Chess Opening Moves
Openings Theory is based on top class games to provide recommended
variations for the opening. This way the openings have become somewhat
standardized, although there are so many lines (variations) that one
should not think that the game has any simplified. There are many
variations that are considered to be correct for both WHITE and BLACK,
resulting in positions that have equal chances for both. There is no
need for one to memorize any openings. This will be done to some extent
through experience, but relying on healthy, analytical thinking is
Most openings have a name, for example 'Spanish Game', 'Sicilian
Defense' etc. One needs to know which moves characterize each opening in
order to classify a game. Similar openings usually lead to positions
with similar features. Furthermore, every opening has many possible
variations, many of which do also have a name.
A major classification depends on the first move. Accordingly, an
opening may be Open, Semi-Open or Closed. An opening is Open if WHITE
starts with 1.e4 and BLACK replies 1.e5. It is Semi-Open if WHITE starts
with 1.e4 but BLACK does not reply 1.e5 and it is Closed if WHITE does
not play 1.e4.
Below are some of the most common Open openings :
1. Spanish Game (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5): WHITE threatens the
black pawn at e5 with 2.Nf3 and BLACK supports it with 2.Nc6. Now WHITE
plays 3.Bb5 threatening the pawn again, since he may first capture on
c6, then on e5.
2. Italian game (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4): WHITE prepares to
castle whilst maximizing his pieces' mobility. The move 3.Bc4 controls
the d5 square and thus inhibits the freeing move d7-d5. It also keeps an
eye on f7, a slightly weak square in the opening and one immediately
relevant to the Black King's safety.
3. Scotch game (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4): WHITE plans to quickly
open the lines for his pieces. The usual answer is 3.exd4 and now WHITE
may either take his pawn back with 4.Nxd4 or play 4.c3, a variation
known as the 'Scotch Gambit'.
4. Four Knights Game (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6): This opening
is more stable for WHITE, but also not too demanding, since 3.Nc3 poses
no immediate threats.
5. Phillidor's Defense (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6): This opening leads to
closed positions, but tactics are still on.
6. Russian Game (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6): An interesting opening that
is not used very much nowadays.
7. Bishop's Opening (1.e4 e5 2.Bc4): This very old opening is
seldom used nowadays.
8. King's Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.f4): WHITE opts to capture the f-pawn
later (after 2.exf4); BLACK will have to settle for some defense if he
wants to keep the material advantage.
Below are some of the most common Semi-Open openings:
9. French Defense (1.e4 e6): BLACK is preparing to play the
freeing move d7-d5.
10. Caro-Cann Defense (1.e4 c6): BLACK is preparing to play d7-d5
here too; a major difference to the French Defense is that the Bc8 will
develop more easily, since the e-pawn does not restrict him.
11. Scandinavian Game (1.e4 d5): BLACK tries to have active play
and opens the position himself.
12. Alechkin's Defense (1.e4 Nf6): BLACK does not care about
moving the same piece again, in case WHITE plays 2.e5. If WHITE advances
his central pawns, BLACK will undermine his centre with side-thrusts
(d7-d6, c7-c5 etc).
13. Sicilian Defense (1.e4 c5): This opening is the most widely
used. It offers fair possibilities for both and usually leads to wild
Below are some of the most common Closed Openings:
14. Queen's Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.c4): If BLACK captures on c4,
WHITE will manage to capture on c4 later.
15. English Game (1.c4 e5): Usually leads to closed positions.
16. King's Indian Defense (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d6): An opening
rich in tactics and strategy; it has earned much popularity and is used
at top-class games.
17. Dutch Defense (1.d4 f5): This opening leads to closed
18. Slav Defense (1.c4 c6): This opening leads to symmetrical,
drawish positions, with strategic considerations playing the most
It is best for a player to get busy with only a handful of openings and
improve his knowledge and experience on them. Every opening has a key
idea, which, once perceived, will be easier to implement on the board.