One well known very good combo is the Caro-Kann + the Slav:

  • The main objective of both of these openings is to develop the light-squared Bishop to f5 before it gets locked inside the Pawn chain.
  • They tend to lead to roughly similar Pawn structures.
  • On average they both tend to lead to positional, quiet and strategic games.
  • And most importantly, if you choose both of these openings, against 1. c4 you can play 1...c6 which can transpose into either a Slav (2. d4) or a Caro-Kann Panov/Pseudo-Panov (2. e4).

I would like to know what are all the other possible combinations of openings which work well together.

Enumerate as many combos as you can. But I am only interested in combos where both openings are sound.

And if possible also explain why exactly the openings work well together.

  • French + QGD also works well. You can also combine French with Nimzo/Queen Indian defense. Just my 2 cents... Jun 21, 2015 at 18:35
  • French and King's Indian also work well together. Cramped pawn structures with the possibility of active counterplay.
    – magd
    Jun 22, 2015 at 9:04
  • French and King's Indian strikes me as a rare combination, the French is rarely played by the attacking players attracted to the King's Indian. French and Classical Dutch on the other hand is played and promoted by GM Simon Williams. Jun 22, 2015 at 10:48
  • Very good. Except Simon Williams also plays the King's Indian regularly.
    – magd
    Jun 25, 2015 at 15:33

4 Answers 4


I don't think there is a single other opening combo that shares as many features as the Caro-Kann and the Slav. All the other defences against e4 lead to unique pawn structures and piece constellations that aren't easily reached from d4/c4-openings.

Just playing the same move against e4 and d4 either leads to completely different openings (Indian Defences/Alekhine, Sicilian/OldBenoni, French/Whatever) or exactly the same defence (The Modern).

That being said, there are some popular opening-combos, but they usually own their popularity to a similar attitude or character of play.

One such combo would be the King's Indian and the Dragon. The obvious similarity is the fianchettoed bishop and the aggressive attitude.

Another might be the French and the Nimzo-Indian. Both are rather strategic setups with counterplay on the queenside.

The Queen's Gambit declined and 1…e5 would be another sensible combination. The attitude is classical: Equalise first, play for a win later.

  • Justo to add a new combo to your list, the french and the dutch (stonewall or classical). I play the dutch stonewall but I decided to start with e6 (before f5) to avoid the Staunton Gambit lines. Although they're both very different openings, just having in common the problems with the light bishop.
    – sharcashmo
    Mar 30, 2016 at 18:51

The Pirc, modern, and KID. If you attack the center with ... c5, it could turn into a Dragon Sicilian pawn structure, but it is safer because both players have castled, normally kingside, by the time the break has occurred.


The open games can all lead to very similar strategic ideas. So you play e4 e5 (and d4 or d5 at the first opportunity) along with the QGA you get open games with lots of tactics. I find this can be a very fun way to play if you don't like positional games (so the very opposite of your example).

This repertoire is a great way to learn a lot of tactics very quickly. It's also a great way to practice your calculation skills as you need to calculate many variations in the early moves.


The Catalan, Grunfeld, and Sicilian Accelerated Dragon:

  • Fianchetto the King Bishop
  • Attack the center with your d and c pawns

Also g3 and g6 vs everything is probably the most universal system possible.

I have also used the Nimzo Bogo Queen's Indian and Nimzo Larsen Attack with the French.

The Kings's Indian, Pirc, and King's Indian Attack.

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