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I am a beginner in chess and I like to play some of my friends who are basically at the same level. Usually who wins is based on who makes that one amazing (and lucky) move and quite frankly I want to gain an edge over my friends. I have noticed that I usually just open randomly and this is what happens most of the time:

  • One of the sides (or both) are neglected and both of my rooks are trapped for the entire duration of the game until most of my pawns are decimated and my rooks have some moving space. I have noticed that a lot of beginners/casual players have the same problem, since it seems to take a lot of moves to properly free up space for a rook.

  • Only the pieces which I gave space at the beginning (which usually are my queen, 1 bishop and both knights since they are never trapped by pawns and of course a couple of pawns) are used and the other pieces are totally neglected, kind of the same as the first point only more general.

Some my final question is:

Is there a simple opening for beginners which frees up a lot of space for the powerful pieces to be utilized, especially rooks?

p.s. - I am aware that there exists no perfect opening, but keep in mind this is very low level chess. So I'm looking for an opening which is usually enough to have a nice setup and is not countered easily by weak players.

share|improve this question
+1 for "frankly I want to gain an edge" Now yer talkin' – Tony Ennis Feb 5 '13 at 2:55
Don't try and use your rooks to early in the game, it's just not possible. However, you'll find them easily usable once all your pieces are off the first rank, you castled, and the center pawns are gone. I have a suggestion to reach that situation as fast as posssible. (Related question.‌​) – Nikana Reklawyks Feb 8 '13 at 1:11
perhaps this should be community wiki'd? I have a hard time picking the best answer (since there is no such thing). – OmnipresentAbsence Feb 19 '13 at 12:06

14 Answers 14

up vote 13 down vote accepted

I asked my chess teacher (rated 2100 USCF) against she said "E4 games", (the italian game, ruy lopez (spanish), sicilian, the vienna, or the scotch). Her personal recommendation was the kings gambit. I disagree I like d4 and c4 openings, closed positions, beginners don't know how to play against d4 or c4. There are these different openings like the polish/arangoutang, Nimsowich Larsen, and benko which I wont go into much detail.

  • "E4 games"
    • Open games

-Open diagonals

-Fluid or absent center pawns






Beginners usually like e4 games because they control the center, They develop quickly, and they get ready to castle (3 main rules in the opening) unlike in d4 openings. A suggestion is to get knights out first, and bishops out next.

  • Italian - 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4

    Gioco Piano - (meaning quiet game in Italian) 3. Bc5 4. c3 preparing to push D4 to gain space.

    2 Knights defense - 3. Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Na5 Black should not take the pawn.

    Blacburne schilling - 3. nd4 Take the Knight and NOT the pawn if you take the pawn, you will loose a minor piece, 4. nxe5 Qg5 5. nxf7 qxg2 6.Rf1 qxe4+ if 7.be2 Nf3# if 7. Qe2 Nf3# So white will have to give up a minor piece eventually to not get checkmated

  • Ruy lopez - 1. e4 e5 2. nf3 nc6 3. bb5

    3.a6. - Bobby Fischer likes 4.Bxc6, but the main line is 4. Ba5 b4 5. bb3

    3.nd4. - The exchange variation either Be2 for white, or nxd4.

  • vienna - 1. e4 e5 2. nc3

    2.Nc6 - 3. nf3 nf6 forms into the 4 knights game. 3. f4 turns into a gambit so you can take away from the center.

    2.Nf6 - 3. f4 the famous vienna gambit. varies on next move, but white is better +- .

    2.Bc5 - 3. f4, it is extremely common to play f4 on the 3rd move for white. if he doesn't take play nf3 the next move.

  • Sicilian 1. e4 c5

    2.c3 - The Alpin variation, the most popular prepares to push d4 to whites advantage, by 2. nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4.cxd4, and white will have more space, so 2.e5 is an alternate, but leaves a hole for his knight on d4.

