My question may seem a little odd. But, nevertheless:

Planning to play in the tournament. 15 + 0 Swiss system. There will be players from beginner to CM. What do you consider best openings to confuse players, set up traps against beginners and chess masters?

And can you suggest best strategy to play in this kind of tournament?

My rating is something like 1600-1700.

  • 1
    My advice is stay on top of the tactics. Almost all 15 0 games will explode into tactics and some point and the player who deals with them best and with the clock will prevail.
    – magd
    Apr 2 '16 at 19:28
  • Is 15 + 0 a 15-minute-sudden-death time control?
    – Tony Ennis
    Apr 5 '16 at 2:20
  • How many rounds? If it's at least 7 rounds, then a double swiss gambit is worth considering
    – M.M
    Sep 29 '16 at 2:26

I find dfan's answer the best posted, but I want to add a few things that I think should be considered:

  • Against players signifigantly weaker than you - PLAY SOLID CHESS! These players will unwittingly outplay themselves if you let them. You have to be patient, and not give them any chances to actually get anything sharp going. Just hoist them up gently after they've tied the noose around their neck.
  • Against players roughly at the same level as you (1600-1700), offbeat openings may actually give you an edge, if you're familiar with them. But don't try to play something unsound just to confuse your opponent. Remember that you cannot expect the game to be over just because you got out of the opening with an advantage. And focus on playing well - the game will most likely be decided by who was more tactically alert.
  • Against strong players, you should only be happy after you've won the game, and not because you won a pawn/piece in the opening. These players are greedy (and strong) enough to rip off your arm if you lend them a finger, so do not relax, even if you have a great position. Also, try to decide the game before the endgame if possible. A CM will most likely outplay you in an equal endgame, so go for "high-risk-high-reward" openings, since anybody can make fatal mistakes in sharp positions. Avoid slow, positional setups. Be prepared that these players will do to you what you should do against the weaker players. They will not be as easy to fool with uncommon setups as the others, and even if they are fooled, it may not be enough.
  • "Just hoist them up gently after they've tied the noose around their neck." I've got to use this turn of phrase!!! :D
    – aaaaaaa
    Sep 29 '16 at 5:30

The best strategy is simply to play as well as possible. There are no effective shortcuts like trick openings.

  • 2
    In 15 minute blitz-ish games, I don't know if this is true. Of course, playing well is best, but one can play well and make unusual moves.
    – Tony Ennis
    Apr 5 '16 at 2:24

In these fast games, you're going for a knockout. You don't have time for a long, drawn-out game... unless you're able to move fast and your opponent isn't.

So find a sharp offbeat opening for each color and learn the barbs. Then capitalize on the confusion. This can lead to bad moves or slow moves on the part of the opponent.

If you play a Ruy Lopez, Queen's Gambit, etc, you're going to play into peoples' books.


My rating is much lower, so it might not be as helpful for you as it is for me, but I really enjoy playing the English. Most people spend their time studying the more popular openings, but when I start with c4 it throws a lot of their prep out the window and evens the playing field a bit.


I support Tony Ennis' answer - you want the clock as your ally, not your enemy. That means you want to get your opponent out of book before he does it to you, so he burns more time on the clock. If you can play an opening he's not likely to be familiar with, but which is still playable, you're going to gain lots of time on the clock if he tries to play well.

Once he eventually decides that he doesn't have time for long thinks and just starts to improvise, you may be able to lure him into a trap or two.

Then, once you have an advantage, back off on the tactics and just grind out the win by picking up extra material or squeezing him positionally.

Expect a sacrifice/breakout if he's got a positional disadvantage, try to figure out where it's likely to happen, and have an equal or stronger threat ready, if not a refutation.

