Tag Archives: chess openings

Chess Opening: Sicilian Defense Theory to Practice

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In Chess Opening: Queen’s Gambit Theory to Practice and Chess Opening: Nimzo-Indian Defense Theory to Practice, you have seen that starting with the basic theory of the respective openings discussed in Chess Opening: Control of Center – Part 3 and Chess Opening: Control of Center – Part 2, how some actual games proceeded to bring win to White as well as Black. The idea was to enable you to look carefully at the moves by the players to understand where White or Black went wrong in following the rules of chess strategy as well as chess tactics, which handed over the game to their opponents.

In continuation of the same theme for developing your comprehension about the opening theories, we now take up two games using Sicilian Defense that was discussed in Chess Opening: Control of Center – Part 1. Here also, White wins one game and Black wins the other within practically the same number of moves. None of the players may be known to you but all had ELO ratings in 2300-2600 range.

Since you have seen the first five moves of Sicilian Defense Najdorf variation in Chess Opening: Control of Center – Part 1, here we start with move 6 in both the games (ECO code: B95)

Borek Bernard-Tomas Civin
Prague, 2003
  Leonid Milov-Robert Ruck
Griesheim, 2002

6. Bg5 e6     6. Bg5 e6  
Position after move 6   Position after move 6
sicilian1   sicilian1
7. Qf3 Nbd7     7. Qf3 h6  
8. 0-0-0 Qc7 Had 5. … a6 not been played, White Knights would be able to move to b5 to harass the Black Queen.   8. Bh4 Nbd7  
9. Qh3 Nc5     9. 0-0-0 Qc7  
10. Bxf6 gxf6     10. Qh3 Be7  
Position after 10 moves   Position after 10 moves
sicilian2   sicilian3
You may note that White’s position is nearly identical in both games, but Black’s position looks cramped in both, though more solid in game 2.
11. Be2 b5     11. f4 b5  
12. a3 Rb8     12. a3 Rb8  
13. b4 Nb7     13. e5 dxe5  
14. Bh5 Nd8     14. fxe5 Nxe5  
15. Rhe1 Bd7     15. Bg3 b4  
Position after 15 moves   Position after 15 moves
16. Nd5! exd5     16. axb4 Rxb4  
17. exd5+ Be7     17. Nf3 Nfg4  
18. Rxe7+ Kxe7     18. Qh5 Bf6  
19. Qe3+ Ne6     19. Re1 g6  
Position after 19 moves   Position after 19 moves
sicilian6   sicilian7
20. Bxf7 Kxf7     20. Nd5 exd5  
21. dxe6+ Kg7     21. Nxe5 0-0!  
22. Nf5+ Kg6     22. Nxg4 Bxb2+  
23. Rd5 Resigns   White was threatening 24. Qh6#
23. … h6 24. Qg3+ Kh2 (24. … Kh5 25. Ng7#) 25. Qg7#
23. … Bxe6 24. Qh6+ Kf7 25. Qg7+ Ke8 26. Qxc7 (threatening 27. Qe7#) Bxf5 27. Qxb8+ Kf7 28. Qxh8 etc.
White missed a quicker win by:
23. Qh6+ Kxf5 24. Qh5+ Ke4 (24. … Kxe6 25. Re1# or 24. … Kf4 Rd4#) 25. Qd5+ Kf4 26. Rd4#
  23. Kd1 Rd4+   White Resigned.
After 24. Ke2 Qxc2+ 25. Ke3 Qd2+ 26. Kf3 Bxg4+ 27. Qxg4 Rxg4 28. Kxg4 Qg5+ 29. Kf3 (29. Kh3 Qf5+ 30. Kh4 Bf6#) Qh5+ etc. with checkmate only a matter of time.
The final position   The final position
sicilian8   sicilian9


Chess Opening basics: Ruy Lopez (or the Spanish opening)

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Though traced back to the 15th century, this opening came into prominence in the middle of the 19th century. Since then, it has remained ever popular and is frequently seen in tournaments. It takes its name from a Spanish clergyman of the 16th century Ruy Lopez who made a systematic analysis of this opening. The basic ideas are easy to understand and the strategic and tactical possibilities appeal to players’ imaginations, giving rise to a large number of variations. New ideas or modifications of old ones keep coming up and these have helped to retain interest in this opening.

The present discussion, though made with reference to Ruy Lopez because of its wide prevalence, is to show you how you can analyze openings to understand the issues involved. An introduction to Ruy Lopez was given earlier, this description takes it a little more forward and shows the moves step by step that may appeal to the very beginners.


