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Introduction to Chess Strategy

Beginning chess players discover very quickly that learning how the pieces move is the very tip
of the tip of the chess playing iceberg. It's usually sometime during the first several moves of
their very first chess game that they find themselves saying, "What now?"
We're going to provide you with some very simple, easy guidelines in chess strategy for playing
the chess opening. We're not going to talk about specific openings or give you strings of moves
to memorize; these will be some general chess strategy principles which you should think about
when starting a chess game.
As your chess career continues you'll also notice that there will be times when it's best to ignore
some of these chess strategy and opening principles. Nothing here is carved in granite and there
will be times later when you'll violate one or more of these principles. But for right now, these
tips are good ones to follow during the first few moves of your games.
An underlying principle in the chess strategy of the chess opening is to try to control the center
of the board. The chess board's center is typically defined as the four squares right in the middle
of the board (shown here in red):

The center is important because your pieces tend to be more mobile the closer they are to the
center. Here's an example using the Knight:

The centrally-placed Knight can move to (and control) eight squares. Now look at this Knight:

This Knight in the corner controls just two squares.
Center occupation and center control are the two principles of chess strategy which underlay
almost all popular chess openings. White would like to occupy the squares d4 and e4 with his
pawns, like so:

...while Black's chess opening strategy is to occupy both d5 and e5 with his own pawns:

Both players are also trying to prevent their opponent from achieving his strategic goal (so, in
most chess openings, neither player actually achieves it), but it's a good opening chess
strategy for which both usually strive. The pawns can't stand alone on these squares, either; they
need to be supported by other chess pieces or pawns. Remembering this will help you to
understand some of the principles we're about to discuss.
1) Good chess strategy suggests you make your first move with the pawn in front of either
your King or Queen
Probably the simplest of all chess opening strategies. In both cases, you'll be opening up paths
which your other pieces can use to get off of the back rank:

2) Good chess strategy suggests you make good developing moves, and generally develop
your Knights before your Bishops
A good developing move is one which gets a chess piece off of its starting square. This is an
important chess strategy: you want to get your pieces into the game (where they can actually
accomplish something, either aiding your attack or defense) as soon as you can. And the reason
why you'll usually want to develop your Knights before your Bishops is because it's easier to
find a good square on the chess board for your Knights:

This is an example of a "can't go wrong" Knight development; the Knights defend the pawns and
control those strategically important central squares. Knowing the right spot for a Bishop often
isn't so easy.
3) Good chess strategy suggests you try not to move the same piece twice in the opening
Don't move the same piece around aimlessly; the best chess opening strategy is to find a good
developing square for it. After you've developed a piece, don't move it again unless you
absolutely have to; concentrate on developing another piece.
4) Good chess strategy suggests that your King's safety is crucial; castle early if you can
A big exception to the principle of centralizing your pieces concerns your King. In the opening
and middlegame, the center is the worst place for your King. Castling is a great way to safeguard
your King from sudden chess tactics and even checkmate - it gets the King away from the center
and develops one of your Rooks at the same time. Top level chess strategy!
5) Good chess strategy suggests you don't advance more than one or two pawns in the chess
opening, and definitely not a pawns in front of your castled King
You need to advance a couple of pawns so that your pieces can develop, but be aware that
advancing lots of pawns will weaken your defenses. So the best chess opening strategy is to
move one or two pawns in the opening (see principle #1), but not more. (There are exceptions to
this; you'll learn them later.)
6) Good chess strategy suggests you make when you develop your pieces, try to make moves
which threaten something
Here's a simple example. Both players have advanced their e-pawns - now it's White's move:

White decides to develop his Knight, and his move threatens Black's center pawn on the e5
square - accomplishing two goals of proper chess strategy at the same time:

That's a very simple example of making a good developing move which also threatens
something. Now Black has to make a move which will somehow defend the threatened pawn,
and also develop his own chess position.
7) Good chess strategy suggests you don't bring your Queen out early
The Queen is your most powerful piece but she can't win a chess game all by herself. She's also a
very enticing target for your opponent early in a game where she can be easily trapped on a
crowded chessboard. Generally, chess opening strategy dictates that the Queen is one of the last
pieces you'll develop.
As you progress in your chess career, you will learn that there are always exceptions to general
strategic principles. But for right now, as you're taking your first steps on the road to chess
improvement, these chess strategy tips will help you avoid many catastrophes at the chess board.
Some Opening Principles and Chess Strategies
Quick List of Chess Strategies:
* Avoid Moving a Chess Piece Twice During the Opening is a good chess strategy.
* It is Better Chess Strategy to Develop the Knights before Their Respective Bishops.
* A good chess strategy is to Develop Both Knights before the Queen or Bishop.
* A good chess strategy is Do Not Develop your Chess Pieces Exclusively on One Side.
* A good chess strategy is as a Rule Do Not Play a Piece beyond Your Own Side of the Board in
the Opening.
* A good chess strategy is if You Have Castled Do Not Permit the Opponent to Open a File on
Your King.
* A good chess strategy is to Avoid Pinning the Opponent's King's Knight before He has
Castled, Especially When You Have Yourself Castled on the Kingside.
* A good chess strategy is to Avoid Making Exchanges which Develop Another Piece for the
* A good chess strategy is to Avoid Exchanging Bishops for Knights Early in the Game.
* A good chess strategy is to Avoid Premature Attacks.

