I love the B06 Modern Opening for Black:

[Title "White - Black"]
[FEN ""]

1. e4 d6 2. d4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. Bc4 e6 5. Nf3 Ne7 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bh4 a6 8.O-O Nd7

I find it leads to a strong position for White to attack and a secure one for Black to defend (especially if it leads you to the Hippo Defense because, as Black, I've had my greatest success with atypical openings:

[Title "Petrosian vs. Spassky, World Championship 1966 (game 16)"]
[FEN ""]

1.d4 g6 2.e4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.Be2 e6 5.c3 Nd7 6.0-0 Ne7 7.Nbd2 b6 8.a4 a6 9.Re1 Bb7 10.Bd3 0-0

Question: What are the major defences that statistically have seen the most success by Black?

  • 2
    To my knowledge, there is no major opening that grants black an advantage with correct play from both sides. However, there are many openings which may be used to fight for an advantage as black.
    – Scounged
    Dec 26 '16 at 2:05
  • Understood. Recommendations and reasons?
    – user34445
    Dec 26 '16 at 2:06
  • 1
    Fighting for an advantage as black is risky, since white is the one who makes the first move, and thus more easily can get the initiative early on. Often, the lines that black uses to get an advantage are very sharp and double-edged. On 1.e4, the Sicilian Najdorf is one such line, and on 1.d4, the King's indian defence could be used for these purposes. But there are many such lines, and hardly enough room in the comments to expand on such a topic.
    – Scounged
    Dec 26 '16 at 2:14

It depends very much on what you intend by the word "advantage": if you are asking

Are there any openings that give Black advantage at correct play?

the answer is obviously no, as well as there are no openings that give White advantage, at correct play. If otherwise there will just be no openings, rather only that one line that always gives advantage to White (or Black, respectively) without any need to play anything else. At correct play all standard opening variations are equal, if only there might be a tiny slight advantage for White in the sense that it is enforced to play the next move and as such the next-to-come threat.

If instead you are asking

What are the major defenses that statistically have seen the most success by Black?

that is another matter completely. You might want to have a look at any of the large chess databases present on the internet where openings are sorted by winning percentages according to the variation (for the games contained in the database, obviously); an example is this page from ChessTempo showing winning percentages for the Sicilian Najdorf variation, for instance, that is well-known to be among the most played defenses versus 1.e4. Other examples for 1.d4 are the Slav defense or the Indian defenses, as standard sound counterplay for Black.

  • I've changed the question to reflect the clarity you suggest.
    – user34445
    Dec 26 '16 at 2:21
  • Having a look at the database that I linked in my answer will give a rough understanding of success percentages for any major line played at major tournaments.
    – gented
    Dec 26 '16 at 2:24

I'll start with a quote about the Modern Opening from The Road to Chess Improvement by Alex Yermolinsky:

The Modern Defense. This 'universal' method of solving opening problems has been widely popularized recently. Some of its protagonists even claim that White has no way of earning the opening advantage after 1. d4 g6 2. e4 Bg7. Some statement, isn't it? By the way, it can hardly be supported or overturned by statistical research. The thing is, in these days of open tournaments, there are many situations when Black feels obliged to play for a win. It could be the sheer difference in the player's strength that determines the choice of opening and, at the same time, affects the outcome. If we mostly see grandmasters playing it as Black against masters (USCF 2200) and experts (USCF 2000), what do you think we'll get? A statistical edge to Black, of course.

While the Modern Opening isn't bad, of course, the point is that we can't rely on simple winning statistics alone. If it really promised Black better chances than, say, the Ruy Lopez or the Najdorf, it would see much more play at the top level. What an opening can do, is make the game sharper with more chance on decisive results (whether that means a win or a loss for Black).

If you enjoy playing the Modern Opening, and score good results, by all means, keep doing it. Just remember that what works for you, doesn't need to work in general.

  • You make some very good points.
    – user34445
    Dec 26 '16 at 12:24

You don't really want to play an opening that gives statistical success, i.e. averaged over all kind of players.

What you want is an opening that you are comfortable with,

  • that matches your style of play

  • that does not require more work than you are willing to devote learning it

  • that leaves you with positions where you still have an idea how to continue

  • that perhaps sees your opponents not as well prepared

  • that gives you good results

If that's the modern defence for you, why not. It is not a bad choice.

I would not go by database winning percentages as these can be quite distorted due to move order changes, different levels of players in the database, GM playing for a draw with black (while most normal players would rather play for a win with any colour) etc.

  • Fair point.Would not agree however that winning percentages illustrate to some degree familiarity and use? So if people are familiar and using specific openings to achieve success that might be emulated?
    – user34445
    Dec 26 '16 at 21:16
  • 1
    Just one point, if say you are not good at tactics you might perform much below the database winning percentage in an opening like the Najdorf. Unless you are a GM who can play any kind of position reasonably well, I'd go with any normal opening (no weird gambit lines, etc) that suits you and not worry too much about the winning percentages (which are more or less the same anyway). Dec 26 '16 at 23:44

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