Chess Openings - Some
Specific Examples...

Openings Theory is based on top class games to provide recommended variations for the opening. This way chess openings have become somewhat standardized, although there are so many lines (variations) that one should not think that the game has any simplified.

There are many variations that are considered to be correct for both WHITE and BLACK, resulting in positions that have equal chances for both.

There is no need for one to memorize any openings. This will be done to some extent through experience, but relying on healthy, analytical thinking is always best.

Most openings have a name, for example 'Spanish Game', 'Sicilian Defence' etc. 

One needs to know which moves characterize each opening in order to classify a game.

Similar chess openings usually lead to positions with similar features. 

Furthermore, every opening has many possible variations, many of which do also have a name.

A major classification depends on the first move

Accordingly, an opening may be Open, Semi-Open or Closed. 

An opening is Open if WHITE starts with 1.e4 and BLACK replies 1.e5. 

It is Semi-Open if WHITE starts with 1.e4 but BLACK does not reply 1.e5 and it is Closed if WHITE does not play 1.e4.

Below are some of the most common Open openings :

1. Spanish Game (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5) : WHITE threatens the black pawn at e5 with 2.Nf3 and BLACK supports it with 2.Nc6. Now WHITE plays 3.Bb5 threatening the pawn again, since he may first capture on c6, then on e5.

2. Italian game (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4) : WHITE prepares to castle whilst maximizing his pieces' mobility.

The move 3.Bc4 controls the d5 square and thus inhibits the freeing move d7-d5. It also keeps an eye on f7, a slightly weak square in the opening and one immediately relevant to the Black King's safety.

3. Scotch game (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4) : WHITE plans to quickly open the lines for his pieces. The usual answer is 3.exd4 and now WHITE may either take his pawn back with 4.Nxd4 or play 4.c3, a variation known as the 'Scotch Gambit'.

4. Four Knights Game (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6) : This opening is more stable for WHITE, but also not too demanding, since 3.Nc3 poses no immediate threats.

5. Phillidor's Defence (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6) : This opening leads to closed positions, but tactics are still on.

6. Russian Game (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6) : An interesting opening that is not used very much nowadays.

7. Bishop's Opening (1.e4 e5 2.Bc4) : This very old opening is seldom used nowadays.

8. King's Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.f4) : WHITE opts to capture the f-pawn later (after 2.exf4); BLACK will have to settle for some defence if he wants to keep the material advantage.

Below are some common Semi-Open openings :

9. French Defence (1.e4 e6) : BLACK is preparing to play the freeing move d7-d5.

10. Caro-Cann Defence (1.e4 c6) : BLACK is preparing to play d7-d5 here too; a major difference to the French Defence is that the Bc8 will develop more easily, since the e-pawn does not restrict him.

11. Scandinavian Game (1.e4 d5) : BLACK tries to have active play and opens the position himself.

12. Alechkin's Defence (1.e4 Nf6) : BLACK does not care about moving the same piece again, in case WHITE plays 2.e5. If WHITE advances his central pawns, BLACK will undermine his centre with side-thrusts (d7-d6, c7-c5 etc).

13. Sicilian Defence (1.e4 c5) : This opening is the most widely used. It offers fair possibilities for both and usually leads to wild tactics.

Below are some of the most common Closed Openings :

14. Queen's Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.c4) : If BLACK captures on c4, WHITE will manage to capture on c4 later.

15. English Game (1.c4 e5) : Usually leads to closed positions.

16. King's Indian Defence (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d6) : An opening rich in tactics and strategy; it has earned much popularity and is used at top-class games.

17. Dutch Defence (1.d4 f5) : This opening leads to closed strategic positions.

18. Slav Defence (1.c4 c6) : This opening leads to symmetrical, drawish positions, with strategic considerations playing the most important role.

It is best for a player to get busy with only a handful of openings and improve his knowledge and experience on them. Every opening has a key idea, which, once perceived, will be easier to implement on the board.

To read more about chess and how to play well, you can return to the Chess Homepage by clicking here

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