    2.nf3 - The kings knight variation, very popular

    2.f4 - Grand Prix attack, 2. d6 3.nf3 I like whites position more.

    2.d4 - The Smith-morra gambit. 2. cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.nxc3. white literally sacrifices a pawn for attacking on the d and c files. or 2. cxd4 3.Qxd4 nc6 Black will gain a tempo on whites queen, i do not recommend to take.

  • Scotch 1. e4 e5 2. nf3 nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. nxd4 The center is broken quite early, but that does have advantages, I play 4. nf6 5. nxc6 bxc6 preparing to push d5, if 5. e5 then qe7 pinning the pawn. Usually, though people play 4.Bc5 5. Nxc6 Bxc6. Its really a question of wheather you want your bishop or knight out for black.

  • Scotch Gambit *My Personal E4 recomendation*

    1. e4 e5 2. nf3 nc6 3. d4 exd4 4.Bc4 (a)4. Bb4+ looses for black because if 5.c3 then 5.dxc3 6.dxc3 if 7.Bc5 then 7.Bxf7+ 8.Kxf7 Qd5+ 9. king moves wherever Qxc5 +- Whites advantage. If Bd6 or Bf8, it either wastes a move and/ or messes up your position (undo's development/ blocks in pawns). Be7 is Game over, you might as well tip your king sideways due to Qd5!!.
  • Kings Gambit 1. e4 e5 2. f4 white will try for the d4 square

Accepted 2.exf4 3.nf3 d5 and so on. This was bobby fischers favorite line for black.

declined 2.e6 3.Nf3 Nc6

Falkerbeer 2.d5 3.exd5 d4 black sacrifices a pawn for a good centre and black has to cope with an annoying pawn

Interesting line 2.nc6 if 3. fxe5 Nxe5 4.d4 Qh4+ black is better. if 3.nf3 then f5 trying for equality.

  • French

    • "D4, C4, Nf3 Games" (I LIKE D4)

    • Closed Games

    • Bocked files

    • Blocked diagonals

    • Blocked Center

    • Positional Play

    • Strategy

    • Bind

    • Regrouping

    • Slow







    Albin Countergambit


  • Kings Indian defense

  • Pirc

  • Benoni

  • Blackmar Dimer Gambit


  • English opening
  • Reti

"Other Openings"

Open games

  • Polish

  • Nimsowich Larsen

  • Benko

I Highly recommend these book for openings Chess Openings for Black, Explained: A Complete Repertoire (Revised and Updated), and Chess Openings for White, Explained: Winning with 1.e4, Second Revised and Updated Edition by 2 Gm's

*********** Might not be finished, still be working on.....***********

share|improve this answer

The Scotch Game is definitively an opening for beginners (playing as White).

It's opened game that permits to player having two bishops free easily (see behind). Moreover, theory is simple and this opening is not countered easily by weak players because few weak players know it.

Here's a diagram:

[fen ""]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4
share|improve this answer
+1 the Scotch Game is excellent for beginners. – xaisoft Feb 6 '13 at 15:32

Here is an excerpt from an excellent article by Grandmaster Gregory Serper:

It was very common in the countless chess clubs of the former Soviet Union that coaches taught their young students to play gambits, sharp openings like the Greco Attack and the Sicilian Dragon. My recommendation for all my readers whose rating is about USCF 1300 or below: try to play open sharp positions as much as possible. Even if you play 1.d4 or 1.Nf3 go for complications whenever possible! Only a chess player who is proficient in tactics can be a successful tournament player. Don't forget the popular saying that "chess is 99% tactics". Don't be discouraged if you lose a game or two, the most important thing is to learn how to calculate variations and visualize a position, and you learn it best in sharp open positions!

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The best first move for a new player in my opinion is e4. It results in the most open game with less emphasis on theory. A specific opening to look up would be the Ruy Lopez or the Spanish opening.

