One of the hardest things to do in Chess is to choose an opening, particularly when you’re unfamiliar with your opponents strengths and weaknesses. There are literally thousands of possible combinations of move – only 3 physical moves into the game. However, not all of these choices are created equal. So we’ve got a quick list of tips to help you develop your own Chess opening.
1. Use a centre pawn first
It’s a cliché but most chess is about holding and controlling the centre of the board in the early part of the game. Opening with a centre pawn gives you a quick foothold in the middle as well as opening multiple lines for developing other pieces.
2. Try and develop threats
It is almost always better to have your opponent react to you than the other way round. Be threatening as long as it’s sensible to do so.
3. Move your knights before your bishops
Bishops are more powerful in the end game when the number of pawns on the board have been whittled down. Knights sneak easily between ranks before that.
4. Castle as soon as you can
Castling enables you to change the focus of your opponents attack and break their rhythm. There are times when it’s not advantageous but for many players it’s a safe bet that earlier is better.
5. Avoid moving your queen too early
It’s tempting to bring out the heavy fire power early. Resist, your queen can be very vulnerable to a well planned attack in the early part of the game, and you’ll want that power for a decisive end-game.
6. Try not to move the same piece twice
Unless you have a sound strategy for the move you’re wasting it, make sure you position pieces where you want them from the start rather than adjusting later.
7. Trade off minor pieces for the centre
While you want to control the centre it shouldn’t be at any price, pawns, knights and bishops are your holding tools – queens and rooks come later.
8. Keep a pawn in the middle
When the board is quite congested (as in early play) the two squares protected by a pawn in the centre are invaluable.
9. Minimise pawn moves
Once you have some hold on the centre – keep your focus on it. Other pawn moves rarely develop any additional opportunities, keep those moves defensive while you can.
10. Minimise Sacrifice
Piece sacrifices in Chess can be fantastically valuable when you have a clear reason and expected benefit for them. Don’t attempt to throw your opponent off balance with a hasty sacrifice, if they take their time they’ll surely see the move for what it is and you’ll be fighting to catch up.