kings pawn

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Details about the move and the game plan[edit]

White opens with the most popular of the twenty possible opening moves. Although effective in winning for White (54.25%), it is not quite as successful as the four next most common openings for White: 1.d4 (55.95%), 1.Nf3 (55.8%), 1.c4 (56.3%), and 1.g3 (55.8%).[2] Since nearly all openings beginning 1.e4 have names of their own, the term "King's Pawn Game", unlike Queen's Pawn Game, is rarely used to describe the opening of the game.

Advancing the king's pawn two squares is highly useful because it occupies a center square, attacks the center square d5, and allows the development of White's king'sbishop and queen. Chess legend Bobby Fischer said that the King's Pawn Game is "Best by test."

King's Pawn Games are further classified by whether Black responds with 1...e5 or not. Openings beginning with 1.e4 e5 are called Double King's Pawn Games (or Openings), Symmetrical King's Pawn Games (or Openings), or Open Games – these terms are equivalent. Openings where Black responds to 1.e4 with a move other than 1...e5 are called Asymmetrical King's Pawn Games or Semi-Open Games.

The Encyclopedia of Chess Openings (ECO) classifies all King's Pawn Games into volumes B or C: volume C if the game starts with 1.e4 e6 (the French Defence) or 1.e4e5; volume B if Black answers 1.e4 with any other move. The rare instances where the opening does not fall into a more specific category than "King's Pawn Game" are included in codes B00 (includes the Nimzowitsch Defence and unusual moves after 1.e4), C20 (includes Alapin's Opening and unusual moves after 1.e4 e5), C40 (includes the Latvian Gambit and unusual moves after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3), and C50 (includes the Hungarian Defence, the Giuoco Pianissimo, and unusual moves after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4).                                     

Popular continuation

The Black responses which are given one or more chapters in the Encyclopedia of Chess Openings (ECO) are given below, ranked in order of popularity according to ChessBase.

  • 1... c5, the Sicilian Defence, is in modern practice the most common continuation. The Sicilian Defence allows Black to fight for the center by preparing to meet a d2–d4 advance with ...c5xd4. The Sicilian is among the sharpest and most analyzed openings in chess, and it has eighty chapters, B20–B99, set aside for it in ECO.
  • 1... e5 leads to the classical Open Games, which includes openings like the Ruy LopezKing's GambitItalian GameScotch Game and Petroff Defence. Also in this opening, Black is ready to meet a d2–d4 advance with e5xd4. These openings are covered in chapters C20–C99 in ECO.
  • 1... e6 is the French Defence, covered in chapters C00–C19 in ECO. Black's restrained response allows White to play 2.d4. This gives White a spatial advantage, with two pawns in the center to Black's one (after the usual 2... d5). One or the other player will usually resolve the center tension, either by Black playing ...dxe4 or White advancing with e5. In the latter case, Black typically works to undermine White's pawn center with ...c5 and/or ...f6.
  • 1... c6 is the Caro-Kann Defence, covered in chapters B10–B19 in ECO. Like the French, this is also considered to be a solid reply, but Black will often need to surrender control over the center (e.g., after 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Black usually plays 3...dxe4). On the other hand, the light-squared bishop will usually not wind up trapped behind its own pawns, as is common in the French.
  • 1... d6 is usually played with the intention of playing the Pirc Defence (1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6, ECO code B07-B09), a hypermodern defence in which Black allows White to construct a dominant center, with the intention of subverting it later. It can also lead to the Modern DefencePribyl System or Philidor Defence.
  • 1... g6 is the Modern Defence. This can lead to a related opening called the Pirc Defence (1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6). These openings allow White to build up a pawn center with 2.d4, but Black will develop the king's bishop to g7 and strike back at the center. These openings are covered in chapters B06–B09 in ECO.
  • 1... Nf6 is the Alekhine Defence, which invites White to attack the knight with 2.e5. Black is often forced to spend time moving the knight several times as it is chased around the board, all the while allowing White to build up a broad pawn center. Black counts on the pawns becoming overextended so that he can later undermine them. The Alekhine is covered in chapters B02–B05 of ECO.
  • 1... d5, the Scandinavian Defence or Center Counter Defence, is a direct strike at the pawn at e4, forcing the situation in the center. After 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3, however, White gains time by attacking Black's prematurely developed queen. Alternatively, Black can play 2...Nf6 (the Marshall Gambit), when White chooses between 3.d4 Nxd5 4.c4 with a spatial advantage, or 3.c4, when Black usually offers a gambit with either 3...c6 or 3...e6. The Scandinavian is covered in chapter B01 in ECO.          