Also follow these general opening rules:

  • Make only as many pawn moves as are necessary to get your minor pieces out.
  • Knights work better when placed near the center (Nf3, Nc3)
  • Avoid moving the same piece multiple times (it is a waste of move or tempo)
  • Take control of the central squares (e4, d4) and try to ensure the opponent doesn't.
share|improve this answer
Ruy Lopez is not so easy to play. – Zistoloen Feb 4 '13 at 21:04
@Zistoloen : agreed that there are lots of variations in it, but I was trying to focus on the main line - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 – NoviceProgrammer Feb 4 '13 at 21:10
Ruy is easy to play, hard to master. It yields a good game for players of similar skill. – Tony Ennis Feb 5 '13 at 2:57

To me it looks like you need to focus on the opening principles instead of particular openings. Openings will come in time, but if you stick to the fundamental opening principles, you will actually find yourself naturally playing openings without even thinking of it. Some opening principles include:

  1. Control the center
  2. Develop your pieces (Knights, Bishops, etc)
  3. Castle early (this should connect your rooks)
  4. Try not to move the same piece twice in a row
  5. Try not to move more than 3 pawns in the first 8 moves

By sticking to the principles above, you will notice that you are in fact playing an opening and you don't even have to think about it, for now, at least.

Let's use the Ruy Lopez as an example:

1. e4 - controls the center and opens the diagonal for the Queen and the Bishop 1... e5 - fights for center control and opens the diagonal for the Queen and the Bishop 2. Nf3 - Gets a piece out and controls a center square, plus attacking blacks e5 pawn. 2... Nc6 - Black gets a piece out and protects his e5 pawn 3. Bb5 - Puts a pin on Black's c3 Knight.

A possible continuation for White and Black might be to castle, although with the Ruy Lopez, this can wait a few more moves.

I would also recommend if possible and this is only if you want to try and practice e4 openings, to either ask your friends if you can play as White or seek games and play as White for a while. I did this with the Scotch, Italian, Evan's Gambit and became much better after playing them from White's perspective for a while.

Your gonna get moves from Black that don't follow 1. e4 e5 openings, but to illustrate an example from my own experience, just stick to the principles and you should be fine, no matter if you lose or win, you will learn something. I will use the Sicilian as an example. I am not an expert in the Sicilian, so when I play against it, I have no idea if I am playing an opening or not.

1. e4 - I want control of the center. 1... c5 - Sicilian 2. Nf3 - I want to develop a piece 2... d6 3. d4 - I make this move because I want to break up the center and open the game up. It kind of reminds me of the Scotch a bit, but others might disagree. 3... cxd4 4. Nxd4 4... Nf6- Attack e4 pawn and develop a piece 5. Nc3 - Protect e4 pawn and develop a piece

If you looked at the board now, you would notice that White is close to castling, he has a pawn in the center, and both Knights are developed and there are open lines for his Queen and Bishops. Black's next move is an important strategic choice, but I wouldn't worry to much about it, I would just play. My main point above is that I had no idea how to play against the Sicilian, I just played the moves that felt natural to move at the time and come to find out, this is called the Open Sicilian

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As a beginner, if you play this way, you just need to be aware of the most common traps. A sharp opponent, who knows his opening traps, can cause you a lot of pain if you just play moves that seem to follow these rules. – jm. Jan 3 at 23:24

Yasser Seirwan's Winning Chess series recommend a Kings Indian Attack structure (Nf3, g3, Bg2, 0-0, d3, e4) because it is quite sound against almost anything your opponent can throw against you... and it has the analogous Kings Indian Defense as Black.

Its been solid enough that even Kasparov and Fischer have been known to play it, and doesn't require memorization.

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For White, the Ruy Lopez is your e4 opening. It allows for rapid development, early castling, and a nice tactical game. For your d opening, a good ole Queens Gambit is hard to beat.

You'll also need to learn 2 openings for the Black side. I like a King's Indian in response to 1. d4 and a Robatsch for 1. e4.

They're all good in the beginning, however, so read up on some and learn the points of a few openings. Try them to see if you enjoy the positions that result.

