Chess Guide for the Intermediate Player/Some basics for openings
What is opening?
Opening is the start of a game. A good opening needs to:
- Develop the pieces quickly. This can help in many cases, because pieces are powerful and fast. In later lessons, we will see how things can go wrong if you aren't developing pieces.
- Control and occupy the center. This is very important because you can gain more space for your pieces. Pieces in the center can be powerful because they can control more squares.
- Protect the king. This one is pretty much obvious as if you lose your king you lose the game. Finding the correct shelter can be tricky sometimes though.
Two different kind of openings
This example will show you two different kind of openings.
This position demonstrates the two different kinds of openings that is, Center Controlling first (Called "Classical" which is what Black is doing here) and Development first (Called "Modern" which is what White is doing here). White's idea is probably not as obvious, but we'll see what's the point of pushing the g pawn one move later.
Black played 2. ... d5, another pawn pushing to the center.
Black developing the piece and supporting the center pawn (before this they are weak，then after black moves his queen white can play Bxd5). So after four moves for both sides, we can see the two different approaches to the center. Black is both occupying and controlling the center, while White has some central control, but has not actually occupied the center yet. We should prefer Black's position here, but white's position should be fine.
Developing is very important. If you can develop your pieces into the correct squares, then you can create an attack on your opponent's weak squares (e.g. f7) and take the lead quickly.
White has a very good position. in this position, white has a quick developing, useful squares, controlling and occupying the center. But black neither have a quick developing, put piece in a useful squares nor controlling the center at all. And the most IMPORTANT thing is: he's king is weak! attacking and sacrifice on weak f7 pawn is a common checkmate pattern. We'll talk about checkmate pattern later, just remember attacking f7 can force your opponent's king into a danger square. Then his king will lose protect and you'll win easily.
So the question is: What move can white play here to draw the black king out and develop a checkmate attack?
Notice how all of White's attacking moves are also checks! That saves TEMPO.
How to protect your king?
Now we know how to attack the opponent's king, but how do you protect your own king?
Here comes the Evans Gambit (Trap?). First, you need to know what a gambit is: a gambit is a sacrifice, usually of a pawn but sometimes of a larger piece.
Black has captured two white pawns, but his position is weak. Notice that White didn't break the "Pawn Shelter" on f2-g2-h2. It protected f1, g1, and h1, so White needs to let the king into the "Protected" square as fast as he can. Remember:
FLANK PAWN IS POWERFUL!
O-O, a wonderful choice! The king is in the protected square g1 and also develop a rook. Now White can prepare to attack on f7 like before! (Do you remember "Good developing vs. Bad developing"?)
Black takes another pawn, but now white can create a battery on b3-f7 simply.
Now Black is going to lose. His f7 has become weak. (Did you notice this move is also a checkmate threat?) This exact position has been reached many times in the history of chess, and Black has lost most of those games.
Quick Guide for choosing the first move(1)
Many chess players get stuck on the first move. How do you choose the first move when you are playing white?
There are 20 choices on the first move. We will analysis every move, so you don't need to worry.
There are 4 legal knight moves, but only one was a common move. Let's analysis them.
Na3, also named Sodium Attack, is the least common among the 20 choices. It develops a piece like other knight moves, but to a very useless square. Black can play e5, and if White moves the b2 pawn, then Black will capture the knight for free with 2. ... Bxa3. And Na3 doesn't control any center square, so this move is so uncommon.
Nc3, also named Van Geet Opening. It develop a piece and control TWO center square, looks good. But it block the important wing pawn on c2. I didn't recommend it.
Nf3, A very good opening! Also named Reti Opening. I often use this opening, Because it can develop a piece and control TWO center square like Van Geet Opening. And it didn't block the pawn on c2.
Nh3 is a bad opening like Na3.
Flank pawn move
Flank pawn is powerful, and if you move the flank pawn, they can quickly become weak.
a3 is Anderssen opening, one of my favorite opening. It controls b4, then if black plays 1. ... e5, the bishop on f8 will be useless.
a4 is Ware opening. You can try this opening because it prepares to develop a piece: the rook on a1. There was an interesting vari' called "Meadow Hay Trap Gambit" with a sacrifice of a rook: 1. ... e5 2. Ra3 Bxa3 3. Nxa3(bxa3 will make an ugly pawn structure, we'll talk about pawn structure in Meet Strategy course).
b3 is Larsen opening, prepare to "fianchetto" the bishop on c1. but bishop on f1 is better than c1 'cause it can move to c4 to control f7, and create a quick castle.
b4 is Solo' opening. The pawn on b4 can quickly become weak. The more safely way to fianchetto bishop is b3.
g3 is Hungarian opening. It is common 'cause yer can fianchetto bishop and castle quickly after the knight is developed.
g4 is an bad opening because black can capture g4 soon and this move break the "pawn shelter".
h3 is Clemenz opening. It is useless like Anderssen Opening.
h4 is a opening like Ware opening.
