I like the King's Gambit a lot, and even the Latvian Gambit as black (with dubious results), so my style is very aggressive openings with potentially sharp lines and hack n' slash type of tactical sacrifice lines. However as black when facing the 1.d4 opening from white I'm unsure what to do, and just try to play some kind of King's Indian Defence, which seems solid, but I almost never get my pieces lined up as nicely as Kingscrusher does.

So what are some good offensive lines to play against 1. d4?

11 Answers 11


You seem to enjoy tactical play, so there are a few options for you against 1. d4. As it appears you prefer gambits over other openings, consider looking at the relatively offbeat Budapest Gambit which is characterized by the opening moves 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e5 where after 3. dxe5 black can reply with either 3...Ne4 or 3...Ng4 with the latter being more popular. That being said, the Budapest is rooted in strategic themes, and the King's Indian Defense is certainly regarded as the one of the most aggressive replies to 1. d4.

For a more mainstream approach, I would recommend the Grunfeld as a great hypermodern choice. It's highly regarded from the amateur to world class levels. The general idea is to allow white to build up a center and then target it as a weakness, and the positional themes that arise in the middlegame focus primarily on undermining the pawns on e4 and d4.

For a more comprehensive response, please reference this excellent answer to a generalization of your question.

  • Looks like some of those could transpose into the alekhine "knights are in trouble" defence, which I'm a bit scared of. Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 16:22
  • I would disagree - the knights aren't really in trouble at all. Indeed, it is usually white who has to tread more carefully in the opening to avoid mistakes. Just be comfortable with the lines and ideas and the knights will look less overextended and more strategic.
    – Andrew Ng
    Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 19:10
  • 1
    +1 for the Budapest ... been playing it in tournaments for years with good success
    – JP Alioto
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 16:30

Additionally to Andrew's answer, I'd suggest to have a look at the Benko Gambit (a.k.a. Volga Gambit):

[FEN ""]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5

It is a sound and deep opening. If the gambit is accepted, it leads to sharp play and dynamic positions.


I like to play Benoni, because black has many chances to win. Also it is very asymmetrical from the pawn structure, so the chance to play draw isn't really high.

[FEN ""]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4. Nc3 exd5 5. cxd5 d6

You just have to be careful, with the white d pawn. Never ever let it to d6.

You will play g6 with Bg7. If everything goes right, you will play a6 and b5.


On top of the exciting Benko gambit, you can consider the Albin counter-gambit. Also, check out the Botvinnik variation. The Grunfeld variation is also an interesting option for sharp play. Here are the starting moves of the Albin counter-gambit:

[FEN ""]
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5

An aggressive opening against d4 is the Dutch defense, or f5. Black tries to get a king side attack against White to offset the latter's moves on the queenside, kind of the opposite of the usual sequence. In the 20th century, it was used by aggressive players like Rudolph Spielman.


This is going to be kind of general, because there's a lot of territory to explore, and space limitations reduce me to doing not much more than pointing at some of the landmarks.

There might be something for you in either the Cambridge Springs or the Vienna Variation of the QGD. I know, the Queen's Gambit Declined is thought to be so barren, but both of these (as well as the Meran in the Semi-slav) can create some serious tactical threats.

With Cambridge Springs the early Queen sortie to a5 creates some interesting threats not only on the queen-side but against a white Bishop on g5 as well. It's quite easy for White to drop material if they're unaware. (The most famous of those is the simple trap: 1 d4 d5 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 e6 4 Bg5 Nbd7 when attempts to win the pawn result in white losing a piece: 5 cd5 ed5 6 Nxd5 Nxd5 7 Bxd8 Bb4!) But there are plenty more.

[fen ""]
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Nbd7 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Nxd5 Nxd5 7. Bxd8 Bb4

With all the QGD lines, though, you need to have something to stir up trouble against the exchange variations. If you look at that line and can't find anything you like, then I'd recommend staying away from them and trying for something like a Nimzo-indian beginning that transposes into the QGD lines (like the Vienna) later. (Black begins with something like Nf6 and e6 or b6 with a d5 coming later, on the 3rd or fourth move.)

When you start digging in, you might find some lesser-known sidelines (Manhattan variation?) that create enough tension to keep you satisfied. You might even find you like them as much as e-pawn lines. Look at games by Grandmasters like Larry Christensen who create lots of attacking positions from d-pawn openings.


Several people have recommended the Budapest Gambit, which I would second. It's fun, easy to play, and, while there aren't a lot of lines, it is both tactically and positionally rich. If White knows what they are doing, they won't get trapped, but it also won't leave you unbalanced or vulnerable.

I would also recommend that you look at the Chigorin Defense to the Queen's Gambit (1. d4 d5 2. c4 Nc6). It's quite sharp and good for an attacking player, as it can swiftly unbalance White, or at least dictate the style or tempo of play.

  • Trouble is, there are plenty of lines for White in the Budapest that just lead to a simple advantageous middle game. It's only a good thing to play at low levels against opponents who won't have prepared a response.
    – M.M
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 0:26

Grunfeld or KID top level.

Dutch isn't a number 1 choice.

Benoni is hard to play in the middlegame, and I used to play it with poor results.

Slav can be sharp or solid. However, pretty much the only lines that are aggressive and tactical are the semi-Slav botvinnik lines and stuff. Well, what if white plays exchange slav?

Play Grunfeld or KID. Or, play the Budapest gambit until you reach 2200 or higher. That's when you want to play the Grunfeld or KID. Both are aggressive.

  • The Grunfeld is a good opening, but White may refute this opening with the high-scoring 4.Bg5!.
    – user24344
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 22:50
  • I agree that the Dutch isn't the number 1 choice, since 2.Bg5 hinders Black's development, and instantly gives White an advantage.
    – user24344
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 22:51

The Budapest Gambit is a lot of fun to play and catches people by surprise. It is full of traps for black. 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e5 3. dxe5 Ng4

  • Welcome to Chess SE! Unfortunately, this doesn't really add any value to this existing answerz
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 6:40

Obviously, the Dutch and Tarrasch are your best choices. The Dutch is similar to the openings you named: King's gambit, Latvian and KID.

The KID, Grunfeld, Benoni and Benko all require a lot of theory. The Dutch reaches similar positions with vastly less time spent on learning openings.

Openings like the Budapest are fine but require a very specific move order which means you'll have to learn another opening if white doesn't choose that specific move order.


There are three main agressive options which I play frequently.

1.Benoni Defence

2.Budapest Gambit

3.King's Indian Defence

These are good choices for Black, as they create imbalances which result in winning chances.

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