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     The Basic Principles of Chess?    

It would be too long and a trifle boring to try to map out exactly how I arrived at the four basic principles for each phase of the game. Suffice it to say that I have been teaching the four basic ideas {principles} out of the opening ... ever since I was just a teenager. (I am now 46 years old.) And I studied hundreds --- what I considered to be nearly perfect, model games --- of master level engagements; to arrive at what I considered to be the four basic principles of the middlegame and also the four basic principles of the end-game.  

For example, after studying literally hundreds of games, after [looking for] a quick attack on the King, (which is only possible a small percentage of the time); the next thing masters do is to post their pieces on good squares. I studied as many games as I could, and I was constantly making notes in various books and notebooks. And then I would make a list and then update it. (Etc.)  



  • I consider the four basic principles ... to be a tremendous aid in GENERATING good Possible moves!! 

  • AFTER  you have generated a few candidate moves, you run through each move ... individually ... 
    using the entire checklist to see if the possible, selected move ... fits in with the needs of the position. 

  • Use the principles below - as a guide!!! In other words, check to see if that idea or principle is possible. I.e., if you are doing the middlegame: First you check to see if an attack on the King is possible. (Do you have some of the basic prerequisites that are necessary to allow a successful attack on the King?) If the answer is ... "No, I don't think I can realistically attack the King from this position,"  then the next step is to look for play, open files and the like. By now you should be getting the basic idea. 

  The Four (4) Basic Principles of the Opening  
  ("Chess Develops Powerful Minds")  

  1. Control the Center.  (Only the center matters now!)  

  2. Develop your pieces towards the Center.  (Efficient development.)  

  3. Protect your King AND castle early!  (A two-part equation.)  

  4. Maintain the Material Balance, unless you are playing a Gambit.  
    (With an emphasis on SQUARE CONTROL!) 

     --->  Use these principles at least until you have castled. 
              (But remember!! The job of the opening is not finished until ALL your pieces are in use.)  


  The Four (4) Basic Principles of the Middlegame  
  ("Alert Play will triumph.")  

  1. Attack the King.  (A good attack on the king will finish the game - the most quickly.)  

  2. Look for P. L. A. Y.   (Generally improve the squares that your pieces stand on - improve your position.)  
     [ P.L.A.Y. = Out-Posts, Lines for the Rooks, Diagonals (Angles) for the Bishops; and Pawn Breaks (Y)  
       or Space Grabbers. ]   

  3. Make, and attack weaknesses.  (A fundamental principle of the mid-game in chess!)  
    (A weakness is defined as: Organic Pawn weaknesses, bad structure, a very cramped position, pieces on very poor squares, poor King safety/compromised King position; unprotected pieces or units; units near the edge of the board especially if they are unprotected.) 

  4. Find a transition into a favorable (better) Ending.  (The next phase of the game.)  

     --->  Use this set of principles at least until you have swapped the Queens and there are only 2-3 pieces, 
              (per side); left on the chess-board. (There is no hard and fast dividing line here, experience will help.) 


  The Four (4) Basic Principles of the Endgame  
  (NO really good pneumonic yet. I use, "I've been moved to Kentucky," for lack of anything better.)   

  1. I.D. (identify) The Pawn Structure. 
    (I.D. = Improve yours, deface, degrade, or destroy his. Prepare for the ending!) 

  2. Better Squares.  (GM's constantly seem to be re-shuffling their pieces during the endgame.) 
    (Constantly look for new/better squares to RE-DEPLOY your pieces to.)  

  3. Pawn Majorities.  (Useful for many things, like restricting your opponent's pieces.)  
    (By hook or by crook )  Make a Passed Pawn and then PUSH it!!  

  4. Activate the King!   
    (The King is a fighting piece in the endgame, so use it!) 

REMEMBER:  These are only used as a guideline and as an aid to thought processes!!  

Mixing IS possible!! (In other words, you might already have castled as White. Maybe you are already thinking middle-game thoughts. However, your opponent might still be thinking about the opening phase ... especially if he (or she) has not yet castled, and/or is severely lagging in completing the process of mobilizing of all of his pieces.)  

Generally, these are met to be just an aid, or  ...  "A CANDIDATE MOVE GENERATOR."  
(For every rule or principle in chess, there is nearly always an exception of some type!)  

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  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby I  

  Copyright () A.J. Goldsby, 1975 - 2014.  
  Copyright A.J. Goldsby, 2015.  All rights reserved. 


This page was actually created in June, 2004. (I wrote a little bit on it, but I never finished it.) 

This page was first posted on the Internet:  Thursday; August 26th, 2004.   This page was last updated on 03/06/15 .