I have noticed a tendency of weaker players to move their queen out very early (e.g. move 2-5), and conversely, a tendency for strong players to move their queen much later (usually later than move 5, but often not until move 7/8/9 or even later).

What is the earliest the queen is moved in any strong, modern opening? By strong modern opening I mean only those used by grandmasters in competition under classical time controls (i.e. meaningful competition games, and no blitz/bullet games).

  • 5
    Depends on what you count as "strong" but you have 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 and 1.e4 e6 2.Qe2
    – David
    Commented Jan 8, 2021 at 11:44
  • 3
    One word: Nakamura :-) Commented Jan 8, 2021 at 12:20
  • 3
    1. e4 e5 2. f4 Qh4+
    – bof
    Commented Jan 8, 2021 at 12:59
  • 1
    @David by "strong" - only what the best players would use in important games against ~equal opponents
    – stevec
    Commented Jan 8, 2021 at 14:13
  • 1. e4 c5 2. c3 d5 3. exd5 Qxd5
    – bof
    Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 22:57

3 Answers 3


The definition is still a bit ambiguous, but here's what I found.

The absolute soonest to move the queen is probably the French Defense: Chigorin Variation which begins with 1.e4 e6 2.Qe2.

The Scandinavian with 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 looks like the most common way to move the queen on move 2. I found a game by GM Aleksandr Rakhmanov in 2019 at standard time controls, which ended in a draw.

  • Scandinavian is also known as Center Counter Gambit, which I was otherwise going to post.
    – Joshua
    Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 17:24
  • @Joshua It's not a gambit.
    – xehpuk
    Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 22:40
  • I've heard it called the Center Counter, but yeah, it's not a gambit.
    – D M
    Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 22:44
  • I think it was originally considered unsound. I have hundred year opening books. Unfortunately I have a hard time with modern chessbooks. I couldn't get the hang of black's pieces starting on his own seventh and eights ranks.
    – Joshua
    Commented Jan 10, 2021 at 3:42

If you're looking for something more common than the Scandanavian, then I think the Classical Variation of the Nimzo-Indian is the most common opening with a queen move on move 4 or earlier:

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2

  • It is more common, but not by a ton; the chess.com database shows 20K games with Qxd5 Scandinavian and 25K with the Classical Variation.
    – D M
    Commented Jan 8, 2021 at 20:49
  • 2
    @DM True, but that's mostly because it's a longer sequence. The classical variation involves either the most popular option or a reasonably close second at every point (with the least close being 1. d4); by contrast 1. ... d5 is far down the list after 1. e4. Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 13:31
  • Is that more common than 1. e4 c5 2. c3 d5 3. exd5 Qxd5?
    – bof
    Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 22:53
  • @Bof Both are more common than that one, which has about 13K games.
    – D M
    Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 23:02
  • 1
    The classical variation has been played at the World Championship in 2000 Kramnik vs Kasparov match: chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1252047, (there might be a more recent example) I am not sure if Scandinavian has ever been played at that level.
    – Akavall
    Commented Jan 10, 2021 at 18:26

At the beginning the tendency to bring my queen out early was an urge I failed to control for my first few games. Nevertheless a pretty common opening where the queen is out in the first moves played is in the Scandinavian and the Scholar's Mate, these are two among a couple more openings.

Scholar's Mate (Checkmate Sequence):

[FEN ""]

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nc6 3. Qh5 Nf6?? 4. Qxf7#

In the Scandinavian Defense, Black meets 1.e4 by immediately putting the question to the e4 pawn, and bringing the queen out with Qxd5, on move two, the Mieses-Kotrč Variation.

  • 4
    The Scholar's Mate attempt with 3.Qh5 cannot be considered a "strong, modern opening".
    – D M
    Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 23:16
  • No it isn't, I wanted to share the variation, I've seen the Scholar's Mate played in a modern game between two grandmasters in the World Rapid Championship (2018), albeit it is rare to find players of that rating opening with the Scholar's mate.
    – Adam
    Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 23:41

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