By International Master Daniel Rensch
There are many rules and principles for the three different stages of a chess game: The Opening; Middlegame; and Endgame. The focus of today's article however, is how to "get out of the gates" rollin'! If you combine the advice of this article with the recommendations of Top Ten Rules to the Opening Part 1, you should be in great shape to play in a real tournament.
Rule #6 - Get Castled (Before Move 10)!
Getting Castled is one of the smartest things anyone ever did! Really, it is... Probably the best invention since sliced bread, or even the "Walk-In" Closet !
Anyway, castling is the most efficient way to safe-guard your king, get your rook(s) into the game, and coordinate your army all in one move. I am not sure we really need a diagram here to teach us the importance of this move. Assuming you know the rules to castling (1-- Can't castle if you have moved either the king or the rook(s); 2-- Can't castle into check; 3-- Can't castle through check and 4) You can't castle OUT of check either). Okay, you are ready to castle, so "Just Do It"!
Rule #7 - Attack (Develop) Towards the Center!
Imagine a basketball game where your team never went to the rim or never crossed the three point line; imagine a soccor game where the players on your team straddled the edge of the field, but never ran down the middle of the field towards the goal; what about a hockey game played only from your team's side of the ice? How would you ever score a basket or goal in those scenarios? Okay, maybe you are the best three point shooter in the world , but the point is that you need your team where the action is, attacking the "rim" or "net". You need to be in the CENTER! Below is one of my favorite examples of what COULD possibly happen to someone after only ONE passive developing move.
Rule #8 - Connect the Rooks!
This rule is in place as a kind of reminder or "insurance plan". What I mean by this is that if you only start following the rules of developing your pieces, but somehow decide to get lazy along the way, this rule will remind you that your "plan of development" isn't complete until your rooks are connected. If you read between the lines, what does it mean if your rooks are connected: It means you have (1) developed your minor pieces, (2) gotten castled, and (3) finally brought your queen out to a more active (but hopefully safe) square. If you have indeed connected your rooks, then you have likely "completed the first stage of the game"... Good job!
Rule #9 - ADVANCED: Develop Plans, Not Just Pieces!
Let's assume, for the sake of learning this rule, that you have grasped all the "basic" concepts of the Opening: You plan to develop your pieces; you plan to attack "where the action is"; and you plan to do this while keeping watch over your opponent's threats... So if we know now that you are going to develop and get castled as soon as you can, and that you no longer need to be reminded of those important steps, then here is what I would like you to think about: When you develop your pieces, try and develop them with "purpose" and "initiative".
What that means is simple: Instead of just getting the pieces out, start thinking about where and why you are getting them out. Develop your knights looking to attack pawns! Develop your bishops looking to pin (see BoundingOwl's article on Pins by clicking here) knights!! Develop your rooks to open files (not to files that will never become opened)!!! The possibilities are endless !
These are the principles of higher level chess, and the beginning fundamentals of learning "Chess Opening Theory", which essentially means playing the Opening and Developing moves that are considered 'theoretically best" by Grandmasters and World Champions. Here is one example Opening with explanations:
Rule #10 - ADVANCED: Attack "In the Direction" of Your Pawn(s) Structure!
Okay, I know this is going to sound a little crazy, but what if I told you that the secret to advanced chess, to master play, to winning against the best chess players in the world was AAALLLL about the pawns??!! Here is the deal: Your pawns are the ONLY pieces that can't go back. Which means that every time they make a decision, they are deciding something permanant about the game... Something that can NOT be undone... Something that, if you know how to attack it (the given pawn structure) can be counted on as a plan that YOUR OPPONENT CAN'T STOP!
A wise man once said, "Tactics are the servant of Strategy..." What does that mean exactly? Well, it means that if you understand how to find a plan, to think about the bigger picture, to play with your pawns (the little guys) basically: Strategy!!! If you do those things, then the Tactics will work out for you... That wise man was World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik... He was a smart dude!
So please, think about what you are doing in terms of how it affects your pawns, because weaknesses created in the pawn structure can never be undone in that game... And yes, this is an Opening rule because you should be thinking about your pawns from move one!
Until next time ...