How do I know which openings go with black and which openings go with white?


Hello all,

I am a fairly new chess player and have recently rented a book from the library on chess openings. While the book is very detailed in each opening and its several variations, it doesn’t exactly specify if it’s one that is used when playing as black or one that is playing as white; all it does is explain a common continuation of the opening. I’m left wondering who has the advantage for each opening. Can anyone explain how to tell?


Some books use codes like "+-" for a decisive White advantage. Without knowing the specific book, it is hard to know what the author was doing.


By the way, it can be a pretty daunting project for a new chess player to try to learn a little bit about a lot of openings, You might want to consider:

"... For beginning players, [Discovering Chess Openings] will offer an opportunity to start out on the right foot and really get a feel for what is happening on the board. ..." - FM Carsten Hansen (2006)


If you just started playing chess, learn the opening principles and the first moves of the main openings, such as the Italian game, ruy lopes, queens gambit etc

maathheus έγραψε:

If you just started playing chess, learn the opening principles and the first moves of the main openings, such as the Italian game, ruy lopes, queens gambit etc


This. No need to go down in depth over book moves which you cannot understand.


The opening is played by both white and black. As for which side it’s better for, hopefully there would be text to explain?


Thanks everybody! These responses really helped. As a beginner, analyzing all of these complex opening lines is indeed daunting... as such, I will take your advice!

PowerofHope wrote:
Sicilian Taimanov is usually recommended as a good reply to 1. e4 for beginners

I didn't know that. What I did know was that because the Sicilian leads into such deep tactical waters, it's hard for beginners these days to follow the advice of Richard Reti and Fred Reinfeld and open with 1. e4, since they won't be likely to get the Guioco Piano or Four Knight's Game such advice envisages.

I was aware that the Sicilian Richter-Rauzer, unlike many other forms of the Sicilian, doesn't rest entirely on sharp tactical knowledge by Black, because it respects sound principles of development. So I'd have expected that one to be recommended to beginners. I see I'll have to look into the Taimanov.


Around 2010, IM John Watson wrote, "... For players with very limited experience, ... the Sicilian Defence ... normally leaves you with little room to manoeuvre and is best left until your positional skills develop. ... I'm still not excited about my students playing the Sicilian Defence at [the stage where they have a moderate level of experience and some opening competence], because it almost always means playing with less space and development, and in some cases with exotic and not particularly instructive pawn-structures. ... if you're taking the Sicilian up at [say, 1700 Elo and above], you should put in a lot of serious study time, as well as commit to playing it for a few years. ..."

PowerofHope wrote:
Sicilian Taimanov is usually recommended as a good reply to 1. e4 for beginners

Recommended by whom? You say "usually" but I've never seen that recommendation.

The classic recommendation is 1.e4 e5 and 1.d4 d5 as both colors. Spanish (also called the Ruy Lopez) and Queen's gambit declined.

I saw a video where a father/son combo caught Carlsen as some fan event and asked him what a beginner should play. He gave the standard Spanish QGD answer.


Anyway, there's more than 1 way to go about it, and chess should be fun, but at the very least start here:

PowerofHope wrote:
Sicilian Taimanov is usually recommended as a good reply to 1. e4 for beginners

See below for links to three free books by World Champions on chess in general - including op,.ning principles and openings.

While I'm hesitant to recommend the Sicilian for beginners - they didn't work as well for the newbies on the very successful high school team I coached as 1...e5 or 1...e6 or 1...c6.  But it isn't forbidden.

The Taimanov is a variation of the Sicilian Kan (sometimes Taimanov, Paulsen, and Kan are incorrectly used interchangeably) and I recommend looking for GM John Emms book, Sicilian Kan, where he says you can learn it as a "system" regardless of what White plays and therefore you can learn it according to the ideas behind the opening and don't have to memorize reams of moves. Even Graham Burgess, in his book The Taimanov Sicilian, says the Kan is the easiest to deal with.

Kolev and Nedev's book, The Easiest Sicilian, uses the Sveshnikov variation and applies it to everything from the 3 Bb5 Sicilians to the open game, but it's more of a large number of annotated games instead of an explanation of principles.

Still, I agree that it's most important to learn the principles of good opening play from books like the old Larry Evans & 6 other GM's book, How to Open a Chess Game.

If money is a concern, you can find a lot of still-excellent info in the early 1900's books, legally free now online, by World Champions Capablanca and Lasker about the opening and all aspects of chess play.

One is Chess Fundamentals by 1920's World Champion Jose Capablanca.  It's here in English. This link is the legally free ("public domain") 1934 edition, to which a group named "Caissa Lovers" changed the old descriptive notation to modern algebraic notation and is relatively short - about 121 pages.

