For hundreds of years, the study of chess openings has been a key aspect of the game, with innumerable volumes devoted to examining the merits and weaknesses of different sequences. Former World Champion Garry Kasparov amassed a personal database of more than 20,000 openings and variants throughout the course of his career. You’ll need to consider openings at some point during your chess growth. But how do you go about doing it?
The Basics of Chess Openings
In a chess game, an opening is just the first few moves. Hundreds of classic sequences are most likely to be followed (or one of the hundreds of variations on those sequences). An opening, in general, refers to the first phase of a chess game, as opposed to the middlegame and endgame.
You can do the following with a strong opening:
- Protect your king by developing material
- Begin arranging your pieces in order to launch an attack or exploit your opponent’s blunders.
- Some openings are direct, attacking the board’s center and rapidly creating material, while others are more subtle, progressing along the board’s sides and taking many turns to develop.
The best opening, like overall chess strategy, is the one you can play with the most confidence. A more aggressive approach may fit you better if you’re the type of player who wants to press the attack and establish the game’s momentum. A more passive, adaptable style of play can be your best bet if you prefer to set traps for your opponent and wait for them to make mistakes.
The Most Popular White Pieces Chess Opening
The most common opening move for white in modern chess is to move the king’s pawn ahead two squares right away. (It’s written as 1.e4.) 1.e4 was dubbed “best by test” by Grandmaster Bobby Fischer.
What Are the Benefits of Using 1.e4?
It strikes the center right away. (Remember that the early and middle stages of the game are all about controlling the center.)
Both the queen and a bishop can develop immediately in 1.e4. Some of the oldest and most prominent chess openings, including as the Ruy Lopez (or Spanish) opening, the Italian Game (or Giuoco Piano), and the King’s Gambit, are based on it.
The Most Popular Black Pieces Chess Opening
White’s first move will almost always determine black’s opening. Black openings are commonly referred to as “defenses,” despite the fact that several of them (such as the Sicilian Defense) may be highly aggressive in their own right.
Black’s most common move is to move its queenside bishop pawn forward to c5. This is the start of the traditional Sicilian Defense, which has been utilized to great success by many of the world’s finest players.
What Benefits Does the Sicilian Defense Offer?
This is a very aggressive opening for black, and it might throw an unprepared white player off guard.
The Sicilian Defense’s Najdorf Variation is a well-known and well-studied variation that Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov both used to great effect.
If white plays 1.d4, black has more than a half-dozen solid answers, leading to a variety of well-researched defenses.
1.d4 Nf6 is a versatile answer that kicks off the popular set of Indian Defenses. These so-called hypermodern openers give a large portion of the center to white, with the goal of gradually dismantling the opponent’s defense.
The popular and solid Caro-Kann Defense, in which black relies on a superior pawn structure to set up a favorable endgame, may be triggered by the answer 1.d4 c6.
5 Chess Opening Techniques to Improve Your Game
Learn more about chess openings, that can help improve your whole strategy and playing style.
Take command of the center. Although there are positional types of play that control the center from the outside, it is critical for beginners to understand the importance of attacking and controlling the center of the board.
Concentrate on improving your smaller parts. This is a reference to your knights and bishops. Bishops are your best bet if the game appears to be fairly open. If the middle of the board is clogged with pawns, you’ll want to rely more on knights.
Keep an eye on the king. Finding a strategy to bring your king to safety is an important part of the early game. Ignoring the King may compel you to surrender pieces or cause development to be slowed due to a sudden attack. Look at the Scholar’s Mate for an example of what can happen to an undefended King.
Each piece can only be moved once. Remember, you’re not generating another piece every time you move a piece you’ve already moved. More material in the center of the board is almost always preferable to focusing on two or three pieces.
Don’t bring out the Queen too soon. It’s tempting to bring your Queen into the middle of the board as quickly as possible, but the more you rely on her to mix it up with minor pieces, the more trouble you’ll cause.
How to Choose the Right Opening for Your Playing Style
In chess, there are literally hundreds of opening combinations. There is only one important aspect to consider when selecting your openings: make moves that you are comfortable with.
Many chess players, including Grandmasters, are prone to playing outside of their comfort zones. You can attain middlegame situations that play to your strengths by choosing opening lines that fit your style.
Don’t put too many restrictions on yourself in order to get the most out of your first study. If you don’t try out several openings, you’ll never figure out whatever style is ideal for you. Do you favor calm, moving positions or crisp, open lines? You’ll never know unless you try both. You can concentrate more on preparing certain lines once you’ve created a repertory.