Opening Suggestions for a Novice!


As I am not really "new" to chess, I have just recently began to really study the game and dig into the theory of chess. I have a grasp on the fundamentals of the game, the pieces, etc., so I have begun my research by studying openings.

 I started off with the Ruy Lopez and also the Guico Piano: 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 *then either

3 Bc4 or 3 Bc5...

 I wasn't too crazy about this maybe typical type of opening, so I have began to use more of a Scotch Game type opening: 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 exd4 4 Nxd4

This opening it seems leaves white with control of the center and strong initial development.

 I'm not too sure of what to do after this, but I guess black's next move will dictate the course of play to come.

Does anyone have any comments or suggestions on openings for beginner-type players? Anything would be greatly appreciated!



Cliff, Don't spend too much time on opening theory. All standard openings are OK. I think most players on my side of 1600ELO shud stop thinking about openings once they have decided if they like e4 or d4 better.



Well I am most probably on your side of the elo but I find knowing some opening theory does help. I am not talking about knowing all the different variants of shady openings, but knowing the often-played lines is helpful. You don't have to master an opening and be able to play it flawlessly for it to be useful, but it gives you tool when these openings are played against you.

Honestly, the thing you should learn is "Opening Theory", or the ideas behind openings.  This allows you to play fairly well through almost any opening, as instead of memorizing lines you learn the concepts, and will be able to improvise as your opponents play openings you've never seen before.

However, it is great to familiarize yourself with one or two openings for both white and black, something you are comfortable with.  Try experimenting with various openings, and find some that suit your style.  I personally am scared of the Ruy Lopez, as I've been destroyed too many times with it. 
Many people when first introduced to chess learn the two knights defense, which is a solid opening played by all levels (quite popular with grandmasters even)

read Logical Chess!

I'm aware that overindulgence over the minutia of opening theory probably isn't the way to go. But that is not what I am trying to accomplish here.

I am just trying to find an opening that is somewhat simple and accesible, but also effective. I am doing this so that I can have SOMETHING to start with rather than just opening a game with no plan and no clue.

Eventually, I think I will start to recognize trends and learn how to react to the many nuances that may arise.

Thanks for the recommendation of the 2 Knight Defense. I will play around with it and see if I like it.

 Anything else?

for black, i like to play the modern defense (1. ..g6, 2. ..Bg7). and i think the najdorf is pretty popular around here, too. check 'em out.

Hello mate! As Black I would reccomend the Sicilian Najdorf ( 1.e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6). With 5...a6 you prevent the Bishop check at b5 and the Knights from moving to b5 as well. It also prepares for 6...e6, the main line of the "pure" Najdorf. This attacks the White Knight on d4 and you make an attack for the centre. The Sicilian Najdorf is a very solid line of play. You should check it out!

As for white, I would reccomend that you study the article "3 Simple Opening Systems" by chesster. It will greatly improve your Opening in a short amount of time. Here is the link!

Good luck mate! 

  Try Sicilian Dragon or accellerated Dragon because it may seem complicated but all it tries to do is develop your peices without trading to many things and it is a great defence, with superb attacking choices.

Verusamo, white can check eariler then move six. Afterall what's wrong with 

1.e4 c5 2. Bb5+    ??  Certinaly not a standard move, but there doesn't seem to be any way for black to take advantage of it.  After black moves a piece to d7 White doesn't even have to trade the bishop if he doesn't want to.

oops, sorry everyone I meant 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ with the same comment as above.
try the dragondorf at your level.

queens gambit.


Italian game, its easy and fast to learn.


I actually think studying openings is a great way to improve your ability. Of course, don't spend too much time on it, and focus more on other stuff, but I don't think there's anything wrong with spending some time on opening theory.


The French Defense is nice for black as long as you don't mind playing in slightly cramped positions. I'm somewhat of a beginner, and I mostly play the French against 1. e4. Once you understand the concept and look at a couple of the lines it's not so hard to play.


Personally, I play 1. d4 followed by c4 as white, usually going into some line in the Queen's Gambit or a King's Indian Defense. I think the opening you play depends on your playing style, though.


I do think you should stick to just one or two openings as a beginner, though (and one or two responses to both 1. e4 and 1. d4 as black). Get comfortable with those openings, and then focus on playing lots of games, and improve that way.


What about the Goring Gambit


I've just begun playing chess regularly as an enthusiastic beginner/lower intermediate player, and I don't want to get bogged down on opening lines while I'm learning straight up chess (aka - without following and memorizing book suggested mainlines).

Yeah, I also agree that if you just follow 'opening theory against players who may be partially (or fully,) using book suggested opening lines in time controlled games . . . you're going to be at a disadvantage (even though this will make us stronger in the long run). Especially if as beginners we're trying to grasp what opening theory actually is, without a coach guiding us through every opening.

