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Key Openings

Key Openings

Understand what makes the most popular openings great

  • Offbeat Openings

    Not all games start with 1.e4 or 1.d4. The most common additional opening is the English Opening, 1.c4. Black can meet the English with 1...e5 or 1...c5 to get purely English positions, or try to transpose into d4 openings with 1...c6 or 1...e6. A more risky openings is the Bird's Opening, 1.f4. This controls the center, but exposes the White king. 1.b3 is the Larson opening. It's playable, but Black can reach a good position by controlling the center. 1.b4 is the Orangutan. Black can reach a good position by placing pawns in the center. 1.g4 is the bad Grob's opening, which exposes the White king and doesn't control the center. 1.a3 is Andersson's opening. It doesn't control the center, but at least it doesn't harm White's position.

    • 6 min
    • 6 challenges
  • Popular 1.e4 Openings

    Explore the ideas behind three of the most popular 1. e4 openings in chess. 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 Bc4 is the Italian Opening. Black can play the risky 3...Nf6 or the safer 3...Bc5. 3. Bb5 is the popular Ruy Lopez. The threat to play Bxc6 and Nxe5 isn't immediately dangerous, but Black must be careful and frequently replies with 3...a6 to have the option of later chasing the White bishop with b7-b5.

    • 6 min
    • 6 challenges
  • Popular 1. e4 Openings: The Sicilian Defense

    The Sicilian Defense, 1...c5 is a popular reply to 1.e4. The game frequently reaches the Open Sicilian when White plays 2. Nf3 and 3.d4. Black typically captures on d4 and reaches a complicated, open position. Often White castles queenside and Black castles kingside, with a complicated game.

    • 4 min
    • 5 challenges
  • Popular 1. e4 Openings: French and Caro Kann

    When Black wants a solid game vs. 1. e4, you need to know the French and Caro Kann. In both openings, Black supports the d7-d5 push with either 1...e6 (the French) or 1...c6 (the Caro Kann). White will often have a space advantage in either line, but Black has a solid position.

    • 4 min
    • 5 challenges
  • Popular 1.d4 Openings

    1.d4 is one of the most popular first moves. After 1...d5 White can play 2.c4, leading to the Queen's Gambit. Black can either accept with 2...dxc4 or defend the d5 pawn with c6 (the Slav Defense) or e6 (the Queen's Gambit Declined).

    • 8 min
    • 6 challenges
  • Popular 1. d4 Openings: 1...Nf6, Dutch Defense

    The most popular response to 1. d4 is 1...Nf6, which develops and prevents White from playing e4. White frequently plays 2. c4 and Black can decide between a direct fight for the center with 2...e6 or a counter-attacking plan with 2...g6. Another risky option is the Dutch Defense, 1...f5. This attacks the center, but immediately exposes the king.

    • 7 min
    • 6 challenges
  • Gambits

    Sometimes giving up a pawn or two can accelerate development and create a sharp game. This is risky, but can lead to great attacking play. A couple famous gambits are the King's Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.f4) and the Danish Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.d4).

    • 7 min
    • 6 challenges
  • Opening Traps

    Everyone should know a few opening traps so they don't lose the game in the first few moves. One good example is the trouble you can get into by copying. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 Nxe4 Qe2. If Black plays Qe7 then White wins Black's knight on e4. If the knight retreats to f6 or d6 then White has a tactic to win a queen. See if you can figure out how. There are traps in many openings, so be careful!

    • 8 min
    • 6 challenges
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