I am preparing for a tournament, so which opening should I use or prepare? How can I become strong in a specific opening line?

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    What's your rating around? Apr 3, 2018 at 5:47
  • @TheAutomaton right now i am not a rated player but i am preparing for fide rating Apr 3, 2018 at 6:51
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    Neither is better than the other one, it's mostly a matter of taste. I would suggest you play through a few games which started with both and pick the one which tends to lead to the sort of position you like.
    – Ian Bush
    Apr 3, 2018 at 7:02
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    The whole point of playing chess is dealing with incomplete knowledge. Human players somehow compile experience into a set of preferences, some conscious and some sub-conscious. All of this necessarily becomes subjective; indeed the scope for expression of individual flair and artistry is one thing that makes chess great. Here is a beginner who simply asks for a guideline as to how to climb the learning mountains. I see no indication that he invites descent into an opinion battle. TheAutomaton has shown a serious answer to this serious question. Please take the question off hold.
    – Laska
    Apr 4, 2018 at 4:23

1 Answer 1


Tough to tell

Benefits of Both

d4 is very strong controlling two central squares (e5 and c5) e4 controls 1 (d5 since f5 doesn't help develop pieces it's not the best)

e4 opens up the white bishop and queen diagonals (Though queen's is easily blocked), while d4 opens up the bishop, d4 is also benefit by being naturally guarded by the queen.

Analysis of Both

I personally find d4 to be better at gaining control of the center, especially with my favorite white opening, the queen's gambit. Since black can't attack the e pawn black is forced to develop slower since it can't openly attack the center. In this case, d4 is solid.

e4 on the other hand promotes more activity from other pieces by opening up the two diagonals (Though the queen's is almost never used). Yet, since this allows black to fight for the center I have found more exchanges, and I like using e4 for creative openings such as the Ruy Lopez, Rio Gambit, or learning the Sicilian lines seizing space as white while black has to open up space for his pieces to develop.This makes e4 a very good way to open the board, though this opens up many weakness for white often in exchange for black's lack of development.

My Opinion

At high level play, the Sicilian is threatening and at GM-level play e4 has a very low win rate compared to d4 (Refer to Stat's section). It lacks the solid control of the center and e4 promotes a large amount of counter-play, though in my opinion, it doesn't matter at the moment. It's nice to play both and find your own comfort and flexibility.

Recommended Openings

If you are looking for lines to learn my top 3 for white (in order favorite-least) are: Queen's Gambit, English Opening, and for Black: Sicilian, Nimzo-Indian, and Modern Defense. These are solid and work great at tournament level play.


Chess.com's Opening Explorer (https://www.chess.com/explorer) documents e4 as having (38% wins, 32% ties0, 30% losses) with 879,507 recorded games. d4 is recorded as having (39% wins,34% ties,27% losses) with 693,538 games archived. While this is a fairly close margin the major notable point is the 3% deviation of loss rates, but these ideas aren't imperative as they encompass all levels of play.

The World Championship test Another method to compare these two moves, using actual facts and information instead of general ideas, is to observe the world championships. In a world championship, the players prefer the move they consider more beneficial; the move they believe will offer them more opportunities to achieve victory (especially when playing white). The contenders have, of course, practiced time and again and every defeat signifies a major weakness. What is more, world championships constitute a great study sample simply because there is no other tournament where players demonstrate such seriousness and concentration. Let us examine the results of the modern chess era, meaning the most recent world championships, starting from the year 2000 when Kramnik became world champion.

"In 89 games 1.e4 was used 25 times resulting in: only one win, three losses and 21 draws. In 89 games 1.d4 was used 62 times resulting in: 18 wins, 6 losses and 38 draws. 1.e4 wins: 4% losses: 12% draws: 84% 1.d4 wins: 29% losses: 9% draws: 61%"


At championship level play there is a drastic deviation between the openings, nearly 25%.

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    "e4 has a very low win rate compared to d4" .. I don't know about that. The difference between the common first moves (e4, d4, c4, Nf3) is usually in a 1-5% range depending on the database you look into (and the order isn't always the same!), too minimal to matter significantly in non-GM play.
    – Annatar
    Apr 3, 2018 at 5:56
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    I changed the "high level play" to "GM-Level" as it was vague. I also added a section of stats that show database statistics of both, as well as how they also compare on the championship scene. I agree though, it was misphrased Apr 3, 2018 at 6:18
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    @TheAutomaton.The real statistical objection to basing an answer only on WCh games is not that you account for only a small number of games, but that you account only for a VERY small number of players.
    – Philip Roe
    Apr 3, 2018 at 19:33
  • That's true, but with a large sample of close to a million it's a prediction of the true mean ratio, since it abides by the 10% rule, or is close to it (statisticshowto.com/10-condition). Either way I feel it represents a diverse community that may reflect the larger mass, and it's just an idea of how a certain population fairs with this opening. Apr 3, 2018 at 19:45

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