Finally, since it's a Swiss and not a Round-Robin, you will play the strongest players if you win every game. The overall winner in your section (if winning is your goal) may not need to have a perfect score at the end, so if you have a game that looks drawish, don't be afraid to offer a draw, instead of risking trying to win a drawn game. It'll probably improve your winning chances in the next few games due to the pairing rules anyway. However, you should know that if you end up on this track and at the end of the tournament, you tie on game points with another player, it's likely (if there isn't a playoff) that the tiebreak will be based on the scores of your opposition. So, if you played weaker opponents than he did, it's likely his tiebreak score will be higher due to his opponents' having fewer losses and draws than yours.

I don't go to win the section so much as to play, so for me that's not a concern.

As for openings, you might consider:

For Black

  1. Budapest Gambit
  2. Colorado Gambit
  3. Icelandic Gambit
  4. Schliemann Defense (to the Ruy Lopez)
  5. Bird's Defence (to the Ruy Lopez)
  6. 3...a6!? (to the Italian Game/Giuoco Piano)
  7. Pick a line you're comfortable with against the English (1...a6 and 2...b5 has been tried), and
  8. Pick a line you're comfortable with against the Reti (1.Nf3)
  9. Expect a few London/Colle/Zukertorts, which attempt to avoid an early confrontation, so have a one-size fits all system for them
    1. Have a line against the King's Indian Attack (1.e4, 2.d3) that you like, if you don't play 1...e5.

Also, have at least one line prepared for the Grob Attack and for the Sokolsky Opening.

For White

  1. Vienna Gambit vs. 1...e5, or Göring Gambit vs 1...e5
  2. King's Indian Attack (KIA) vs French (1. e4 e6 2.d3 d5 3.Qe2!?)
  3. KIA vs Sicilian:
    1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d3 Nc6 4. g3 g6 5. Bg2 Bg7 6. O-O Nge7 7. c3 O-O 8. d4 cxd4 9. cxd4 d5 10. e5 Nf5 11. Nc3 f6 12. Re1 Kh8 13. g4 Nh4 14. Nxh4 fxe5 15. Nxg6+ hxg6 16. dxe5 Nxe5 *
  4. Alekhine's Defense line (I recommend 1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. Nf3 Bg4 5. Be2 e6 6. O-O Be7 7. c4 Nb6 8. Nc3 O-O 9. Be3 d5 10. c5 )
  5. Scandinavian Defense line (take your pick)
  • 1
    I never heard of 3...a6 in the Italian Game. What's that about?
    – bof
    Sep 28 '16 at 5:26
  • @bof The fact that you've never heard of it is a testament to its surprise value in Blitz. Take a look at any opening book that has it, or a large DB of high-rated player's games, and you'll see it does remarkably well, even at Standard Time Controls. The essential ideas are a) get ready to kick the bishop on c4 with ...b5, improving on the ...b5 of the Ulvestad Variation, and b) give White enough rope to hang himself if he wants to try being aggressive immediately. I should add that, strictly speaking, it's not an Italian Game until after 3...Bc5, but you get the idea.
    – jaxter
    Sep 29 '16 at 2:13
  • Yeah but after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 a6 4.O-O b5 5.Bb3 White is a tempo up on 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 b5 5.Bb3.
    – bof
    Sep 29 '16 at 7:14
  • @bof That's true, but the line you're discussing is a Ruy Lopez, and the line I offered is for a Giuoco Piano. For the Ruy, I recommended the Schliemann Defense. So, you're mixing up the variations here. If White plays 3.Bb5, you don't play the same moves after 3...a6 as you do when he plays 3.Bc4.
    – jaxter
    Sep 29 '16 at 17:47
  • The point is that 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc5 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 b4 5.Bb3 is a standard opening which gives White his usual small opening advantage. Your 3.Bc4 a6 leads to the same position with a whole extra move for White, so it must be distinctly in White's favor.
    – bof
    Sep 30 '16 at 4:16

To add to what the others have said, it also depends on how much preparation time you have for the tournament. If the tournament starts next week, you don't really have time to learn a new opening. Even if you do manage to throw your opponents off guard, you won't be any more familiar with the resulting positions than they will.

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