A Kaleidoscope of Openings

A Kaleidoscope of Openings

Learn opening ideas with a national champion!

Want to learn the key ideas and traps in a variety of openings from a former US Champion! John Grefe won the US Championship in 1973 and used these openings with success in his own games! If you are rated between 1000 and 1500, these opening ideas will help you score plenty of wins in your own games! Learn the key ideas behind many important openings!

  • Learn traps that can help you score quick knock-out even against strong opponents!
  • Learn the key ideas behind many important openings!

"Why is this only a single course? It's incredible!" - Chess.com user robertmines

Albin Countergambit

Albin Countergambit

In the Albin Countergambit - 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5 - Black pitches a pawn in order to disrupt the natural course of White's development.
8 Challenges
Queen's Gambit Accepted

Queen's Gambit Accepted

The flamboyant grandmaster Janowski was a world-class player who got squished as the challenger in two world title matches against cigar-chomping mathematician and philosopher Emanuel Lasker.
9 Challenges
Queen's Gambit Accepted: 3.Nf3

Queen's Gambit Accepted: 3.Nf3

The Queen's Gambit Accepted comes about after the moves 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4.
7 Challenges
Sicilian: Nimzowitsch/Rossolimo

Sicilian: Nimzowitsch/Rossolimo

In blocked positions the knight is superior and in open positions the bishop dominates.
8 Challenges
Modern Defense

Modern Defense

Judit Polgar and Alexey Shirov fought in a Modern Defense. Black goes too far with his provocation and Judith does him in brilliantly.
14 Challenges
Double e-pawn Opening

Double e-pawn Opening

An early mating attack can spring naturally from some positions. There's every reason to expect success only if the opponent has committed an error.
6 Challenges
Petroff's Defense: 3.Nxe5

Petroff's Defense: 3.Nxe5

A TOUGH NUT TO CRACK Petroff's Defense is also called the Russian Game because it was analyzed by the masters Jaenisch and Petroff of Russia during the mid-1800s.
10 Challenges
Evans Gambit

Evans Gambit

Mating attacks mostly occur during the middlegame. But if the king tarries in the center mate can occur even in the opening.
11 Challenges
Alekhine's Defense

Alekhine's Defense

Alekhine's Defense, 1.e4 Nf6, is a radical departure from classical opening strategy. Instead of sending in the pawns to challenge the opponent's central ambitions, Black thumbs his nose at traditional strategy.
4 Challenges
Caro-Kann

Caro-Kann

FORTRESS OR TIN CAN? The ultra-solid Caro-Kann starts with 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5. It's passive but hard to beat.
4 Challenges
Caro-Kanned

Caro-Kanned

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Qd3 e5 6.dxe5 Qa5 7.Bd2 Qxe5 8.0-0-0 Nxe4 was the lead-in, from a game between the grandmasters Dr. Savielly Tartakower and Richard Reti, circa 1910.
2 Challenges
English Opening: 1...e5

English Opening: 1...e5

I.A. Horowitz defined a raid as a series of captures countered by a (hopefully) equalizing series of captures. Horowitz astutely warned that the raid involves a continual hazard for the player who captures second.
3 Challenges
King's Indian: 7.Be3

King's Indian: 7.Be3

NOT A CHANCE In game three of the 1990 world championship match between Karpov and Kasparov the first nine moves were 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.Be3 Qe7 8.dxe5 dxe5 9.Nd5 Qd8. Karpov played 10.Bc5
2 Challenges
The Dilly-Dallying King

The Dilly-Dallying King

Whenever the king is uncastled and the board swarms with active pieces, there's the danger of a quick knockout.
4 Challenges
Center Game

Center Game

In the antiquated Center Game - 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Qxd4 - White's cheeky queen has street-fighting fantasies but has to endure potshots from the proletariat. The further 3...Nc6 4.Qe3 Nf6 5.Bc4 Ne5 6.Bb3 Bb4 7.c3 is the setup.
2 Challenges
Ruy Lopez: 3...Nf6

Ruy Lopez: 3...Nf6

OLD WORLD CURIOSITY The Berlin Defense to the Ruy Lopez was the darling of the nineteenth-century masters, who didn't play the solid setups popular today.
2 Challenges
Queen's Gambit Declined

