Need a new opening for white.


For the entirety of my chess "career" I have been largely playing two openings: the Vienna and the Caro-Kann. After a few hundred games I feel like my Caro-Kann is getting pretty good, but my Vienna just continues to struggle if I'm not blowing them off the board with Vienna Gambit cheese. So I'm trying to figure out what that says about me as a chess player, and what alternative openings I should consider for white. 


It says you don't have any interest in needing to know the gobs of theory in the Ruy Lopez or Italian along with the Philidor, Petroff, and Elephant and Latvian Gambits.

A fun opening to play with far less theory and often give White a high win ratio against anybody up to about 2400 is the Sokolsky. 1.b4! It is better than it's reputation, and unlike 1.g4, 1.b4 truly is fully sound!

For black u could try the Sicilian

Before learning a particular opening, I suggest that you first familiarize yourself with the opening principles. These will give you the foundation to avoid common mistakes in the opening and perform well in the opening phase generally.

Things like controlling the center, king safety, avoiding moving pieces multiple times unless needed or theoretically approved, combinations, not developing queen early, among others, will help you with staying in the game and begin formulating plans based on the principles.

Later on you'll get a feel for other priorities such as when to trade pieces, handling pawns and piece tension, pawn structures, and also endgame calculation is important but perhaps a bit in the future, although these are vital.

My advice would be that you learn something new, and then play a few games with that lesson in mind, trying to spot it and implement it in your games. Once you feel confident with these you can move to more centered stuff such as opening lines and then get a feel for the ones you like and go building your repertoire.


As a Vienna enjoyer myself I had a quick look at your games and you need to know what the lines are after 2...Nc6 for a bit longer than you do. You are frequently playing Nf3 before you play f4 and while this is kind of a valid way to play the opening, to me there is no point playing it if your intent is not to go for a quick f4, it just ends up being a bad version of the Italian if you do that.

I have a quickstarter here that you might want to read. After 1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 you should be playing Bc4 and hoping for Bc5, the Copycat. There's some information in the link about what happens after that or there are a bunch of videos on YouTube explaining it. Like the Vienna Gambit, this is a major way to get wins against people who don't know what they're doing in the opening.

A couple other lines you have to know because the final move is by far the best move in the position (at least from a practical point of view):

1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. f4 d6 6. Nf3 Bg4 7. Na4

1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3 Bb4 5. Ne2

If your opponents are playing these moves against you, this is what should be on the board from you every time.

If you still don't like the Vienna after playing this for a while, you can look for another opening then, but give it a proper go first.


I used to play the Vienna too, but I felt similar to you - turns out well sometimes, but other times they just know the theory and I'm at a disadvantage, or they manage to hang on for long enough where being down a pawn determines the game.

Try the Jobava London. The entire Chigorin system really crushes people, they end up in a PIrc or French on accident alot of the time. But the Jobava is very tricky and very few players know the theory. It's more positional than the Vienna gambits.... you also aren't down a pawn and don't end up in as tight of a spot if they respond correctly, and you get just as much if not more play out of it.

Just study it like 5-6 moves deep where you know when to push g4 and castle queenside frequently, you'll do fine.

After playing some offbeat positional lines for a while I switched back to 1... e5 briefly and quickly remembered how sharp the lines can be, and how deep the theory goes. And everyone seems to play these lines every game for whatever reason, and seems to know all the theory... even in the semi-offbeat lines like the Petrov or the Vienna. They're too forcing, too easy to memorize. I was getting out booked, and I could tell ... I abandoned that effort quickly.





"playing two openings: the Vienna and the Caro-Kann" ++ Good.

"my Vienna just continues to struggle" ++ Analyse your lost games and learn from your mistakes. You do not win or lose because of the opening, but because of tactical mistakes.
The Vienna as white is sound, more than the Caro-Kann as black.

"blowing them off the board" ++ Chess is not about blowing off the board, it requires patience.

"what alternative openings I should consider for white" ++ If you like the Caro-Kann as black, then the London as white makes sense. However, each time you switch openings, you lose more, not less. It takes time and losses to accumulate experience.


Italian Game

Compadre_J wrote:

Italian Game

This is what I ultimately went with. It's easy to understand and revolves around chess basics. I'll probably revisit the Vienna at a later time, but right now I'm only ~870 Elo, so I'll keep it simple.


The Danish Gambit

You could try the Queen’s gambit if you want to learn d4
joehodes wrote:
For black u could try the Sicilian

i disagree. both caro-kann and vienna don't have that much theory but the Sicillian is the most analyzed opening. I say:

for white try the italian

for black try the french defence


There's two approaches to getting out of theory...
a) play a rare line
b) reach a position that's so complex and dynamic that the theory breaks down. If there are 12 viable moves, then on the next move there are 12 viable, then the next... even pro players are not going to know the theory at that point. Instead you have to understand the position and different ideas and patterns in it. 
The sicilian falls into category b, as do most really good openings. You have to know alot of theory to reach your sicilian... but once you do, and once you get like 12 moves deep... you'll be able to play a game outside of theory. It's just alot of work to get there.

It's alot of work but I still think it's the best response to e4, and I've played almost all of them.