Michael Basman

By Bill Wall


Michael Basman (his original family surname was Basmadjian) was born on March 16, 1946 in London, England.† He is an International Master (1980) from England, famous for his unusual chess openings (1.g4, 1.h3, 1.e4 g5, and 1.e4 a6 for example).† He is also a prolific chess writer and was a pioneer in the production of audio tapes for chess.† In 1973, he tied for 1st place in the British Chess Championship, but lost the play-off match with William Hartston (1947- ).† Basman is a big support of junior chess and his junior tournaments in schools draws over a thousand players.† He created the UK Chess Challenge, an annual four-stage chess competition for school-age children in the United Kingdom.

In 1982, he wrote Play the St. George Defence.

In 1987, he wrote Chess Openings.

In 1989, he wrote The Killer Grob.


In his book, Chess Openings, Basman offers lots of chess advice to the beginner chess player.† Here are some of Basmanís chess opening principles and other advice.

Move pawns to release pieces.† Immobile pieces are useless in attack.

Donít make too many pawn moves.

Move each piece once in the opening.

Castle the king into safety and keep your king safe.† The king is your most valuable piece.

Control the center (centre for you British folks) with pawns and centralize the pieces, paying due attention to their capture.

Donít attack early in the game.

Clear the back rank to develop the rooks and open files for them by exchanging pawns.

Develop the queen on the second rank but not on a completely open file.† An enemy pawn may be needed to give protection against exposure to the opponentís rooks.

Recognize the importance of material.† Allocate a certain amount of your attention to engineering attacks on enemy pieces and warding off attacks on your own.

The best defense is to have seen an attack coming a move beforehand.

Ensure that you can record the chess moves of a game neatly and accurately.†† Neat recording is important, showing good nervous control.

As soon as your opponent moves, record the move.† Donít get lost in thought and forget to record a move.

Look at the move played.† Ask yourself if the move is threatening any of your pieces.† Look for discoveries and focused attacks as well as tactical threats.

When you have deliberated on your own move, donít make it immediately on the board.† Chess must not be played on impulse and your move cannot be retracted.† Look to see if there is a better move.

Check for pieces left unguarded and any tactical threats.

Do not get into time trouble.† Try to save time in the early stages of the game.


Basman Ė NN, Paris 1982

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Qe2 Nc6 4.c3 d6 5.d4 Qh4+ 6.Kd1 g5 7.Nf3 Qh5 8.Qb5 g4 9.Qxh5† 1-0