Principles of Chess
A few years ago, when I wrote 700 Opening Traps, I included 64 chess principles. Later, I created a list of 101 chess tips. Here are my chess principles and chess tips.
1. Develop your pieces quickly.
2. Control the center.
3. Put your pieces on squares that give them maximum space.
4. Try to develop your knights towards the center.
5. A knight on the rim is dim.
6. Don’t take unnecessary chances.
7. Play aggressive.
8. Calculate forced moves first.
9. Always ask yourself, “Can my opponent put me in check or win a piece?”
10. Have a plan. Every move should have a purpose.
11. Assume your opponent’s move is the best move.
12. Ask yourself, “Why did he move there?” after each move your opponent makes.
13. Play for the initiative and controlling the board.
14. If you must lose a piece, get something for it if you can, such as a pawn.
15. When behind in material, exchange pawns. When ahead, exchange pieces.
16. If you are losing, don’t give up the fight. Look for counter-play.
17. Don’t play unsound moves unless you are losing badly. You may get a swindle.
18. Don’t sacrifice a piece or pawn without good reason.
19. If you are in doubt of an opponent’s sacrifice, accept it.
20. Attack with more than just one piece. Get as many pieces involved as you can.
21. Do not make careless pawn moves. They cannot move back.
22. Do not block in you bishops (known as a bad bishop).
23. Bishops of opposite colors have the greatest chance of drawing.
24. Try not to move the same piece twice in a row.
25. Exchange pieces if it helps your development.
26. Don’t bring your queen out too early.
27. Castle as soon as you can to protect your king and develop your rook.
28. Develop rooks to open and half-open files.
29. Put your rooks behind passed pawns.
30. Study rook and pawn endgames. They are the most frequent endgames.
31. Don’t let your king get caught in the center.
32. Don’t castle if it brings your king into greater danger.
33. After castling, keep a good pawn formation around your king. Avoid back rank mate.
34. If you only have one bishop, put your pawns on its opposite color.
35. Trade pieces when ahead in material.
36. If cramped, free your game by exchanging material.
37. If your opponent is cramped, prevent him from getting any freeing exchanges.
38. Study openings you are comfortable with.
39. When studying, play over entire games, not just the openings.
40. Blitz chess is helpful in recognizing chess patterns and practicing openings.
41. Play over annotated chess games and try to guess each move.
42. Stick with 2-3 openings as White and 2-3 openings as Black.
43. Record your games and go over them, especially the games you lost.
44. Show you games to stronger players and get feedback from them.
45. Use chess engines and databases to help you study and play more.
46. Everyone blunders. Stronger players just blunder less often.
47. When it is not your move, look for combinations and tactics.
48. Try to double rooks on open files.
49. Always ask yourself, “Does my next move overlook something simple?”
50. Don’t make plans without the exclusion of your opponent’s threats.
51. Watch out for captures by retreat of an opponent’s pieces.
52. Do not focus on one sector of the board. View the whole board.
53. After making a move, write down your move as soon as possible.
54. Try to solve chess puzzles with chess diagrams in books and magazines.
55. It is less likely that your opponent is prepared for off-beat openings.
56. Recognize transposition of moves from main-line opening play.
57. Watch your time and avoid time-trouble.
58. Bishops are worth more that knights except when they are pinned in.
59. A knight works better with a bishop than another knight.
60. It is usually a good idea to trade down into a pawn up endgame.
61. Have confidence in your game and not worry about your opponent’s strength.
62. Play as many serious games as you can.
63. Try not to look at your opponent’s rating until after the game in a tournament.
64. Always play for a win.
65. Rapidly develop all your pieces to gain the initiative.
66. Develop knights before bishops since they are less mobile.
67. Don’t make unnecessary pawn moves during the opening when you could be developing pieces.
68. Don’t check if it is not necessary, especially if it helps your opponent develop another piece.
69. Don’t open a position if you are late in development.
70. Place the queen behind the line of friendly pawns during the opening.
71. Avoid trading a developed piece for a piece that has yet to be developed.
72. Kingside castling is usually safer than Queenside castling.
73. Try to prevent your opponent from castling if possible and keep his king in the center.
74. Dominate as much territory as possible. Gain the advantage in space and mobility.
75. Advance pawns in order to conquer space.
76. As pawns advance, they get more difficult to protect. Try to keep pawns connected.
77. Place your pawns in the center.
78. Keep your pieces as close as possible to the center.
79. When trading pawns, try to get your pawns as close as possible to the center.
80. Control the center before starting any lateral attack.
81. Pawns are the foundation of strategy. Avoid bad pawn structures.
82. Pawn weaknesses are eternal. They are long-term weaknesses.
83. Avoid doubled pawns. They have less mobility than normal pawns.
84. Avoid isolated pawns. They cannot be defended very well and are easy targets.
85. Avoid backward pawns. The weak square (hole) in front of it can be easily occupied by an enemy piece.
86. Avoid creating holes (weak squares). A hole is a square that cannot be protected by pawns.
87. Avoid pawn islands. A pawn group separated from the others by one or more files is called an island. The more islands a player has, the harder it gets to defend them.
88. Think carefully before advancing hanging pawns. Advancing one of them results in creating a backward pawn and a hole.
89. Put pressure on the opponent’s backward pawn. Put two rooks in front of it if possible.
90. Force your opponent to advance hanging pawns, thus creating a hole you can occupy.
91. Whenever possible, create a passed pawn.
92. Always blockade your opponent’s passed pawn. Don’t let it advance to the 8th rank.
93. The knight is the best piece to block a passed pawn, followed by the bishop.
94. Avoid unnecessary trades. Trade pieces when you have material advantage.
95. Whenever possible, place your rooks on the 7th or 8th rank.
96. Double your rooks on the 7th rank when you can.
97. Keep your back rank protected. Make sure your king is able to escape back rank checks.
98. Don’t let your pieces get overloaded, busy defending two or more pieces.
99. Don’t recapture pieces automatically. Consider the possibility of intermediate moves before retaking any piece.
100. Never allow your king to stay in danger of a check.
101. Chess rules and principles can be broken. These principles cannot be applied 100% of the time, nor should they be followed blindly. Know when to apply these principles.
By Bill Wall