The Rook Pawn opening


I would like to ask: Is 1.a4 or 1.h4 a good opening, and if followed by 2.a5 or 2.h5, it shines or degrades?

Any player who does not know about center would play this, because this is a safe pawn and does not uncover the king, and soon f(and g) pawns would come for its protecting, with a lot of space and quick development.

Soon bishops can be placed on biggest diagonal(or maybe sitting and waiting it to open) and it gives some active play compensating for center.

Now I play the King's Pawn with handful of tactics, but feel that the Rook Pawn used to give me better positional play, even after analysing with Shredder that it involves a hard queen sacrifice to win, I used to win by material advantages.

Maybe it can help in a closed position with help of knight manouvres, or open position with active pieces, taking both kingside and queenside for the center.

Still the question remains: Is Rook Pawn a good opening?

My details would specify everything if you think, but if you can't find it, you can always ask.

I saw a bunch of pages for this topic, but I expect a better answer with a detailed question so that anyone else may not need to post this question again if he isn't satisfied with what he found on Internet.

Thanks in advance if you can answer.


Opening with rookpawns is not good because:

1) It does not develop a piece nor does it help development of pieces 

2) It does not take control over the center. This is important because pawns and pieces in the center control the most squares on the board (a pawn on a4 only controls b5 while a pawn on d4 controls both e5 and c5. I will leave it up to you to discover how large the difference is between a knight in the center and a knight on the rim). 

As a result playing this as white will lead to an equal position at best you basicly just told black .. Okay you can have the initiative for free. As  black the problem is worse. You already are a little behind on development and you freely offer to be behind in developement even more. A very very big generalization is that 3 development moves ahead is worth a pawn so basicly you are giving away 1/3 of a pawn. 


What I mean to say is that if the king castle either side, we can also remove his pawn cover easily and with knights and those pawns defending less squares, we can challenge the center more comfortably. After the position is opened, the bishops can come to b2/g2 and rooks can come forward and march to the king. Queen can fight far battles to keep opponent busy and when mate is near, can be sacrificed to stop the opponent from stopping mate. I usually do not sacrifice queens, but the last step was suggested by Shredder after I played the position with both rook pawn advanced 2 steps and adjacent pawns advanced 1 step and the opponent playing for the center.

If we challenge the center, don't castle, close our center with some protection and attack the castled king with rooks while using the bishop pair to control the open center later in the game, I think that it presents more aggresive opportunities while preventing most of the quick mates.

Also, your opponent may not transpose the game to his preferred formations like that. Then it may be good for fast games. Maybe also in real games like that.

If anything sounds foolish, I would be sorry, but it popularity as an excellent amateur opening and my usage of it with great success without knowing anything about center or even algebraic notation demanded me to ask this question in a reputed and active chess forum.


Actually any club player can crush amateurs, but I am asking thatis this opening good if played by masters.

Even openings like Benko gambit weren't popular until adopted by masters.

So the main questions can be framed as:-

Does this opening have some advantages?

Is space more important or control of 4 squares?


So, is there any way to improve this opening into more aggressive or defensive, because it is an easy opening which prevents pawn overloading, and I have won games with almost all types of openings, but I usually mix up positions for something favourable. So far I've seen that the center is made of defensive blocks, while the kingside and queenside are more aggressive.

Jatin_Nagpal34 wrote:

I would like to ask: Is 1.a4 or 1.h4 a good opening, and if followed by 2.a5 or 2.h5, it shines or degrades?

1.a4 or 1.h4 is not very good, but one mistake or unsound move doesn't have to lead to a lost game.

Especially young kids starting with chess play this. Probably because they feel more comfortable at the edge of the board.

So ... play decent openings like 1.d4 or 1.e4

Study the openings a little bit if you need more knowledge there, and apply sound rules of thumb for openings (e.g. do not play the same knight 5 times when the other pieces are still not developed, unless you are clearly winning with those knight moves).

Having said that, I knew a Master who played ocassionally 1.a4 and 1.h4 in chess competitions, and won with it !

