Famous Chess Openings And Essential Opening Strategies

The opening of a chess game is essential to developing pieces and gaining strategic positioning on the board. While the minimal aggression of chess openings can lead some players to discount their importance, practicing chess opening strategies can put you in command of the board during the middle and endgame.

Goals of Chess Openings

A chess beginner must realize that, when players talk about opening moves, they don’t mean the first move the white piece makes and the corresponding black piece move. Rather, the opening of the game refers to the opening series of moves, usually the first 10 or so moves each player makes.

The color each opponent plays will generally set the tone for each player’s first moves. Because the player with the white pieces makes the first move of the game, this player has an advantage because he can start out aggressively. Alternately, the player with the black pieces will be on the defense for the first few moves, responding to his opponent’s opening and waiting for a moment when he can attack.

Chess Opening Strategies

While checkmating your opponent often involves a number of strategies and sub-strategies, just keep the following strategies in mind as your progress through opening games:

  • Coordinate your pieces so that they work together to protect themselves while attacking your opponent.
  • Develop your pieces early on by getting the central pawns, knights and bishops in command of the center of the board.
  • Gain control of the center squares, the power positions of the board. The more area you control in the center of the board, the less area your opponent has to develop his pieces and attack you.
  • Protect the king by moving him away from the center of the board. As soon as you clear the bishop, knight and possibly queen out from between the king and rook, you can “castle” them, a move in which the king moves over two spaces and the rook moves to the opposite side of the king (more towards the center of the board). This helps protect your king while developing your rook.

Famous Chess Openings

While beginners will likely find it easy to make one move at a time, knowing some famous opening sequences is an easy way to strengthen your opening game. Among the main groups of first move sequences are:

  • Closed games: This opening strategy, also known as the “Double Queen Pawn Opening,” starts with each player moving the pawn in front of his or her queen. Because of the nature of the queen’s power in the game, this opener does not leave the Queen’s pawn vulnerable, as the Open and Semi-Open Games do with the king’s pawn. One of the most popular follow-ups to this opening move is the Queen’s Gambit. In the Queen’s Gambit, White moves a pawn to C4 in an attempt to get Black to dominate the center. Black now has a choice between two tactics: the Queen’s Gambit Accepted or the Queen’s Gambit Declined.If Black accepts the gambit (and takes the pawn), the player risks ceding control of the center of the board in order to be able to move pieces more completely. If Black declines, the control of the center is maintained by Black, but movement becomes restricted.
  • Open games: The Open Game, sometimes called the “Double King Pawn Game,” begins with White moving the king’s pawn two places (to square E4) and Black responding with a “mirror” move (moving the king’s pawn to E5).The strategy of the Open Game revolves around enabling the queen and bishop to begin to move freely so players can try to gain control of the center of the board. It does, however, leave a pawn and the squares D4 and F4 vulnerable.
  • Semi-open games: Also called the “Single King Pawn Game,” this opening strategy involves Black choosing not to mirror White’s E4 opener. There are several options available to Black in a Semi-Open Game, among them the Sicilain, the Caro-Ann, the French, the Scandanvian and the Corn Stalk openings. Each has its own advantages and risks.

While these mark a few of the more famous chess openings, players do, of course, have a number of other options. However, since these basic three openings help set players for development and attack, beginners should consider first mastering the nuances of the Open, Closed and Semi-Open Games.