Opening Mistakes White Should Avoid - How to Play the White Pieces - The Complete Chess Course From Beginning To Winning Chess! (2016)

The Complete Chess Course From Beginning To Winning Chess! (2016)

Book Three

How to Play the White Pieces

Chapter Eight

Opening Mistakes White Should Avoid

So far you have seen the methods by which White exploits Black’s mistakes in the opening and the early middlegame. These methods are valid and useful as long as White does not violate the rules of good opening play.

It is therefore vital for you to be forewarned against the danger of losing the initiative when you play White.

This danger comes from neglect of your development. You may damage your development by losing time or by developing pieces inefficiently.

There are some openings in which the defects are so obvious that these openings have been partly or completely discredited. Many years ago, when opening theory was not so well understood as it is today, some of these openings were popular. In the course of time their serious defects became all too clear. Such openings are described in Chapter Nine, but here we want to emphasize several of them, pointing out their defects in some detail:

The Center Game offers a good example. Here are the opening moves:

Center Game

White - Black

1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Qxd4 Nc6 (D)


Black’s last move gains time by attacking the queen. White must now move the queen out of attack, giving Black another tempo for development. What usually happens is that White plays 4.Qe3 and Black replies 4…Nf6, developing another piece.

To understand what has happened, you must realize that in effect Black has taken over the role usually held by White. It is no longer White who is a move ahead; Black has the initiative.

The same mistake on White’s part appears in milder form in the Scotch Game:

Scotch Game

White - Black

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4

To advance in the center and to open up a line for the dark-square bishop seems very good on general principles. But the advance of the d-pawn is not well timed.

3…exd4 4.Nxd4

By recapturing, White moves his knight a second time and thus wastes a move.

Black, by way of reply, develops with gain of time. He can play 4…Bc5, developing a new piece and gaining time by threatening to win White’s knight.

Or Black can play 4…Nf6, likewise developing a new piece and gaining time by threatening to win White’s e-pawn.

4…Nf6 (D)


White is on the defensive; he must defend his e-pawn.

In this case White’s shortcomings are not fatal. However, any possibility of keeping Black’s position under pressure is gone.

Another kind of mistake to avoid with the white pieces is to develop inefficiently. Note this in Alapin’s Opening:

Alapin’s Opening

White - Black

1.e4 e5 2.Ne2

As you know, White almost invariably plays 2.Nf3. You may have wondered why White should not play 2.Ne2. There are two reasons for this:

On e2 the knight blocks the development of White’s light-square bishop and thus holds up White’s whole development. Furthermore, 2.Ne2 is passive whereas 2.Nf3 is aggressive, attacking Black’s e-pawn.

In view of these defects, 2.Ne2 is ruled out as a worthwhile move. (D)


White’s last move was much too passive.

A similar example appears in the Ponziani Opening:

Ponziani Opening

White - Black

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3 (D)


White’s last move blocks his development.

White’s last move deprives his queen knight of its best square. Black replies 3…d5!, opening up the position favorably. After 4.exd5 Qxd5 White is unable to attack the black queen by 5.Nc3 because 3.c3 has made the knight move impossible.

As in the previous examples, Black has an easy time of it. Black has the initiative and has nothing to fear. From the positions discussed in this chapter, you can see that White must avoid loss of time as well as ineffectual development.

If White violates these simple rules, he loses his chance to exploit Black’s mistakes in the opening.