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4 Of The Best Chess Openings For Black

The opening is an important aspect of any chess game. More often than not, whether a player wins or loses, a game is decided by how well they can play the opening. Therefore, understanding the opening is very important for any chess player as the opening is the foundation of any chess game. If the opening is weak, a player will struggle in the middle game and the endgame. 

Openings have to be played with the utmost attention to detail. The great chess player Rudolph Spielmann said, “Play the opening like a book..” This quote means that the opening should be played with surgical precision to get an edge over your opponent or to have a very good foundation going into the middle game.

There are numerous opening lines out there for both white and black. While most players are well acquainted with the popular chess openings for white, openings like the Ruy Lopez, Queen’s Gambit etc., chess openings for black are not popular, especially among beginners and intermediate players.

In this article, we will take you through four of the best chess openings for black. 

READ ALSO: 10 OPENINGS NAMED AFTER POPULAR CHESS PLAYERS

Best Chess Openings For Black

1. Sicilian Defense 

Are you tired of always having to play passive after white plays e4 in the opening? If yes, then we strongly suggest you try playing the Sicilian Defense. The Sicilian is the most popular defence with the highest win rate against white’s e4 move. White players these days play 1.d4 to escape the deadly waters of the Sicilian.  The move that starts off the Sicilian by black is the c5 response to White’s e4

Chess openings for black
The move c5 characterises the Sicilian Defence by black 

There are different lines and variations of the Sicilian Defense. They include the Open Sicilian, Closed Sicilian, Dragon Sicilian, and The Najdorf Sicilian, which was popularised by Grandmaster Miguel Najdorf and is a favourite of Grandmasters like Maxime Vachier Lagrave and Magnus Carlsen

Chess openings for black
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf Variation

The Sicilian Defense is one of the best chess openings for black as it promises an extremely sharp and fighting game. 

2. Scandinavian Defense 

The Scandinavian Defense is a defense for black that looks to immediately counter white’s e4 push and undermine the center control white has. Also, the Scandinavian defense is the oldest recorded opening for black in chess. It starts with the move d5 by black in response to e4 by white. 

Black looks to immediately challenge the center control white has by attacking the e4-pawn while opening lines for his c8 bishop to get into the game. 

The Scandinavian Defense 

More often than not, white will capture your pawn on d5 and then it depends on whether you want to play the main line, which is Qxd5 or goes for sharper lines like the Icelandic Gambit. 

The Icelandic Gambit is an aggressive line of the Scandinavian Defense. Instead of taking the pawn on d5, black looks to give up the material in exchange for developmental lead and a semi-open file for his queen. The sequence of the Icelandic Gambit is:

1. e4 d5

2. exd5 Nf6

3. c4 e6

The Icelandic Gambit 

White has to be very careful when playing against the Icelandic Gambit as it gives black a variety of attacking options. If your opponent is not well-grounded in the lines of the Icelandic Gambit, you can easily gain a decisive advantage early on in the game

3. Caro-Kann

Are you a player that likes to play solid and positional chess? If yes, you should add the Caro-Kann to your opening repertoire.

Aside from having a cool name, the Caro-Kann is one of the best chess openings for black that promises a substantial and positional advantage for black against the King’s pawn opening (e4).

Although it is similar to the Sicilian and French Defense, it is more solid and dynamic than either of the two chess openings for black. It often leads to a better pawn structure for black, thereby making the endgame easier for you to play. Top players also love the Caro-Kann. It is a personal favourite of the chess prodigy Grandmaster Alireza Firouzja. So, if you want to win like Alireza, play the Caro-Kann! The Caro-Kann starts off with the moves: 

1.e4 c6 

The main line of the Caro-Kann continues with:

 2. d4 d5

The Caro-Kann

After 2.d4 d5, the most common moves are 3.Nc3 (Classical and Modern variations), 3.Nd2, 3.exd5 (Exchange Variation), and 3.e5 (Advance Variation).The Caro-Kann is one of the chess openings for black that every player needs to know. 

King’s Indian Defense 

We’ve looked at three possible responses to White’s e4 move in the opening. What if your opponent freaks out knowing your extensive knowledge on how to counter e4 and instead plays d4? Well, bad news for him because this opening is another strong weapon against white when he plays d4. The King’s Indian Defense is a solid response to the d4 move by white. The King’s Indian is a hypermodern opening, where Black deliberately allows White control of the center with its pawns, with the view to challenge it subsequently. It arises after the moves: 1. d4 Nf62. c4 g6

King’s Indian Defense 

In the most critical lines of the King’s Indian, White creates a large pawn centre with Nc3 followed by e4. Black then tries to stake his control with c5 or e5. If White resolves the tension in the centre with d5,  Black follows with either b5 and queenside play or f5 and an eventual kingside attack. Meanwhile, White will look to expand on the opposite wing. The resulting unbalanced positions promise sharp and active play for both sides.

And there you have it! Four of the best chess openings for black. Try it out and crush your opponents with your top-notch skills.

READ ALSO: How To ‘Magically’ Improve Your Chess Rating As A Beginner in 6 Simple Stages

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