- Put a pawn on e4 or d4 (e5 or d5).
- Bring out your knights towards the centre, before your bishops.
- Put your bishops on long diagonals to put pressure on the centre and towards the enemy king.
- Castle your king into safety as soon as you can.
- Do not place your pieces where they can be immediately forced to retreat by a pawn move.
- Do not move any piece a second time until all your pieces are developed.
- Do not develop your queen until all your other pieces are developed.
- If any piece is pinned, unpin it quickly.
- Overprotect important pieces or squares with several defenders. If there are more defenders than attackers, that piece is normally safe; and any defender can be moved for another purpose.
- Put your rooks on open files to invade the seventh rank and restrict the enemy king to the back rank.
- Passed pawns must be pushed (provided they have protection).
- In the endgame, use the king as a fighting piece.
- If unsure what to do, improve the position of your worst-posted piece.
Improving your Game
- Think: ‘Why did they make that move? Should I defend an attacked piece or square? Is that a trap or a mistake? What will the follow-up move be?
- If you see a good move, sit on your hands: can you find a better one?
- Be patient! It often takes only one poor move to lose the whole game.
- Record your games and play them over at home. It’s surprising how quickly you learn from this process.
- If you’re unsure how you could have played better, ask a better player to advise you.
- Know your weapons such as pins, forks, skewers, outposts, discovered checks, zwischenzug and zugzwang.
- Play stronger opponents.
- Read good chess books.
- In over the board play, the time control is usually 35 moves in 75 minutes: you have 75 minutes to make 35 moves before extra time is added to each player’s clock after black’s 35th move. So you have an average of two minutes per move. Use your time!
- Use your own time to develop your own plans and consider the safety of your pieces (especially your king), your control of space, and your attacking opportunities.
- Use your opponent’s time to consider your opponent’s best options, and how you could frustrate or respond to them, so you have already decided how you will respond to the most likely move.
Chess Etiquette (manners)
- It is friendly to shake hands before starting the game.
- The game starts when black starts white’s clock.
- If you touch a piece, you must move it, if you can do so legally. If this was a mistake, you may take your time to decide where to put the piece.
- Once you have made a move and let go of the piece, you cannot take it back.
- If you want to adjust the position of a piece on its square, say ‘j’adoube’ (I adjust, French) before moving it.
- If you have a winning position, deliver checkmate as quickly as possible.
- You must record all the moves made by both players, until you have less than five minutes on your clock.
- You should play without speaking, except to offer a draw, resign, or say ‘j’adoube’.
- Please do not talk after your game if other players are still playing in a match or competition. Go to a side room to discuss your game with your opponent.
- It is not good manners to bang your pieces onto the board.