Chess Opening Strategy

Having worked on your growing prowess as a chess tactician, you now want to develop your chess opening strategy where you will prepare your troops for the ensuing battle.

There are a number of things to consider for chess opening strategy. Firstly rapid development of our pieces is crucial. Piece mobility is also critical. It is important to post your pieces to good squares in as few moves as possible to maximize their power. Any move that also frustrates your opponent from achieving the same ends is very worthwhile.

In the openings attention must be also be paid to the pawn structure. The pawns are a crucial part of the struggle for the center, which begins here. center pawns must also be pushed on in order to develop the pieces.

Pawn Structure

Chess Opening Strategy: Pawn structure during the game

Pawn structure during a game

We must remain conscious of in the pawn structure in the opening and beyond. Poor pawn play is not necessarily punished right away. But the chickens often come home to roost in the endgame.

It is important to recognize the significance of the pawn and the pivotal role that they play in chess. Two and a half centuries ago acclaimed chess player Philidor correctly described pawns as 'the soul of chess'.

Chess opening strategy is devised, in no small part, in relation to good pawn play. This involves keeping a sound pawn structure, shielding the kings stronghold from attack, battling for the center and allowing for quick development.

Fight For The Center

Chess Opening Strategy: Fight For The center

Chess Opening Strategy: The struggle for the center is instrumental in determining the pattern and the outcome of the game

One of the primary goals that you should factor into your chess opening strategy would be to lay an early claim to the center. The center pawns, the king's pawn, and the queen's pawn are earmarked for this task. They will be assisted by the knights and bishops.

The central pawns on files d and e and also the pawns on files c and f are pushed on. Knights and bishops join the fight for the center which will continue into the middlegame. In the opening the pieces are provisionally developed. The main struggle takes place in the middlegame.

In the King's Pawn Openings and the Queens Pawn Openings a direct claim for the center is made. In the Flank Openings (Irregular Openings) the center is initially surrendered only to be attacked from the sides.

Rapid Development

Rapid Development

It is a good idea to develop your minor pieces as quickly as possible

It is vital to mobilize the pieces swiftly. Knights and bishops should be posted to advantageous squares. The king needs to be castled to safety. Rooks should gravitate toward the central files, though remaining on the backrow.

The queen should also be tucked in safely for now. With so much traffic on the board, she would be vulnerable to capture if sent to the heart of the battle early on. A safe position not beyond the third rank is best.

As you have seen there are many different openings. All of these have many variations. Here are some examples of rapid development in the openings.

Piece Mobility

Chess Opening Strategy: Piece Mobility

After 9 moves, White has a slight lead in material, however due to superior development, Black's pieces have far greater mobility

In addition to developing pieces quickly it is important to bring them to good squares. This is essentially posting them to positions where they can bear down on the opposition forces to the greatest possible effect.

The best squares are central ones for knights, bishops should be placed on the long diagonals or the next diagonal over. What you want is to pieces to have command of as many squares as possible. This will limit the space available to your opponent.

It is better for your pieces to space out and support each other while avoiding blocking one another. It is also an important chess opening strategy to arrange your pawns in such a way to allow maximum freedom of movement for your pieces.

Lost Moves

Lost Moves

Lost moves are usually fatal. Here after just three moves White already has a massive lead in development

Only pawn moves that are intrinsic to development should be made in the openings. The main goals in the opening are namely; establish a strong center; maintain a durable pawn structure; mobilize forces for the coming fight; and get your king safe.

Any move made by either piece or pawn that does not lend itself to achieving these aims can be considered a lost move. Moving a piece from one location to another in more moves than necessary represents a lost move. As does moving pawns that do not need to be moved early on.

Dropping tempi due to lost moves has serious consequences. The ultimate price is always paid against an experienced opponent for these errors.

Hamper Your Opponent

Hamper Your Opponent

White's pawn on e4 is preventing Black's pawn on d6 from advancing. This means that while White's bishops enjoy complete freedom of movement, Blacks bishop on f8 is significantly restricted

You are now getting a handle on what you should be trying to achieve in the openings. So it should be equally clear on what you can do to frustrate your opponent.

Whether you are playing against a beginner, an intermediate or an advanced player, you should approach the game in the same way.

Your opponent may or may not approach the game armed with sound strategy. No matter you should play your own game. As you know what you need to do, equally you know what you should try to prevent your opponent from doing.

Any developing move that also frustrates your opponent's development is a good move.

Moving On

Now you know what you have to do in the openings. What systems or variations will best achieve your chess opening strategy goals?

This section is a skeletal set of principles of best practice. You will develop your own style with experience. You will put the meat on the bones. The strategy sections here are mainly for guidance. Much of the ideas here were arrived at by the world's best the hard way through trial and error.

When you are satisfied that you have a good grasp on best practice principles for your openings the next section will make things even clearer for you. All you need now are some reliable systems which you will now understand. Take your time and absorb these chess strategies.

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