Queen's Gambit Declined

THE TRAPPER TRAPPED 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 c5 5.Bg5 cxd4 6.Nxd4 e5 7.Ndb5 a6 8.Nxd5 introduces this challenge, which has been the downfall of more than one grandmaster.
2 Challenges
The Weakest Square

The Weakest Square

In the opening f2 and f7 are the weakest squares because this spot is only guarded by the king. The opposing queen, king bishop and king knight can often pounce on this inviting target in a trice.
3 Challenges
Double KP Opening

Double KP Opening

The moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4 4.Nxe5 set the stage for this challenge. Black's third move is dubious, but White has fallen for a trap.
4 Challenges
Ruy Lopez

Ruy Lopez

Our challenge begins after the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.d4!? b5 6.Bb3 Nxd4 7.Nxd4 exd4 8.Qxd4?.
4 Challenges
King's Gambit: 3.Nc3

King's Gambit: 3.Nc3

Wilhelm Steinitz, the first official world champion, was inordinately fond of cramped positions where most of his pieces hugged the back rank. He also liked to take his king for a walk in the opening...
4 Challenges
Out of the Books

Out of the Books

GM Isaac Kashdan was a Groucho Marx look-alike who was once roasted on the maestro's TV show 'You Bet Your Life.' Groucho kept referring to him as "Mr. Ashcan." Here he does some trashing of his own against the ubiquitous N.N.
2 Challenges
Sicilian: Smith-Morra Gambit

Sicilian: Smith-Morra Gambit

1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 is the Smith-Morra Gambit. Our challenge comes about after the further moves 4...Nc6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Bc4 Qc7 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Qe2 Ng4 9.h3.
2 Challenges
Queen's Gambit Declined: Cambridge Springs Defense

Queen's Gambit Declined: Cambridge Springs Defense

Let's take a look at a position from the Cambridge Springs Defense to the Queen's Gambit: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.e3 c6 6.Nf3 Qa5 (the Cambridge Springs) 7.Nd2 Bb4 8.Qc2 0-0 9.Bd3.
2 Challenges
Queen's Indian Defense

Queen's Indian Defense

After 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3, White isn't ready for e2-e4 yet. This gives Black the option of playing the Queen's Indian Defense, 3...b6.
3 Challenges
Sicilian: Dragon Variation

Sicilian: Dragon Variation

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 is the Dragon Sicilian, one of the feistiest lines at Black's disposal. With 6.Be3 White bolsters the d4-knight while readying the fearsome Yugoslav Attack.
2 Challenges
Legal's Mate

Legal's Mate

Chances are the venerable snare illustrated after the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 d6 4.Bc4 h6 5.d4 Bg4 6.dxe5 Nxe5 has claimed more victims than any other trap.
3 Challenges
The Uncastled King

The Uncastled King

White leads in development and Black has lost the right to castle. But if White can't find a way to take advantage of these factors right away, Black will consolidate and try to turn his bishops to account.
2 Challenges
Slav Defense: 3.Nf3

Slav Defense: 3.Nf3

The game Schlechter-Perlis, 1911, opened 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Bf5 4.Qb3 Qb6 5.cxd5 Qxb3 6.axb3 Bxb1, bringing about our starting position.
3 Challenges
King Hunt

King Hunt

WANDERING KINGS DIE YOUNG Black is ahead in material, but his king has been prodded from his throne and is surrounded by hostile pieces.
3 Challenges
A Stunning Novelty

A Stunning Novelty

Even grandmasters who've played the same opening dozens of times can suddenly find themselves on the receiving end of a mating attack. An excellent example is the game Browne-Bisguier, from the U.S. Championship of 1974.
5 Challenges
Budapest Countergambit

Budapest Countergambit

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 is the Budapest Countergambit, an opening full of mind-numbing traps. The further moves 3.dxe5 Ng4 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Bf4 lead to our challenge position.
5 Challenges
Bogo-Indian: 4.Bd2

Bogo-Indian: 4.Bd2

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ is the Bogo-Indian Defense. It honors the exuberant Russian grandmaster Efim Bogolyubov, who exclaimed, "When I am White I win because I am White. When I am Black I win because I am Bogolyubov."
3 Challenges
Gruenfeld Defense: 5.Qb3

Gruenfeld Defense: 5.Qb3

The Gruenfeld Defense, 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5, invites White to build an impressive pawn center in the hope of wrecking it with flanking blows.
2 Challenges
The Old Guard

