What are the Best Chess Openings?
Which openings should I play?
Which openings should I play?
“What are the best chess openings?” is one of the most common questions I get asked as a Grandmaster.
Every one of us whether asked this question or got from someone. This article will end your confusion about this topic and give you a good understanding of which openings to choose.
So, what are the best openings?
At first glance, this question doesn’t seem to be good enough, as there are so many openings in chess, and if there were an exact answer to it, all the world's top players would play only that one.
However, if we specify this question, it will be transformed into a reasonable and very important one.
Here are some examples:
1. What are the most solid openings against 1.e4?
2. What are the best openings when playing against a positional opponent?
3. What are the best openings in those cases when the only result you must get is a win?
4. What are the best openings for my aggressive style?
Now the question has been changed a lot, hasn’t it?
Let me share what I think about a few openings:
High-level players play this opening more rarely than Sicilian or Caro Kann, as there are certain problems in the opening. We've covered that in our course on the Pirc Defense.
However, if the tournament situation makes you play for a win, Pirc Defense becomes a good choice.
GM Fabiano Caruana plays Petroff against top-level Grandmasters, where the draw result is fine for him, and as he plays plenty of lines, he has to memorize really long lines to end the game in a draw.
This is one of the main positions in Petroff Defense. Here Caruana plays 9…Nf6 and then 10.Bd3 c5. When I was analyzing this position I found around ten lines for White, after which Black has no choice other than making moves that will lead the game to a draw.
Caruana is super-talented, has an amazing memory, and it’s fine for him to draw against Carlsen.
If you want to learn the Petroff Defense and play Caruana’s lines, you should learn, analyze very deeply, and memorize many lines. Are you ready to do such tremendous work? If yes, Petroff is good for you.
If you are an aggressive player, this isn’t a good opening to play. But suppose you like positional chess, and tomorrow you are playing an aggressive opponent. In that case, this is a very good choice, as 90% of the time, the game will continue in a positional direction.
If you play against a 2600+ Grandmaster, you may have problems in the opening. But if you are playing against someone who doesn’t have good opening preparation and doesn’t like to play against the initiative, Benko Gambit is a superb choice.
If you are a Grandmaster, it might be better to learn, for example, an opening like Nimzo Indian. But if your rating is 2000 below and your goal is to get 2300, learning Benko Gambit is a perfect choice! It's very easy to learn, and you’ll develop a lot of skills in chess such as feeling the pieces, activity, open lines, and many more.
These were just a few examples, and as you can see, when you ask, "What are the best openings?" you should specify and add more information to your question.
Here are some examples of good, specified questions.
1. I am an 1800 player. I don’t have more than 2 hours to dedicate to studying chess in a day. What openings should I learn?
2. I am a 2200 player. I like aggressive chess. What openings should I learn?
3. I am a 2000 Player, I play chess for fun, but I need to learn some openings. What would you recommend?
4. It’s hard for me to remember stuff (my memory is not good), and I don’t want to get an advantage from the opening. I just want to get fighting positions. What openings should I learn?
5. I am 2480 with 2 GM norms. Against 1.d4, my main opening is Queen Gambit, but I have problems with winning players weaker than me. What opening should I learn for getting fighting positions, even if they are a bit risky?
These are excellent questions, and getting answers to these questions is essential.
You don’t know who to ask? Well, if you can specify your question like in the examples above, I’ll be happy to guide you. Feel free to post in our forum.
Originally published Feb 07, 2020