Ruben Fine’s Thirty Rules of Chess


1. Open with a center pawn.

2. Develop with threats.

3. Knights before Bishops.

4. Don’t move the same piece twice.

5. Make as few pawn moves as possible in the opening.

6. Don’t bring your Queen out too early.

7. Castle as soon as possible, preferably on the Kingside.

8. Always play to gain control, of the center.

9. Try to maintain at least one pawn in the center.

10. Don’t sacrifice without a clear and adequate reason. For a sacrificed pawn you must:

A. Gain three tempi, or
B. Deflect the enemy Queen, or
C. Prevent castling, or
D. Build up a strong attack.


1. Have all your moves fit into definite plans.
Rules of Planning:

a. A plan must be suggested by some feature in the position.
b. A plan must be based on sound strategic principles.
c. A plan must be flexible,
d. Concrete and,
e. Short.

Evaluating a Position:

a. Material
b. Pawn structure
c. Piece mobility
d. King safety
e. Enemy threats

2. When you are material ahead, exchange as many pieces as possible, especially Queens.

3. Avoid serious pawn weaknesses.

4. In cramped positions free yourself by exchanging

5. Don’t bring your King out with your opponent’s Queen on the board.

6. All combinations are based on double attack.

7. If your opponent has one or more pieces exposed, look for a combination.

8. In superior positions, to attack the enemy King, you must open a file for your heavy pieces.

9. In even positions, centralize the action of all your pieces.

10. In inferior positions, the best defense is counter-attack, if possible.


1. To win without pawns, you must be at least a Rook or two minor pieces ahead (with the exception of two knights).

2. The King must be active in the ending.

3. Passed pawns must be pushed (PPMBP)

4. The easiest endings to win are pure pawn endings.

5. If you are only one pawn ahead, exchange pieces, not pawns.

6. Don’t place your pawns on the same color squares as your Bishop.

7. Bishops are better than Knights in all but blocked pawn positions.

8. It is usually worth giving up a pawn to get a rook on the seventh rank.

9. Rooks belong behind passed pawns (RBBPP).

10. Blockade passed pawns with the King.

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4 thoughts on “Ruben Fine’s Thirty Rules of Chess

  1. West Coast Kenny says:

    These rules are taken from Reuben Fine’s “Chess the Easy Way.” Although writers such as Fine and Irving Chernev are considered passé, their writings — particularly the most basic texts — are timeless. I know of one former US Champion who said (off the record, so I don’t feel comfortable naming him) that even though he was already a strong master, revisiting “Chess the Easy Way” helped him become a GM.

    One of my main barriers to improving was my own lack of humility. It’s hard to consider a C player arrogant, but I thought I knew a lot more about chess just because I was familiar with a lot of names and had played forty or fifty rated games. What might sound like beginner books (Chernev’s “Logical Chess, Move by Move” for example) are more valuable than most tournament players would believe.

    Good luck. WCK

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