Originally posted by Daphnes
Does anyone know of good openings where knights and pawns can do major damage in the beginning of the game? I'd like to have a strategy where I use my close ranged pieces (pawns and knights) to soften up the enemy lines while allowing my long ranged pieces (bishops, queen, and rooks) to hang back and use then in the middle to end game where I can better utilize their long ranged attacks.
If you include your bishop in the early part of the game as well then you'll be following a tried and tested strategy.
Move a pawn or two into the centre to free up you bishops. Develop your bishops and knights onto good squares. Typically you'll develop a knight before a bishop because you know which will be the best square for the knight while you wait to see what your opponent is up to before committing the bishop. The good squares for knights are f3, c3 for white and f6, c6 for black. They are good because on these squares they don't block the bishops, they exert pressure on the all important centre and they have more freedom of movement.
Rapid development or getting these pieces (knights and bishops) out early is an important principle too - so avoid moving a piece or a pawn more than once in the first few moves. Any rule (such as the knights before bishops rule) must be considered in the context of the game you are playing. For example if you play 1.e4...e5, 2. d3...Qg5 then from here white should ignore the knights before bishops rule and simply take the black queen. Many of the "rules" of opening play are correct in many instances but with exceptions.
In the Trompovsky attack: 1. d4...Nf6, 2.Bg5 and white has moved a bishop before a knight but it works because the bishop on g5 attacks the black knight on f6 and this makes g5 a "good square" for the white bishop.
Having said that not everyone likes the Trompovsky. With the choice of opening most players have their own preferences or tastes for how they like to play. I think of the trompovsky as a sort of marmite opening in that people seem to love it or hate it. (Marmite is a spread for toast made from yeast extract famous here in the UK for tasting disgusting...but some people love it.)
Acquiring your preferences takes a bit of time and I think it pays to casually play through a variety of openings from a comprehensive openings book or database to get a feel for different opening themes. In time you'll chose a few openings for more detailed study. It's easy to get bogged down in opening study when it's arguably more important to work on endgames and tactics.
The note for me that changed my expectations about what to get from an opening was in "Pirc Alert" a book by Lev Albert about the Pirc defence 1.e4...d6, 2.d4...Nf6, 3.Nc3...g6.
In this book it said that rather than expecting your opening to give you a winning attack from the first few moves instead expect to come out of the opening phase either equal or with a slight advantage or slight disadvantage saving the fireworks for later.