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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5 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


    A CLUE FOR THE TOTALLY CLUELESS (680pt to 110pts players) Or what I’m teaching my Girlfriend & Brother

    1. PICK ONE OPENING AND MASTER IT OUT TO SIX MOVES. I like MASON ATTACK/DEFENSE. [Queen Pawn to center, get both Bishops out then move yer knights out & casle as quick as possible.
    2. TEMPO, TEMPO, TEMPO!!! If White, never yield it; If Black—Steal it. Force your opponent back and make him/her react to your moves!!! Once he/she is backpeddling, it is easy to force moves or do bad trades
    3. ANCHOR BABIES!!! Use a Pawn to Anchor the attack of your Bishop or Knight. Most people will see that & leave them alone. Then try to maneouver around so that you can make stay within the protective zone of the ANCHOR BABY (e.g., Slide a Rook within the Kill Zone of a Knight and then force the King’s Rook to take yours, then move your Queen up-Check Mate.
    4. BE DISRUPTIVE. If you can take a knight with your bishop AND make a pawn get out of alignment, you TOPPED your opponent!!!
    5. MASTER THE EXCHANGE RATE. Line up multiple attacks for a single position then see if you can do trades which will make your opponent down a major piece (Knight or Bishop)
    6. WHERE’S WALDO? Every other move you make, look at his KING & Yours. Are you boxed in? Is he open. Can you force your opponent’s king to move?
    7. DANCING FOOL. Once you begin checking the King, you should get mate in 4 checks
    8. FORCE THE EXTRA MOVE. If your Queen puts his KING in Check once you move your Knight out of the way, FEEL FREE TO STEAL A PAWN by moving your Knight out of the way. EVERYTHING STOPS once the King is in Check
    9. DON’T DO NUTHIN’ STOOPID!!! I had A KING & A PAWN verses his FIVE PAWNS, ONE BISHOP, ONE KNIGHT, ONE ROOK & HIS Q-U-E-E-N—and I drew the game with no place to go!!!
    10. IF YOU CAN’T JOIN ‘EM, BEAT ‘EM ON TIME!!! I only play 10 minute matches. I usually win if my opponent has less than 30 seconds left…Just Bob & Weave around PIECES IN THE MIDDLE OR CORNERS
    11. ALWAYS PLAY CUT THROAT IF YOU SNAG A 3PT Piece or Higher. Leave his Bishop or Rook open and you snag it? DUMP ALL PIECES IN EXCHANGES. Trade his QUEEN for yours, his ROOKS for Yours then use our KNIGHT to check/grab his pawns.
    12. KNOW HOW YOUR KNIGHTS WORK. Yes, you will draw if you only have a King & a Knight as opposed to a King & A Bishop B-U-T, knights can ruin lines of Pawns and can force MATES if ANCHORED and in league with Rooks. MASTER THE L SHAPE ATTACK
    13. BACKFIELD IN MOTION—Girls gone wild!!! A Queen in your opponent’s backfield is a BLOODBATH that your opponent can rarely recover from. Just the sight of that witch coming after your KING is unsettling enough

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