The Laws of Chess
1. Development of Chess Pieces
Right from the start do mobilize your forces to the optimum! This means: Get your pieces out on
the kingside as fast as possible. Why that? Because you want to castle as fast as possible to bring
your king into safety! If you develop the pieces on the queenside instead, then you can't castle
fast enough. This violates the law of development already to a certain extent.
To develop the bishops you must move the King and Queen pawns or the bishops can't get out
into the open an breeze some fresh air.
Do mobilize as rapid as possible. Don't waste time making silly and useless pawn moves out of
fear on the edge of the board. If you move something else that slows down your speed of
development then you have already violated the chess law of development and your opponent
will run you over in the center. It's as easy as that.
What did I hear? A pawn move is strong? Hey you! Do you want proof? Here it is! Replay the
game called Silly Pawn Move
and after that come back here.
The best chess formation strategy is achieved when you submit your own will to the laws of
chess and follow them obidiently. Understand the magic of your chess position.
2. Place your chess pieces on useful squares - Control the center!
A good chess formation strategy is to place pieces in the center area if possible. Put your Pieces
on useful squares where they have maximum control of the squares in the center! Best places for
the white knights are f3, c3 (sometimes d2) and for black knights f6 and c6 (sometimes d7).
Don't play a knight to the corner square a3 (there are exceptions when the position is blocked
completely in the center.) When your pieces and pawns are placed near the center you can move
your pieces to any part of the board. Furthermore you have control over your opponents pieces.
His pieces can't move about as they wish as you control important squares which in return limits
the scope of the movements of your opponent's pieces.
Look at this game: Active Piece Development and come back here afterwards to learn more
about the right chess formation strategy.
You can control vital center squares placing pawns on d4 and e4, if you are white (or d5 and e5,
if you are black) but you have to protect and overprotect your pawns to maintain them as they
will be attacked.
The center can be controlled with pieces from a distance as well and it is not necessary to control
it only with pawns. This idea is used in different openings like the Alekhine's Defense.
Queen and rooks are developed later in the game, when the light pieces are out (knights and
bishops) and when you have castled already. There are exceptions as always, but you got to learn
the principles first and deal with the exceptions later on.
3. King Safety
Never leave your king in the middle of the board. He will be attacked from all sides and you
can't survive the attack for long. Sooner or later you will lose.
But on the other hand newer castle right into the attack of your opponent. You must see when
the opponent can attack you.
Look at this game and replay it: Strong Bishop Exchange
This chess game shows you, not to give your strong bishop for the knight in an open position
and not to castle right into the attack. Come back here after.
4. Don't move the Queen to early.
You don't follow the correct path if you bring your queen out to early. The queen comes out after
the light pieces are developed and you have castled. If you bring her out too early she will be
chased around by other light pieces of the opponent. The opponent will gain time units (tempi) in
developing his pieces and attacking your queen at the same time. Only beginners move out the
queen very fast. This is not the right chess formation strategy at all.
5. Protect the weak square f7 as black or f2 as white!
A good chess formation strategy requires also to protect very vulnerable squares! The particular
spot near the king called f7 or f2 is very vulnerable. See for yourself and replay the three games
on this topic: Weak Spot f7
6. Don't weaken your Pawn Structure
Avoid pawn islands and isolated, doubled, tripled and backward pawns. Don't play senseless
pawn moves that create weak squares in your position.
7. Piece Coordination
All pieces are part of the chess family. For that reason they have to work harmoniously together
in respect to the goal. Let's say you attack on the kingside. It is useless to attack just with twenty
percent of your pieces and eighty percent of your family is placed on the queenside.
Use common sense. You can't win a war with only twenty percent of your army.
A good chess formation strategy would be, when the whole family of your pieces attack the
kingside, trading off enemy defenders, sacrificing a piece to destroy the king's pawn protection
and then the rest of the family will checkmate him.
8. Time is important - Don't move a Piece twice
Don't move twice or more times with the same piece in the opening. Donald Byrne has done that
and lost. He moved his bishop twice in the opening and see what happened - playing against the
american former world champion Bobby Fischer (died 2008) in his famous game: The Game of
the Century
As a real chessplayer that you are going to become now, you should know this famous game.
Please replay it and observe the chess formation strategy of Bobby Fischer, who is playing the
Grnfeld Defense.
9. Don't give every check that you see.
Only a beginner does that. There is a saying that goes like this: A patzer gives every check he
sees because he thinks it could be checkmate. Replay this game Senseless Check and you will
10. Study the piece and pawn formation of your opponents position.
Find the weak points in the pawn formation and organize an attack on isolated, doubled and
tripled pawns and other weak structures.
11. Don't move too many pawns in the opening
If you do that, you just waste time. When you develop a pawn your opponent will bring out a
piece instead and some moves later he has developed more pieces than you. He will control more
squares in the center and will get the initiative and he might run you over.
12. Don't let strong positioned pieces get chased away.
If you have strongly placed knights or bishops don't allow your opponent to chase them away to
bad squares.

It is White to move. Black did not understand how to play the french defence correctly and made a
mistake and came into this position. White played e5 and the black bishop must move again. Black loses
valuable time.
13. Don't blunder away pawns and pieces.
Watch out all the time and don't believe your opponent! He does make mistakes! Here you win
a pawn with white. Look at this position, black just made a bad move in the english opening...e4?

It is White to move. He can win a pawn now playing Qa4+! (a double attack) and taking the pawn on e4
after that.
14. Don't grab every Pawn you see!
If you are a materialist and capture enemy pawns in the opening this can lead to desaster,
because you waste valuable time. You should develop pieces instead. Or you might lose like in
the following diagrams.

In the above game White grabs a pawn too early and runs behind in development. As a
consequence he runs into a deadly attack.

In the above game Black grabs the pawn on d4 and loses his queen.