In this post I wanted to talk about the idea of creating and exploiting stacked pawns that can occur early on in a game. When I first started playing I opened with the Ruy Lopez as many new players do. It was common, well studied and had a solid set up for white with good attacking and tactical chances. I traded the Bishop for Knight on c6 early instead of keeping pins and pressure on pieces, of course later on I learned of the benefits of the latter. I wont discount the idea of stacking an opponents pawns early on, especially if the player is lower rated. It provides and early weakness and a clear target to work towards from the opening. As you’ll see in this game I was able to stack Blacks pawns early and plant a Knight on e6 waiting until it was clear to attack. Doubled pawns aren’t always a problem, the second game is one I played as Black where I used the stacked pawns to my advantage and involved them into my position and attack instead of letting it become a weakness.
In this game I play White against Owen’s Defense which is 1.e4 b6 where Black’s aim is early fianchetto of the Queenside Bishop aim towards the center of the board. While fianchetto is usually a good plan to protect the Bishop and give it more scope doing so early on concedes the center to White. In Classic style I continue with 2.d4 and surprisingly Black proceeded to fianchetto his Kingside Bishop as well. Once I jumped the Knights into the action it was almost a perfect example of a Classical and Hyper modern take on the opening even if not done in the most efficient way possible. In the game White is able to control the center and continue playing along the Queenside flank as Black’s position becomes cramped and development is halted under the pressure of a central and flank side attack.
The start of any Chess game begins with the development of pawns and minor pieces generally with the aim to control and contest the center of the board. The center is so important because it has the most influence, for example a Knight placed in the center of the board will have more squares available to attack than one on the edge. These two ideas show the basic schools of thought as an objective process in the opening of the game.
The goal of a Classical opening starts with 1. d4 or e4 taking control of the center by attacking c5, d5, e5 and f5 with two pawns. From there the usual course of action is to play a Knight to c3 or f3 which supports the central pawns and also attacks e5 and d5 again. Black typically will follow in a similar suit attacking with pawns and knights initially.
Here the goal of White’s opening is to attack the central squares with minor pieces and prepare the path for a pawn thrust after. The move order would look something like 1. Nf3 2.g3 3. Bg2 4. e4 thus controlling the c5 and d5 squares with more of a long term idea of using the bishop and knight to influence the center.
Now with the overall ideas of the two primary types development we can talk about the nuances of the opening phase. There are some principals to make it easier however these aren’t set in stone and are always flexible.
Develop your pieces- Without getting your pieces in the game you simply cannot do anything, many beginning players will develop one side of their board and neglect the other side while unleashing an early attack. An opponent who is fully developed will always be able to out play a lesser coordinated player as they have more resources at hand.
Control the Center- As stated before, the center has the most influence over the board and is generally the focal point for the most engagements. Other strategies will aim to attack the center from the flanks but for a start the center is the most straightforward way to play
Don’t Move the Same Piece Twice- In the opening you want to set yourself up for the middle game and to do so you need to find squares for all your pieces to occupy where they are contributing to the game, the most efficient way is move pieces once only and then follow into the middle game plan.
Be Careful With the Queen- Many beginners will try to bring the Queen out as an early power presence, while this is true it also give your opponent and easy target to attack. You never want to lose the Queen to a lesser piece and forcing you to move her again away from an attack gains important tempo.
Castle- Arguably the most important part of the opening, castling allows you to get your king safe and bring a rook into the game completing two things in a single turn
Lets take a look at the opening phase of a game, this stems from the Ruy Lopez which is a well known and highly studied.
Here is the annotation for the position 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 d6 5. Bg5
White has two central pawns d3 and e4 as does black e5 and d6.
White has 3 minor pieces developed and black has two with it being black to move.
Typically Black can play Be7 which protects the knight and develops the Bishop. After that point both players have the chance to castle and then continue on with the rest of the game.
While not my favorite opening the Giuoco Piano offers good play for both black and white, it allows solid development for the middle game. Both players target the weak f7 and f2 squares which sometimes are forgotten and exploited as you’ll see later on.