    Uncommon continuations[edit]

    Apart from these eight responses, all other replies from Black are covered together in ECO chapter B00 ("Uncommon King's Pawn Opening"). A few of these are not entirely obscure, and have received extensive analysis.

    • 1... Nc6 is the Nimzowitsch Defence. After 2.d4, there are two distinctive main lines: 2...e5, favored by British grandmaster Tony Miles, and 2...d5, introduced and often played by the influential Latvian-Danishplayer and writer Aron Nimzowitsch (1886–1935).
    • 1... b6 is Owen's Defence, preparing to develop Black's bishop to b7 to put pressure on White's center.
    • 1... a6 is the St. George Defence. Black prepares to advance on the queenside with 2...b5, but allows White to occupy the center with 2.d4. The opening gained some attention after Miles used it to defeat Anatoly Karpov in 1980.[3]
    • 1... g5 is the Borg Defence ("Grob" backwards) or Basman Defence, often played by IM Michael Basman. The move weakens the kingside severely, but according to Modern Chess Openings (MCO), Black is only somewhat worse.[4]        

      Rare continuations[edit]

      The remaining replies to 1.e4 are very rare, and have not received significant and serious attention by masters. MCO does not cover them, considering them so bad as not to merit discussion.[5] These openings sometimes lead to wild and exciting games, and are occasionally employed by weaker players to get better trained opponents "out-of-book". Some have exotic names, they are listed below along with instances where they have been used by strong players.

        a b c d e f g h  
      a8 black rook
      b8 black knight
      c8 black bishop
      d8 black queen
      e8 black king
      f8 black bishop
      h8 black rook
      a7 black pawn
      b7 black pawn
      c7 black pawn
      d7 black pawn
      e7 black pawn
      g7 black pawn
      h7 black pawn
      f6 black knight
      f5 white pawn
      a2 white pawn
      b2 white pawn
      c2 white pawn
      d2 white pawn
      f2 white pawn
      g2 white pawn
      h2 white pawn
      a1 white rook
      b1 white knight
      c1 white bishop
      d1 white queen
      e1 white king
      f1 white bishop
      g1 white knight
      h1 white rook
      7 7
      6 6
      5 5
      4 4
      3 3
      2 2
      1 1
        a b c d e f g h  
      Fred Defence after 2.exf5 Nf6
      • 1... a5, the Corn Stalk Defence. United States chess player Preston Ware played the Corn Stalk in eleven recorded tournament games from 1880 to 1882, winning four and losing seven.
      • 1... Na6, called the Lemming Defence in Unorthodox Chess Openings, develops the knight to an inferior square. The line has been suggested against some older computers, hoping for 2.Bxa6 bxa6, when Black has the bishop pair and a quick fianchetto as compensation for the doubled pawns. However, Black has no justification for playing 1...Na6 if White avoids this line.
      • 1... f5 is called the Duras Gambit in Unorthodox Chess Openings, and is also known as the Fred Defence. This is a pawn sacrifice which gives Black a lead in development after 2.exf5 Nf6, but without much compensation for the sacrificed pawn. The line was played three times in an exhibition match between Ossip Bernstein and Oldřich Duras.
      • 1... f6 is known as the Barnes Defence after Thomas Wilson Barnes. This move is clearly inferior, taking away the f6-square from the knight and weakening Black's kingside, although Barnes managed to defeat Paul Morphy with this defence in 1858.[6][7]
      • 1... h5, the Goldsmith Defence or Pickering Defence. All this move does is waste a tempo weakening the kingside.[8]
      • 1... h6, called the Carr Defence in Unorthodox Chess Openings. This defence has also been used by Michael Basman, and is likely to transpose to the Borg Defence (after 2.d4 g5).
      • 1... Nh6, the Adams Defence or Wild Bull Defence.[8]
      • 1... b5 simply loses a pawn to 2.Bxb5.                                

        Merge proposal[edit]

        Per the AFD Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Pickering Defense, there seemed to be a broad consensus that the opening 1.e4 h5 should not have a separate article; but the closer determined no consensus for deletion. The following articles broadly have broadly speaking the same troubles as 1.e4 h5. They are unorthodox, for very good reason, and have hardly been played by anyone. The merge proposals here are not entirely random, they are the replies to 1.e4 which do not have at least one separate column or line of analysis in Modern Chess Openings.