Wing pawn move
c3 is Saragossa opening. It is so bad because it block the knight's best developing square. Don't use this opening: You will develop the knight on b1 more slowly!
c4 is English opening, a very common opening. It controls a center square. I usually use this opening, and almost always reply with e5.
f3 is a bad move blocking the knight and stop the quick castle.
f4 is Bird's opening. My cousin really like this opening. It controls e5, but black can play e5 (From Gambit) and create a quick attack.
Center pawn move
d3 is a rarely seen move. It is slower than d4.
d4 is a very very common opening. You can plays it. It is as good as e4. It is complicate, because you have to learn QGD.
e3 is Van Kruijs opening. It is the 17th common opening. It is slower than e4.
e4 is a very very very common opening, I almost always choose this, and I really recommend it(even though it was complicated)!
Quick Guide for choosing the first move(2)
Chess player isn't always playing White. So how do you make your first move when you are playing Black? Let's assume your opponent plays e4 first.
Flank pawn move
Playing the rook pawn (a6, a5) is just like playing Anderssen or Ware for White. Didn't develop any pieces (Ware opening prepares to develop the rook but it is nearly useless and can leads to Meadow Hay Trap, which means you gives up a rook for a bishop).
Playing b6 is a good choice (although not very popular), because it can be used to defending any White's first move, and you have a plan to fianchetto the bishop. Also, playing g6 is a good choice because of the same reason.
Playing g5 is too radical. You have a "floating" pawn, away from your stronghold, and didn't even use it.
Playing b5 is a WRONG MOVE! You may ask, "Why there's no wrong move for White's first step, but a wrong move for Black's first step?" That is the unfairness of Chess. White moves first, so he can makes a strong threat with his first move - e4. So Black has to avoid his threat(That's why almost all Black's opening move are called "XXX Defense", and almost all White's opening move are called "XXX attack"!) You may ask: "Then, anyway, how is b5 wrong?" That's because it simply "gives" a pawn for White. White can simply play Bxb5, capturing your free "floating" pawn! Although this can be called a "gambit", it gives up a pawn for nothing, and don't play it.
Wing pawn move
Playing f5 is a WRONG MOVE! It gives a pawn for white just like b5, and White can plays exf5 capturing the pawn.
Playing f6 is also a WRONG MOVE! Because it strongly weakens Black's king side, and White can attack through the "gap" that is defended and blocked by the king side bishop pawn.
Playing c5 is known as Sicilian Defense, a very very popular first move for Black in 50s, however it has drawbacks. If you didn't play carefully(Beware: You usually do this in your level) the position will be dangerous. So if you don't have much experience, don't try it.
Playing c6 is known as Caro Cann Defense, it's a solid, good move. It can also play against any White's first move. Good.
Playing Na6 or Nh6 develops a piece, but to a useless square. Not recommended.
Playing Nf6 is known as Alekhine Defense. Sure, Alekhine is a great chess player, but this defense isn't very good - In the "Control the center in Different ways" section, we knows that we need to use PAWNS, not just PIECES to control the center. That's it.
Also, playing Nc6 is known as Nim. Defense. Just like Nf6, not a good idea to use pieces to control the center.
Center pawn move
d5 is known as Scan. (dinavian) Defense. It usually leads to 2. exd5 Qxd5 Bring the queen out, and White can play 3. Nc3 develops a pieces and chasing your queen around. In this case Black usually plays 3. ... Qa5, if you want to play it then remember this line.
e6 is a solid move known as French Defense. Also can play against any White's first move. Notice: This can make complicated trouble, and I've lose a game with this. If you really want to play this, then here's some line that you could remember: 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 exd5 Or 3. Nf3 Nc6.
d6 is the Pirc Defense, a good defense like French Defense. We'll talk about it in more advanced lessons.
e5 is the one of the two most popular Black's first move(Another one is Sicilian Defense c5), known as King's pawn game. I really recommend it to you! It has very interesting lines, and we'll mostly talk about it in this book.
What is Four-Move Checkmate?
Some player may set this "Four-Move Checkmate" trap for beginners - As its name said, using this a little strange opening, you can win the game in only FOUR move. However, this trap is easy to avoid, and in this lesson, we'll talk about how to defend this. Let's take a look.
This position is the King's pawn game. After playing 1. e4, White can bring out his bishop and queen.
White brings out a bishop. What is White's plan? He is planning to attacking f7 pawn, because only the Black King is protecting it, so White can simply attacking it. And then, Black respond it with a very passive move - 2. ... Nc6.
More popular move is 2. ... Nf6, attacking White's e4 pawn and White needs to save it, also avoids the trap because of defending a5. The next move is...
Now the f7 pawn is attacked twice by White Bishop and White Queen, however, is only defended once by Black King!
A variation of this move is 3. Qf3. However, Black can block it with 3. ... Nf6.
Here Black plays a "blunder". A blunder is a terrible move.
Now you learned four-move checkmate! Remember to avoid it. Don't let the opponent win this way.
Why Copycat strategy didn't work
You may ask, "What is Copycat strategy?"
Copycat means "Copies the opponent's move". Only Black can use this strategy because you don't have to move first.
However, it didn't work. Let's take a look for a game: while Black uses the Copycat strategy, and White plays ordinary.