There are over 300 chess openings in the world, and you could easily spend a lifetime learning them all. Chess is believed to have originated in India in the 6th century before it spread across Asia and into Europe less than 100 years later. Over the centuries, Chess has seen expansions and variations; today, there are many different styles of play, and the opening move is the first opportunity for players to establish their style.
The chess opening defines how a player will play the game, so it is vital that they gain an understanding of each different type of opening. However, new openings are being introduced all the time, and it is impossible to keep track of them all. For this reason, it is useful to learn the chess openings in order of popularity and frequency, rather than trying to memorize them all.
Some Chess openings
1. Ruy Lopez [The Spanish Game] – The Ruy Lopez is one of the most popular chess openings in the world and is named after Spanish priest Ruy Lopez, who was one of the top chess players in Europe during the 16th century. The popularity of this opening stems from the fact that it offers an aggressive start to a game, with white’s first move threatening Black’s King pawn.
2. French Defence – The French defense was developed by a strong player called Francois Andre Danican Philidor in the 18th century. Black uses his first move to protect their King pawn (he does not want it to be captured by white’s first move) and then counters white’s attack with a very aggressive move of his own.
3. Sicilian Defence – The Sicilian is one of the most common chess openings in the world, but it is also one of the most complex to master. It has many variations and can be used against a wide range of opponents, so this makes it useful for players. However, different variations require different strategies, so Black must choose carefully at this stage.
4. Queen’s Gambit – The Queen’s Gambit was a popular chess opening in England in the 19th century and was introduced into the international tournament scene at that time. White offers black a pawn so they can gain control of the center of the board with their first move. Black must decide if they want to take this free pawn or not before playing their own first move.
5. King’s Indian Attack – This is an aggressive chess opening that was popularized in the 1970s by grandmaster Boris Spassky. White allows black to take their King’s pawn at the start of the game, but Black has to worry about white attacking them with a series of pieces. Black must decide if they want to counterattack immediately or whether they should start by defending their King’s pawn.
6. Queen Pawn – The Queen’s pawn is a very common chess opening that has been used both in amateur and professional games for hundreds of years. White moves their Queen’s pawn forward two spaces at the start of a game, usually starting with Black responding by moving a piece to block it. However, there is no hard and fast rule about this.
7. Indian Defence – The Indian Defence is not common in the world of professional Chess, but it is popular with amateur players around the world when they are just learning how to play chess openings for the first time. Black uses their first move to protect both of their pawns at the same time, but this opens up some opportunities for White.
8. Ruy Lopez – Ruy Lopez is one of the most important chess openings in history and was made famous by Italian player Leonardo da Cutri in the 16th century. White captures black’s King pawn early on to establish a grip on that side of the board. Black can counter with a series of moves to stop white advancing, but this is only really possible when you understand the Ruy Lopez well.
9. Zukertort Opening – The Zukertort opening was popularized in the 19th century by German player Johannes Zukertort and is very similar to White’s Queen Pawn opening. White captures black’s King pawn, but this time black doesn’t move a piece to protect it and instead uses their first move to counterattack with a Knight.
10. Queen’s Gambit Accepted – The Queen’s gambit accepted is an alternative chess opening for Black that also starts by offering white a free pawn, but this time it is a Queen’s pawn. White can choose whether to take the free pawn or not, and this move is usually followed by black moving their Knight out in front of their King.
11. Nimzowitsch Defence – The Nimzo-Indian chess opening was invented in 1924 by Aron Nimzowitsch and has been popular ever since. White’s Queen pawn is moved forward two spaces, but it is blocked early on by Black, who uses their first move to put a Knight in front of it. This forces White to make another decision as they now have to decide which side of the board they want to play their pieces.
12. Riga Variation – The Riga variation is an aggressive chess opening that was popular in the 18th century but has recently been used by grandmasters Paul Keres and Viktor Korchnoi. White moves their Queen’s pawn forward two spaces to start with. Black then responds by moving their King’s Knight pawn two spaces forward, which makes this move look very similar to White’s Queen’s pawn opening.
13. Bishop’s Opening – The Bishop’s opening is an important chess opening that was first played in the 16th century by Spanish players Ruy Lopez de Segura and Gioachino Greco. White moves their King’s pawn two spaces forward to start with, but black counters this move by moving their Queen’s pawn forward only one space.
14. Caro-Kann Defence – The Caro-Kann defense is a popular chess opening that was named after French player Horace Caro and German player Marcus Kann who both discovered it independently in the late 19th century. Black moves their King’s pawn forward two spaces which makes white think about moving their King’s pawn forward one space to attack it. However, white can’t win a piece by doing this and instead has to move their Queen’s pawn forward two spaces to protect it.
15. English Opening – The English opening became popular in the 18th century and was named after English players who played an important part in its development. White moves their King’s pawn out two spaces from their side of the board, and black moves their King’s pawn forward one space to protect it. This move is usually followed by either white moving their Queen’s Knight or their Bishop, but this depends on what Black does next.
What are the most common chess openings?
The most popular chess opening is the Ruy Lopez (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5). It can be played against almost any response by Black, and if handled correctly, it offers White excellent long-term development, control of key central squares, a clear plan for attack on the King, and extra tempi to accomplish this.
The Ruy Lopez is closely followed by 1. d4, which can lead to a huge variety of different setups and openings depending on the response, but 1. d4 is much more popular than the Ruy Lopez because it can be used in most situations, whereas Black has many answers that are not considered to be risky.
The third most popular opening is the Queen’s Gambit. This usually occurs after 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Bg5, but it can also be pursued by playing 1.d4 without first playing Nf6. The Queen’s Gambit is a good way of avoiding Ruy Lopez and achieving a position that can be more easily developed into an endgame.
What chess openings should a beginner learn?
For beginners, learning which chess opening they will play is not important; instead, they should try to understand each type of opening and work out what the key ideas and plans are that define them.
It is best to start with openings that involve 1. e4 because they are simple for beginners to play, and then when players begin to reach a certain level, they can choose an opening such as the Queen’s Gambit, which will add some depth to their game.
What are gambits in Chess?
A gambit is a chess opening where the material is sacrificed, usually for the sake of gaining an advantage in the development or control of key central squares. There are many different types of gambits, and it is useful to understand what they each involve so that you can avoid them if you do not want to get into such a risky position.
The most popular gambits are the King’s Gambit, Queen’s Gambit, and Benko Gambit. The first two of these involve a sacrifice of a pawn with the aim of giving your pieces a strong attack on an exposed enemy king. The Benko Gambit is similar but sacrifices a pawn on f7 instead.
What are the weirdest chess openings?
Some of the most interesting and strange chess openings include:
a) 1. b4- known as the Orangutan opening, this has been played at grandmaster level, but it is considered to be very bad for White because they will not achieve they have desired setup.
b) 1. b3- this is an extremely rare opening, played only once by grandmasters in serious games. It does not give White a good position, and so it is regarded as solid for Black.
c) 1. e5 e6 2. Qh5- the idea behind this strange move is to drive away from the Black Queen, allowing the White player to possibly take advantage in development. However, this is not a sound opening, and it’s probably best for beginners to avoid it.
In conclusion, there are many different chess openings, but most of these are used by very experienced players. For beginners, it is best to learn how each opening works and which ones are worth trying, rather than studying exact move sequences with the aim of having memorized them all by the end of their first chess class.