May 7, 2016, 1:08 AM |

This lesson is a must-read for beginner players. If you are an experienced player, however, you may still go through the article and check if you’re keep ALL these rules in mind and following them ALWAYS.


Even GMs suffer from opening disasters from time to time. Advanced chess knowledge may sometimes deflect you from the most important, fundamental rules. Let’s review them now.




In a chess game,the opening stage is very important because it determines what kind of middlegame position can arise from it.


Each and every opening has different elements – pawn structure, space control, piece development, etc. At the same time,there are some basic opening principles which are applicable to every opening and which have been followed by every advanced chess player and Grand Master.




  • Move the center pawns ( e4,d4,e5,d5 ) so that you will gain the initiative in the center and will have good space.
  • Control or occupy the center (the center of the board holds the key to a chess game).
  • Develop minor pieces (knights,bishops).
  • Castle your king: the king needs to be safe, as you are going to start attacking in the middlegame and you should not allow any attack on your king.You can castle on the Kingside (o-o) or the Queenside (o-o-o) – which one depends on the opening you play.
  • Do not move the same piece or pawn twice unless it creates a huge attack against your opponent or you are winning material (opening stage only).
  • Do not move your queen unless it builds a huge attack on your opponent or you are winning material; the reason for this is that your opponent can easily attack your queen with his minor pieces and you will have to waste some moves on retreating your queen (opening stage only).



Example – 1

Let us examine a game which is a very good example for developing minor pieces and not moving your queen– as I have already mentioned above in the basic opening principles.


In the diagram above, which arises after the moves 1. e4 e5 2. Qg4 d6 3. Qh5 Nf6 4. Qf3 Bg4 5. Qa3 d5 6. Qa5 Nc6 7. Qa4, White has only developed his queen, leaving him far behind Black. Meanwhile, Black has followed the principles of development well, bringing three minor pieces into play and constantly harassing White’s queen.

So while White has moved his queen early in the opening stage and continued moving it,Black has developed three minor pieces.Black has a better position here in the opening and can easily win the game.

Example – 2

Let us see another example based on occupying or controlling the center.


In the diagram above, White has done an excellent job in establishing control of the center. His pawns on e4and d4 control many key squares, while the knights on f3 and c3 are well placed to jump quickly to the center squares and can even be retreated wherever needed.

Conversely, Black has played the first few moves poorly. His pawns on a5 and h5 do not influence or control the center at all, and his knights on a6 and h6 are limited in their movements and not well placed.

Example – 3

Let us now see an example of castling the king, as I have mentioned above in the basic opening principles.


In the diagram above, both players have castled within the first five moves of the game. Both kings are quite safe, and neither player needs to fear a quick checkmate here.

It is also worth noting that the positions around the kings — specifically, the three pawns in front of the castled kings — have not been disturbed. Moving these pawns (g4-h4) in the opening will generally make the king very vulnerable, as it opens lines of attack for the other player’s pieces.

So, as soon as you castle, the safer you are.

Example – 4

Now we assess a game which contains some basic opening principles. Here the game goes:

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 – both players have moved their center pawns and developed minor pieces now.


4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 – now White is controlling the center with his central pawns on the d4 and e4 squares.


exd4 6.cxd4 Bb6 7.d5 – Black has now lost his center, and White has good central pawns and can develop the other two minor pieces (knight and bishop on b1 and c1) in the next few moves, as well as castle his king.


Black’s knight on c6 has to run and this will lose a move,as has already happened with the bishop going back to b6.Black still has to develop his bishop on c8 and must castle, although he has lost the center.

In the above game, White moved as per the basic opening principles and got a better middlegame position. If we apply them in our game,we will definitely get a better position and can easily play on without any disturbance.

If you like this article and want to learn more about openings, please download our Free ebook 'Chess opening fundamentals by GM Smirnov'