Which are some top players known to be strongly in favor of 1.e4 in the opening?

In this respect I find interesting a comment by Fischer on Alekhine: "there is nothing light or breezy in his style". As Fischer clearly belongs to the 1.e4 group, do you think this "light and breezy" feel is in some way attached to this move, or is it an entirely subjective opinion that cannot be taken too seriously?

  • 1
    Put Anand on the list.
    – Ywapom
    Oct 7, 2019 at 22:30

2 Answers 2


Another notable top player was Karpov in the 70s and first half of the 80s. But after Kasparov successfully employed the Sicilian against him and took the world championship title, Karpov switched to 1.d4 mainly.

Kasparov also tended to favour 1.e4, although as he matured as a world champion he played other opening moves too (as any top player should).

Nowadays I can't think of many players who favour 1.e4 predominantly. One exception I can think of though is Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. He is known for being a strong proponent of 1.e4 as White and the Najdorf Sicilian as Black. In general though, most modern top players play 1.e4 and 1.d4 (as well as other moves) since it broadens their repertoire. If you always play 1.e4 then people can prepare to surprise you (and it's harder for you to surprise them).


Chess players at the highest levels today tend to be more versatile in opening choices because of engines. If you played the same thing over and over you would slaughtered by engine analysis no matter how good you are.

Magnus plays e4 more often than any other choice but the difference is fairly small and combined plays all other openings more often.

Anand plays e4 about 7x more often than d4.

Morozevich plays e4 about 2.5x more often and Topalav is fairly similar.

Throughout history I would say up until about 1920 e4 was more common with virtually every player. From 1920 to about 1950 it was fairly equal with both Capa and Alekhine playing both but slightly favoring e4. After 1950, there was a divergence and you see many strong e4 players (Fischer, Tal) and many more d4 players. In the 80s, Kasparov was the first to see the value of playing a very broad rep and played both. That has carried over to the chess we see today.

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