One of the most common questions chess players ask is what are the best openings for beginners?
The perfect beginner opening should meet the following criteria. First, this opening must be easy to learn. Secondly, it should not require a lot of memorization.
Finally, the best opening for beginners should have straightforward plans and ideas.
One of the best openings for beginners is the Italian Game. It is a well-studied, solid opening choice for beginners with simple ideas to back it up. To play this opening successfully, one should get familiar with the basic setup.
The Italian Game usually starts with 1. e4 e5
White’s idea is to occupy the center with the e-pawn, opening up lines for the light-squared bishop.
Opening Tip #1
Some chess players believe that studying openings is something that is reserved solely for advanced players. That is not true, beginners should also have enough opening knowledge to reach playable positions. Still not convinced? Take a look at 6 Reasons You Should Study Chess Openings.
White develops the king’s knight. Developing this knight should be at the top of your list. Not only does the f3-knight put pressure on the e5-pawn and control the center, but it also helps white get a step closer to castling.
Opening Tip #2
Creating threats is a very important idea. A good opening move is one that achieves multiple objectives at once. For example, develops a piece and puts your opponent’s pieces or pawns in danger.
2…Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5
Developing the bishop to c4 is the signature move of the Italian Game. White prepares an attack against the vulnerable f7 square. Both white and black have positioned their bishops on very strong c4 and c5 squares. Often, this position can lead to a sharp game with a ton of tactics and sacrifices. One of the white’s key ideas in this opening is occupying the center. It can be achieved with something called the Evan’s Gambit:
White is sacrificing a pawn in order to gain a tempo and expand in the center. This simple yet effective plan makes the Italian Game one of the best openings for beginners.
Opening Tip #3
Developing pieces quicker than your opponent is one of the keys to successful opening play. Sometimes it requires sacrificing a bit of material, and if done right will bring good compensation.
White pushes the c-pawn and prepares d4! expanding the pawns. If black contests white’s central dominance right away, he loses yet another tempo.
5…Bc5? 6.d4 exd4 7.cxd4
White gets very good compensation for the sacrificed c-pawn. They managed to build a “perfect” pawn center with the e4-d4 pawn pair. The light-squared bishop sits on the powerful a2-f7 diagonal, eyeing the weak f7 square. The king’s knight is positioned on its best square, f3, protecting the d4 pawn. The king is ready to castle anytime, and the queen is supporting d4 pawn from its original square. Because of white’s huge space advantage, black’s dark-squared bishop suddenly became “bad”.
The game continues with:
7…Bb4+ 8.Bd2 Bxd2 9.Nbxd2 Nf6 10. 0-0 0-0
Looking at this position it’s not hard to see that white fully controls the game. They have space, better development, center control, and the initiative. White’s key ideas in this opening include generating a powerful attack on the king by further expanding in the center with pawns and pieces. Black’s counter-play will be built around the queenside pawn majority. Another possibility is to contest white’s strong center with a move like d5.
Black will have a hard time catching up though. This is the kind of position white should always aim for. The Italian Game is simple to understand and play making it one of the best openings for beginners.
In this example, we did not consider the strongest responses for black, and showed 5…Bc5? It’s not a terrible move, but it loses a tempo giving white a chance to develop quicker. Some of the better alternatives are 5…Ba5 or even 5…Be7.
The idea behind 5…Ba5 is to keep the pin on the c-pawn, preventing the immediate d4 push. Playing 5…Be7 is more passive but it saves a tempo by retreating the bishop right away.
But again, we are learning the best openings for beginners, not for master-level players. Mistakes and inaccuracies are inevitable. Sticking to the plan and trying to avoid serious blunders is the recipe for success on this level!
To help chess players out, I also composed a list of 5 Chess Openings You Should Never Play, feel free to read it!