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The Most Common Chess Openings

Chess openings are the most crucial aspect of a chess game. The opening you choose defines the trajectory of your game, hence your chances of victory. Here are some of the most common ones seen in the game.

1. The Italian Game

This is probably one of the oldest and simplest openings in chess dating back to the 17th century. It is ideal for beginners. The biggest advantage here is that, in just 3 moves, the bishop and knight have been developed and castling can be done right away.

Castling is a defensive move that allows the King to ‘jump’ it’s way from the center to the sides of the board. Castling can take place on the King’s side or the Queen’s side. It occurs between the King and the Rook. This happens only when there are no pieces between them. Castling is an essential part of a winning strategy with over 80% of grandmaster victories involve Castling. To learn more about the importance and rules of castling, check out our article on Special Chess rules.

The Italian game starts with moving the pawns to e4 and e5 respectively. Then the Knight to f3 followed by Black knight to c6. The white bishop is moved to c4. This accomplishes the goal of controlling the centre early on in the game in addition to the possibility of castling.

As with all openings, there are many variations possible. Two of the mainline variations are:

  1. Guico’s Piano which involves moving the black bishop to c5
  2. Two Knight’s defence which involves moving the black Knight to f6

2. The Sicilian Defence

One of the more aggressive openings, the Sicilian Defence is a quick counter to any attempts of establishing authority from white. It is one of the most successful replies to the famous e4 move from white.

Some of the advantages of the Sicilian Defence include:

  1. It creates a strong possibility to distort the pawn structure of white.
  2. It encourages black to attack
  3. Aggressive opening that intimidates opponent

Some of the disadvantages of the Sicilian Defence include:

  1. Many combination of moves to defend for white
  2. In main variations, white gets many attacking options
  3. There is a lot of theory that needs to be studied.

Some of the main line variations include:

  • Dragon Sicilian
  • Najdorf Sicilian
  • Closed Sicilian
  • Classical Sicilian

To learn more about these main line variations visit the link below:

https://www.chess.com/forum/view/chess-openings/what-are-all-the-sicilian-defense-variations

3. The French Defence

This opening is a must learn for every beginner to the game. White plays the classic e4 move and to counter this, black moves the pawn to e6. It becomes difficult for black to develop the light-squared bishop.

Some of the advantages of the French Defence include:

  1. A sound structure results
  2. Great opportunities to furnish a counter-attack
  3. Keeps the game in accordance with prevalent practise

Some of the disadvantages of the French Defence include:

  1. The pace of the game may drop considerably
  2. Black has limited space to develop
  3. The light-square bishop is difficult to utilize

Some of the mainline variations include:

  • Advance variation
  • Exchange variation
  • Winawer variation
  • Tarrasch variation
  • Classical variation

To learn more about these main line variations visit the link below:

https://www.chess.com/forum/view/chess-openings/french-defense-main-variations

4. The Ruy-Lopez

The Ruy-Lopez is one of the oldest and classic openings in the game of chess. The name originates from a Spanish bishop who wrote one of the first books on chess. Because of this, it is also called The Spanish Game. The distinguishing feature of this attack is that the White bishop attacks the black knight on c6.

Some of the advantages of the Ruy Lopez opening include:

  1. This opening leads to complex and intriguing games
  2. It keeps constant pressure on black pieces
  3. It gives the ability for white to develop quickly

Some of the disadvantages of the Ruy Lopez opening include:

  1. There is vast theory available on all the lines
  2. Black has a large array of tactics to counter this attack
  3. Black may obtain the chance to attack the light-square bishop

To learn more about these main line variations visit the link below:

https://www.chess.com/forum/view/chess-openings/ruy-lopez-variations—all-free-pdf

5. The Slav Defence

This is one very solid and resilient opening. The name bears a resemblance to slavic countries as this opening was majorly employed among players from there. This is especially known to be a great response if your opponent employs the Queen’s Gambit. In addition, it may sometimes get a little cramped up for black.

Some of the advantages of the Slav Defence are:

  1. The bishop on c8 is unobstructed
  2. Black pieces maintain control of the center
  3. The white pawn on c4 is under attack

Some of the disadvantages of the Slav Defence are:

  1. The rate of development is slower for black
  2. Forcing to retreat, black may lose a move or two
  3. The c6 square is blocked for the knight

To learn more about these main line variations visit the link below:

https://www.chess.com/openings/Slav-Defense-Exchange-Variation