Let me introduce the subject of chess openings. This is not cutting-edge opening theory. It’s just me, going by experience. And I think we ought to start with general principles. Way too many openings for anyone to learn, but these general principles pretty much always apply.
1. Try to be strong in the center of the board: either directly, by moving pawns and pieces there, or indirectly from somewhere on one or both flanks, stationing your men so that they can get to the center quickly.
2. Knights are best somewhere around the middle of the board. Chess saying, “Knights on the rim are dim,” is usually true.
3. Usually it’s wise to castle as soon as possible.
4. Develop as many pieces as quickly as you can–don’t leave them in their starting spots unless you have a good reason for it. “Develop” means to put them in position to attack or defend as needed.
5. Rooks do best when they have room to shoot to the other end of the board, and when they are in position to support or defend each other. Sometimes the Queen can join them, forming what we call a battery. Try not to cut them off from each other unless there’s a good reason for it. (Any chess move ought to be made for a reason. But you’d be surprised how hard that can be for a beginner to learn.)
6. Bishops like clear diagonals, the longer, the better. If your Bishop winds up bottled up behind your own pawns, we call that a bad bishop. Try to position bishops where they’ll have some room to operate. Unlike Knights, Bishops can be tucked into corner squares and still be powerful.
7. Remember that pawns can never move backward; so when you move one forward, it ought to be for a reason–either to defend something (Pawns are good at that) or to open up room for your stronger pieces.
8. Pawns that wind up back-to-back, aka doubled pawns, can’t defend each other and are best avoided–until you know a lot more about chess. Then it’s not such a big problem.
If you keep these principles in mind, practice them, and use them to direct your moves, you won’t be discomfited by any opening which your opponent might use.
– Lee Duigon on March 13th, 2019
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