What are the best openings?

Everyone of us weather asked this question or got from someone, right?
This article will put end to your confusion about this topic and will give you a good understanding which openings to choose. 

If you have any questions, regarding to openings you play, feel free to ask in the comments section of this post. 

For your success,
GM Avetik 

Richard Dickinson

Richard Dickinson 1 year ago

Very good article on a very important chess topic! Thanks coach!

I am a 13-1400 5 minute blitz player (my preferred time control, but I do usually play x1 long play tournament a year to mix it up a little.. :-) LOL!).

On Twitch chess some time ago GM Hikaru Nakamura was asked how to get to 1800 (time control unspecified) and he replied study openings & tactics. So, this is what I need to do to improve, but it is not always that easy, as the main question still exists and that is what openings should I learn and play? Practising tactics is relatively easy to do, as there are good resources online & offline to practice tactical puzzles, so what about those damn openings!?

My first ever chess coach  played the French defence and so I learnt the French defence, which is all good. He hated the Sicilian defence, despite being a very good experienced coach & player and he spent lots of his time looking at non main line ways to play against the Sicilian and never played the Sicilian as black.  So, he never coached me (or anyone) in Sicilian, aside to recommend the Alapin Sicilian for White as an anti Sicilian opening. This was a shame, because only now many years later have I taken the plunge to learn the Sicilian (with both colours, as I feel it is important to know & play your openings with both colours to fully understand them).

For whatever reason, I stopped taking coaching with him and started online coaching with a very good woman chess player (played for Canada in Olympiads) who showed me her main White & Black openings (1.b3 & Sicilian Accelerated Dragon) which I have started to learn and my point is if you ask a coach or look for help online or in a bookstore you will be overwhelmed with the number of openings recommended you learn & play!

This holds true with the wonderful Chess Mood opening repertoires where many openings are different to what I would normally play eg with 1.e4 c6 CaroKann I usually play the Short variation but Chess Mood (as we know) recommends CaroKann Exchange Schleter variation (3.Bd3) and that is only one example. So now I have been trying to learn & play all these new (to me) Chess Mood openings! Phew, very tough!

Right, (if you are still following..I continue :-) ...), my experience with this, leads me to my conclusion that someone of my rating should stick with (learn & play) the following classical openings eg 1.e4/1.d4/1.c4/1.f4/1.Nf3 with both colours and a main line variation of each. I feel that when myself and others of my rating level, have learnt the ideas, plans and chess principles of one mainline variation with both colours this alone will help anyone get to 1800 level (& with tactics practice).

I am actually still struggling to learn the starter course for white here at Chess Mood, let alone any of the more detailed openings. I do know that if I learn that course well, my rating will get to 1800 level. I have followed GM Avetik webinars 800-2400 and have seen that many players up to 1900 have opening weaknesses to be exploited and I am confident I can do that, but my mid & end game play needs to be better to win games to the 1800 level!

To finish this long ramble, I will just add, enjoy your opening study & play and good luck with all your chess improving. I hope this helps any others at my low level of play, as we are just as important to help, as you higher rated players! Best wishes..right mood right move  :-)

Giorgos Kechagias

Giorgos Kechagias 1 year ago

Hi guys, as you know, I am a 1750-1850 rated in online chess and have found this article very interesting. Personally, I was wondering which openings fit better against 1.d4 for my hyper aggresive style.

When it comes to the Benko Gambit, I love playing it since my opponents are not properly prepared against this opening. But I also like the king's indian defence, which has a lot of variations (it is easy for me to memorize difficult lines), and same ideas with the benko gambit can be used. In addition, I took up playing the Benko variation of the king's indian 1.d4 Nf6  2. c4 g6  3. Nc3 Bg7  4. e4 d6  5. Be2 c5  6. Nf3 b5? Etc. I don't like the closed variations since my style isn't positional.

Lately I have also started learning the nimzo indian, which is used by many GMs. 

How do you find my options? Looking forward to reading your answers.

Kevin D

Kevin D 1 year ago

The Benko and Benoni fit well an aggressive style, but bear in mind that a one dimensional player is much easier to prepare against than a universal one. Hence it is much better to develop a Universal style, since it is not always possible to dictate the course of the opening especially with Black.

You mentioned that you don't like closed variations but you like the King's Indian which is a closed defence, so you lost me there a bit. You also said that you find it easy to memorise difficult lines, but do you fully understand how to evaluate and apply what you have committed to memory. It is not that hard to memorise a forced line, the tricky part is when the lines branch in several different directions and you have to work out which path to take.