In one otb tourney I had to play against him with white.

I thought about playing 1.h4 against him, but was not sure.

So I played 1.d4 Nf6 2.h4!? You should have seen his face...

The game went on, and we got into timetrouble. Lots of people around our board. He barely made the time control, but I lost on position.

That was fun ! :)

mashanator wrote:

Not sure if trolling or serious... So I'll assume you're serious.

To be blunt, 1. h4/1. a4 is both premature and pointless. Opening your king with your first move is not something to be worried about, unless you're playing something ridiculous like 1. f3. Centre space > flank space.

Judging by your rating, you probably have a very rudimentary understanding of what exactly what 'positional play' is, and thus you cannot justify exactly why these are good or bad moves.

[my comments:oh please.I have horrible ratings and I know exactly how horrible the concept Masterjatin offered is.please!rating isnt everything!Attitude, and an actual willingness to learn and ask of these things show that he can be successful(as can i)(I hope).dont judge by ratingg.your starting point is generally not the end point.


Never mind these plebs. you can control center and midline if your use to playing horizontally and diagonally. Ie move the h2 or a2 pawn up to h4 or h5. most players will move the traditional route of center line pawns. you can create a roof for your rook with the g2 pawn to g4 (mind the enemies c8 and f8 bishop has a firing corridor down thru to a3 and h3 respectively) and move the rook to h3 or 4 after a screen is made and depending on how youve moved previously as well as your opponent. this gives you centerline control with your rook along the whole length of 3 or 4. In shifting g2 pawn up you create space to move your f1 bishop to g2 or g3 giving you an entire diagonal line to snipe from. again most times your opponent will be moving centerline and may very well overextend downpast the center line into your side of territory. you can easily counter any pawn push with a 1 hop pawn movement from the center pawns or shift your knights around to defend centerpoint. If you mix in an early parallel with a c1 bishop you can lock down different firing arcs for late game. most players cant or dont concentrate on diagonal lines or horizontal lines. so if you rotate between left and right flank in movements you can usually catch your opponent off guard since they wont see the bishop snipers in the corner or the rooks ready to reinforce the line. sometimes it works sometimes it doesnt. the more you practice non traditional starting moves and getting comfortable with a divergent playstyle the easier it will get. Just remember if your gonna play the wings you want to encourage your opponent to overextend into the center, whilst you apply pressure to the kings side in case he castles. Sometimes ill throw a knight or a bishop up close to the king just so hes forced to take that piece and deny him an easy castle. In historic combat the enemy is trying to spearhead into your main line, so do as the pikemen and lancers do when fighting scythian chariots, and collapse your center just enough to envelope the push. 


a4 is equalish, a5 is bad, h4 is bad and h5 is worse


Starting with a4-a5 or h4-h5 is bad. The idea of "when he castles, my pawn is ready to attack" is not smart, because anyone in their right mind will castle on the opposite side. And if you try to stop that by moving BOTH pawns to the 5th ranks, you will never be able to castle either, and you will be WAY behind in development


I've seen fairly strong players goof around in various manners... If a player plays on both flanks and ignores the center, that invites the opponent to setup a big center and advance with it. This will divide the forces of the player who ignored the center into two flank camps that have a hard time coordinating and communicating. Wouldn't recommend it.


U can use Ware opening 1. a4 in order to play most of reversed openings (though Anderssen's 1. a3 is better for this purpose). peshka.png


if your gonna push and play a flank with a rook pawns opening you should try to shift your bishops so that they have a clear line of the opposing sides predicatable castle. Ie if you push on the right side, and bring forward pressure to the right but dont commit, Your opponent will commit to the castle on his right side, bringing him away from the pressure. If your bishops are in the back right, with clear corridors of attack, You can collapse his castle line with a sacrifice of a bishop creating a space for something to slip in with the check mate. It really just depends on if you can manage. I had a game yesterday where i pushed on the right flank but had my bishops and queen aligned to shoot to the left flank after the opponent castled.