The Old Guard

IM Hans Kmoch, renowned for his Old World courtesy, crossed swords with numerous famous GMs back in the thirties.
2 Challenges
Owen's Defense

Owen's Defense

Fianchetto defenses to 1.e4 are hardly new. But it wasn't till the 60s and 70s that grandmasters started employing openings like the Pirc and Robatsch Defenses on a regular basis.
5 Challenges
Center Counter: 2...Qxd5

Center Counter: 2...Qxd5

In the Center Counter - 1.e4 d5 - Black takes out your e-pawn without bothering about preparatory moves like 1...c6 or 1...e6. This causes him to lose time with the queen (or knight after 2...Nf6).
4 Challenges
Ruy Lopez: Open Variation

Ruy Lopez: Open Variation

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4 is the Open Variation of the Ruy Lopez. Black's idea is to eliminate the White e-pawn, insuring good play for all his minor pieces.
2 Challenges
Sicilian: Dragon

Sicilian: Dragon

Our challenge starts after the moves 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bg5 a6 7.Qd2 Nd7 8.Be2 g6 9.Nd5 h6 10.Bh4 g5.
3 Challenges
King's Indian: Averbakh

King's Indian: Averbakh

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Nf3 e5 is the standard way for Black to meet the Classical Variation (5.Nf3 and 6.Be2 or 5.Be2 and 6.Nf3) of the King's Indian Defense.
3 Challenges
Ruy Lopez: Main Line

Ruy Lopez: Main Line

For the last one hundred years the world champions have placed their faith in the Ruy Lopez far more than any other double e-pawn debut.
9 Challenges
Pirc Defense

Pirc Defense

Fianchetto defenses to 1.e4 have been around a long time but it wasn't till the 1970s that grandmasters began to trust them.
9 Challenges
Slav Defense

Slav Defense

How meaningful is White's advantage of moving first? Grandmaster consensus is that with perfect play chess should be a draw, but Black must be more careful.
7 Challenges
Caro-Kann: 4...Nd7

Caro-Kann: 4...Nd7

The moves 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 introduce the Caro-Kann Defense. The idea of challenging the unprotected White e-pawn with Black's d-pawn is common to the French Defense and Center Counter as well.
6 Challenges
Orangutang

Orangutang

MONKEY BUSINESS If you swing into action with 1.b4, the Orangutang, it's not unthinkable that your opponent will go bananas trying for an immediate refutation.
4 Challenges
King's Indian: Saemisch

King's Indian: Saemisch

David Bronstein's fertile imagination produced the daring sacrificial line that begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 (the Saemisch) 0-0 6.Be3 e5 7.d5 Nh5 8.Qd2 Qh4+ 9.g3.
5 Challenges
Slav Defense: Meran

Slav Defense: Meran

After 1.d4 d5, Black has momentarily stopped White from carrying out the natural advance e2-e4. With 2.c4, which brings us to the starting position of this challenge.
9 Challenges
Benko Gambit

Benko Gambit

The Benko Gambit is something of an anomaly. With 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 Black sacrifices a pawn not for a lead in mobilization or control of the center, but for lasting queenside pressure.
9 Challenges
Sicilian: Velimirovic Attack

Sicilian: Velimirovic Attack

The moves 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 e6 bring about a typical open Sicilian formation.
7 Challenges
Colle System

Colle System

The Belgian grandmaster Edgar Colle successfully introduced his system to the chess world during the 1920s. 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 e6 sets the stage.
6 Challenges
Closed Sicilian

Closed Sicilian

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 starts the action. White's plan is to hold the line in the center and queenside while he masses for a mating attack on the other wing.
8 Challenges
Sicilian: Alapin

Sicilian: Alapin

A good way to sidestep the main variations of the Sicilian is to play the Alapin Variation, 1.e4 c5 2.c3.
8 Challenges
Sicilian: Accelerated Dragon

Sicilian: Accelerated Dragon

In the Accelerated Dragon - 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 - Black tries to do without ...d7-d6 so he can get in his standard central break ...d5 in one move instead of two.
7 Challenges
Gruenfeld Defense

Gruenfeld Defense

Ernst Gruenfeld, an Austrian grandmaster who bumped heads with the legendary Alekhine and his contemporaries back in the twenties and thirties, invented the opening which bears his name.
8 Challenges
King's Indian Attack vs 2...e6 Sicilian

