Chess For Novices - A Guide for Fresh Beginners and Aspiring Novices

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Overview of the Three Chess Game Phases

Chess games generally move through three phases: the opening, the middlegame, and the endgame. Each phase is has different strategic concerns, and must be approached in a different way.

The Opening

The opening consists of the first moves of the game. At the highest levels of chess, masters play the first 10 or even 20 moves from memorization. At the beginner and novice levels, usually only the first few moves are played from memorization.

There are three main aims in the opening:

Developing pieces means bringing them off of their original squares - to more useful positions. Usually, the best pieces to develop first are the knights and bishops. The centre pawns should be moved forward to allow the bishops to be unleashed. The centre is controlled most easily by advancing either of the centre two pawns two squares forward.

There are many dozens of openings, many with sparkling names like "The Sicilian Defense" or "The Queen's Gambit". There are hundreds of recorded variations for each of these openings. Each opening has a distinct personality - some leading to wild tactical play, others to careful positional maneuvering.

The Middlegame

The middlegame occurs in between the opening and the endgame. This is a time when players begin to coordinate pieces and attack their opponent's fortifications. The middlegame is usually considered to begin once the pieces have been developed, and the Kings castled - but this is not a rigid definition.

The Endgame

The endgame occurs when there are few pieces left on the board. The exact line between the middlegame and endgame is blurred. However, there are two main themes that usually distinguish this phase:

There are many well known endgame situations that have been recorded and studied in depth. For example: One of these is the fundamental "King and Pawn vs King" ending.

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Chess Strategy - Table of Contents
Strategy vs Tactics - Piece Values - Elementary Checkmates
The Three Game Phases - Opening Basics - Middlegame Basics - Endgame Basics
Top 10 Opening Principles - Top 10 Middlegame Principles - Top 10 Endgame Principles
Balanced Endgames - Part 2
Opening Systems