An Opening Guide

Nov 26, 2014, 6:12 AM |

This guide is for anyone who would like to brush up on their openings and defenses.

Remember: A good opening strategy is to reach a playable middlegame. Protecting your king, controlling the center, development and mobility are all essential parts of the opening.



This aggressive move has many strengths. It immediately works on controlling the center and opens lines to the queen and king's bishop while fighting for the squares d5 and f5. This is a popular first move, leaving Black with two options:

  1. Black may choose to mirror White's move and reply with "e5" for the same reasons, leading to openings such as the Ruy LopezGiuoco Piano (including the Evans Gambit variant), and King's Gambit.
  2. Black can also try something other than mirroring White's "e4" move, leading to openings such as the Sicilian DefenseFrench DefenseCaro-KannCenter Counter, and Pirc/Modern.
Openings with 1. e4 tend to emphasize violent tactics over slow maneuvering.

                                                                Replies to 1.e4 

The most aggressive replies by Black challenge White's control of d4:

Alternatively, Black may challenge White's central control by targeting the newly arrived e4 pawn:

Other first moves by Black allow White to place pawns on e4 and d4, with Black conceding a spatial disadvantage in order to prepare a counterattack:

Other, rarely-played moves by Black include:

                                                  The Open Game 1...e5 


Note: The King's Gambit, The Vienna Game, and The Bishop's Opening plan to open the f-file for an attack on Black's weak f7 point, an idea which underlies these three related moves; the variations of which frequently transpose into each other. 


                                                The King's Gambit


This opening was the most popular opening in the 1800s. White offers a pawn (and temporarily weakens his kingside) in exchange for rapid development and the opportunity to play d4. Black can accept the pawn and play 2.exf4 or refuse it. In the second, many opportunities are offered. The most played are 2...Bc5 and 2...d5. Black could also reasonably play 2...Nc6 - a variation that is rarely explored. It's rarely seen now at the master level as Black obtains an advantage after accepting the gambited pawn.


                                       The King's Gambit (Accepted)



                                       The King's Gambit (Declined)


                        The Bishop's Opening











































Data collected from