Also, there are public domain books by the 1894-1921 World Champion Emanuel Lasker. His Common Sense in Chess and his Manual of Chess are worth doing a google search to find.  They may be only available in descriptive notation, but it is not hard to learn.  Here are those two in descriptive notation:

Capablanca's Table of Contents (2 epages per book page):


Chapter 1

First Principles

  1. Simple Mates 1
  2. Pawn Promotion 3
  3. Pawn Endings 4
  4. Some Winning Positions in the Middlegame 6
  5. Relative Value of the Pieces 8
  6. General Strategy of the Opening 9
  7. Control of the Centre 9
  8. Traps 11

Chapter 2

Endgame Principles

  1. A Cardinal Principle 12
  2. A Classical Ending 12
  3. Obtaining a Passed Pawn 13
  4. How to find out Which Pawn will be First to

Queen 14

  1. The Opposition 14
  2. The Relative Value of Knight and Bishop 16
  3. How to Mate with a Knight and a Bishop 20
  4. Queen against Rook 20

Chapter 3

Planning a Win in Middlegame Play

  1. Attacking Without the Aid of Knights 22
  2. Attacking with Knights as a Prominent Force 23
  3. Winning by Indirect Attack 24

Chapter 4

General Theory

  1. The Initiative 25
  2. Direct Attacks en Masse 25
  3. The Force of the Threatened Attack 26
  4. Relinquishing the Initiative 27
  5. Cutting Off Pieces from

the Scene of Action 28

  1. A Player's Motives Criticized in a Specimen

Game 30

Chapter 5

Endgame Strategy

  1. The Sudden Attack from a Different Side 32
  2. The Danger of a Safe Position 34
  3. Endings with One Rook and Pawns 35
  4. A Difficult Ending: Two Rooks and Pawns 36
  5. Rook, Bishop and Pawns vs. Rook, Knight and

Pawns 38

Chapter 6

Further Openings and Middlegames

  1. Some Salient Points about Pawns 40
  2. Some Possible Developments from a Ruy Lopez


  1. The Influence of a "Hole" 42

Chapter 7

Illustrative Games

Game 1 Marshall, F – Capablanca, J 1-0 45

Game 2 Rubinstein, A - Capablanca, J 1-0 46

Game 3 Janowski, D - Capablanca, J 1-0 47

Game 4 Capablanca, J - Znosko Borovsky, E 0-1 48

Game 5 Lasker, E - Capablanca, J 1-0 49

Game 6 Chajes, O - Capablanca, J 1-0 51

Game 7 Capablanca, J - Burn, A 1-0 53

Game 8 Mieses, J - Capablanca , J 0-1 54

Game 9 Capablanca, J - Teichmann, R 1-0 55

Game 10 Capablanca, J – Marshall, F 1-0 56

Game 11 Capablanca, J - Janowski, D 1-0 57

Game 12 Capablanca, J – Chajes, O 1-0 58

Game 13 Morrison, J - Capablanca, J 0-1 59

Game 14 Marshall, F - Capablanca, J 0-1 60


Lasker's Manual of Chess Table of Contents:

Emanual Lasker: An Appreciation by Fred Reinfeld
Dr. Lasker’s Tournament Record
Dr. Lasker’s Match Record
Analytical Contents
Introduction by W. H. Watts
Preface to the Original German Edition
    I.The Elements of Chess
   II.The Theory of the Openings
  III.The Combination
  IV.Position Play
   V.The Aesthetic Effect in Chess
  VI.Examples and Models Final Reflections

Lasker's Common Sense in Chess Table of Contents (taken from another source than the link above):





You say you are a new chess player. In that case I would suggest you start slow. Learn the basics. No need to jump into the vast and deep ocean of opening principles.


Stick to the basics -

1) Control the middle

2) Don't move the same piece in the opening. Develop your pieces

3) Castle, prioritise king safety

4) Practise chess tactics

5) Start playing slow games.



There is a large collection of teaching videos about Openeings on Youtube. They work through about 53 openeings with lots of chat to get you in the picture . I`m 75 and I started playing when I was a kid. But I never learned openings in any organised way . You will be well ahead of me with the videos. When you watch the same video 2 or 3 times you will become more familiar with the way it`s done . My best tip lately is "Keep trying to work out what the opponent is up to and not to only think about your own plan ".


I have often seen praise for How to Open a Chess Game, but it should perhaps be mentioned that, having been written about four decades ago, it used descriptive notation (1 P-K4 P-K4 2 N-KB3 N-QB3 etc.). Also, the reader should perhaps be warned that, apart from Evans himself, none of the GM authors "was given a specific topic or assignment." For more overall organization, one might want to turn to a book by a single author, such as Discovering Chess Openings by GM John Emms (2006)
or Openings for Amateurs by Pete Tamburro (2014)
or Winning Chess Openings by Yasser Seirawan (1999).


"... 'Chess Fundamentals' ... does not deal so minutely as this book will with the things that beginners need to know. ..." - from Capablanca's A Primer of Chess
"... For let’s make no mistake, what ground Capablanca covers, he covers well. I enjoyed reading Capablanca’s presentation of even well-worn and standard positions. ...
Still, when compared with other instructional books for beginners and intermediate players, Capablanca’s Chess Fundamentals would not be my first choice. Other books cover the same or similar ground with a less confusing structure and more thoroughness. The following works come to mind as equal or in some ways superior: Lasker’s Common Sense in Chess; Znosko-Borovsky’s series of books; and Edward Lasker’s Chess Strategy. Later works that equal or surpass Chess Fundamentals would include Reuben Fine’s Chess the Easy Way and any number of Horowitz tomes.
Capablanca’s work has historical interest and value, of course, and for that reason alone belongs in any chess lover’s library. But there are better instructional books on the market. Certainly the works of Seirawan, Silman, Pandolfini, Polgar, Alburt, etc. are more accessible, speak a more modern idiom, and utilize advances in chess teaching and general pedagogy, etc. ..." - David Kaufman (2007)


Common Sense in Chess was written more than 12 decades ago.


What I found with Chess Books is if you only absorb one idea from a book that improves your play . That`s another wonderful thing about Chess .