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First Chess Openings for White

FM Eric Schiller Avg Rating: 1416 Openings

This course contains a set of lessons on basic chess openings for White that almost all new chess students run into at some point. These are positions you must know how to handle in order to escape the opening alive and take advantage of winning opportunities right from the beginning...

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  • Morphy Gambit Introduction

    The Morphy Gambit is an exciting and effective opening. It is especially useful in scholastic games because the "best" defense involves Black playing the weakening move f7-f6 and giving up on castling.
  • Morphy Gambit First Trap

    The Morphy Gambit contains many traps for the player of the Black pierces. This lesson shows you one of the most common.
  • Morphy Gambit Queen trap

    If Black isn't careful, White can win the queen in just a few moves. Here's how!
  • Morphy Gambit h5 trick

    In the Morphy Gambit, White often has an opportunity to use a standard trick at h5. This can lead to winning material, and to stop it Black will have to further weaken his position.
  • Morphy Gambit Best Defense

    For every opening you play, you need to know the best option for your opponent so you can prepare to meet it. In the Morphy Gambit, Black can get a comfortable game by giving back the pawn while safeguarding f7.
  • Morphy Gambit Knight retreats

    Suppose Black grabs the Morphy Gambit pawn but refuses to exchange knights, opting instead to retreat to d6 and guard f7, while attacking the bishop? Then what does White do? That's what we'll examine in this lesson.
  • Morphy Gambit Black tries a trick

    Black can try a trick in the Morphy Gambit, leaving his knight at e4 to be captured. White can avoid the trap and steer the game into the main line by choosing correctly.
  • Lolli Attack: All you need to know

    Many beginners try to set up the Fried Liver Attack if Black allows it, but the Lolli Attack is much stronger and more fun. It has an enormous success rate in amateur games, but is not seen in master play because Black always avoids it.
  • Two Knights Black tries a counterattack

    Black has often dared to ignore the threat at f7 and counterattack by bringing the bishop to c5 to attack f2. This leads to a complicated variation known as the Traxler Counterattack. White can obtain an advantage with precise play.
  • Two Knights Pawngrabbing Defense

    Black has a rare but interesting counterattack against 4.Ng5.
  • Two Knights main line

    In this lesson we look at the main line of the Two Knights Defense, perhaps the most important variation for you to learn. Here, Black avoids all the traps seen in other lessons, but White winds up setting yet another snare. We see how to defend the position properly in our lesson on defending against the Fried Liver Attack, but here we look at White's perspective.
  • Set sail with Captain Evans!

    Sometimes your opponent will not play the Two Knights Defense but will bring out the bishop to c5 instead of a knight at f6. Then you can have fun with the gambit invented by sea captain Evans! You'll give up a pawn, but will be able to attack quickly. Morphy used this gambit in some of his famous games.
  • Evans Gambit MacDonnell Variation

    Sometimes Black captures the gambit pawn with the knight, or uses the bishop and retreats. Either way you reach the position covered in this lesson. It is a very common response by Black, so you had better be prepared for it!
  • Evans Gambit Declined

    Black does not have to accept the gambit. The bishop can retreat instead (but not 4...b5?, an attempted counterattack that is refuted by 5.Bxf7+! Kxf7 6.dxc5). This is not a good way to defend and White can obtain the advantage by pursuing a central strategy,
  • Philidor Defense

    Sometimes Black greets the Bishop's Opening with a Philidor Defense based on ...d6. This is not a bad opening, though it isn't popular because it confines the dark square bishop.
  • Attcking the French with the Milner-Barry Gambit

    The French Defense is a solid opening favored by many top players. A pawn at e6 prevents access to f7, so early attacks are not easy to find. But Sir Stuart Milner-Barry's Gambit in the Advance Variation is a fun and effective weapon for White. The Gambit holds a big trap, which we'll explore in this lesson, but even if Black avoids it, White can attack , as seen in the next lesson.
  • Milner-Barry Gambit main line

    Even when Black avoids the main trap, the defense is difficult. White mobilizes quickly and after castling can use the f-pawn to attack. Often Black is up two pawns for a while but cannot get the forces into the game.
  • Sicilian Defense

    The Sicilian Defense (1.e4 c5) is one of the most popular chess openings. It can lead to very complicated play if you follow the main lines. Beginners will have more success if they build a strong center, limiting the possibilities for counterattacks. We will use the Alapin Variation to achieve that goal.
  • Sicilian 2...d5

    It is well-known that against 2.c3, Black can achieve the "Sicilian Break" (d7-d5) right away, leading to a famous type of isolated d-pawn position. It is hard for White to claim any serious advantage, but the position is easy to play and offers good attacking chances, so it is perfect for your repertoire. As usual, there is a trap that can snare an unwary player of the Black side.
  • Sicilian 2...Nf6

    Black can choose to attack your undefended pawn at e4. This leads to rich and interesting play.
  • Caro-Kann Advance Variation for beginners

    The Caro-Kann is a solid defense. The Advance Variation is a simple way of meeting it. You can use this plan at more advanced levels by choosing an alternate path at move 4. There are many to choose from!
  • Pirc Defense

    Sometimes you will run into the Pirc Defense, because some popular books recommend it. Because this involves a fianchetto for Black, most beginners don't know how to handle the White side. Any sensible scheme of development will do. In this lesson we''ll look at one of them.
  • Scandinavian Defense

    The Scandinavian is popular because it immediately confronts White's e-pawn. Though for a long time it was considered somewhat suspect, its use in the 1995 World Championship match elevated it to respectability.
  • Scandinavian 2...Nf6

    Sometimes in the Scandinavian, Black postpones recovery of the pawn. 2...Nf6 has attracted some followers, so you should be prepared to meet it.
  • Nimzowitsch Defense

    The Nimzowitsch Defense is rare and will often transpose to other openings after an eventual ...e5. It is important to play accurately if you want to reach the right transpositions and not land in unfamiliar territory.

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