A game of chess is divided into three main phases. They are the Opening, Middlegame, and the Endgame. The opening as the name implies signifies the commencement of a game of chess, it is when players begin to deploy their soldiers for the war of minds. In this article, we are going to examine 3 excellent chess openings for both the white and black pieces.
Chess Openings For White
The London System
The London System is an ideal opening for new players, due to its solidity and the ease at which pieces can be developed. However, the opening is not restricted to beginners only as it is also implemented by elite players. It starts with the move 1. d4. The move d4 is played by white to control the center and rapidly develop his pieces. The dark square bishop more often than not goes to the f4 square on the next move. This signifies the start of the London system.
There are some variations that can occur in the London and we will go over two of them.
The first variation goes thus: 1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 Nf6
This variation is known as the Accelerated London System. Here, white has immediately developed his dark square bishop to a very active diagonal on f4. From here the game will continue with 3. Nf3. By playing d4, Bf4 and Nf3, white establishes firm control over the e5 square, thereby preventing black from executing e5 and freeing up his pieces.
Another variation that might occur in the London system involves a fianchettoed bishop by black. This variation goes like: 1.d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bf4 Bg7
In this variation, black employs a hyper-modern approach. Hyper-modern means when a player looks to control squares with their minor pieces rather than pawns. In this case, black plays 1.Nf6, controlling the e4 square with his knight. After 2. Nf3, black plays g6, preparing to fianchetto the dark square bishop. A fianchettoed bishop serves both as an attacking and defending piece. White will go ahead to play Bf4, just developing the dark square bishop and maintaining the firm grip on the e5 square, and black plays Bg7, putting the bishop in the fianchetto position and preparing to castle. This variation promises an exciting tactical battle between the two sides.
Another solid weapon to add to your repertoire of chess openings is the English Opening. The English opening is a flank opening, meaning white attacks the center using pawns from the outside. A player that intends to use the English will open with the C pawn, directly staking a claim to the d5 square which is a very important square in many chess openings as it is a central square. By attacking the d5 square, white states early on that they are interested in controlling the light squares.
A few variations can occur after 1.c4, an example of one such variation is: 1.c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. g3 Nc6
After 1.c4, black in this variation will play e4, staking their claim on the dark square on d4 and f4. From this position white will play Nc3. This variation by white looks to use the c4 pawn and the c3 knight to control the d5 square. Black then goes Nf6. White continues with the move g3, g3 is played with the sole reason of placing the bishop on f2 to add more control to the d5 square. Black will then develop the knight to c6, solidifying his grip on the d4 square.
The main theme for white in this variation of the London, in the first few moves, is to the d5 square while developing pieces. After Nc6 by black white can then fianchetto his bishop, castle and go into the middlegame.
The Ruy Lopez is one of the oldest chess openings. It is also very popular at all levels. Ruy Lopez starts with the moves: 1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. B5 These starting moves signify the Ruy Lopez. There are quite a number of variations in the Ruy Lopez, we will examine a few.
Ruy Lopez: Morphy Defense Variation
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6
The Morphy Defense Variation is characterized by the move a6 from black, black plays a6 to alleviate the pressure the bishop exerts on the c6 knight. From here, there are two options for white, to capture the pawn and go into the exchange variation of the Morphy defense, or to retreat the bishop.
The Exchange Variation occurs when white plays 4.bxc6. This move forces black to capture back and get a double pawn. Black will usually recapture using the d6 pawn.
However, the capture by white is double-edged. On one hand, white has messed up black’s pawn structure by creating a double pawn, but for the price of doubling black’s pawns, white no longer possesses the light square bishop, which early on in the Ruy Lopez is the most powerful minor piece for white.
Therefore, if you’re a player that prefers to attack and exploit open positions you should avoid the exchange variation.
