Chess Openings for Beginners

Let’s take a practical approach, not with long opening lines to memorize but with ideas for getting the advantage early in a chess game. This assumes your opponent is a beginner, with little knowledge and understanding of chess openings. In the following diagrams, put yourself in the position of white.

White moved e4 in the beginning

Diagram-1 (white moved e4)

If you have the white pieces, consider moving e4 for your first move (The pawn in front of your king moves two spaces forward). This pawn move frees up a diagonal for your bishop at f1. In addition, your pawn at e4 will then have some control over the d5 square, one of the four most-central squares on the board.

What if your opponent moves a pawn on the edge of the board? Consider what could follow when your opponent repeatedly makes that king of mistake:

Black's first move is a5

Diagram-2 (after black moved a5)

That move by black (a5) was a mistake, but not so serious a blunder that you can take any immediate and dramatic advantage of it. Just continue making sound developing moves, especially with your knights and bishops.


This white knight controls two center squares

Diagram-3 (white moved Nf3)

By moving your knight from g1 to f3, two move central squares are coming into your control: d4 and e5. And that knight is becoming active, ready for combat.


black again moved the a-file pawn

Diagram-4 (black moved a4)

By the second move by black (pawn to a4), it appears your opponent is ignorant of chess opening principles. Instead of developing a knight or moving a center pawn, your opponent is wasting time pushing the pawn on the a-file.


white developed a bishop with Bc4

Diagram-5 (white moved Bc4)

By moving that bishop from f1 to c4, you continue to activate your minor pieces. In the opening, it’s called “developing your pieces,” and it usually refers to the knights and bishops. In Diagram-5, we see that your bishop is pointing toward a weak square in black’s position: the f7 square.


Black's third move, e5, is a mistake

Diagram-6 (black made a mistake: e5)

In Diagram-6, we see that your opponent has made a blunder in moving the e-pawn forward to e5. That would have been a great first-move for black, but now that pawn is lost.


White moved Nxe5

Diagram-7 (white captured the pawn that was on e5: Nxe5)

Black gave away a free pawn. When you captured that pawn at e5, with your knight, you also threatened a knight fork by that knight. If your opponent does not prevent it, you can capture that pawn at f7.


h5, overlooking a knight fork by white

Diagram-8 (after black moved a pawn: a5)

It looks like your opponent, moving the h-file-pawn to h5, overlooked your knight-fork threat. Notice that the bishop at c4 and the knight at e5 both point towards black’s pawn at f7.


The white knight forks black's queen and rook

Diagram-9 (white captured the black pawn at f7)

This is a common form of a knight fork. Your knight captured the black pawn that was at f7, and your opponent’s queen and rook are both threatened at the same time, by that knight. Since a queen is more valuable than a rook, black should now move the queen, perhaps to the e7 square. You can then capture that rook, getting a material advantage, even if you opponent can eventually capture your knight, for a rook is generally more valuable than a knight.

This is one example of how you might take advantage of opening mistakes made by your opponent.



Chess Opening Tip for Beginners

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Test – Chess Openings

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