As stated in the title, I have always wondered whether it is better to move a pawn or knight first. Which one makes you generally more likely to win?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Herb Wolfe, GloriaVictis, SmallChess, Ywapom, Brian Towers Nov 18 '18 at 20:14

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.


You can see statistics at a site like this one.

There are four pawn moves (1. d4, 1. e4, 1. c4, 1. g3) and one knight move (1. Nf3) that form a top tier of first move choices.

The other twelve pawn moves and three knight moves vary in terms of viability.

  • On the other hand, if you are a beginner (as the question suggests), the first move has very little influence on the outcome since games are typically decided by simple tactics not positional considerations (for which the opening/1st move could play a role). – user1583209 Nov 10 '18 at 7:47
  • Still it is recommended for your chess development to stick with the more popular/better moves mentioned in this answer. – user1583209 Nov 10 '18 at 7:49
  • Also looking at the statistics after the first move is a bit meaningless because of transpositions, e.g. you can get to the same position with different move orders. – user1583209 Nov 10 '18 at 7:53
  • 1
    For "fourteen" read "twelve". – bof Nov 10 '18 at 11:54

The question seems to imply that the very first move is directly influencing one's chances to win. This is not the case, the first move alone does not do anything in terms of improving or worsening your chances, as long as you follow correct opening principles. So either a Pawn (i.e. 1.d4) or a Knight (i.e. 1.Nf3) is O.K. in my view. A better question would have been, IMHO, which Knight or Pawn move would be better according to general opening principles? (i.e. 1.Nf3 vs 1.Na3, or 1.e4 vs 1.h4).


Neither is better. It's mostly a matter of opinion. However, there are certain themes that a lot of the commonly played moves all have in common. They try to get the center, to develop their pieces to useful squares, and often king-safety is achieved by castling either king-side or queen-side.

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