The diagrams on the left show the main line of play. Those on the right, when they appear, show the possibilities after the last main move.


basic idea All openings aim to achieve a control of the center i.e., control of the four squares d4, e4, d5 and e5 as marked out in the diagram. You may like to refer to point 4 under positional strategies in 50 Strategies to gain the upper hand over your opponent.
1. e4 RuyLopez_first_move White KP is trying to take control of d5 and f5
1. … e5 RuyLopez_black_first_move Black likewise counters with aim to control d4 and f4
2. Nf3 RuyLopez_white_move2 This tries to wrest control of e5 by attacking the black pawn and exerts control on d4
2. … Nc6 RuyLopez_black_move2 This defends the e5 pawn and holds on to its share of control of the center and challenges White’s control on d4
3. Bb5 RuyLopez_white_move3 The starting of Ruy Lopez. This indirectly tries to seize control of center by attacking the defender knight of the e5 pawn. If this Knight is removed, White will be able to capture Black’s e5 pawn
This move also indirectly prevents Black to move his QP (which would help Black to support his KP and free the line for his QB) because the Knight will be pinned against the King.
3. … a6 RuyLopez_black_move3 This move is known as Morphy Defense, apparently ignoring White’s threat. After this move, Ruy Lopez variations get into two broad categories, one with 3. … a6 and the other without this move.
This move tries to drive White’s KB away, preparing the way for b5 at some stage that will force the Bishop to abandon its attack on black QN. But such pawn moves create some weakness in Black’s pawn structure while retaining his hold on his KP.
4. Ba4 RuyLopez_white_move4 The Bishop retreats while still retaining its attack on the Knight.
You may ask: why not capture the Knight after what was said at move 3?
This is because of the following possibilities.


4. Bxc6 If the Bishop captures the Knight … RuyLopez_white_alt_move4
4. … dxc6 … the QP captures the Bishop … RuyLopez_black_alt_move4
5. Nxe5 White Knight captures Blacks KP … RuyLopez_white_alt_move5
5. … Qd4 … Black Q attacks both the White Knight and Pawn at e4 and in trying to save the Knight, White has to surrender his e4 pawn and its control of the center. Black may have got doubled pawn on c-file but retains the advantage of having both Bishops.
Black has another alternative also …
5. … Qg5 … Black Q attacks both the Knight and g-pawn and thus gets compensation for the loss of his KP.
So White’s immediate capture of Knight with Bishop at move 4 does not give any benefit but it can be done after his KP is supported. Black has to watch out for such moves by White.


4. … Nf6 RuyLopez_black_move4 Secure in the knowledge of above possibilities, Black is not worried about his KP for the present and tries to make a counter-attack on White’s KP to wrest control of center.
5. 0-0 RuyLopez_white_move5 It is now White’s turn to disregard Black’s threat and proceed with castling to secure his King’s position and bringing KR into play.
Why is the threat not considered? The following possibilities show that.


5. … Nxe4 If Black Knight captures the KP … RuyLopez_black_alt_move5
6. Re1 … The Rook attacks the Knight and captures Black’s KP when the Knight moves away.
Alternatively …
6. d4 … White’s QP directly attacks Black’s KP … RuyLopez_white_second_alt_move6
6. … exd4 … if Black tries to capture White’s d-pawn … RuyLopez_black_second_alt_move6
7. Re1 … White Rook pins the Knight against Black King RuyLopez_white_alt_move7


5. … Be7 RuyLopez_black_move5 Being aware of above complications, Black places a guard in front of the King which also develops the Bishop and opens the line for castling.
6. Re1 RuyLopez_white_move6 This provides support to the KP and thereby reinstates the initial threat of Bxc6 posed at move 3. At this time, White had three other options to support his KP viz. …


6. Qe2 … support by the Queen … RuyLopez_white_alt_move6
6. Nc3 … support by the QN … RuyLopez_white_second_alt_move6
6. d3 … support by the QP RuyLopez_white_third_alt_move6


6. … b5 RuyLopez_black_move6 Black is aware of the revival of the threat against his Knight at c3 and thereby on his KP, so he parries the threat by attacking the Bishop
7. Bb3 RuyLopez_white_move7 The Bishop has to retreat but now has a line to Black’s vulnerable f7 square
7. … d6 RuyLopez_black_move7 The e5 pawn is supported further and lines have been opened for developing QB
Black has the option of castling now and playing d6 on the next move.


This is the main line of Ruy Lopez Closed Defense, Classical Variation. It can be seen that Black’s 3. … a6 is instrumental in maintaining his e5 pawn and so long as Black is able to hold on to his KP and thereby a control on the center, his position is satisfactory. If the KP gets exchanged, strategic advantages accrue to White.

You can see that even within a span of 7 moves, so many different possibilities may arise including the strategic and tactical considerations that come into play. Any opening that you plan to follow should be analyzed this way to find the inherent strategies with positive and negative aspects. Your play should be consistent with the strategies to get the maximum benefits till you reach the middle game when you are on your own.


