As with any real game of chess it is a good thing to stick to the opening principles in Chessmaster, especially if you are just starting out. Naturally, chess favours a creative mind so these are not rules set-in-stone by any means; if you are not particularly high-ranked it is good to stick to these principles so as to gain more freedom as you subsequently gain experience.
Here are the main things you should do and not do when starting a game:
- Move pieces in order to gain control of the centre squares (limit opponent’s moves)
- Not move too many pawns in the opening
- Look for freeing up diagonals or pieces such as the bishops or queen (development)
- Opening with Rook pawns is generally a poor choice: it does nothing for your game (doesn’t develop your other pieces and your rooks can’t move anyway)
- Moving a piece twice in the opening; an example is checking with the Queen, then having to move it again because of a threat. This looses tempo and hinders development.
Follow these principles for lower ranked opponents. Of course these work limitedly if you try and play a grandmaster; the masters of the game always tend to do things that seem odd to weak players, and are only understood once a piece is lost or a scheme unveiled.
Queen Pawn openings
These are generally open-game openings, which means you move your pawns two squares. Opponents like ‘Mark’, or earlier, tend to fall for these kinds of gambits (for some reason) and you are almost always guaranteed an advantage, as long as you play carefully afterwards.
- d4 c4
This can be accepted or declined depending on the opponent. If accepted you have the opportunity to move your king pawn, free a bishop and subsequently cause havoc. Careful players choose to decline the gambit and set up a pawn chain with ‘pawn to E6’. You can still threaten even if it’s declined, with your bishops for instance, especially with inexperienced players. This opening is good for an attacking game.
- d4 Nf6
- c4 e6
This also sets-up attacking positions quickly, and aims to control the centre early on. Even though black is more cautious you have more opportunities to develop your queen, bishops and knights.
- d4 f5
- c4 Nf6
A little more adventurous for black probably resulting in a more contested centre, with pieces being developed towards centre squares in the very first moves.
King Pawn openings
A very common way to open the game, and much liked by beginners. The king pawn often results in closed games, with pawn-chains being set-up and balanced positions towards the centre of the board.
King pawn’s game
1. e4 e5
Very typical way to start the game, after which it is likely one develops knights and everything as opening order calls. If you are cautious or unsure on how to open a game this is always a safe way to do it.
- e4 c5
Again the continuations are many, whether choosing the gambit with d4 or a less adventurous position with c3 (Alapin variation).
- e4 c6
Often resulting in a less advantageous position for black, especially if played by a beginner. You can set up your attacking game quickly if this takes place, by either moving another pawn in the middle (d4) or your bishop to set up outposts.
These openings should keep you going for, at least, the early opponents you encounter.