Did you ever find yourself moving the same piece three times in the opening ? Or did you move your Queen early, only to let your opponent to harass it ? In this article, I will teach you how to be efficient and develop your pieces quickly.
Of course, you should not forget the other big opening principles like controlling the center and how to develop your pieces harmoniously. But the point here is to achieve this result in the fastest possible way, and to do so, you should avoid the following cardinal sins:
- Moving too many pawns too early: indeed, moving one or two pawns to get a good control of the center is a must. But moving 3 or 4 pawns early on is often a sign that you are neglecting the development of your Knights or Bishops.
- Bringing your Queen too early: this one is different. Bringing your Queen early may give you the feeling that you are taking the initiative. However, the Queen being such a powerful piece, the opponent can simply try to develop pieces and attack it at the same time, leading to a loss of time for the adventurous player.
- Taking too much time to castle: this one is not an absolute rule, but delaying castling is something you can do only if you are absolutely sure that you will be ultimately able to put your King to a safe place. Else, neglecting castling means a King that is exposed to attacks.
Moving The Pawns With Moderation
First piece of advice to develop your pieces quickly: in the opening, make only one or two pawn moves, no more. Developing your pieces are more important, and too many pawn moves will leave you behind in development.
Once again, there are exceptions to this rule. Sometimes White starts the game with five pawn moves and this is just fine. But more often than not, making too many pawn moves is dangerous.
Careful With The Queen
The next advice I can give you regarding time management is not to bring your Queen out too early as it can be chased around the board by enemy pieces. Again, the consequence is that you will lose time and find yourself behind in development.
Time is critical in the opening. Never waste it moving your pawns or your Queen too many times. Focus on the Knights and the Bishops first.
Third piece of advice: castle as fast as possible. Castling on the King’s side is usually quicker and safer. In the next example, Black plays too many pawn moves, has no time to castle, and gets punished immediately.
There are two takeaways from this game: the first one is to move your pieces early to be able to castle short. Here f7-f5 and fxe4 were two greedy moves that Black could not afford to play.
Also, remember that in the opening, moving the f-pawn is really dangerous, because of the Qd1-h5 move (Qd8-h4 for Black). By default, don’t touch it, and if you do, be sure to have a good defense in store when your opponent moves his Queen !
How To Punish Your Opponent
Let’s look at another example where Black plays his Queen carelessly, and see how Black gets punished.
A game with a nice finish, but what really cost Black the game is the time wasted to win a single pawn. c6, Qb6, Qxb2, Qb6: Black spent four moves just to win a single pawn, a precious time wisely leveraged by White to build a strong attack, while Black’s King was still in the center !
Time is a crucial factor in the opening. To develop your pieces quickly:
- Do not make too many pawn moves in the opening.
- Do not bring your Queen out too early.
- Castle as fast as possible.
This will give you a sound game 90% of the time. Once you master those principles, it will be time to think about the exceptions !