Table of Contents
Some General Guidelines on the Opening
As the opening is the defining phase of the game, an opening will have the ability to shape the course of the game. There are two main types of games: open and closed. An open game is one whereby the pieces have a lot of space and freedom on the board. A closed game is the direct opposite of the open game, with the pieces being stuck in extremely intricate positions. The open game is recommended for beginners because the positions are less complicated and as such, the combinations which can be played are less numerous. An example of an opening which results in an open game is the Italian opening. The closed game is usually played by expert players, and it offers more winning (and losing) combinations than the former. But it is much harder to play, and from our experience, beginners who try playing closed games usually do not play them well. An example of an opening which results in a closed game is the Caro-Kann opening (which we will not cover here). Below, we give you some rules you should follow for the opening stage. But remember, every rule has its exceptions, so use them wisely! Also included below is an example of how the Guioco Piano (Italian Game) should be played. Unfortunately, there are over 2000 types of openings, so we cannot introduce you to all of them.
10 Rules for the Opening
1. Get your pieces out into the centre quickly. The opening is a race to see who can get their pieces out first while keeping at least a share of control of the centre (this is the main point to remember; all the other rules are not as important).
2. Move pieces, not Pawns, move them to their best squares in one move if you can, and also try to gain time if you can by aggressive moves.
4. Get a firm foothold in the centre and don't give it up.
5. Generally move Knights straight away to f3/c3 for White or f6/c6 for Black.
7. Complete your development before moving a piece twice or starting an attack.
8. Keep your Queen safe.
9. Don't grab Pawns or attack if you haven't completed development.
What to do if there is a disparity in development:
More Advice for the Opening
Here's more advice from a Grandmaster of the past, Emanuel Lasker.
Lasker's Rules for the Opening
2. Do not move any piece twice in the opening, but put it at once on the right square.
4. Do not pin the adverse King Knight (e.g. by Bg5) before your opponent has castled.
TIP: Why should you move the Knights first? Well, Knights are much more effective if they are in the centre. (Bishops are more effective here too, but they can work from a distance). For the opening that has to mean Knights moving to c3 and f3 or c6 and g6. Where should the Bishops go? The White Bishops on f1 could go to b5, c4, d3 or even e2. Which is best? That depends on what your opponent is up to. So, move your Knights straight away to the centre, and while you are doing that your opponent's moves may suggest to you where you should put your Bishops.
Below we show you the basic ideas and moves behind the one of the simplest openings ever invented - the Guioco Piano (Italian Game).
Guioco Piano means "quiet game". It was most popular in the 1800s, and is indeed quieter than the bloodthirsty openings like the King's Gambit and other lines that were being played then. The Guioco Piano is defined by the following sequence: 1. e4, e5 2. Nf3, Nc6 3. Bc4, Bc5. You may stray from here into the Two Knights' or Four Knights' openings, but you are most likely to follow one of the following two lines:
Beginners often play 1. e4, e5 2. Nf3, Nc6 3. Bc4, Bc5 4. Nc3, Nf6 5. d3, d6. This is the Guioco Pianissimo, meaning "very quiet game". The position is blocked, the sides are equal and it's hard to open up new lines. It can take a long time to beat inferior players because things are so solid.
But far from quiet is the line starting 1. e4, e5 2. Nf3, Nc6 3. Bc4, Bc5 4. c3. This is the main line of the Guioco Piano. The idea after playing c3 is d4. White is threatening to occupy the centre and roll forward. For counterplay on Black's side, he can use the temporary weakness of the e4 Pawn to play 4...Nf6, but for now, the ball is in White's court. The position now is equal, with White having the advantage of having the move and the initiative. This open attacking game is what I recommend you play as White or Black.
Another line to give the Guioco Piano a bit of fizz is Evans' Gambit, 4. b4! The gambit accepted is exciting: 4...Bxb4 5. c3, Ba5 6. d4. White is a move up on his plan in the c3 line, but this has cost him a Pawn. The gambit may be declined (not advisable) by 4...Bb6.
Ideas for White are: develop rapidly and take over the centre.
You should know this idea already. Get your pieces out and fighting - if they are on the back rank you might as well not have them! And of course, they are most effective in the centre. The way to take over the centre is with your e and d Pawns. These pawns can charge down the middle towards the Black King, and on the way threaten the Black pieces to make them jump out of the way.
Ideas for Black: hit back with ...d5.
This is the most important idea. Black's problems in the game we will look at stem from (a) poor development and (b) poor control over the centre. The ...d5 break is crucial, releasing the Bc8 and getting a share of the centre (or at least breaking up White's Pawns). This goes some way to solving both problems. If you can play ...d5 as Black without immediate disaster you usually get an even game at least.
The example game below will demonstrate many of the ideas behind the Guioco Piano. It uses Evans' Gambit. 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Bc5? 6. O-O!? d6 7. d4 exd4 8. cxd4.
The Pawn centre with the c3 plan has materialised. 8...Bb6 9. Re1 Bg4 10. Bb2 Qf6? The White Rook comes to e1, giving the King a hard stare. Also, White points both Bishops at Black's King-side.
11. e5 dxe5 12. dxe5. The Pawn wins time by the attack on the Queen, and then opens new lines by pushing forward (the White Queen now controls the d file).
12...Qf4 13. e6 Bxf3? Black's position is awful (he has brought out his Queen too early), but he hopes to gain time by taking a piece with an attack on the Queen. Unfortunately, 14. exf7+ (double check) stops everything. In fact, White never stops to take the Black Bishop with the Queen! 14...Kf8 15. fxg8=Q+ Rxg8 16. Ba3+ Ne7 17. Bxe7+. Black resigns 1-0.
Jump on to middlegames by clicking on the link.
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