Ruy Lopez opening Basic Moves

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One of the oldest chess openings is the Ruy Lopez opening. Also referred to as a Spanish Game, the Ruy Lopez opening is a very complicated opening and is usually more favorable to the person using white pieces in the initial stages, as the developments and plots can cramp the movement of some black pieces either temporarily or permanently. If one can learn and gain mastery over this Spanish opening, then he or she can develop as a very good chess player.

Without going more in to the other trivia of Ruy Lopez opening, let me go ahead and discuss the very basic moves of this very fascinating opening.

The Ruy Lopez opening is part of the open games, where the first move from White would be the king pawn moving two squares to “e4” in an effort to have control over the central part of the game – the important 4 central squares, e4, e5, d4 and d5. The black responds with the similar move to “e5” in an effort to gain a fair share of the central field.

In response to black’s move to have a fair control over the centre, White opens up the kingside knight to f3, or simply Nf3, attacking the black pawn at e5 seeing that there is no support for the black pawn at e5.

The black, visualizing threat for his king pawn at e5, which is immobile due to block at the front and no pieces to capture on the diagonals, offers to support the pawn at e5 by placing the Queenside knight at c6, or simply Nc6.

Now, White tries to put pressure on Black’s queen side knight placed at c6 by moving its kingside bishop, or White bishop from “f1” to “b5” – written as Bb5 in chess notation. The primary idea of the White in this move is to force the Black’s knight to move away from that place so that the White Knight at “f3” can attack the Black pawn at “e5”.

However, this is not the only intention of the White. There is one more motive or indirect pressure on Black. Can you visualize that?

The pawn in front of the Black Queen, which is at “d7”, cannot be moved before the threat from the White bishop at “b5” is averted. If, per chance, the pawn in front of the Black queen, or simply queen pawn, is moved a square up to “d6” to offer support to the king pawn at “e5”, then the queen knight will become a pinned piece for the Black King.

The above-mentioned five moves are the very basic moves, which can be categorized under the general Ruy Lopez opening in chess parlance. The black has many alternative means to counter the moves by either counterattacking the White Bishop or attacking the white pawn in “e4”. Each of those moves are categorized under different variations leading to a fascinating middle game that calls for strategical planning by both the players.

In Chess Opening basics: Ruy Lopez, some more steps beyond the basic moves have been shown for Classical Variation of Closed Defense, explaining the moves step by step graphically.

Classical Opening Principles in Chess

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The game of Chess, said to have been invented as early as 600 A.D. in India, is said to have been characterized by attacks against the enemy King. Nevertheless, since the popularization of the game since the past 3 centuries, a number of principles have been evolved by the erstwhile masters of the game, which have been tried and tested over a prolonged period.

One of such principles related to the opening moves of a chess game, initiated and advocated by Francois-Andre Philidor in the year 1749. Unfortunately, the importance of the principles of Philidor was realized much later than he expired, in the nineteenth century, and is commonly referred to as Classical Opening Principles of Chess.

Philidor moved away from the general notion of attacking the enemy king at every possible opportunity in the game of chess. Philidor insisted that the attacks should be more properly planned and executed to win over the enemy. He also laid emphasis on minor objectives in the game. You may have known by now that the major objective of chess game is to attack the enemy king. Philidor emphasized that apart from the major objective, minor objectives such as conquering the centre from the enemy and controlling the conquered centre, should be pursued as part of the development of the game. With this concept getting popular among the chess players, the art of defending against attacks gained more prominence and the games challenge and fascination was taken to a new level.

Without dwelling more on Philidor, let me explain the classical opening principles.

Well, the centre of the chessboard refers to the four vital squares in the central part – the four squares commonly referred to as e4, e5, d4 and d5.

The four major aspects of Classical Opening Principles are —

  • Centralization
  • Quick Development
  • Early castling
  • Knights before Bishops

Centralization: The most important part in the chessboard is the centre. It is but obvious that pieces placed in the centre attack more squares than those positioned on either sides of the board. For example, a knight placed in “d4” can effectively attack eight squares. Do you know what they are? They are c2, b3, b5, c6, e6, f5, f3, and e2. Assuming that the same knight is not in d4, but in h1 – then the knight can attack only two squares – f2 and g3.

If you do not control or possess a fair share of the centre, then it might be difficult to maneuver pieces from one side of the board to the other side of the board.

Quick Development: The second important part of Classical Opening Principles is Quick Development. You might know that pawns are of the lowest cadre. The minor pieces such as bishops and knights are the next cadre. The Queen and the rooks are the major pieces in the chessboard while the ultimate superior is the King.