The Nimzo is the choice of many GM's and is very sound, but its one weakness if you can call it a weakness is that it is not a complete defence to 1.d4 and has to be paired with something else, usually Bogo or Queen's Indian neither of which is as reliable in my opinion. Another good way to create an opening repertoire is simply to choose a suitable role model or mentor and emulate some or all of his choices.   

Lastly as I mentioned in another post, although it was not well received at the time, try to avoid jumping from opening to opening too quickly but rather settle down with something and try to master it before considering moving on to something else.

Best of luck.

GM_Avetik Grigoryan

GM_Avetik Grigoryan 1 year ago

Hey Giorgos! 
King's Indian and Modern Benoni and Benko are good choices. 
Christoph Serrer

Christoph Serrer 1 year ago

try the stonewall, or the grünfeld
Alexander Averbukh

Alexander Averbukh 1 year ago

I am a 2100-2200 player and I want to get more tactical positions with black against English, Catalan, Reti style opening players. What openings or systems should I learn and use?

I always play vs. the Reti d5 followed by c5.   I always play c5 with black at the 1t. opportunity I get.

With the KID I have the problem with the move e5. I feel uncomfortable to have my pawn structure with e5, x this I will never play the Sveshnikov Sicilian.

Against 1,d4 I play the Benko which mainly charges the game to the Qside. For this since a couple of weeks I started to work the Benoni to include it in my repertoire. It hasn't e5 and open lines to a Kside attack which suites best my style than the Qside slow maneuvering with the knights in the Benko.

GM_Avetik Grigoryan

GM_Avetik Grigoryan 1 year ago

I understand you very well! :) 
I also used to play KID. Then found out that whenever I play with c5 I like those positions. Then I switched to my love - Modern Benoni :) 
Pragkya Jayaram

Pragkya Jayaram 1 year ago

hello sir super article.I am a 1500 player and play positional chess.what are the best oppenings for white and black for me
GM_Avetik Grigoryan

GM_Avetik Grigoryan 1 year ago

Have you tried our ChessMood Openings? 
Pragkya Jayaram

Pragkya Jayaram 1 year ago

Not yet sir but will do it soon

The second question was about me :) ''I am a 2200 player, I like aggressive chess, what openings should I learn?''
Christoph Serrer

Christoph Serrer 1 year ago

I dont know whether I should play the french or 1.e5

Can you give me any advice, cause I looked at both positions and cant decide

Kourosh A

Kourosh A 1 year ago

Hi GM Avetik, Thank you for the article and for giving us a chance to ask our questions.

I have no problem with my Black repertoire.  I can play 2 systems, I like them, and I trust them:


2-NID/QID/Accelerated Dragon/Taimanov

I have a problem with my White repertoire:

I am going to play 1-c4 followed by g3 Fg2 :

1c4 e4 2g3 Reversed Accelerated Dragon


Duch g3

KID g3

Grunfeld g3

Maroczy Bind VS all Benoni/Benko systems!!


What to do against the Slav? Going for the main lines Slav/Semi-Slav?

OR Panov Attack ( 1c4 c6 2e4 etc.),

OR  delaying d4 and playing Reti with e3 , Cf3 ?

OR ...

What is the best answer to 1. - c6? if I start with 1c4


My second question:

If I play 1d4 followed by 2c4, can I prevent all Benoni/Benko family and force black to enter the Maroczy Bind via Cf3 and not adcancing d4 to d5? I prefer playing Maroczy as White instead of playing against all Benoni/Benko family.


Your answer would be a great help

Thank You

Khokan De

Khokan De 1 year ago

Hello Sir,

I am a 1600 player. My main repertoire against 1.d4 is the Grunfeld, but against weaker players I have to play for a win always, so in Grunfeld there are forced draws? So what opening should be good against it, which is little offbeat ( I think its good to use slightly offbeat systems against the weaker opponents) that can be used against them? Another question I would like to ask is that what is the sharpest variation against the Chelyabinsk Sicilian, I think its the Bxb5 sacrifice line but still I am not sure.

Banh Gia Huy

Banh Gia Huy 10 months ago

I'm a 1702 FIDE rated player. I'm 11 years old and my plan is to become a professional chess player.I spend about 5-6 hours everyday studying chess.My style is very aggressive, love to sac material.I dare playing very risky opening(Scandi Marshall, King's Indian, Budapest Gambit, Scotch Gambit,and stuffs like that...) I can accept allowing my opponent to equalize ONLY if he found an exact sequence.To sum up, I want to avoid mainstream theory, choosing alternative(but complicated and tricky) variation, to force my opponent to think early. What are your recommendation for me, Coach Avetik?
Kevin D

Kevin D 10 months ago

Hi Banh,

Sounds like you are already doing many of the right things for your age and rating category. Just remember to also add some basic endgame tools and knowledge to your study program.

Good luck and have fun.