        • Corn Stalk Defense 1.e4 a5. Apparently Schiller has a page on this line in Unorthodox Chess Openings (but titled "Ware Defense"). Still not a line which is taken seriously by anybody.
        • Lemming Defense 1.e4 Na6. Also has an entry in Unorthodox Chess Openings. But again a line not taken seriously by any serious chess chess player, and analysis on the line is paltry grounds for expansion.
        • Fred Defence 1.e4 f5, has a chapter in Unorthodox Chess Openings called the "Duras Gambit". The ...Kf7 line given in our Wikipedia article looks just stupid, the type of thing a 2200 player does against a 900 player to boast about their superiority. Not sure the Chess Nation website cited in the article would qualify as reliable. After reading "This is another crack headed idea like the king's gambit," I would think not. The King's Gambit is absolutely not "crack headed" but a meaningful if speculative sacrifice by White.
        • Barnes Defense 1.e4 f6. Well, the best this line has accomplished is defeat Morphy... Still, this is another of those silly joke openings for which serious analysis is lacking. Even Unorthodox Chess Openingsdoesn't seem to cover it.
        • Pickering Defense 1.e4 h5. This is the one a AFDed and probably the one in the worst shape. The only sources I have found on this line confirm that 1...h5 is legal, and that it's bad. That is just as good as having no sources.
        • Carr Defense 1.e4 h6. Covered in Unorthodox Chess Openings, but again serious analysis, and attention by strong players is absent.
        • Adams Defense 1.e4 Nh6. Not covered in Unorthodox Chess Openings.

        Although some of these lines have miscellaneous facts about them beyond being legal and bad, there seems to be far too little literature on them to support a full-fledged article. Many of the current articles have a few variations given, but seem to be original research without supporting literature to back them up. What verifiable information there is can fit comfortably in this article.

        We should perhaps also discuss the reliability of Unorthodox Chess Openings, which I do not have. Tony Miles' review of the book was that it was "utter crap", but that does not by itself mean that it is unreliable for us writing an encyclopedia. It is probably unreliable for a chess player looking for good openings to play in a tournament however, and if our articles are supposed to be useful to a reader, our sources should be of high quality.

        Two openings do not have articles yet, one might maybe support an article, the other definitely won't.

        • Borg Defense 1.e4 g5 has two columns in MCO14, and described as not all that bad, Michael Basman plays eccentric stuff, but not stuff which doesn't have redeeming qualities. 1...g5 is such a move, and the available literature may support a separate article.
        • 1.e4 b5 (called "Polish Gambit" here, although the Polish Gambit in Unorthodox Chess Openings is something completely different) just drops a pawn for nothing. Nobody would play this except as a deliberate handicap.

        Other openings in the B00 series of ECO are 1...b6, 1...Nc6, and 1...a6. All these are not mainstream, but have been subject of adequate attention; 1...Nc6 even has its own MCO chapter. Separate articles can be maintained for all these lines. The replies leading to ECO codes B01-B99 and C00-C99 are all mainstream, have abundant analysis, and support independent articles without any trouble. The merge proposals here are for the openings without this kind of coverage.

        Though I have been critical of the general guideline given at WP:N, it works well for chess openings. There is an abundance of chess literature on the market, easily available, and the amount of coverage given to various lines correlates very well to the opening's importance. The lines I propose merging here do not seem to meet the WP:N guideline. Sjakkalle (Check!) 15:10, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