There's really no such thing as a simple opening in chess. All are loaded with gotchas or nasty traps, ready to snare the complacent.

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+1 for the King's Indian. It may not be light on theory, but none of the 1. d4 openings really are, and it avoids the bad light-square Bishop better than the other Indian defenses. I'm also intrigued by your recommendation of the Robatsch. I wouldn't have thought of that family of openings as simple beginner ground, but there's a good case to be made for it. – Jonathan Garber Feb 5 '13 at 15:46
The Robatsch is flexible and lets people get pieces in play. And against beginners, that sneaky g7 Bishop will probably eat its share of rooks ;-) – Tony Ennis Feb 6 '13 at 0:00
Ahh, the long diagonal, of course. I sort of overlooked that aspect because it's "too obvious". – Jonathan Garber Feb 6 '13 at 14:00
It will also teach the beginner about the long diagonal, exerting force on the center, and how a Bishop can assert itself. – Tony Ennis Feb 7 '13 at 2:19

Danish Gambit.

Don't be afraid to crush them. They won't play precisely enough to counter you, and you'll have tons of space. Develop fast, rush towards f7, gain material if you can, just don't lose time going after pawns.

[fen ""]

1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Bc4 cxb2 5. Bxb2

Usually, you push e5 at some point, and sometimes it's yet another sacrifice.

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Just started playing this. Very fun whether you lose or win, but better to win :) – xaisoft Feb 8 '13 at 15:33
So I basically sacrifice 3 pawns for a lot of space? My I ask why you placed the first bishop at c4 and not for example b5? – OmnipresentAbsence Feb 8 '13 at 17:01
@OmnipresentAbsence: 2 pawns only, but basically, yes. ♗c4 threatems f7, which is a lot weaker than… d7? Also if ♗b5, Black could gain a tempo by pushing ♟c6 (helping ♟d5). – Nikana Reklawyks Feb 8 '13 at 18:17
I love taking all 3 pawns as black lol. I also see no compensation for white. sacrificing the 2nd kinda makes sense so u could move more freely but the 3rd is definately a blunder. – dogs10099 Oct 19 '13 at 16:08

Regarding the development of rooks...

Rooks usually come into their own later in the game, don't worry if they don't seem to have a starring role early on. In the opening:

  1. Focus on getting the minors (Bishop and Knights) developed first
  2. Castle as early as possible
  3. Move the Queen off the back rank

Now the back rank is cleared and your rooks should be connected (i.e. they can "see" each other). At this point you can think about how to position your rooks most effectively:

  1. Is there an open file (a vertical line cleared of pawns)? Move a rook to that file!
  2. Is there a half-open file (none of your pawns are obstructing the file) ? Move rook to that file and it will exert pressure along the line.
  3. Is there a file that is likely to be open soon (say the pawn in front is likely to be exchanged)? This is a good spot.
  4. A rook that is "x-raying" (i.e. attacking though other pieces are blocking the line of attack) the enemy King or Queen often lead to advantageous tactics

If one rook is good, two lined up can be even stronger!

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If you want to go e4:

The ruy lopez is complicated, but it won't baby you. I recommend it for all levels; anyone between a FIDE rating of 100 and 9999. The scotch is also an acceptable choice i guess, but i recently learned that at the top level it's actually just a draw. The ruy lopez secures an initiative for white.

Against the sicilian, either the open sicilian or the c3/alapin sicilian is a great choice. c3 sicilian leads to isolated queen's pawn positions, which are very good for understanding more about the game of chess. The c3 sicilian doesn't require a massive amount of theory either.

Against the french, just play the tarrasch I guess. The tarrasch is the most solid line against the french at the top top top level (in which almost nobody plays the french at the supergrandmaster level because it's passive and doesn't 'play for a win').

