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While playing a game, I observe that I am not able to use my rooks properly. The reason is that I am not able to bring them out earlier as they occupy the corner position. This gives a lead to the opposite player.

Can someone tell what is the best opening moves for rooks if I want to use them for defending my two middle pawns?

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    "This gives a lead to the opposite player." How so? The opposite player also starts the game with rooks in the corners. – John Coleman May 24 at 12:14
  • @John Colemon I am an average level player with a rating of 1500(not exact) in blitz. When I used to play in a tournament players with rating 1900. They are able to bring their rooks in the middle for their use but I am not. I tried to learn by their playing but not able to do so. So I came here for the help. I think the rooks are the only reason why I am not able to grow up in rating. – Bitthal Maheshwari May 24 at 13:06
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    "They are able to bring their rooks in the middle for their use but I am not." -- could the problem be that you aren't developing your light pieces quickly enough? An example would really help. – RemcoGerlich May 24 at 19:05
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In general, it is not easy to develop rooks during the opening per se. Not only it's not easy, it rarely is a goal of the sound opening.

In some references, the opening ends, when minor pieces (bishops and knights) are developed and rooks are connected. Therefore, it is highly likely that you are already talking about the middlegame rather than the opening.

Now, regarding the general use of the rooks. Rooks are good at open files (or files that are likely to become open). Instead of having the goal of using rooks to defend the two middle pawns, I suggest looking for good files for the rooks, whether it is in the center, open C-file, or, soon-to-be-open A-file.

To get the best of your opening (again, there are always exceptions, established theory) in general, look at developing your minor pieces at active squares, castle your king, connect the rooks, and place them at strategically promising files.

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Getting the rooks to the middle usually consists of:

  • Developing all the knights and bishops

  • Castling

  • Developing the queen

  • Now that the bank rank is clear, the rooks can use it to go to whichever file they like.

If you want the rooks to get to the center slightly faster, castling queenside puts one rook on the D-file without it needing to move again, saving a move.

But can I challenge the premise? You may not want the rooks to defend the central pawns. Sometimes it's necessary, but often that can be left to the bishops, knights, or other pawns, and it's relatively rare that you would need both rooks to defend central pawns. Often, a better use for the rooks is to gain control of an open file.

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  • More specific advice would probably necessitate an example game where we can see what went wrong and why the rooks couldn't come to the middle. – D M May 24 at 18:44
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It is interesting that you identify this as a weakness. It is often not clear initially on which file the Rooks belong. It becomes clearer as the pawn structures take shape, in particular when you can see which pawn breaks will lead to an open file. One question to ask yourself is, if I open this file, will my rooks be able to use it as an avenue for attack? If they will not, then it is not very valuable to open it. But of course perhaps your opponent can open it to their advantage. So then you have to contest it without anticipating any advantage. Rook play and Pawn play are very interlinked, and you need to begin thinking about your Rooks at an early stage. Look back at some games where you did not handle the rooks well, and see if these ideas clarify anything.

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From experience, you possibly make too many pawn moves, or move light pieces (or the queen) twice or even more often.

It is a common error for weaker players to make moves that the opponent can defend and counterattack by developing a piece, and then you need to move the piece again.

Try to verify for each move:

  • is the field you are moving to not a good and save long-term position?
  • can the moved piece be easily and immediately attacked and forced to move again?
  • does this move force the opponent to make a good move (developing one of his pieces)?
  • did you move this piece already before?
  • is it a unnecessary pawn move?

If any of this is true, it's potentially not a good move, as it loses you valuable time. Try to find another one.

Once the opening is over, these rules become less important; but don't lose tempo during the opening.

An efficient opening moves each light piece only once (4), only a small number of pawn moves (2-4), castles (1), and positions the queen (1), so after 8 to 10 moves, your rooks should be free to roam (not that that is necessarily what you should do next - but you could).

There are of course exceptions to all this. But generally, it will be very useful to keep those in mind.

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