Nothing is more frustrating than sitting down for a game of chess and realizing a few turns in that you’ve started on the wrong foot. One way to avoid this is memorizing chess openings. Once you have a full arsenal of openings, you can easily rely on these to make sure you start strong. But even a thousand well-memorized openings are useless if you don’t understand the basic theory behind what those openings are trying to accomplish. What’s the logic behind those first few turns?
As a beginner, this is a great time to learn that logic. Before you start adding openings to your arsenal, let’s go over what a good opening looks like.
Good chess openings focus on development
At the crux of it, chess is simple. All else equal, the more pieces you have in the game the better your chances of winning! The important part here is what we mean by “in the game”. When you start off, most of your high value pieces are blocked in. Although they are on the board, they are effectively handicapped by the starting formation.
A good chess opening sets you up to get as many of your pieces in advantageous positions as possible. If you pull out your high-threat pieces a few turns before your opponent, you’ve already got an advantage. Keep in mind that the first few turns are a race to development. As a consequence, try to move each piece only once during this time. If you can master developing the most pieces in the least number of moves, you’ll be in a great spot.
Great chess openings also protect your king
If you’re too focused on developing your pieces to apply pressure to your opponent, you can leave openings in your own defense. Your best tool to both help develop your pieces, and protect your king at the same time, is castling. Castling applies when there are no pieces between your king and your rook, so firstly it’s a great idea to develop those intervening pieces early, so you can set yourself up to castle. Once those intervening pieces are out of the way, you can move both the king and rook in a single turn, putting the king in a safe position, and pulling the rook out in a more usable space.
Two excellent moves in one turn. That’s the kind of efficiency that is hard to turn down. Chess openings that set you up to castle are a favourite of new and experienced players alike.
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