Does the Rookside opening have a name? It is not very popular, I believe so I'm wondering what the best defense could be.

  • 1
    What Rookside opening? 1. a3, 1. a4, 1. h3, 1. h4? Or something else?
    – Glorfindel
    Mar 21, 2017 at 12:40
  • Sorry I forgot to specify. a4, h4
    – Palolo64
    Mar 21, 2017 at 12:45
  • 3
    There is no need to defend against crappy openings. Just play as if you were white, occupy the center, develop pieces. Neither a4 nor h4 limits your options. If for instance white gets really crazy on the kingside pushing his pawns, you could think of castling long instead of short, but otherwise there is nothing to be afraid of really. Mar 21, 2017 at 13:12

3 Answers 3


One of the foremost principles of chess is to control the center squares. Side pawn openings do not do this, which is why they are unpopular. My recommendation would be to simply control the center with your pawns and develop normally.

An old chess saying goes like so: "When your opponent attacks on the side, strike in the center". The logic behind this is when your opponent is occupied on an insignificant region of the side, they will be unprepared for a direct assault in the most important section of the board - the center.

There is no need to treat these kinds of openings differently - just develop your pieces and control the center like you normally would against a normal opening. Then once you reach the middlegame, you will be far better prepared for the inevitable struggle due to having more pieces out and in much better outposts.

If you would like to read a further discussion on this topic, here is a link to a chess.com forum on it, where various chess players throw in their two cents:


If you want a cheap book on this, here is a link to Chess Grandmaster Kontronias' book on "Beating the Flank Openings". It only costs about $9:


  • Great tip and good reccomandation about the book!
    – Palolo64
    Mar 22, 2017 at 8:38

I would occupy the centre. When I was a beginner, I played a game that started like this:

[FEN ""]
[White ""]
[Black "Bad_Bishop"]

1. a4 e5 2. Ra3 {White looks to develop a rook towards the centre, but this just loses material} Bxa3 {Winning the exchange. I forget how the game ended, but white was lost from the start} 3. bxa3 {If I had white in this position, I would play 3. Nxa3, so that I don't have doubled, isolated a pawns} d5 {Black should take the centre, seeing as it is totally untested. Black has an easy game}

In terms of naming:

  • No problem @Palolo64. If you feel the answer warrants it, please up-vote using the up-arrow and/or accept the answer using the tick mark.
    – user1108
    Mar 21, 2017 at 13:58

Control the centre. White, or Black, has wasted a tempo, and you should take advantage of that.

Another problem with a/h-pawn openings is that this will leave a weakness on b/g4. Attempt to goad the c/f-pawns forward so that you can place a bishop on g4.

The only exception to the Rookside openings is the Andersson opening, Creepy Crawly Formation(a3 and h3), which is quite playable for White.

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