Friday, March 21, 2014

Chess for dummies - Part 2 : The openings

Chess for dummies: The beginner's guide, simplified !
Part 2 - How to play

Now once you are familiar with Part 1 of the series, let's move on to how to play chess. Here I will talk about how to move your pieces, when, where, why ? And how to think as to what to play

Every Chess game has 3 phases
  1. The opening
  2. The middle game
  3. The end game

1. The opening

  • Usually the first 10-15 moves are known as the opening phase
  • In the opening phase both players try to develop their minor pieces (bishop + knight) and pawns to control center squares, and eventually complete development by castling i.e King safety
  • The idea to control the center squares is that your pieces have more options to move around the board trying to create chances to gain advantage over the enemy.
  • Eg: A knight on the rim of the board say on h1 square can control only 2 squares, while a knight on e5 square can control 8 square, the latter is the better of the 2 knights
  • There are various kinds of openings which try to control the center in various aspects, very similar to formation in soccer, 4-4-2, 4-3-1-2, 4-3-3-1, etc. The opening decides how your middle game strategy is going to be

    The following are a few most commonly played openings from beginners to players even at the highest level
  • Giuoco Piano : Opening referred to every beginner as this shows how to develop pieces, get your king castled early, and start preparing for an attack.
    -White pushes king pawn e4
    -Black replies king pawn e5
    -white develops knight and attacks e5, black develops knight and defends e5
    -white develops bishop attacks f7 (weakest pawn on board) black also develops bishop attacking f2, weakest pawn on board
    -both castle get kings to safety, and develop further

  • Ruy Lopez (Spanish) : A bit different from the Giuoco Piano, where the bishop now threatens the knight who is defending the e5 pawn

  • Semi-Slav - Queens Gambit Decline: Here instead of moving the King pawn, we move the queen pawn 2 steps ahead.
    -White pushes queen pawn d4, black replies d5
    -White pushes c4, offering a gambit, giving away a pawn for better control of center
    -Black here declines, and supports the d5 pawn, and followed by knight development and pawn push to make way for bishops to come out

  • Grunfeld Defence - A bit more complex than the others mentioned above

There are many more openings, but this is just to give you a gist of what openings are and why are they important. A strong opening will eventually lead to a good center control and solid middle game.

I suggest if you are new to the game take the Giuoco Piano and play, and keep playing until you get the hang of it.

Tips in the openings:

  • For every move ask, "Why ?"
  • Do not move any piece more than once
  • Development is main aim in the opening
  • Knight must be developed controlling the center square
  • Do not get the queen out early in the game, as the opponent may start attacking your queen with his pieces, developing himself and stopping you from developing, keeping you far behind in the game

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