Beginners often have questions on basic opening strategy. Here are a few basic strategies geared to understanding the basic fundamentals of chess. We will cover, controlling the center of the board, moving your knights before the bishops, developing your attack, bringing your Queen out to early in the game, and lastly, King safety.
These are time honored strategies and not to be confused with modern chess strategy and variants.
Basic Opening Strategy - Center of the Board
Control the center.
A good place for beginning players to start is to open with one of the two center pawns. Those are the pawns directly in front of your King and Queen. The diagram to the right shows the four squares on the chessboard that encompass the center. All of your early moves in a game should be geared to take control over the center (the d4,e4,d5, and e5 squares) of the board.
By moving those center pawns forward two square, you take control over a part of the center, and you actually have begun to developed a threat. Two things to keep in mind here; one, you are 'developing your pieces,' and two, you are 'controlling the center of the board, creating a threat to your opponent.' The basic idea is simple and straight forward, every early move should try to take better control over the center of the board, preferably in a way that threatens something, perhaps an opponent's piece, or to establish firm control over the center.
Knights before Bishops.
It is better to develop the Knights before their respective Bishops. This principle does not mean that both Knights should be developed before bringing out a Bishop. What is advisable, is to play either the King’s Knight before playing the King’s Bishop, and similarly the Queen’s Knight before playing the Queen's Bishop.
In FIDE Chess, the Knights are the weakest piece. Because they are the weakest piece, a general principle of chess says that they should ideally be developed before the other pieces; they should be the first troops to engage the enemy, aside from the Pawns. The principle of centralization says that they should be developed so that they make contact with the center of the board.
Note: FIDE, or Fédération Internationale des Échecs - World Chess Federation, is usually referred to by its French acronym, as FIDE pronounced "fee day."
Develop before you attack.
This is a basic principle of chess, develop before you attack. The idea here is to move your chess pieces into play, keeping to one or two pawn moves in the beginning, while bringing your Knight's and Bishop's to their best squares in one move, to gain control of the center. Try not to move a piece more than once in the opening unless you can capture something or gain something important. In other words, don't start attacking until all, or at least most of your pieces are developed first.
Don't bring your queen out early.
It's tempting to bring the queen out early in a game because it's the most powerful piece on the board. The trouble is your opponent can, and will chase your queen back by threatening it with less valuable pieces. Make sure that you do not bring your queen out early. If you do, you may lose it, or at best lose time moving it around when your opponent attacks it. Wait with your queen in the back rank until you are sure you know where it's going, and what you want to do with her.
This should be obvious, but many beginners forget about safeguarding their king. Lose your king, and you lose the game! Actually, that is not correct as the King in never captured, rather the King is put into check, and if the King cannot move without being in check the King is therefore in checkmate.
That being said, make it a priority to castle early unless you have a very good reason to do something else. In most games, players castle kingside because it is easier to defend. Castling queenside leaves the king a bit more exposed. If you do castle queenside, you will often want to take time to move the king from c1 to b1 for added safety. Even on the kingside, it is often a good idea to make the king safer by moving it from g1 to h1.