King's Indian Attack vs 2...e6 Sicilian

Throughout his career Bobby Fischer was partial to 1.e4 but he also loved to play the King's Indian Attack, which he employed with great success.
10 Challenges
Two Knights Defense

Two Knights Defense

Our challenge started out 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6, the Two Knights Defense. White decided not to get embroiled in the complications that arise in the most common continuations, 4.Ng5 and 4.d4, but instead played the quiet 4.d3.
6 Challenges
King's Indian Defense: Classical

King's Indian Defense: Classical

Imagine what happens when one player loves to establish a big pawn center and the opponent lets him do it without a fight. This is exactly the case with the King's Indian Defense, world champion Garry Kasparov's favorite answer to 1.d4. It runs 1...Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4.
7 Challenges
King's Indian Defense: 4 Pawns Attack

King's Indian Defense: 4 Pawns Attack

It wasn't so long ago that a fair number of grandmasters were expressing doubts about the theoretical soundness of the King's Indian Defense.Then along came world champion Garry Kasparov.
8 Challenges
Torre Attack

Torre Attack

Grandmaster Carlos Torre of Mexico evolved his system of mobilization during the twenties in games against the leading players of the time. He defeated ex-world champion Emanuel Lasker in a brilliant game.
9 Challenges
Queen's Gambit Declined: Exchange Variation

Queen's Gambit Declined: Exchange Variation

Our challenge begins with the moves 1.d4 d5, often referred to as a double d-pawn opening.
8 Challenges
French Defense

French Defense

Our challenge begins after the moves 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7, the Rubinstein Variation of the French Defense.
7 Challenges
Old Indian Defense

Old Indian Defense

The Old Indian is simple to learn because their overall setup doesn't vary despite what the opponent does.
6 Challenges
Danish Gambit

Danish Gambit

The Danish Gambit arises after the moves 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3. It's a high- powered gambit which gets the adrenaline flowing quickly.
13 Challenges
Philidor's Defense

Philidor's Defense

Andre Philidor was born near Paris in 1726 and grew up to be an accomplished composer, musician and chessplayer. His great contribution to the game was his realization of the importance of the pawns.
6 Challenges
Dutch Defense: Stonewall

Dutch Defense: Stonewall

Our challenge begins after the moves 1.d4 f5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 e6 4.Bg2 Be7 5.0-0 0-0 6.c4 d5. Black's first move brings about the Dutch Defense.
7 Challenges
English Opening: Fischer's System

English Opening: Fischer's System

The English Opening, 1.c4, has often been likened to a Sicilian with colors reversed but this is not the only way to handle the English.
8 Challenges
Nimzo-Indian Defense

Nimzo-Indian Defense

In the Nimzo-Indian initially Black relies on his pieces to fight for the center, as the hypermoderns do, but soon he plays ...d5 just like the classical players.
8 Challenges
Nimzo-Indian: Saemisch

Nimzo-Indian: Saemisch

In the Nimzo-Indian Defense - 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 - Black initially fights for the center with pieces. This allows his minors to take up more aggressive posts than in double d-pawn openings like the Queen's Gambit Declined.
7 Challenges
Nimzo-Indian Defense: 4.Qc2

Nimzo-Indian Defense: 4.Qc2

The Nimzo-Indian Defense arises after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4. Black strives for more activity than he can expect in double d-pawn openings but shuns more ambitious, and riskier, debuts like the King's Indian.
8 Challenges
Modern Benoni

Modern Benoni

It wasn't till Fischer's and Tal's successes in the fifties and sixties that grandmasters in general realized Black could legitimately fight for the initiative from the very first moves without taking extraordinary risks.
8 Challenges
Blackmar-Diemer Gambit

Blackmar-Diemer Gambit

The Blackmar- Diemer Gambit, which comes about after 1.d4 d5 2.e4. Grandmasters rarely employ it but it works wonders against amateurs. And even if it is, strictly speaking, unsound, that doesn't mean you shouldn't play it.
6 Challenges
Scotch Game

Scotch Game

Bobby Fischer once opined, "1.e4 is best by test," and loved to play the Ruy Lopez against 1...e5 (2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5).
8 Challenges
Slav Defense: Dutch Variation

