I've been working on planning and my positional chess by reading How to reassess your chess by Jeremy Silman. In his book he talked about the opening that the true purpose of every opening was to build imbalances and make moves/plans based on the imbalances. I found this advice very useful as I've always played the opening moves with reasons such as it develops my pieces or gives center control which I always found the reasons to be too vague/aimless to justify the moves and often resulted in me not knowing how to continue. I feel I am guilty far too often of "bad development" as he mentioned in the book, which is worse than no development according to him. How would I implement this new view on playing the opening? I can't seem to understand what imbalances certain openings try to create, for example 1. e4 e5. What imbalance is black trying to create here?

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    What is your rating level? Do you actually play proper openings ( to what depth?) or do you play openings based on general principles? Mar 18 '17 at 20:27

Well, Black doesn't play 1... e5 (after 1. e4) to create an imbalance directly. Rather, he challenges White's plans to create an imbalance by occupying the center with pawns on e4 and d4. (There are openings like the Pirc Defense, which do allow this to White.)

Following well-played lines, you'll get a chance to create an imbalance eventually, sometimes at move 3, sometimes at move 15. Good opening books will tell you what imbalances these lines create and how you can profit from them (often with example games played by grandmasters). Some examples of imbalances are:

  • exchanging a knight for a bishop, or vice versa
  • damaging an opponent's pawn structure
  • occupation/control of the center
  • significant lead in development / the initiative
  • material imbalance (gambiting a pawn)

Most lines involve 'exchanging' two or more imbalances (e.g. the Nimzo-Indian where White obtains the bishop pair, at the cost of doubling his c-pawn and being slightly behind in development) and then it's up to the players to make better use of their advantages than their opponents.


Not every opening is about creating an imbalance. After 1.e4 e5 black is trying to neutralize white's first move advantage and equalize the position. A draw for black is usually considered a more than acceptable result.

When black wants to play for a win, then maybe he will introduce an imbalance himself like as in the sicilian defense 1.e4 c5. This creates greater chances to win, but also greater chances to lose due to the asymmetry in the resulting positions.


When Black plays e5 in response to White's e4 it does not mean from the very first move there would be an imbalance . The imbalance starts from further moves which can result in Ruy Lopez / King's Gambit / Giuoco Piano / Evan's Gambit / Petroff Defense / Center game .

The above are mostly the defence which arises from e4,e5 play . As you asked the Question from Black's perspective it would be wise if you play the Marshall Gambit of Ruy Lopez . This is the best Gambit line where till date there has been no proper refute been discovered from White's perspective . Black gets a superb initiative and is down a Pawn and the Play shifts to White's K-side . Here is the link of the Games & Opening from Marshall Gambit . This creates a ferocious imbalance where Black pounces upon White's K-side .You can check out the games from Black's side .

Ruy Lopez Marshall Gambit line & Games from Chessgames

I will request you not to play the Petroff Defence as it is very hard from either side to get an advantage . If you want to play a drawish game you can play the Petroff .

King's gambit / Giuoco Piano / Evans gambit creates some imbalance but it is white who has the initiative here . White sacrifices a pawn or two to open lines and a huge attack . So Black should be cautious here and be a good defending player to keep White at bay .

Center Game 1)e4,e5 2)Nf3,d5 also creates some imbalance but please make sure you play it with lower rated opponents.

All the above lines except Petroff creates a lot of imbalances and Pawn & even material sacs for initiatives .

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