The Non-exchange variation happens after 3.a6 by black, white retreats, usually by playing 4.Ba4. By moving the bishop to a4, white sidesteps the attack from the a6 pawn, while still keeping the pressure on the c6 knight. black will then play b5, attacking the bishop again and forcing it to abandon the pressure on the c3 knight. White will respond with 5.Bb3, directing the attention of the bishop to the vulnerable f7 square.
The f7 square is the most vulnerable piece in black’s camp as it is only defended by the king. Black will continue either Nf6, attacking white’s vulnerable e4 pawn. White can temporarily sacrifice the pawn and just castle. The reason is that black cannot actually win the pawn for free, if black for some reason decides to capture the e4 pawn, white can play Re1 and easily win back the pawn.
The Berlin Defense is another variation of the Ruy Lopez that stems after 3.Bb5 is played by white. Black responds with Nf6, this move signifies the Berlin Defense. The Berlin Defense normally leads to an equal endgame, however, that doesn’t mean black cannot get chances.
Now, let’s take a look at some chess openings for the black pieces.
Chess Openings For Black
Caro Kann Defense
The Caro Kann is one of the most popular chess openings for black. It is a Defense against white’s king pawn opening (e4). The moves that announce the Caro Kann are 1.e4 c6.
The idea behind the c6 move is that black wants to, on the next move, play d5 and undermine the e4 pawn. However, black wants to have support from c6 before playing d4. In this opening, black would love to have both of their pawns on the e5 and d5 square while giving up the c6 pawn.
However, this depends on how white reacts. There are a few variations in the Caro Kann and we are going to go through the main line and two others, namely the exchange variation and the advanced variation.
Classical Variation: Main Line
The main line starts with: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 d×e4 4.N×e4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7. Nf3 Nd7 8.h5 Bh7 9. Bd3 B×b3
The main line of the Caro Kann is one of the few chess openings where black can attain equality, most players prefer black in this position, as it gives the player with the black pieces a better pawn structure if the game goes into the endgame.
The main line also known as the classical variation begins after 2.d4. Black responds to this move with d5, attacking the e4 pawn. White develops the knight to c3, attacking black’s d5 pawn and at the same time protecting their e4 pawn. The main line continues with black capturing the e4 pawn, and white then recaptures with Nxe4. From here, black plays Bf5, attacking the undefended knight on e4.
Play continues with white moving the threatened knight to g3, sidestepping the attack from the f5 bishop, and initiating a new attack on that (f5) bishop. Black replies with Bg6, moving away from the attack of the knight. White then continues to increase the pressure with h4, looking to trap the bishop placed on g6. Black will then make an escape route for the bishop on the h7 square by playing h6. White then goes ahead to develop their knight to f3, to which black replies Nd7.
The next move by white in the main line will be h5, further harassing the g6 bishop, black will then move the bishop to the h7 haven that was created some moves ago.
However, because the black bishop on h7 is very well placed, white will challenge it with Bd3, offering a trade. Black accepts this trade and the game continues with both players having their chance to win the game, but black maintains a better pawn structure and also has the option of kingside or queenside castle.
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nc3 e6
Another variation of the Caro Kann is the advanced variation. In this variation, white, instead of capturing on d5, chooses to play e5, thereby advancing the pawn without making any trades. From here black will play Bf5, developing the bishop to an active square. White replies with Nc3 and black plays e6, solidifying the pawn structure. The Advanced Variation promises a positional game where black has a solid pawn structure.
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e×d5 c×d5
The exchange variation of another variation in the Caro Kann. Players who go for the exchange variation, more often than not, are not versed in the theories of Caro Kann. The Exchange Variation starts after 2.d5 by black. White then goes on to capture the d5 pawn, black captures back and this signifies the exchange variation of the Caro Kann.
The Scandinavian Defense starts with e4 d5 and e×d5. We are going to take a look at two variations of the Scandinavian that can arise after e×d5. The first variation is the main line.
