I'm a poor opening player, I enjoy more tactical positions.

I would like to know a list of openings that :

  • Leads to tactical positions
  • Don't require too much work on learning (typically not a sicilian opening)
  • Allow a quick "out of the theory" position, that would advantage a thinking player over a monster of opening theory.

As you can guess, it doesn't need to be openings that have bests ratio. It just has to meet previous requirements.

If I asked the question to myself, I would go with : - Evans Gambit - Morra gambit - East indian defence

Do you agree with me ? Do you know any other opening that would meet this requirements?

  • Are you looking for alternatives for White or Black? Also, the answer could depend on your level. For example, if you're rated 2100+, then I'd advise you to play a mainstream opening of your choice, and not some obscure gambits. But if you're lower rated, gambits can be very good for you.
    – Scounged
    Nov 19, 2015 at 20:04
  • I look for both white and black. And I'm a 1800 ranked ... "low ranked" :'( Gambit it is then ! Nov 19, 2015 at 20:50

3 Answers 3


The openings I teach the kids at my club are typically the Kali and the London System, depending on what they answer when I ask whether they favor more the knight or the bishop, respectively. Both are structurally sound, from my experience, and typically do not require much book work.

If you're going for unsound openings that lead to tactical shots, hoping to get out of your opponent's opening knowledge, you might consider the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit (the opening I play most often - 1.d4 d5 2.e4?! dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 often leads to a half-open f-file after O-O and a Ne5 post) or the Trompowsky Attack (the opening preferred by the leader of our chess club - 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 and 3.Bxf6 with the idea being to double the f-pawns).

Take suggestions with a grain of salt. It's best to come to your own conclusions about which openings you prefer based on how comfortable you are in the middle-game of those openings. Take a look at each opening you find, try it out, and if it makes you smile unconsciously when you play it, you probably have the answer you're looking for.

  • I'll give it a shot Nov 18, 2015 at 14:05
  • 1
    +1 for London system. A piece of advise, choose it if you are more inclined to positional play.
    – Sathyam
    Nov 23, 2015 at 12:06
  • Is "Kali" a misspelling for "Colle"? Feb 18, 2023 at 22:05

King pawn openings with early pawn exchanges will rapidly open the center and lead to quick tactical play.

As Black, you may accept any gambit and prepare for immediate sharp play. WARNING--Don't try to hang on to the extra material gain. Give it back and seek equality or White's gambit will pay off. Look to exploit the time gained when White recaptures to sieze the initiative.

Avoid Queen pawn openings as they tend to more positional games and fewer tactical battles.

The Kings Gambit is probably the fastest line to achieve major battles. Evans' Gambit is safer for White and also leads to fast play. More unorthodox choices would be the Goring Gambit for White or the Center Counter Game for Black.

Of these, only the Evans' Gambit is truly theoretically sound though still dangerous for White.

You can always try for Scholars Mate but it's boring against a strong opponent.

  • That strengthen my opinion on Evan's gambit. I'll consider gambit's option as well. Thanks ! Nov 23, 2015 at 8:25

With white play 1. e4

If black plays 1...e5 play 2. Bc4. From here you've cut out a lot of theory (ie petrovs, philidors, latvian etc) If you want something simple just play a basic formation with f4, d3 etc. Otherwise you can transpose to a wide variety of openings like the Italian (incl evans), King's gambit, Vienna, Scotch gambit etc. There is a lot of variety here. The modern bishop's opening is considered the the second best theoretical 1.e4,e5 opening behind the Ruy. There's a lot of flexibility here plus you're aiming your strongest attacking piece at black's weakest square on move 2.

vs the Sicilian the Alapin gives the most "bang for the buck" meaning the best winning chances for the least amount of study time. This opening (the Alapin) can give you winning chances against the best players in the world yet also gives you a very active position against lesser players.

vs. the French either the exchange or advance is fine and both fit well with the Alapin Sicilian.

vs. the ck play the panov-botvinnik. Similar in structure to the Alapin and is the best chance for an open game.

vs g6 and d6- I would play either the Austrian or the 150 attack.

vs. Alekhine's the exchange variation.

vs everything else- generally play d4 and the main lines. I'll mention the BMD vs the Scandinavian is a strong attacking choice and fits well with the other openings I've mentioned.

As black- vs e4- the best starter opening is 1.e4, d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3, Qa5 (or Qd8). You can get a playable game against almost anybody and the positions are open and tactical with very little to learn. After you feel you want something else play 1...e5 and aim for a Ruy variation other than 3...a6. I would play the classical with Bc5 but there are plenty of other choices. Against everything else look for lines that play d5 quickly.

vs. d4 and everything else play either the Tarrasch or Dutch. Both are complete systems (ie playable against everything), simple to learn and lead to active, tactical positions. The Tarrasch fits well with the IQP positions I mentioned earlier like the Alapin, French exchange and pan-bot. The Dutch fits well with f4 openings like the king's gambit or vienna gambit. Both openings have been played at high levels and are probably good enough to reach GM level with.

Anything I haven't mentioned stick to your basic opening principles of center, development and king safety and you'll be fine.

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