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

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

Book Four

How to Play the Black Pieces

Chapter Six

Opening Mistakes Black Should Avoid

As we’ve pointed out earlier, an opening mistake on White’s part may cost him the initiative; an opening mistake on Black’s part may cost him the game. If Black plays well, White’s advantage of the first move will be neutralized from the start; if Black plays badly, White’s advantage will result in a quickly winning game.

The Dangers of Thoughtless Development

In the following game Black begins with inexact moves and soon finds himself in a hopeless position:

Queen’s Gambit

White - Black

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nc6

A doubtful move, because Black needs to advance the c-pawn to free himself.

3.c4 e6?

Again he cramps his game voluntarily. 3…Bg4 is more promising.

4.Nc3 dxc4?

Now he surrenders the center. Eventually White will react powerfully with e2-e4.

5.e3 Nf6 6.Bxc4 Bb4 7.0-0 Bxc3? 8.bxc3 0-0 9.Qc2 Ne7 10.Ba3 c6 11.e4 h6? 12.Rad1 Bd7 (D)


Black has played the opening very badly. Black’s thoughtless development has left him in a hopeless position. Blocking his c-pawn on move 2, he is now unable to play the freeing move …c5.

Having hemmed in his light-square bishop on move 3, he has condemned this piece to lasting uselessness.

By surrendering the center on move 4, Black gave his opponent a chance to build up a mighty center.

The exchange on move 7 created a magnificent diagonal for White’s dark-square bishop.

On move 11 Black weakened his kingside, making it easier for White to conduct an attack against the black king.

The Dangers of Ignoring the Center

Having an adequate command of the center is a life-and-death matter for Black. What happens if he ignores the center is well illustrated in the following opening:

Modern Defense

White - Black

1.d4 g6? 2.e4 Bg7

Black’s fianchetto of his dark-square bishop is premature. His poor timing has allowed White an overwhelming pawn center.

3.Nc3 d6 4.Nf3 Nd7? 5.Bc4 e6? 6.0-0 Ne7? (D)


The black pieces have no striking power.

Any expert would dismiss Black’s position as lost.

White has complete control of the center, while Black has neither center pawn on the fourth rank.

White’s knights are developed aggressively on the third rank; Black’s knights go timidly to the second rank.

Black’s fianchettoed bishop accomplishes nothing, while his other bishop is already destined to be a “problem child.” White’s bishops, on the other hand, will have bold, free diagonals.

The Dangers of a Planless Opening

Sometimes Black’s positional blunders are not so gross, and therefore perhaps not so easily recognizable; yet the results are equally disastrous. In the following example, Black’s hit-or-miss development ruins his prospects.

Owen’s Defense

White - Black

1.e4 b6? 2.d4 Bb7

Black has made the same kind of mistake as in the previous example.

3.Bd3 e6 4.Nh3

Usually it is not good to develop a knight away from the center. Here the move is good because it prepares for the line-opening advance of White’s f-pawn.

4…d5 5.e5!

Black has belatedly advanced in the center, but White’s reply creates difficulties for Black: he can no longer play …Nf6.

5…Ne7 6.0-0 Ng6 7.f4! Be7 8.f5!

Black has had to develop his kingside pieces ineffectually, and his light-square bishop has no scope. His position offers no promise whatever, and he will soon be exposed to a violent attack by White’s well-placed forces. Since Black’s pieces are not very active, his chances of successful resistance are microscopic.

These three examples of poor play can therefore serve as horrible examples of what Black must avoid in the opening. He need not find the ideal development of the very best moves. But he does need moves that give him a fighting chance, a basis for planning, a hope that he will have something to say about how the game unfolds. If he can achieve these substantial goals, he can truly say that he knows how to play the black pieces.