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Black Openings vs 1. e4

  • #1

    Hey, everyone. Recently I decided to study chess openings. I've been focusing on the Ruy Lopez as white and as a consequence of this I was playing the Ruy Lopez as black in order to further my understanding by seeing it played as the other side. The problem is, I find playing the Ruy Lopez as black to be a poor opening that does not give good options or any good middle game threats as black.

    It's for this reason that I've come to the conclusion that I need to focus on learning an opening as black in response to 1. e4 that isn't the Ruy Lopez. I've been thinking of learning the Sicilian Defense, but I know that is a very complex opening with many different variations and I'm unsure of whether this should be my first opening to learn in response to 1.e4.

    My question: What should be the first opening I learn as black in response to 1. e4?

    I know that with openings it comes down to playstyle, understanding underlying themes, but if anyone could give me advice it would be very much appreciated.

    Here is a typical opening position I find myself in when the opponent plays 1. e4 and I respond with 1. ...e5:









    I find that there are no other popular responses to 1. e4 ...e5 2. Nf3 except 2. ...Nc6 which is the Ruy Lopez and I want to avoid playing the Ruy Lopez as black. This leads me to believe that I need to find a different opening as black that doens't start with the move 1. ...e5.


    Again, any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for any replies. Laughing

  • #2

    Instead of avoiding the Ruy as black, why not learn the Ruy as black. There has to be a variation there, starting on move 3 and going onwards. There's the Berlin, the Bird's, the Classical...and so on. Learning something instead of taking evasive actions and not learning, will build skills & confidence. Some people cycle from one opening to the next looking for the magic solution but only get frustrated when one openin after the next runs into other people's preparation.

  • #3

    @Drspudnik and Greenmtnboy

    I have tried studying the Ruy Lopez as black, but there aren't many free quality resources online. I've used the Chessmaster: Grandmaster Edition opening book reference, but it only lists main variations and doesn't explain the reasons behind any of the moves. When a player deviates from the main variations I end up lost.

    If I use this website as a main resource: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Chess_Opening_Theory/1._e4/1...e5/2._Nf3/2...Nc6/3._Bb5

    I find that all the resources point to the Morphy Defense as the most popular move. So I follow this line in the following online resource: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Chess_Opening_Theory/1._e4/1...e5/2._Nf3/2...Nc6/3._Bb5/3...a6/4._Ba4/4...Nf6/5._O-O/5...Be7/6._Re1/6...b5/7._Bb3

    And then it stops there. So I use the Chessmaster: Grandmaster Edition opening reference book to see the full line. What I find is that there are so many variations that it would be impossible for me to memorize all of them. When I play against other people online they never play the book line and deviate somewhere. Then I'm left to my own devices and I find that I'm in a terrible position as black.

    Here's an example taken from one of my games:

    As you can see he deviates twice from the main line. We both followed the book lines until his second deviations and then I was left in a position as black where I couldn't see any strategical or tactical options. Any thoughts?
  • #4

    It looks like a playable position to me. Fairly typical Ruy stuff, but with the d3 center.

    If you don't have resources, how would being lost in the French or Sicilian be any better?

  • #5
    DrSpudnik wrote:

    It looks like a playable position to me. Fairly typical Ruy stuff, but with the d3 center.

    If you don't have resources, how would being lost in the French or Sicilian be any better?

    As mentioned and shown, the position I end up in as black when I play the Ruy Lopez I find to be problematic for me. I can't see any positional, strategical, or tactical moves. This is why I've theorized that perhaps if I study another opening against 1. e4 I will be in a Middle Game position that is more comfortable for me.

    As for no having resources, I do have resources, and make the best with what I have.

    As for saying the position looks playable to you, could you please explain what possible moves you see as black in that position and your general plan in making those moves? Thanks.

  • #6

    There's all sorts of stuff:

    Play Bb7

    Play Na5 to chase the B and then c5

  • #7

    Well, if you think that's an awful position for Black, maybe you should be trying a different opening. Wink

  • #8
    DrSpudnik wrote:

    There's all sorts of stuff:

    Play Bb7

    Play Na5 to chase the B and then c5

    Thanks, those are smart positional moves.

    AndyClifton wrote:

    Well, if you think that's an awful position for Black, maybe you should be trying a different opening. 

    If you think that's a helpful comment, maybe you shouldn't post at all Wink

  • #9

    Try the French. You don't really need to know opening theory at this point, and you have access to the internet (which is all you need to learn many things, actually).

    Watch these videos by Kingscrusher (CM Tryfon Gavriel) where he explains what he's doing in the French. Mind you, the videos aren't tutorials, but it's eye-opening to sit in the passenger seat when a good chess player plays.







  • #10

    Thank you for the responses, they are much appreciated.

  • #11

    Another jackpot:


    By the way, if you wanted something other than French, the sidebar has similar pages on other openings.

  • #12
    Apathy wrote:
    If you think that's a helpful comment, maybe you shouldn't post at all.

    Given your name, I wouldn't have thought you would care... Wink

  • #13

    My advise is try the French defense.The reason is only one:

    There are very important , need to be learn , concepts in French defense(not according to me , according to the greatest teacher ever lived in this planet , Mikhail Botvinnik).

    French defense will teach you the importance of pawn structure.It is not the best opening but it is the simplest to start.You can play it with minimum theory , just by understanding the main concepts and by knowing the main traps.

       The point is not just learning an opening but understanding chess and to do that you need to understand how pawn structure "works" in chess.The best opening to do that is French defense.Learn French defense and then move on to anything else you want.

  • #14

    I use Accelerated Dragon and i think that gives me opportunities.

    I recoment this opening

  • #15

    Do you have any interest in modern defenses?  I have had good luck with the Pirc, 1... d6

  • #16

    the hyper accelerated dragon is good

  • #17
    Greenmtnboy wrote:

    The Caro-Kann is not that hard to learn and equalizes without much trouble in most cases.   There are third and fourth move variants for black in the Ruy Lopez that are quite popular and often throw off the unprepared Ruy player. 


  • #18

    If you do not want to play e4 for e4, the french is a good opening. It will help you to understand closed positions, and it is easy to play and understand. Caro-kann is not recommended, it is a passive openings, it is only good for playing for a draw...

  • #19

    I use Pirc ☺

  • #20

    I just play 1. e5 and go for it with both knights out first.

    The first is The Fishing Pole (for G/30 or less), I use The Berlin for slower time controls:


    Next is the Chigorin-Counter Attack (as it is called in a few Russian circles) aka. Two Knights' Defense:

    As black, white might expect you to play meekly and safe. There is no reason for black not to push back from move one. I chose my set of openings because I want quick development for my pieces more than anything else.

    I am no master, but I was taught that below master level almost any opening is viable because there will be tactical mistakes during the game and not because of opening choice.

    I used to play the Barry Attack and had an overwhelming position against a master (twice!) and couldn't pull it off because of mistakes I made after the  opening phase was complete. Technique is more important at this stage than anything else.

    The Barry Attack



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