First of all, I'm sorry if it looks like I didn't really research before asking the question, but I really did put in some effort and couldn't find a satisfying answer.

My problem is, I don't want to spend a lot of time studying openings. I don't really like the early game that much, I really just prefer to get it over with. I don't want to waste time learning a lot of theory by heart, as I'm relatively new, and I believe the biggest improvment will come from actually playing the game and not memorizing moves. Another problem is, when I'm trying to "just play", react to what the enemy does without going by any theory, I usually end up wasting tons of time against someone who knows what they're doing in their opening.

So, the question is - what are some easy, "quick-start" openings which don't require you to learn 12 different variations, which are relatively safe and prevent some early game cheese tactics that would confuse a begginer? Is there such a thing? I'm interested in both white and black openings.

Currently I am spamming the King's Indian Defense in 99% of my games, and I do enjoy it, however I'd just like to try something different, maybe something that fights for the centre a little bit more in the beggining?

They don't necesarily have to be setup openings (as in, an opening that's almost independent of what the oponent does), maybe a theory based opening that's pretty "universal" or, well, "easy" to learn?

  • KIA with White is an easy setup opening where the middlegame ideas and themes are straightforward to understand. – SecretAgentMan Feb 19 at 15:54

You are right that memorizing tons of variations will be neither very helpful nor very entertaining. However, proper "study" of chess openings is much more than just blind memorization!

The key is to learn the general principles and common patterns (strategical as well as tactical). This is what will actually enable you to "just play" in any successful way - if you totally neglect the opening phase, then it will be rather easy for your opponents to gain an advantage early on without a lot of memorization just by being more skilled with these patterns.

I would actually advise you to play main line openings like the Ruy Lopez or the Sicilian. Don't worry about their reputation as "theoretical", unless you have reached at least 2000 FIDE Elo. Below that level, the overwhelming majority of players will have as many blind spots in their opening knowledge as you do. Ironically, for everyone who has memorized the Poisoned Pawn Variation to move 25 or something, you will find dozens of others who play the London System because they "want to avoid theory" - without noticing that the one with the Black pieces is likely to have a similar mindset and won't have played a Sicilian anyways!

Playing sound and active openings (instead of systems) will be much more helpful in the long run to develop your skills.


The path to mastering the openings isn't memorising moves and variations, it's understanding why certain moves are played in specific positions, why certain moves are favoured over others.

Memorisation is a shortcut to understanding, not a replacement. There are sharp offshoots of most opening systems that mean you have to be aware of certain traps and tactics, whether that be through understanding the position, memorising the move that avoids the trap, or calculating the tactics of each position.

System-based openings are less memory intensive, for example, the King's Indian Attack as White. There are certain theory lines that require some blend of memorisation/understanding/calculation, but most of the times the opening plays itself into a fairly standard set of middle-game positions.

The basics of openings is to occupy the centre, develop pieces towards that end. The next step of openings is to control the centre (not occupy), and develop pieces to either control the centre, or reduce your opponent's control of the centre (e.g. pins, exchanges, forced retreats). The King's Indian Defence is one of the latter sets of openings, of controlling the centre, not of occupying it, it is designed to let White dictate what centre he wants, and then for Black to undermine it. You want something more immediate, so you're looking for openings based on the classical view of the centre.

If you're looking for openings that more directly occupy the centre, then the Queen's Gambit Declined (or it's Slav relatives) is the most classical of openings to occupy the centre.

Basically meeting 1.e4 with 1... e5, and 1. d4 with 1... d5 will give you Black's best approach to occupy the centre directly, and directly contest White's attempt to occupy the centre.

I'd advise sticking to mainlines of major opening systems. They are mainline because they've been tested many times at highest levels and retain their soundness.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.