I'm trying to put together a flyer of the golden rules in chess for kids that are absolute beginners. I noticed that they ran into the same trivial mistake that could be easy to fix with a simple switch, and I guess the flyer could help flipping it. Here is my list so far, kinda ranked by how important the principles are :

Practical :

  1. I shall take my time on each move, at least a good 20 seconds
  2. I shall pay attention to what’s my opponent last move and what is the intent
  3. I shall make sure that neither I nor my opponent is giving away a piece
  4. I shall keep my hand on my chin as long as I am not sure of what will be my next move
  5. I shall never resign
  6. A bad plan is better than no plan
  7. I shall not reveal my intent orally to my opponent
  8. I shall consider my opponent plays like a grandmaster
  9. Do not focus on one sector of the board. View the whole board

In game :

  1. In the opening, I shall deploy the knights, bishops, and then castle.
  2. I shall not take out my queen in the opening
  3. I shall use my king in the endgame
  4. I shall connect my rook
  5. I shall try to control the center
  6. A knight on the rim is dim
  7. Rooks smile on open files
  8. When behind in material, I shall trade pawns. When ahead, trade pieces
  9. I shall avoid doubled, isolated or backward pawns and try getting passed pawns instead
  10. Whenever possible, I shall place my rook on the 7th or 8th rank
  11. I shall double my rooks on the 7th rank

What do you guys think of it? Any other important principles I didn't think of? Feel free to use it.

Edit : Here's the final look of it. Feel free to use it !

Chess tips

  • 3
    12. I shall remember that the preceding points are more what you'd call guidelines than actual rules.
    – Annatar
    Jun 25, 2019 at 6:14
  • 1
    You forgot No. 0: Chess has no principles! I agree with most of the Practical section, except that it is good etiquette to resign in hopeless positions. The in-game ones are more tricky, as somebody else could come with 11 alternative principles like "I shall not leave weak squares" or "I shall not push my pawns too much"
    – David
    Jun 25, 2019 at 7:18
  • 2
    In my experience, one climbs from 1000 to 1500 by learning such "principles" and from 1500 to 2000 by un-learning them again.
    – Annatar
    Jun 25, 2019 at 7:47
  • 2
    I shall not offer a draw or accept a draw offer. (Exceptions for really dead positions.)
    – bof
    Jun 25, 2019 at 10:32
  • 2
    Let's see if we can get some reopen votes for this question
    – David
    Jun 27, 2019 at 8:19

1 Answer 1


The idea of giving your students some guidelines for playing good chess is good in principle, but we have to be aware of its limitations too. For the "practical" ones:

  • 1 This is great until you play a 5-minute blitz game. You also don't often need 20 seconds in a capture-recapture sequence. This illustrates the main problem with trying to create fixed rules, they don't apply in every situation. I would go for "think until you make sure you are not blundering"
  • 2, 3 and 4 are good pieces of advice!
  • 5 is just bad etiquette. I understand what you mean but you should definitely resign if you are a queen and two rooks down in material
  • 6 is pretty controversial. Just say "I shall find a good plan". Anyway beginner games are rarely decided on planning but on blunder exploitation
  • 7, 8 and 9 sound fine to me.

The "in-game" principles are generally OK, but meaningless outside of their context, sometimes even false or contradictory with one another. If you are going to present them, please do so by providing good examples of how those rules actually apply.

As a final thought, please keep in mind that it's better to let your student figure out the "in-game" principles themselves rather than you showing them as if they were the Ten Commandments. Your mission should be to give them hints in their discovery, rather than being the word of Truth. For the sake of example, let's take in-game rule No. 6. I would review one of their games where they have an awful knight, then try to help them figuring out why the enemy's attack was so devastating. Eventually, they'll see how useful the knight would have been in an active square creating counterplay


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