There is a certain opening called the Anderssen's opening that plays like this.

[FEN ""]
  1. a3 e5 2. h3 d5.

Black has developed two pawns, occupied the center, and opened up the lines for pieces, while White has only created weaknesses. Why, then, is this opening is said to be playabe?

  • 3
    Anderssen's opening is 1.a3 and is certainly playable. The first time I made a plus score in a tournament, I did it by opening all my White games with 1.a3 (only we called it P-QR3 back then). At a somewhat higher level, I believe Anderssen used it successfully against Morphy. But your continuation with 2.h3 seems a bit extravagant. After 1...e5 White normally plays 2.c4 or 2.e4. Even in your line Black has only a small advantage such as White would have in a normal opening.
    – bof
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 2:24
  • 1
    who says its playable though. You can't play for an advantage opening with 1a3 2h3. You'll definitely be much worse out of the opening. Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 3:50
  • @CognisMantis, the goal of this opening is not to play for an advantage, but for shock value.
    – user24344
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 8:21
  • @CitrusCornflakes. Not very much shock value. Everyone who played Basman knew that he would open like this.
    – Philip Roe
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 16:57
  • 1
    This is a very solid opening, and don't really have much shock value. Really, 1. a3 e5 2. b4 is one of my favorites. Commented Aug 29, 2020 at 6:11

2 Answers 2


That specific opening is called the Anderssen Opening: Creepy Crawly Formation, Classical Defense

From about 1,000 test engine games it seems that its a remarkably even set up; White : 45.5% Black : 45.5% Draw : 9%

Based off that result I would say its very much playable. This is be cause you white usually plays the left side of the board slowly working towards the center;

One Notabale Game describing that concept Michael J Basman vs Yuri Yakovich - Hastings (1994)

 rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/7P/PPPPPPP1/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1

 1. h3 e5 2. a3 d5 3. c4 c6 4. e3 Nf6 5. b4 Bd6 6. Bb2 O-O 7. Nf3 Qe7 8. Qc2 Nbd7 9. cxd5 cxd5 10. Nc3 a6 11. Na4 d4 12. Rc1 b5 13. Nc5 Bxc5 14. bxc5 Bb7 15. c6 Rac8 16. c7 Nd5 17. Qf5 Rxc7 18. Rxc7 Nxc7 19. Be2 dxe3 20. dxe3 f6 21. O-O Nc5 22. Rd1 Rd8 23. Bc3 Rxd1+ 24. Bxd1 Qd7 25. Qb1 Be4 26. Qc1 N7e6 27. Nd2 Bg6 28. Bg4 h5 29. Be2 Qd5 30. Bb4 Kh7 31. Nf3 Nd3 32. Qc8 Nxb4 33. axb4 Qa2 34. Bf1 Bf7 35. Bd3+ g6 36. Qd7 Kg7 37. Be4 Nf8 38. Qb7 Qc4 39. Bc6 Kg8 40. Qxa6 e4 41. Nd4 Qxb4

Src: https://www.chess.com/games/view/657313

  • 1
    The White player in that game was Basman, not Masman. Basman has always been fond of weird openings.
    – Stephen
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 12:11
  • interesting that there are so little draws? Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 17:53
  • The statistics are pretty much irrelevant if they don't come with average rating of players
    – David
    Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 6:51
  • Bit hard to evaluate the statistics of the players as they were engine games I literally scripted to play out 1000 games with the above opening ,
    – Dheebs
    Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 7:33

Any opening is playable as long as you buy into the idea that your only goal in the opening is to reach a playable middlegame, one with rough equality in center control, development, and king safety. Heeding the general opening principles while being alert to tactics will get you to a playable middlegame.

This isn't what chess book publishers and authors want you to think, they want you to think that following their advice will help you win chess games, which is a bunch of hooey.

  1. a3 won't kill you. Neither will 1. h4 e5 2. h5, from which I won a theme tournament. But if you neglect the center and development for too long, then you get into trouble.
  • 1
    +1. 1. f3 does kill you, however, for weakening yourself. Commented Aug 29, 2020 at 7:55
  • 1. g4 is probably worse.
    – user24344
    Commented Aug 30, 2020 at 22:24

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