According to classical principles, developing minor pieces is considered important before developing major pieces such as rooks and the queen. It should be ensured that pawn movements are restricted to the minimum. The knights can jump over other pieces in the board and as such, pawn movement is not necessary for developing the knights. If you open up the pawns in front of the King and the Queen, then the two bishops are opened up, and so are the Queen and the King.

Early castling: Castling, as you all know, is one of the special moves in chess, where the king is allowed to move two squares in a single move. In addition, two pieces are moved in a single move, the King and the Rook.

The two rooks are in the two corners. In line with the concept of quick development, both the minor pieces such as bishops and knights can be moved out after the pawns in front of the queen and the king are opened. Now there will be no pieces in between the King and the Rook at the kingside, while queen will be there in the queenside. You can take up castling on the kingside, thereby opening up the rook to combine with the Queen and the other rook. In addition, the King in the first row will be guarded by the Queen and two rooks.

Knights before Bishop: Another part of the classical opening principles is to move the knights before the bishop. As already stated, the knights can be moved without waiting for the pawns to leave way, as they are capable of jumping over pieces lying in between the original square and the destination square of the knight. As such, it is suggested that knights are moved into the front before opening up the bishops.

These classical opening principles, if employed effectively, can open up to fascinating contests in the middle game, as the art of defense and attack needs to be mastered to enhance the level of knowledge in the game of chess.

5 simple tricks to improve the opening moves

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One of the most fascinating board games is Chess, played between two players with the intention of capturing the opposite member’s King through checkmate. Both the players start the game with equal amount of resources in terms of pieces and their notional values. There is no spatial advantage or disadvantage to the two players before the game starts. However, as soon as the first move is made by the white pieces, as is customary practice in the game of chess, there sets in an imbalance that needs to be rectified by the other player using black pieces.

In little over two or three moves, a player can defeat the other player by making the effective opening moves that expose the King of the opposite team. If you are a novice, you can easily fall into the trap and get defeated easily.

A typical game of chess has to have a minimum of three stages so that a meaningful and enterprising game can be had. It should be, in the same order, Opening Game, Middle Game and the End game.

The effectiveness of the opening moves or the Opening game will decide the course of action in the crucial middle part of the game and logically leads to the end game, where the result of the game such as victory, defeat or draw is decided.

In nutshell, opening moves or simply Opening shall comprise that part of the game in which the forces, such as the bishops, knights and rooks as well as pawns, are disposed for action.

As part of the latest development, controlling the centre is deemed a vital aspect. Of the 64 squares in the chessboard, the four squares in the middle, namely, d4, d5, e4 and e5 are the central squares, and any player who has effective control over these four squares at the centre will have an edge over the opponent. Considering your style of play, it is advisable that your first moves or opening moves aim to have control over the middle of the board or the central squares.

With this basic premise about the first aspect of the game, the Opening moves, let us discuss some of the useful tips that will pave way for an interesting middle game battle.

It is always advisable to open the game with the centre pawns – pawns in front of the king and the queen. The move, e4, moving the king pawn two steps forward, is the most popular one, for the simple reason that the move opens up both the queen and the bishop adjacent to the king to move, if required. The move of the pawn in front of the queen – to either d3 or d4 – will liberate the bishop adjacent to the queen. The moves may not be in the same order as I suggested. It can be otherwise as well. Once the two central pawns are moved from the original places, the queen is free to move in either of the two diagonals opened, and the bishops are opened to move in their respective squares diagonally.

The primary idea is to deploy all the available resources and place them in strategic places so that plans of attack, counter-attack or defense can be carried out effectively.

As knights are capable of jumping over the other pieces, knights should be considered for removal from the first rank and placed in such a way that it does not hamper the movement of the bishops or the queen that has been opened up. The Queen and the two bishops should also be moved out from the first rank. This will give an opportunity to do castling involving the king. By resorting to castling, the two rooks will come together. As part of the opening moves, it should be ensured that the King is safe and there is no lapse in safeguarding the king.

As part of the opening, it is but natural that both the players would like to have spatial control and in the process, few minor pieces might have to be sacrificed and/or captured. In this connection, I would suggest that while capturing pieces of the opposite player using pawn, you should always capture inward, or in other words, the pawn moves towards the central part of the board. In other words, if you have a pawn each at say b5 and d5, and one piece that can be captured is in c6, it is advisable that you use the pawn at b5 to capture c6, rather than the pawn at d5 to capture c6. By capturing the piece at c6 with b5, you are capturing inward – that means the pawn at b file is moved to the c file – that is moving inward. If the pawn at d5 is used to capture c6, then that move is outward one – moving away from central “d” rank to the “c” rank.

A typical opening can comprise of a minimum of eight moves whereby all the forces are deployed at strategic points to plan an interesting middle game.