- The four best chess opening moves for White are 1.e4, 1.d4, 1.c4 and 1.Nf3
- The best chess openings after 1.e4 are the Ruy Lopez, the Italian, the Sicilian Defense, the French Defense, and the Caro Kann.
- The best chess openings after 1.d4 are the Queen’s Gambit, the King’s Indian Defense, the Slav Defense, the Grunfeld Defense, and the Nimzo Indian Defense.
- The move 1.c4 leads to the English Opening – one of the best chess openings for White.
- The move 1.Nf3 leads to the Reti Openings – a strong chess opening for White.
Examining the starting position of the game of chess, White has twenty legal chess moves at his disposal. Obviously, moves like 1.e4 or 1.d4 are far more popular than moves like 1.a3 or 1.g4.
If you’re a complete beginner who is new to how chess pieces move, it might be difficult to understand why we regard certain chess opening moves as sound, whilst others seem to be quite poor.
Many amateurs memorize the first few most popular opening moves in chess, but they don’t know why these moves are frequently played. It’s important to understand that whenever a player makes a move, they are gaining or losing control over certain critical areas of the board.
In order to figure out the best chess opening moves, we put the cart before the horse. First of all, we will take a close look at some bad and dubious opening moves and try to understand the different downsides of these moves. After that, we can analyze better approaches to start the game.
In the following article, we investigate the moves from White’s perspective. The article discusses three categories of chess moves, starting with White’s weird first moves and building up to rare or semi-mainstream options. The aim of this article is to help you learn theoretical sound chess opening chess moves. Of course, if you are completely new to chess, you should first check out our guide on how to set up the chessboard.
Bad Chess Opening Moves
One of the worst first moves for White to play is 1.g4. With this move, White does not fight for the center – an important concept in chess – and gives Black a clear target to attack. If Black responds to 1.g4 with 1…d5! he occupies the center and directly attacks White’s loose pawn on g4 with his bishop on c8.
If White, for example, defends his pawn with a move like 2.f3, this can lead to a quick mate. The move 2…e6 looks harmless but threatens a deadly checkmate on h4 with the queen.
White can defend by playing 3.h4, but with 3…Bd6 Black renews the threat of mating White on the e1-h4 diagonal. The move 4.Rh3 (defending against …Bg3++) results in a beautiful mate in two. Black can sacrifice his queen with …Qxh4 and after White takes the queen with 5.Rxh4 (there is no alternative), Black ends the game with 5…Bg3++.
Admittedly, this example might be a rare occurrence in practice, but it illustrates that Black can take advantage of these bad opening moves by playing the most simple of moves in response.
Another bad chess opening move is 1.f3 as it irrevocably weakens white’s king position without doing anything useful.
Moreover, bad moves include 1.Na3 and 1.Nh3. These chess moves ignore two basic rules at the same time – not only that “a knight on the rim is dim” but also they force White to move the same piece a second time in the opening, losing valuable tempo, after Black plays 1…e5 or 1…d5 threatening to double White’s pawns by capturing the knight with his bishop.
- Also, check out: The Grandmaster’s Opening Laboratory 2
Dubious Chess Opening Moves
1.h4, for example, is a dubious move. The move is not as bad as 1.g4, but it does nothing to assist in gaining control over the important central squares. Furthermore, castling kingside is less attractive after the move h4 as the kingside is already weakened. Thus, the move is rarely seen among serious chess players.
Obviously, White can’t fight for an advantage with this move, but it shouldn’t be too bad as it doesn’t create any weaknesses.
Chess moves such as 1.e3, 1.d3 or 1.c3 are playable and do not weaken White’s position, but there is no particular point to play them except for avoiding theory and your opponent’s preparation. Due to the fact, however, that we’re looking at all the moves from a beginner’s perspective, we don’t need to fear preparation at an amateur level at all.
Thus, such chess moves waste time, get in the way of developing all of your pieces into useful squares and they don’t fight for control over the center.
1.g3, for instance, is not a bad move at all and it can transpose to other openings such as the English. The main drawback of this move, however, is that it enables Black to occupy the center with any moves they wish to play.
In essence, it is recommendable for any beginner to avoid the mentioned weird chess opening moves right from the beginning of their training because they can lead to quick losses and disadvantageous positions from the very start of the game.
Strong Chess Opening Moves
As we’ve seen, if White does not occupy the center with their pawns, Black has the opportunity to do it! Therefore, it is recommended that White plays active, space-gaining chess moves right from the start.
White can begin by moving the Queen’s pawn to “d4” which leads to openings such as the Queen’s Gambit, King’s Indian Defense, Nimzo-Indian, Bogo-Indian, Queen’s Indian Defense, and Dutch Defense. The move 1.d4 contains numerous strengths.
It not only contributes to the control of the center immediately but also it frees two pieces on the back rank with just one move.
1.e4 is the most common opening move in chess. One of the key ideas of this move is to control the center quickly with the pawn which is placed in the center by the first move, also liberating White’s light-squared bishop as well as the White Queen. White can follow up by playing Nf3 and moving his bishop to the dangerous c4 square. From there, it eyes Black’s potentially weak pawn on f7. By bringing the bishop into play, White prepares to castle in the next move.
Finally, it has to be mentioned that 1.c4 (English Opening) and 1.Nf3 (Reti Opening) are also strong chess opening moves which lead to solid and sound chess openings for White.
Following these ideas, White achieves 3 main goals of any opening: control of the center, develop pieces rapidly, and prepares for castling the king into safety.
The explained fundamental concepts are here to help any beginner improve their chess game and start their games with an appropriate chess opening. If you keep these strategies in the forefront of your mind and refresh and deepen your knowledge from time to time, nothing will stand in your way of advancing at chess.
Don’t forget the basics of chess openings: fight for the centre right from the beginning as White (if you don’t, the best you can get out of your opening is an equal position), don’t give up your first mover advantage – (play actively), 1.e4 or 1.d4 are good chess opening moves!
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