After I learned the Sicilian, I started to love to play as black, while before it my win rate with white was bigger than black (as expected due to white first move advantage). When I learned Sicilian exists, I started to win a lot as black (also in my low level of play I rarely see Sicilian used against me...)

I don't bother learning all Sicilian variations, I just move the C pawn first, and 'go with the flow' as needed, and with experience learn some of the more unusual moves (like moving pawns or knights in counter-intuitive ways after I notice in analysis why they were good idea, and then I learn later that it is a named opening).

How I do that as white? Right now all I do is spam Wayward queen, that sucks, but seemly other players suck more and lose to it anyway, the problem is that Wayward Queen attack is entirely a gamble, if other player sucks, I win, if other player is good, I lose.

I want some better white opening I can rely on as beginner, like I do with Sicilian for black.

I know there is another question about white openings, but that question talks about lots of openings, I want ONE flexible opening I can rely upon and learn its variants as I play, like it happened to me with Sicilian.

  • I would try 1.e4 with healthy development. If it worked with Sicilian, it should work here as well. There is plenty of theory as in the sicilian and it is also as good and straightforward. Try it.
    – hoacin
    Apr 30, 2017 at 15:44

5 Answers 5


From your question it seems to me that you should focus on learning general opening principles (control the center, develop pieces, don't move the same piece twice, castle...), study tactics and learn how to develop a plan. These will be useful in all kind of situations you encounter during a game and if you follow them you will end up playing an "official" opening naturally.

Studying openings is not useful for beginners because:

  • your opponents will rarely play the moves you learned
  • without knowing some general ideas you will basically only end up memorizing moves without understanding the ideas behind them (which is particularly useful if your opponent makes a worse move)
  • generally, opening knowledge only has a very small effect on the level of play and only becomes relevant at higher playing strengths, let's say from Elo 2000 or so

If you are happy with the Sicilian, by all means continue playing it, but be aware that this is among the most complicated chess openings out there and you are far away from understanding it.

As for what to play with white, I suggest to first figure out what kind of player you are, or what kind of positions (e.g. open/tactical, closed/positional...) you like. For instance what do you like particularly about the Sicilian?


If you like the Sicilian, then try the , which can become a Sicilian with colours reversed:

[FEN ""]

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Nf3 e5

Now most players don't recommend the English for beginners, as it can transpose into many other openings, such as Queen Pawn Openings.

But you can adopt a system opening, where you play (mostly) the same moves no matter what black does. I would recommend the Botvinnik system.


I prefer Ruy Lopez as one of the most popular opening in white because of its flexibility in placing knights and bishops in more squares that makes them powerful. There are lots of variation you can apply into it in case that you are being trapped. You can place your white tiled bishop step back at the center as Bobby and back at right side as Open variation to maintain the strong position of your bishop at the center. Chess.com

  • That diagram is making me dizzy:)
    – yobamamama
    Dec 14, 2019 at 21:03

One problem with flexibility is that it gives up some of the very best chances for a quick kill, and if you're comfortable with the tactics in the Sicilian, you may have to sacrifice that as White. In the Sicilian, ...c5 imbalances the game immediately and if White doesn't understand the opening (whether or not d4 is played), bad things happen quickly. I had trouble against it for a long time.

Still a flexible opening makes a lot of sense if you are learning things. If you want a flexible opening as White, there are formation style openings that work well. Black can roughly equalize, but it's not trivial, and there's a good deal of play. @Bad_Bishop mentions a good one with the Botvinnik system, and I've enjoyed it, but there are others too. Shop around and see which you like best.

The strongest other candidates are the King's Indian Attack (e4, Nf3, g3, Bg2, d3, Nbd2) or the Torre Attack (d4, Nf3, Bg5). Then you drop a knight in on e5. The Torre is a bit more flexible because you can play c4/Nc3 or c3/Nbd2 depending on what Black does. It also has a few traps if Black plays mechanically.

The London System (d4, Nf3, Bf4) is a bit quieter but still can give an opponent trouble.

Other formations similar to the Torre include the Stonewall (f4 instead of Bg5) or the Colle (no Bg5) but I just like getting the bishop outside the pawn chain.

If you want to play the Torre, you need a good response to early ...c5 moves, but I've always


One white opening which you can play against almost any black response is the Kings Indian Attack where you play the moves e4, Nf3, d3, g3, Bg2, 0-0 almost automatically before deciding how to proceed once you have seen black's response.

  • 1
    Playing moves (almost) automatically is not good practice and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, beginner or not. You have to watch what your opponent does all the time.
    – Annatar
    Sep 22, 2017 at 13:33

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