This has been bothering me from when I was little. Why are openings most commonly named after a country? For example: Sicilian, Scotch, Spanish, etc...

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    @IanBush I think your comment is a very good answer. The only thing I might add to it, and feel free to use this, is that sometimes they are also named after a place where a tournament took place (the Catalan I think). You should really move your comments to an answer as they are a good one, in my opinion. Mar 27, 2020 at 8:53
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    Also, especially looking at that link you just provided, there are so many that it shows that the questions is so broad that your answer is a very good general answer. No one would expect every opening's origin to be explained, and that is a good overall answer that could be applied to many of the other openings. Mar 27, 2020 at 8:56
  • Is Sicily considered a country?
    – corsiKa
    Mar 28, 2020 at 3:33
  • Quite possibly Sicily was a country when the opening was "invented"!
    – Ian Bush
    Mar 28, 2020 at 10:46
  • Oh oops, I didn't check if it's actually a country. Mar 28, 2020 at 18:47

1 Answer 1


There's a variety of reasons why openings are commonly named after nations (but most commonly would surprise me), maybe due to an individual player of the nation, e.g. Spanish (Ruy Lopez), English (Staunton), maybe due to a group of players in one nation e.g. Italian, maybe due to an event involving the nation e.g. Scotch (named for a correspondence match between Edinburgh and London in the 1800s), and I suspect a number of other reasons, including "we don't really know"

Wikipedia list of chess openings named after places might be a good place to start researching this

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    Another good reference is the book Chess Opening Names: The Fascinating & Entertaining History Behind the First Few Moves.
    – itub
    Mar 27, 2020 at 13:50
  • Examples from the book mentioned by @ithb English - because Staunton pioneered it. Scotch - From a Scottish - English club match started in 1824 where the Scotts used this opening. French - Match between London and Paris 1834. Paris won with the novelty 1. ..e6. The book is humorous and contains no games. Mar 28, 2020 at 14:56

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