10 Best Chess Openings For Beginners

A strong opening is the first step in developing chess strategy knowledge.

The Italian Game, the Sicilian Defense, the French Defense, and the Queen’s Gambit are some of the best chess openings for beginners to start with.

The world of Chess continues to grow as both casual and devoted audiences are captivated by the cheating controversy surrounding Hans Niemann. The boom of interest for the classic game came during the pandemic, as streamers on Twitch took an interest.

From well known streamers to Chess professionals, content for the game has never been as strong as it’s grown in the past few years. This growth in interest has caused many viewers to discover the classic strategy game, with no idea where to start. Openers are generally the best way to begin.

10 The Italian Opening

While the Italian Opening may not get its user too far in rating, it’s possibly the simplest opening for understanding the main principle of early game; development. Controlling the center of the board is paramount, and to do so, the user’s pieces need to have an active presence.

Moving the initial King-side Pawn forward is an essential first step, followed by support from the King-side Knight and Bishop. This allows provides some strength in the middle, as well as opening the King to Castle. Users of this strategy should be wary of aggressive counter moves.

9 The Ruy Lopez

Obtaining center space control early on is paramount, and the Ruy Lopez offers an aggressive stance on obtaining that control. If Black follows up E4 with E5, White will use its King-side Knight to apply pressure on the center Pawn. This line is mentioned a lot in The Queen’s Gambit. Chess gameplay was one of the things that The Queens Gambit definitely got right.

If Black attempts to defend its center Pawn with its Queen-side Knight, White is given the opportunity for early pressure with the Bishop. Attacking the defending Knight forces Black to either retreat it or suffer from stacked Pawns, and the loss of middle control.

8 The Sicilian Defense

Playing Black will always be a disadvantage, as having the first move allows for White to set much of the pace of the game. The best Black can do is to be prepared with counters for White openings. The Sicilian Defense offers an aggressive counter to the classic E5 opening, by responding with C5.

With mid-control being of such importance, a strategy is to try and move outward pawns inward, making the C and F lines very important early game. The C5 move allows for development, as well as applying immediate threat to White’s control of the center. There are a number of moves that can follow up the Sicilian opening, some being quite complex. The Sicilian Defense is an important term to know for watching The Queen’s Gambit.

7 The French Defense

Another common response to the typical E4 is to play E6, known as the French Defense. The idea is to vie for control over the center, and the French Defense allows for the opening of solid defensive Pawn structure.

A Pawn on row 6 allows for the defense to move up another to row 5, which will be supported. A common follow up is D5, which applies pressure in the middle immediately. Learning the French Defense can be important as it is reactive to the most common White opening.

6 The London System

Like the Italian Opening, the London System is a very simple opening that allows for early development and board control. Rather than the common E4, the London System elects for a D4 Pawn opener, followed by Queen-side Bishop and King-side Knight advancing to the F line.

These opening moves allow for strong early game presence and pressure. Like with the Italian, the London System may only work for a small amount of time, but can be good for developing an understanding of basic Chess principles.

5 The Scandinavian Defense

One of the more tricky Black openings to pull off is the Scandinavian Defense, which applies immediate pressure on the center of the board against the standard E5 opening. Going D4 in response results in the Queen responding to the Pawn trade in the center.

Pulling the Queen out early game is tricky, as it allows for the opponent to develop less valuable pieces as they apply pressure to the Black Queen. The Queen is powerful though, and the opening may cause inexperienced White players to be caught off guard. More strategically and long term, the Scandinavian can be used to limit White’s center pawn control.

4 The Scotch Game

Another common White opening is the Scotch Game, which is a more aggressive White play style that vies for control over the middle with the use of two central Pawns.

Following a similar line as the Italian, which opens with E4 and Knight to F3, white will then move Pawn to D4, putting two pieces of pressure on the center Black Pawn. The opening can be complex, but allows for an early space advantage. Many quotes from The Queen’s Gambitcan offer good insights into chess strategy.

3 The Petrov Defense

Once a player has an understanding of a White opening, it can be good to know the defense that counters it for Black. When playing the Ruy Lopez or the Italian Game, the most simple Black counter is the Petrov Defense.

If White’s second move is to play the King-side Knight, it’s likely they’re going with one of these openings. To defend, playing Black’s King-side Knight puts added pressure on the opposing pawn, disrupting White’s opening.

2 The English Opening

While most openings contend for immediate center space, the English Opening is considered to be a “flank.” The opening focuses on the immediate power from the sides, allowing pieces to converge inwards or along the outside edges to attack.

The opening move for The English is C4, establishing an immediate threat to an opening on the D line. Common follow-ups to the opening are Knight C3, and Pawn G3, which allow for continued side-pressure and King fortification. There are a number of great chess movies that can be viewed to get a better understanding of these mechanics.

1/10 Scholar’s Mate

While the Scholar’s Mate is more of a gimmick that can rarely be pulled off, landing it can be a ton of fun, especially against an unknowing friend. Ultimately, the move set is more important to know how to defend against than it is to try and use.

The Scholar’s Mate aims for the fastest possible checkmate, using an E4 opening, followed by Bishop C4 and Queen F3. If nothing is done to respond to these moves and prevent the mate, the Queen can capture the Pawn on F7 and win the game in four moves. Early Queen movement should always be looked out for!

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