I have had good positions with the Hippopotamus opening with its Kings Indian structure(ranging up to +3 in evaluation) but in the end, the tactical superiority of the computer always gets in the way and I end up losing or drawing the game. The computer I am talking about is Computer Level 9 on Chess.com(Not to be confused with Komodo 8). My playing style is very tactical and aggressive, but I doubt that would work well against stronger Level 10. The openings that I am looking for are openings that are very positional in the beginning, but they also offer counterplay in the middlegame. Please suggest openings for white and black.

2 Answers 2


Wrong question.

If you want to beat a 2200-2400 opponent then you need to be a 2200-2400 level player.

The hippopotamus type openings are doomed to failure according to one old GM. I find them very easy to beat but then I do not usually play 2400 rated people. OTOH they are not tactical type openings at all. Nor are they very aggressive.
If you want to play hardball tactics then play a more open type of opening.

You should master ONE basic opening and play that one. It is not the opening that wins, it is the player making the moves that wins or loses.

You should look at the French defense for black if you want to play that style. For white try a Reti. Or even just the Ruy.

A Sicilian would be better but is much harder to learn.

  • 1
    Excellent point. If you learn garbage, eventually, you have to relearn good openings. Dec 29, 2019 at 13:55
  • True. But that opening is effective at the beginner level and gives them a chance to learn to play some without losing right away. In the end it is a losing strategy and serious players will have to finally learn a better opening to improve their ratings. I suspect some of it is fear of new players about losing or making mistakes so they try to play 'safe' not realizing that just ensures defeat although delaying it.
    – yobamamama
    Dec 29, 2019 at 14:00
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    Why so down on the hippo? I play it sometimes through transposition. weaker players often don't know what to do against it. I'm happy to play it against stronger players. If I can survive the opening I find I get a better middle game and ending. More on topic, the hippo used to be a great opening against chess engines. But that was before I had access to ones that were master strength. Dec 29, 2019 at 20:41
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    yobamamama On Hikaru Nakamura and MVL's match against Komodo of various strengths they played the closed Sicilian and the Hippo opening to beat the computer. Hikaru even used it to beat a 3000 rated komodo on chess.com Komodo challenge. It is indeed an opening that engines have trouble with.
    – SubhanKhan
    Dec 29, 2019 at 23:26
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    Yobamamama I only said that it worked well against computers. I agree that it is just suicide against any human over a rating of 2000. Computers have a different approach to the game and that is why the Hippo works very well against computers. However, you were saying that "playing the hippo is asking to lose against machine and people". This isn't true in the case of machines and that is why people use it to beat computers.
    – SubhanKhan
    Dec 30, 2019 at 2:10

You're looking at this the wrong way. As you say yourself:

the tactical superiority of the computer always gets in the way and I end up losing or drawing the game.

Thus, it's really not a matter of opening choice: the computer is better tactically. The best hope you have of beating this computer is getting better tactically. Chess is a game of tactics, so ultimately tactics will serve you better in the long run.

That doesn't mean a good opening strategy won't help. The Sicilian has a reputation of being a better for black than other openings. Consequently, the queen's pawn is considered better by some for white because it stops the Sicilian.

But again, the best strategy is less about opening choice and more about learning to follow through with that opening to the middle-game, and the endgame by extension. And the best way to getting better at this is by getting better at tactics.

Even if you are good at tactics already, then try to get faster, and more accurate. This will ultimately help you in the long run.

tl;dr: My recommendation is Sicilian for black, Queen's pawn for white, and just simply drilling tactics.

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