The 7 Weirdest Chess Openings

The 7 Weirdest Chess Openings

| 170 | Fun & Trivia

Everyone knows the popular, "normal" openings played at the top level of chess.

The Ruy-Lopez, the Sicilian, the French: thousands of pages have been written about these world-championship-level openings. 

But what if you're not playing against Magnus Carlsen, with chess history and millions of dollars on the line? What if you just want to have a little fun while you play the game?

You might consider one of these weird chess openings. They may lack hundreds of years of established theory, but they more than make up for it in fun.

With crazy names and crazy ideas on the board, it doesn't get any wackier than these seven openings. 

Let us know your favorite offbeat opening in the comments and on Facebook

1. The Toilet Variation

Legend has it that this opening was conceived by a Sicilian Grand Prix player in the restroom: hence its crappy name.

It doesn't help matters that the Toilet Variation quickly flushes away any advantage White could hope for out of the opening. 

2. The Monkey's Bum

This aggressive opening grew out of a desire to crack open the Modern Defense. 

The British IM Nigel Povah invented the opening in the early 1970s. He showed the moves to his friend Ken Coates, who proclaimed "if this works, then I'm a monkey's bum."

The name stuck and the opening is still highly playable, as GM Simon Williams demonstrates in his excellent Monkey's Bum video. 

3. The Hillbilly Attack

This "rootin'-tootin'" response to the Caro-Kann allegedly impressed a young Magnus Carlsen when he first saw it.

If it's good enough for Magnus, it's good enough for you. GM Simon Williams has the comprehensive look at this wild opening. 

4. The Frankenstein-Dracula Variation

This sharp variation of the Vienna Game is not for the faint of heart.

Though it's not the most ambitious positional line, it is playable at high levels of chess, and was used by Alexei Shirov in exhibition games. 

The chess author Tim Harding considered this opening so violent that "a game between Dracula and the Frankenstein monster would not seem out of place."

5. The Hippopotamus Defense

The Hippo Defense -- more of a setup than a proper opening -- took off in popularity after Boris Spassky deployed it in his 1966 world championship match against Tigran Petrosian.

The opening behaves a bit like a hippo -- lying in wait below the waterline -- after Black moves most of his pawns to his third rank and most of his pieces to the second. The idea for Black is to set up a flexible defense that can adapt to whatever White tries.

According to WikipediaGM Tiger Hillarp Persson wrote the following about the opening:

The Hippo lies low in the water. It looks almost ridiculously passive and many theoreticians consider the Hippo to be a peaceful, almost meek animal. But nothing could be further from the truth. On closer scrutiny the animal, the position, and the statistics look almost entirely different. The Hippo is a fierce animal; ready to crush anyone who gets too close.

6. The Orangutan


This dubious-looking initial move for White takes its name from a famous 1924 game between Tartakower and Maróczy in New York. While visiting the Bronx Zoo before the game, Tartakower claimed he "talked" with an orangutan named Susan, who recommended the grandmaster open his game with 1. b4. 

The game was drawn, but the name lives on in history.

7. The Flick-Knife Attack

Unlike many of the above openings whose solidity can be considered doubtful, the Flick-Knife Attack is a very strong response to the Modern Benoni, to the point where some strong players consider the Modern Benoni "busted" in light of it. 

What's the weirdest opening you've played? Let us know in the comments section. 


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