1.e4 d5 2.e×d5 Q×d5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.d4 c6 5.Nf3 Nf6 6. Bc4 Bf5 7.Bd2 e6
The main line of the Scandinavian starts with 2.Q×d5, from here, white plays Nc3, attacking the queen on d5. Black has a few options, to move to d6, d8, or d5. Playing d8 is a very passive way of approaching the position as the queen just returns to the starting square.
The main line, however, continues with Qa5. From this position, white will open up his bishop with d4 and black will reply with c6. White simply continues to develop their pieces with Nf3, while black does the same with Nf6. Bc4 comes next for white, and black will reply with Bf5.
White then develops his dark square bishop to break the pin the queen had on the c3 knight, black will then release the black bishop with e6. The main line of the Scandinavian offers a solid foundation for black to build into the end game.
1.e4 d5 2. e×d5 Nf6
The modern variation starts with Nf6 after 2.e×d5, this attacks the d5 pawn, while developing the knight, rather than capturing immediately. This is done to rapidly develop pieces while waiting on the capture of the enemy piece. White will then play 3.c4, protecting the d5 pawn; from this position, black can reply in a variety of ways.
One of the most common is playing c6, if white captures on c6, black can develop his knight to c6, gaining rapid development and center control for the price of one pawn. The more common move after c6 by black is d4 by white, this gives back the pawn on d5. Another move black can make, after c4, is to play e6. This move is known as the Icelandic Gambit, which aims for rapid development In exchange for a pawn. The Icelandic Gambit is an aggressive gambit that could result in a very good game for black.
The Grunfeld Defense is a hyper-modern defense by black against the queen pawn opening (d4). The Grunfeld starts with d4, Nf6, aiming at the center, white continues with c4, aiming to control more squares. Black then replies g6, preparing to fianchetto the dark square bishop on g7, white replies to this by playing Nc3, developing the knight, and putting pressure on the center. From here, black is going to play d5. We will go over two variations of the Grunfeld Defense.
Grunfeld Defense: Exchange Variation
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.c×d5 N×d5 5.e4 N×c3 6.b×c3 Bg7 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Ne2 c5
The exchange variation starts with white capturing on d4, black is going to recapture with his knight on f6. White then pushes e4, expanding control of the center and attacking the black knight, from here, black will exchange his knight with the c3 knight. White will capture back with the b2 pawn and black will complete the fianchetto of his bishop with Bg7. From here, white plays bishop c4 attacking the vulnerable f7 pawn, and black will immediately castle to alleviate the pressure on the f7 square.
From here, white plays Ne7, preparing to castle as well, black will play c6, and the game continues with both sides having developed their pieces and having an equal position.
Grunfeld Defense: Brinckmann Attack
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.e3 c5 6.d×c5 Qa5
This variation starts with Bf4 by white instead of capturing the d5 pawn. Black then replies Bg7, fianchetto-ing the bishop. White goes ahead with e3, opening up the bishop. From here, black will play c5, putting more pressure on the center. White will capture on c5, with black responding with Qa5, ready to capture back on the next move. This variation promises a positional game with both sides having fairly equal positions.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are illegal moves In chess?
Illegal moves in chess are moves that are considered wrong as they do not comply with chess rules. Examples of illegal moves are: Not responding to check, moving the pawn like a knight, promoting a pawn to a king, and other similar moves that do not align with chess rules.
What is the best chess opening?
There is no chess opening for both white and black that can one hundred percent grant you winning chances. It all boils down to your skills and knowledge of the game.
Who invented chess?
The history of chess can be traced back nearly 1500 years to its earliest known predecessor, called chaturanga which was played in India; its prehistory is the subject of speculation. From India, it spread to Persia. Following the Arab invasion and conquest of Persia, chess was taken up by the Muslim world and subsequently spread to Spain and the rest of Southern Europe. The game evolved roughly into its current form by about 1500 CE.
Can a person with a low IQ play chess?