Understanding pawns and their usefulness helped me discover openings. Openings in chess are a strange concept until you understand them. A Chess opening is primarily the way to start moving your army out onto the field, or center of the board.
I found there are good ways to start moving my pawns and pieces, and poor ways of moving my pawns and pieces. I was using a rather poor method until now. Searching the net, I found there are many openings. Each opening has one or more variations and purpose. Many of the openings can also morph or transform into other openings.
There were so many openings and variations it all became confusing. The confusion was made worse because an opening for the white pieces was not necessarily a good or even ok opening sequence of moves for black pieces. The moment where understand an opening attack or defense is learning to play a better game of chess, the fact white gets the first move makes a difference. It is thought that because the armies are evenly matched and white moves first, white has the advantage.
Whether this is true or not, depends on your offensive or defensive type of opening. There are special openings created for the black pieces which are meant to offset the advantage white has of the first move. As I have chess games on youtube, the advantage white has by having the first move can mean little to a player who is very comfortable playing black.
What kind of opening to use is a problem. With too many choices and not enough knowledge to make a good decision, I went to the net and looked for beginner openings. Some openings are very conservative. some are simple, and different openings lead to different types of games.
Matching my personality and skill level with an opening helped me decide what opening to use. The first problem I found with openings is the sequence of moves. Most openings list a sequence of moves in algebraic notation. After I learned what algebraic notation was and how to use it, I found my opponent did not always move their pawns and pieces in a manner that let me complete the sequence correctly. This is an important learning.
Trying similar openings had the same result. Trying more complex openings led to frustration as I do not have the skill level to take advantage of the complex openings. What I decided I needed to do was decide on some general opening principals, and follow them.
This plan almost works. I found I sometimes need to modify the sequence of opening moves, and or change them completely, depending on what my opponent is doing. I found it does no good to move my King to safety as my rook, bishop, and knight disappeared on the other side of the board. Having a safe King, and no way to threaten the other side does not work very well.
This is where I made another ah ha moment. I made the connection that chess is about balance. The opening moves must be balanced, or the game will be a short one. There must be balance between getting the King to safety, protecting the center, protecting the side opposite of where the king is castled, and threatening an attack on my opponents King.
It was a great moment realizing these conditions or rules . It is another thing to make it all work. I think at this point this is what separates beginning chess players from good and expert chess players. How well we can keep a balance going during the game. For beginning players, losing a rook or maybe even a queen is not the end of the world, or at least the end of the game. For master class players, losing a pawn is a reason to resign.
All this starts with the opening moves. Finish the opening moves well, and we survive to see the middle game. If the opening sequence of moves does not go well for whatever reason, our opponent forces us straight into the end game. When this happens, the end is near because we are overpowered. Our pieces are slaughtered or ignored, and checkmate follows shortly.