10 Chess Commandments for Beginners

10 Chess Commandments for Beginners

Apr 21, 2016, 11:44 PM |

I try to present 10 simple and most important tips to all the beginners here.  These are the points I have learnt practically and by reading chess material over the years.  Hope it helps at least a few of you, happy reading.

1.  How do you open:  If you have not decided on which opening you should play, please do it immediately.  Chess is an ocean, instead of trying to be Jack of all trades, be the Master of One.  Don’t change your openings frequently, select any opening which suits your style then commit to it.  The more you play the same opening the better you become, learning from your own mistakes.  Bob Fisher played just one opening with Whites throughout his career i.e. e4 and with Blacks he played the Sicilian Najdorf against e4 and Kings Indian Defence against all the closed openings.

2.  Pawns:  Be choosy with your pawn moves in the beginning.  Unlike your other pieces they cannot move backwards.  Be more careful before committing your pawns.  Restrict your pawn moves to two to three in the opening stage.

3.  The Centre:  The side that controls the centre controls the game.  The initial battle is to gain control over the centre.  Try to push your pawns and minor pieces towards the centre.  The pieces that are in the centre of the board can access the maximum squares whereas the pieces at the corner have least mobility.

4.  Opening:  As a rule of thumb, develop your centre Pawns, Knights, Bishops, and castle in the beginning before moving your Rooks or Queen (this can be deviated in some openings).  In the first 10 moves try to develop as many pieces as you can rather than moving one pawn/piece multiple times. 

 5.  Middle Game: This is where you need to build a strategy, identify the opponent’s weaknesses and launch a focussed attack on the weakest square.  When I say focussed bring all your Pieces together rather than attacking with one or two pieces.

6.  End Game:  To keep it short let’s talk about only King vs Pawn endings.  The King plays a major role in these endings.  You must position your King in such a way that not only protects your pawns but restricts your opponent’s pawns also from advancing.  To quickly assess whether your King can reach the opponents pawn before it gets promoted, draw a square from your opponent’s pawn to the last rank, if your king is within that square you can capture him or vice versa.  

In the above image black's King is within the square (highlighted in green color) hence he can reach and capture the white's pawn before it reaches the last rank.  Whereas white's King is out of the square, thus he cannot capture black's pawn.

 7.  Pawn Chain:  Keep your pawns together in order to keep them strong.  Isolated pawns are generally considered weak unless they are passed pawns.  A pawn is considered passed if it is not obstructed by any of the opponent’s pawns.  You should try not to give any passed pawns to your opponent.

8.  Distant Opposition:  You need to follow the distant opposition principle in order to prevent your opponent’s pawns from advancing or to promote your pawns.  Just place your King in the same file as the opponent’s King leaving one square in between (three or five as the case may be, should be an odd number always).  In the below game since there are 6 squares between the two kings the side moving first will be able to create a distant opposition and win the game.  


In the below example white moves first and loses the distant opposition hence cannot force a win.  Just see how black retreats his King to maintain the distant opposition.


9.  Stalemate:  It really frustrates when you have a winning material but still have to settle for a draw.  Stalemate is one of the ways of ending the game in a draw.   When your opponent’s King is not under check and he has no safe square to retreat it is considered a draw.  In a hurry to trash your opponent’s King, don’t make this mistake; watch out for a stalemate possibility.


10.  Pawn promotion:  Last but not least, when the pawn reaches its dream square it’s obvious that we promote it to a Queen.  But it may not always be appropriate to develop it into a Queen.  Look at the following image, in this case if White Promotes his pawn on c7 to a Queen, he will simply lose the game as there is a mating threat by Black's Queen. Instead White promotes it to a Knight and delivers a Knight Fork. Similarly, you may ask for a Rook or Bishop depending on the position.

 I welcome your comments.