Against the caro kann, u can try 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 Bd3 which is pretty easy to play if you do a little of homework, though it might be kind of dry. The absolute best response against the caro kann is the advanced variation where you play e5, but it's actually hard to play and hard to get used to because black gets easy moves, and the pawn on e5 and d4 feels kind of over extended and loose. And playing c3 to hold the pawn chain together is never a good move in the main lines.

Against the pirc, 150-attack or Classical system are good. Look them up if you ever face the pirc at ur level. It's rare. You can also try f4 (austrian attack), g3, and Bc4, though I don't actually recommend the austrian attack. It's about dead equal but not very drawish at the same time.

Against the scandinavian, just the main lines. The scandinavian is also rare. Qd6 and Qa5 are two different systems and completely different.

If you want to go d4:

You can try the london system or just the main lines (d4 c4 Nc3 e4 setup). The London system is about equal (white wants to be slightly above equal), but it's super impervious, solid, and you'll broaden your understanding about chess, and there are a several grandmasters who play the london system.

London System = d4 Bf4 e3 Nf3 c3 Nbd2 h3 setup.

Whether you play the london system or the mainline d4 with c4, you are going to have to watch out for:

The grunfeld. The grunfeld is actually the best best best absolute best opening against the d4 if you go for the Nc3 mainline (1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5). The grunfeld is very sharp and a lot of grandmasters are facing a little trouble against the grunfeld. But, hey, grandmasters play d4 c4 setup, so it must be promising. The grunfeld's endgames are always superior to white's in the main lines because of the 2-to-1 pawn majority on the queenside.

The nimzo indian defense is also very solid and good for black, just right behind the grunfeld by a millionth of an inch.

The slav is right behind the nimzo indian defense in soundness. The slav can both be sharp and solid. Also the semi-slav botvinnik is the sharpest opening in all of chess openings. The najdorf and the grunfeld are just a lil behind in sharpness but still super sharp.

In conclusion:

I recommend one of the following: -Mainline e4 -Mainline d4 -London System

Alternates -You can look at the English (c4) -You can look at the catalan -You can look at the Reti, but you really have to like it to be good with it.

Extra notes: -Generally you want tactical and sharp openings if you're a beginner, because playing out their middle games will improve your tactics. e4 is sharper and more tactical than d4.

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For White, I would recommend the Ruy Lopez. 1. E4 (opens lines for queen and bishop). 2. Nf3 (develops knight). 3. Bb5 (develops bishop). Black usually plays 3. ...a6, forcing 4. Ba4. Black might play Nf6, and White can play O-O, developing a rook through castling (which is what castling is for). If Black takes the e pawn, 5... Nxe4, White plays 6. Re1 and regains Black's king pawn. Then "rinse and repeat on the queen side: Nc3, Bg5 (or elsewhere, Qe2, and Rd1).

If you follow this sequence, taking "time out" only to defend or move attacked pieces, you will rise above the level of beginner.

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For beginners, I generally recommend to begin from the end and start by learning endgames. Having said this, I can recommend a general plan of developing your pieces and securing your king that you can follow in every game, with both colors. For example, you can try a setup with 1.Nf3, 2.g3, 3.Bg2, 4.0-0, 5.d3, 6.e4, 7.Re1, 8.Nbd2, 9.c3, 10.Qc2, 11.a4 followed by Nd2-c4 or Nd2-f1-e3 and developing the dark squared bishop to d2 and the rook Ra1-d1. For instance, the game could start with

[FEN ""]
1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.O-O Nf6 5.d3 O-O 6.Nbd2 c5 7.c3 Nc6 8.Qc2 Qc7 9.e4 Rd8 10.Re1 a6 11.a4 Rb8 12.Nf1 etc.
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I prefer the Italian Game, as it is what I played when I was a beginner. I used to won many games with that, especially when other beginners play the 2 knights game and doesn't know what they're doing.

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[fen ""]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Bb4 4. Qe2
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3...Bb4 is not a common move for black. – Dag Oskar Madsen Nov 23 '13 at 10:30

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