So . . . to have some kind of strategic opening plan, (as I think having a plan/stategy can't be bad in chess at any time right?) it's good to have at least an idea before we wade in to an opening. After all, having a strategy or plan is a key element in chess, surely, no? Which isn't too rigid but allows for opening theory experimentation and free thinking, I've found these openings interesting (just personally), simple-ish to learn (not if you learn them in depth against strong players obviously) . . .


For white:


The English opening - very free and open, an imposing opening for any beginner opponent, following mainlines as anything can happen. A cheeky opening that challenges anyone with a pre-programmed move set in mind to moving off of mainlines and into uncharted territory.


Italian Game opening - very tight, controlled and classical, which seems to improve positional play with every game as a beginner, plus really highlights my blunders happy.png Many traps await fellow amateur players in this opening, such as the Urusov gambit and Morphy Attack, plus an outside chance of a Fried Liver attack on some beginners (if they don't know how to defend against it). Fun to play at low levels and also holds up at higher levels in various forms. Bringing out the bishop first as this can freak out many fellow beginners wink.png This opening sounds boring but is anything but . . .


Scotch Game - very easy to play and with a few traps in store that can catch beginner players who are not familiar with this opening. Basically, if black doesn't take with their knight and instead brings out their bishop to challenge the centre, things are even, but if they take with their knight and your queen ends up in the centre, you will be a few tempos up in controlling the centre.


For black:


The Tarasch defense . . . as basically you can play with virtually any opening from white (I said virtually, yes, there are exceptions) except for e4. Yeah, as I said, there are exceptions, but at a beginner level they are few and if they crop up they're handleable, as with this defense you can wander off the simple main line easily into other positions.


French defense . . . yeah, this is a defense that you can use if you just study the first several moves and take it from there. At higher levels later on you can expand your mainline knowledge and carry this on from what I can gather in my humble opinion as a beginner. I've just started learning about the French defense and don't know much about it yet - although it still gives me a solid defense at a beginner/lower intermediate level, just knowing the first few moves even.


Scadinavian Defense - is just fun to play . . . is questionable as a valid opening at higher levels, but at lower levels it is just a fun maverick opening that instantly creates chaos from the very first move and some beginner players below 1200 will just have a meltdown whilst dealing with the Scandinavian.


Personally, if I move into a higher level of play in the future (which won't be too high lol - as I play just for relaxation and fun) I will maybe spend more time on studying opening strategy, but for now I have trouble enough just noticing unforced errors or logging key concepts in chess.


Please note: I'm not saying these are the best openings, in fact there probably isn't a 'best opening' and an opening has got to suit our playing style right? No point playing an opening that doesn't feel right, no?


Again, I'm a beginner, so I welcome constructive criticism to the suggestions above. Note: I am only learning these openings no more than around 5 moves in and looking at the 'explorer option' on to look at possible responses, just to get a rough idea in between games as to my options, and to select the moves that best fit in with / add to my basic view of opening theory.


Would I personally recommend these openings . . . no, I'm an amateur player - listen to your own intuition. Are they the best opening lines for beginners - I don't know? Who cares, they are fun. What about the Sicilian and blah, blah blah? I don't know, I've never played them deliberately . . . So what am I saying? . . . Basically, please share what works for you if you are trying to improve in chess but do not want to get bogged down in opening theory, I would like to know what's working for you if you are at a beginner amateur level - if you are higher or a chess professional what advice would you give us amateur players about openings. But please, don't just advise us to follow 'opening theory' as we'll get thrashed in time controlled games and will be constrained to playing slow chess up to an 1800 - 2200 rating for years . . . not fun as we want to play chess as a game right now, as life is short!


I don't think there are any "beginner openings" out there. You can try different openings, and you probably should: the more types of positions you expose yourself to early on, the better intuition you will develop. Try playing 1. d4 openings, then maybe 1. c4 and 1. Nf3 ones (I wouldn't go beyond that as a beginner though; openings like 1. f4 are positionally weird and require a certain proficiency to be played effectively). For black, also try various responses to 1. e4 and 1. d4.


For 1. e4, look also into King's Gambit. It is a pretty rarely played opening nowadays, but I think it is great for beginners: it teaches, among other things, that material is not supreme, and that having a positional compensation for a pawn can be sufficient to have a playable position.

MayCaesar wrote:

I don't think there are any "beginner openings" out there. You can try different openings, and you probably should: the more types of positions you expose yourself to early on, the better intuition you will develop.


Thanks for the advice MayCaesar. Makes sense. It will be nice to have fun experimenting with different openings at an amateur/beginner level.


When I hear advice saying "Don't even begin learning different openings until you hit 1800-2200 FIDE rating" or whatever, I chuckle to myself, as I want to play chess as a game - why is it sometimes assumed that every chess player wants to hit such high ratings? I'd rather crack open a beer, play some amateur chess with friends in the garden and chill, rather than spend the countless hours that it would take to reach such high ratings.