that piece may be possibly won with removal of the guard!"

When you have several checks, consider first:

Checks that bring additional pieces into the attack, or

Checks that bring a powerful piece (like the Queen) closer to the King to guard more squares.

"Material doesn't mean as much if you castle opposite sides and queens are on the board."

Attack pinned pieces with more pieces, especially pieces worth less than the pinned piece.

In complicated positions with multiple capturing possibilities for both sides, it is usually correct to make the first capture, if possible.

The worst types of pawns are vulnerable pawns (backward, isolated, etc.) on semi-open files. Alternatively, doubled pawns can sometimes be strong, so don't count all non-perfect pawn structures as "bad".

It is almost always worse to lose a pawn than to take on a pawn weakness.

When creating luft to prevent back-rank mates against an opponent with one bishop, clear the square the opposite color of the bishop

There are two types of sacrifices:

Those in which the sacrificer does not capture material. These sacrifices you can take or not, depending upon which is better.

Those in which the sacrificer captures material. These sacrifices you almost always must accept/capture if your opponent's previous capture puts you behind in material, because you will lose anyway. Obviously if you see a mate in three and otherwise you lose a pawn, you lose the pawn, but most times you just capture. For example, you almost always capture the classical bishop sacrifice Bxh7+.

When your opponent has a pawn, bishop, or knight on "knight 3" (b3/g3 for White and b6/g6 for Black) then it is often a possible plan to attack it with a pawn, usually R4-R5 (a5/a4 or h5/h4 for Black or a4/a5 or h4/5 for White), possibly B4-B5 (c5/c4 or f5/f4 or c4/c5 or f4/f5)

If one side is weak on a particular color complex, the other side has a bishop of that color, and the side with the weak squares does not have that color bishop, then that is a large advantage for the side with the bishop, and even larger (possibly a pawn or more) if queens are still on the board and there are lots of pawns.


"The King is a strong piece in the endgame with fighting power worth more than a Bishop or Knight - Move it 'toward the action' " (King's are worth about four pawns fighting value).

"The endgame has different rules than the middlegame."

"Resign if you are playing a better player and you get to a position where if you were he even YOU could win easily."

*"Never push a passed pawn passed its zone of protection (unless it promotes by force!).

"Passed pawns must be pushed," but as above "Never push a pawn past its zone of defense."

"Very often a game is won by pushing an extra pawn and forcing the opponent to give up a piece to stop it."

"If you have a passed pawn (especially a protected passed pawn) you can use it to tie up your opponent while you roam freely!"

"Connected passed pawns are usually best if pushed together."

"Connected passed pawns on the 6th rank beat a Rook."

"Bishops are usually better than Knights in endgames with pawns on both sides of the board."

The easiest game to draw is Bishops of opposite color - you can be down a pawn or two and still draw in many positions.

"It is relatively easy to draw Rook and pawn endgames; easiest to lose are King and pawn endgames."

"In Rook and pawn endgames, the most important thing is usually an active King and Rook(s)."

"Rooks belong behind passed pawns."

"In same-colored Bishop endgames, put your pawns on the opposite color of the Bishops."

A king, bishop, and rook's pawn which promotes on the opposite color of the bishop cannot beat a defending king which can get to that corner.

"In King and pawn endgames, the king always comes first (like a pulling guard in football)."

"In Queen and pawn endgames it is often not who has the most pawns, but who has the furthest advanced passed pawn that matters."

The Law of Symmetry: "If your opponent has more advanced pawns on a wing, you don't want to allow him an asymmetric pawn structure where he can sacrifice pawns for a winning passed pawn. Instead you want to play your pawns to enforce symmetry, where a breakthrough is usually impossible."

In general, Rooks belong as far away as possible.

One good endgame plan (and often in the middlegame!) is to find your pawn majority and get your pawns moving. Usually push your potential passed pawns first.

Pawns gain in power toward the endgame. For example, while a bishop or knight might be worth over 3 pawns on the average, they might be worth four in the opening and less than two in the deep endgame!

Centralize your queen in the endgame (everything being equal).

In a king and pawn endgame with sufficient pawns on the board, an extra pawn is almost always a win if the defender does not have a compensating advantage. So, given any K&P endgame with lots of pawns on the board where one side has a clear (non-disadvantaged) extra pawn and the defender has no majority is almost always a win!