5 opening principles every beginner should know

Starting a game off well is very important for everyone. Playing respected chess openings is critical, but following the basic opening principles is just as important as well. Below are 5 opening principles that every beginner should know and follow. Following these principles can help any U1000 player take their game to the next level.

1. Control the center

It is very important to take control of the center with your pawns and support them with you pieces in the opening. Having a space advantage makes is easier for you to play and harder for your opponent to move their pieces around. However, this rule shouldn't be too exaggerated or you risk creating weaknesses in your position.

2. Develop your pieces

This is also very important. Getting your minor pieces to their best squares (generally squares which maximize center control) in the opening is key because it attacks the enemy position, protects your pawns, and helps your king get one step closer to castling.

3. Castle early

This is one of the most important rules in the opening. Castling allows you to move your king to safety behind a row of pawns and get your rook activated all in one move! Castling is an absolute necessity in most openings. However, there are a few unique positions that don't require you to castle. Just keep in mind that castling is usually the way to go. In chess, you can castle both on the kingside and queenside. You should castle on whichever side is safest for your king, but you should also make sure that the position that arises is one that you are comfortable with and have experience playing. For example, if you have the choice to castle on both sides (and castling on both sides are respectable approaches in your opening), you should see what side your opponent is castled on. If you prefer attacking positions, you may consider castling on the opposite side as your opponent and then playing for an attack. If you prefer positional games, you may choose to castle on the same side as your opponent.

4. Connect the rooks

“Connecting the rooks” is a term used in chess to describe the end of development. Development occurs in the opening when you are bringing out your pieces to the best squares, castling, and bringing your queen off the back rank. It is very important to do this because if the rooks are “connected” (there are no pieces in between them), that means that all of the pieces are out of the back rank and can be doing other useful things around the board. In addition, the rooks themselves can support your attacks and advanced from the back rank.

5. Develop a plan after the opening

When you have developed all of your pieces, the middlegame phase begins. In this phase, both players may fight for control of certain squares, attack the other player, or do something in between! It is very important for you to create a plan after completing development. Having a plan will help make all of your moves in the middlegame have purpose and lead to a larger goal. A plan can be as simple as getting a piece solidified on one square, or, for a bit more advanced players, executing a minority attack. If you can't come up with a good plan, don't stress about it. Just remember, a bad plan is usually better than no plan.

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