The Ideas Behind the Chess Openings, by Reuben Fine

I recently posted some lessons learned from a book called Discovering Chess Openings. In this book, he references Reuben Fine’s classic book on openings, and you can immediately tell from the introduction to Fine’s book, that a lot of the ideas stem from this original source. This is just another example that highlights that chess masters have been encouraging new and improving players to focus on the fundamentals of the opening instead of memorizing opening sequences. Take heart to the wisdom of this chess expert.

  • Aims of opening:
    • White – secure the better position
    • Black – secure equality
  • Understanding what is a better position or equality:
    • There are pros and cons for each side
    • Use the opinions of many masters through many games
    • These days, evaluated by computer
    • Some factors to consider:
      • Material
      • Pawn structure
      • Mobility
      • King safety
      • Combinations
  • Rules of opening:
    1. Open with the king’s pawn or queen’s pawn
    2. Whenever possible, make a good developing move that threatens something
    3. Develop knights before bishops
    4. Pick the most suitable square for a piece and develop it there once and for all
    5. Make one or two pawn moves in the opening, not more
    6. Do not bring your queen out early
    7. Castle as soon as possible, preferably on the kings side
    8. Play to get control on the center
    9. Always try to maintain at least one pawn in the center
    10. Do not sacrifice without a clear and adequate reason:
      • Secures a tangible advantage in development
      • Deflects the enemy queen
      • Prevents the enemy from castling, either permanently or for several moves
      • Builds up a strong attack
  • For each opening move, consider the following two questions:
    • How does it affect the center?
    • How does it fit into the development of my other pieces and pawns?