        The merge proposal sounds reasonable to me. I think there's a pretty clear demarcation between these openings and other asymmetrical king pawn openings. Apart from Barnes 150 years ago (beating Morphy with 1...f6?), Duras in that strange 1938 match with Bernstein (1...f5?), and International Master Basman (1...g5?!), no strong player ever plays these openings. (Note, btw, that 1.e4 g5 and 1.e4 h6 will usually come to the same thing after 1.e4 g5 2.d4 h6 and 1.e4 h6 2.d4 g5.) Opening Explorer at (available only to premium members) shows how rare (or non-notable, in Wikipedia parlance) these openings are: after 1.e4, Black's responses in their database are 1...c5 (95,729 times), 1...e5 (70,845), 1...e6 (26,594), 1...c6 (14,705), 1...d6 (7,475), 1...g6 (6,008), 1...Nf6 (4,757), 1...d5 (4,188), 1...Nc6 (1,109), 1...b6 (456), 1...a6 (206), (Black's responses after this are the ones that would be in the proposed merged article) 1...g5 (67), 1...a5 (12), 1...h6 (10), 1...f5 (8), 1...f6 (8), 1...Na6 (4), 1...h5 (3), 1...Nh6 (1). No one played the dreaded Polish Gambit (1...b5?) in the 232,194 games in CG's database that began with 1.e4. Note that the most popular of these openings (1...g5) was played less than a third as often as the least popular of the "regular" defenses (1...a6).
        I am inclined to agree with your proposed demarcation, although a case could be made for shifting 1...g5 the other way. Note that 1...g5 is, with 1...b6 and 1...a6, under "Unusual King's Pawn Defenses" in MCO-15 (p. 384), lines that "are viewed by theory as unreliable", though they have "surprise value and the psychological impact of flouting known principles". Nick DeFirmian writes of 1...g5, "Black is only somewhat worse, and if White plays with too much disregard he can have troubles". Note that in the above statistics, 1...g5 was played 5 1/2 times as often (67 times) as the next most-popular defense (1...a5 - 12 times), and more than 1...a5 and all the defenses below it put together (46). DeFirmian effectively draws the line after 1...g5, writing, "Other moves, such as 1...h5, are not considered as they are simply too bad and need no discussion."
        What would we call the new article? I suggest "Irregular King Pawn Openings". That is more or less consistent with Reuben Fine in "Ideas Behind the Chess Openings". The last of the "King Pawn Openings" he recognizes is 1.e4 Nc6 (not 1..d6, 1...g6, 1...b6, 1...a6, or 1...g5). He wrote (p. 101) that "Other defenses will be handled under Irregular Openings." (Amusing note: Fine in his book on the Fischer-Spassky 1972 world championship match gave Fischer's 1.e4 d6 a dubious mark (?!), calling the Pirc Defense "an anti-positional, counter-attacking line".) Krakatoa (talk) 15:53, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
        Well, I've gone ahead and merged the non-MCO defenses here, though it probably needs a bit more cleanup. The source used for the names of 1.e4 h5, among others, looks pretty dubious to me. Sjakkalle(Check!) 13:57, 20 October 2008 (UTC)
        Incidentally, non-members also have access to the lowest tiers of the openings explorer, but it seems to end when the number of game samples drops below 200 (viewing stuff beyond this requires payed registration). Sjakkalle (Check!) 14:01, 20 October 2008 (UTC)
        Sjakkalle, thanks for performing these merges. I hope this helps to slow the spread of cancerously bad chess opening articles. Quale (talk) 06:25, 22 October 2008 (UTC)                                                                

        Reliable sources[edit]

        Although Bill Wall's old pages provide great resources, I don't think that a geocities web page is a reliable source. (In particular, it's self-published and there is no editorial review.) In any case, it's completely inadequate if it's the only source, which it appears to be as used in this article. Any chess opening name found only a single geocities web page (and other sources copied from it) fails verifiability and notability. I think better sources must be found or the claims should be removed. Sadly, other cites will copy wikipedia's lead and consider this information reliable just because it is published here. It's far too late for us to nip this in the bud, but it should still be nipped, even if belatedly. Quale (talk) 06:25, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

        It bothers me as well. One issue is the presence of a few dozen redirects pointing right at this article, and if those titles are not in some way shown in this article, those using those redirects might get very confused. My effort to remove coverage of 1.e4 h5 entirely (Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Pickering Defense) didn't work, even though all the opinions from the Chess WikiProject favored deletion. Hence, to remove the article, there had to be something to merge, but if we look at the last pre-redirect version') 100% 50%;" href="">here, what is there to merge? The variation given "Picklepuss" is not covered in the source cited in the footnote (I'm at a loss as to why that source was added), so I was reduced to merging in the name where the source at least matched what the article said. At least Bill Wall has published some chess books, and that lends some credibility to his self-published works, even though I will tend to agree with your assessment regarding the reliability. Sjakkalle (Check!) 07:44, 26 October 2008 (UTC)                                                       

        Borg Defense[edit]

        I actually think 1. e4 g5 merits its own article. It isn't that lousy, and while Michael Basman plays eccentric stuff, he doesn't play outright awful stuff like 1. e4 b5.

        There is no reason given why 1. ... g5 is bad on Wikibooks. The rest of the articles probably should be redirected here, though. 1. ... g5 is where the line should probably be drawn. 23191Pa (chat me!) 06:06, 4 Novem