Lesson 7 - Chess Game Phases: The Opening Principles

"I have added these principles to the law: get the Knights into action before both Bishops are developed"
- Emanuel Lasker

Generally, we can say that we must play the opening by aiming for the control of the center while developing our pieces on the best square available to them. Some principles were defined based on this idea in order to guide the players in the opening phase:

  • Start the game with a central pawn move (Queen or King pawn);
  • Bring the pieces toward the center quickly: they will then participate in the fight for the center;
  • Develop knigths before bishops: since there is usually less squares available to them, it is easier to find their best developing squares than the bishops';
  • Develop minor pieces before major pieces.  Otherwise, major pieces will be targetted by the enemy pieces allowing them to gain free development moves, thus improving the opponent's position;
  • Try not to play the same piece more than one time before the developement is completed;
  • Develop the pieces on the best available squares;
  • Do not launch an attack before the development is completed;
  • Put the King to safety by castling as soon as possible. This allows also to bring a rook in the battle for the center.

The above principles are a general guideline but it might happen sometimes that a player needs to break those principles to make a winning move. For example, do not hesitate to break the rule stating to avoid moving the same piece more than one time if you can capture a free piece with it! Or if you find a combination giving a checkmate in two moves to your opponent, who cares about the principle that says not to launch an attack before the development is completed! This guideline is there to help players to find good developing moves during the opening, but learn not to apply these principles blindly because the issue of the game could well be determined during the opening phase...

It is my intention to add a complete lesson about the openings later on where I will discuss ideas and more subtile principles. But for now, if you start applying these principles in your game, you will find that you will often have an edge over players that do not follow this guideline.


Let's continue the lesson with the next page on the middlegame phaseonline chess tutorial.