Slav Defense: Dutch Variation

Some openings exhibit important characteristics that are very much like others even though they may arise differently. Take, for example, the Slav (1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6) and the Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5).
6 Challenges
Center Counter

Center Counter

The idea of the Center Counter - 1.e4 d5 - is to eliminate White's e-pawn, attaining freedom for the Black pieces while not giving White any pawns he can target to throw Black on the defensive.
5 Challenges
Petroff's Defense: Boden-Kieseritzky Gambit

Petroff's Defense: Boden-Kieseritzky Gambit

There can be no doubt that the player who's willing to sacrifice material for an attack has both a practical and psychological advantage. The former is due to the well-known phenomenon that it's much easier to conduct an attack than to try and fend one off.
6 Challenges
Vienna Game

Vienna Game

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3, the Vienna Game, leads to our starting position. It's a close relative of the King's Gambit and other 'Romantic' debuts of a bygone era.
6 Challenges
English Opening

English Opening

The English Opening, 1.c4, mostly leads to quiet maneuvering games where tactics recede to the background, at least till the middlegame is in full swing. But even in 'quiet lines' tactics lurk just below the surface, waiting to pounce.
6 Challenges
Sicilian Dragon

Sicilian Dragon

An opening or variation is said to be sharp if it leads to positions in which the players must solve knotty tactical problems. The sharpest way to meet 1.e4 is the Sicilian Defense, 1...c5.
5 Challenges
Torre Attack Gone Bad

Torre Attack Gone Bad

The Torre Attack arises after the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5. White has in mind a particular piece/pawn setup with knights on f3 and d2, the bishop at g5 and pawns at c3, d4 and e3.
6 Challenges
Blumenfeld Countergambit

Blumenfeld Countergambit

Theory considers the Blumenfeld Countergambit - 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 c5 4.d5 b5 -to be shaky, but paradoxically suggests that the best way to meet it is to decline it.
6 Challenges
Chigorin Defense

Chigorin Defense

Chigorin's Defense, 2...Nc6, relies on hypermodern ideas of piece pressure on the White center, albeit without the usual presence of a strong fianchettoed bishop.
9 Challenges
Alekhine's Defense: 4 Pawns Attack

Alekhine's Defense: 4 Pawns Attack

Alekhine's Defense - 1.e4 Nf6 - is the most radical hypermodern strategy that can reasonably be played in answer to 1.e4.
7 Challenges
King's Indian Attack: 1.Nf3

King's Indian Attack: 1.Nf3

"What's good for the goose is even better for the gander," seems to be the philosophy of players who adopt 'reversed' openings.
7 Challenges
King's Gambit: 3.Nf3

King's Gambit: 3.Nf3

Rudolf Spielmann, himself a great attacking player who flourished in the early 1900s, wrote one of the earliest systematic texts on sacrifice, the classic The Art of Sacrifice.
6 Challenges
Giuoco Piano

Giuoco Piano

'Giuoco Piano' is Italian for "Quiet Game." It first bloomed in Italy during the 1700s when that country was one of the leading powers of chess.
6 Challenges
King's Indian

King's Indian

In the King's Indian, Black's initial target is d4. Not that the square is weak, but White's annexing of the center with the c-, d- and e-pawns allows Black to drum up counterplay by targeting the center square that can no longer be supported by a pawn.
6 Challenges
Caro-Kann Defense: 4...Nd7

Caro-Kann Defense: 4...Nd7

The Caro-Kann Defense - 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 - has long had a reputation for being solid. Black's main idea is to get out of the opening with a decent game while preventing White from conjuring up any attacking chances.
7 Challenges
French Defense: Winawer

French Defense: Winawer

In the French Defense - 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 - Black goes straight for the White e-pawn at the cost of hemming in the c8-bishop.
7 Challenges
Center Counter Defense

Center Counter Defense

You might think that the process of choosing which chess openings to play is fairly cut and dried, but you'd be wrong. Many factors contribute toward making an opening or variation suitable.
8 Challenges
Sicilian: Najdorf 6.Bg5 variation

Sicilian: Najdorf 6.Bg5 variation

It's common knowledge that the Sicilian Defense is one of the best ways to play for a win against 1.e4. It blends positional soundness with tactical sharpness.
7 Challenges

A Kaleidoscope of Openings

Openings
90 Lessons
No Videos
527 Challenges
Released December 10, 2007
153,661 Students