Cheat Sheet

Chess Openings For Dummies

From Chess Openings For Dummies by James Eade

Chess openings can be broken down into categories based on their pawn structures and how much mobility the pieces have. Players often like a particular category of chess opening because of the type of game it can lead to. Open games lead to a lot of piece movement, while closed games involve a lot of strategic maneuvering. Other categories of openings are semi-open, semi-closed, and flank openings.

For help with the chess notation used on this cheat sheet, see Understanding Chess Notation.

Opening Up the Board with Open Chess Games

In chess, open games are defined by the moves 1.e4 e5. Many of these chess matches feature open files, ranks, or diagonals that facilitate piece movement. People who enjoy attacking early and often are typically drawn to open games.

Opening Name Opening Moves
Alapin’s Opening 1.e4 e5 2.Ne2
Bishop’s Opening 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4
Damiano Defense 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f6
Danish Gambit 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Bc4
Evans Gambit 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4
Elephant Gambit 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3
Falkbeer Counter-Gambit 1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5
Four Knights Game 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6
Giuoco Piano 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5
Göring Gambit 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.c3
Greco Counter Gambit (or Latvian Gambit) 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5
Hungarian Defense 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Be7
King’s Gambit 1.e4 e5 2.f4
Petroff Defense 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6
Philidor Defense 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6
Queen’s Pawn Counter-Gambit 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5
Ruy López 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5
Scandinavian Defense (or Center Counter Defense) 1.e4 d5
Scotch Gambit 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4
Scotch Game 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4
Three Knights Game 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Bb4
Two Knights Defense 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6
Vienna Game 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3

Picking a Fight with Semi-Open Chess Games

Semi-open chess games are those in which White plays 1.e4, but Black doesn’t respond with 1.…e5. These chess openings typically result in asymmetrical games where finding the right plan may be difficult. Players who like complications, and mixing it up, often adopt a semi-open defense.

Opening Name Opening Moves
Alekhine’s Defense 1.e4 Nf6
Caro-Kann Defense 1.e4 c6
French Defense 1.e4 e6
Modern Defense 1.e4 g6
Nimzowitsch Defense 1.e4 Nc6
Owen Defense 1.e4 b6
Pirc Defense 1.e4 d6
Sicilian Defense 1.e4 c5

Applying Strategy with Closed Chess Games

Chess openings that occur after the moves 1.d4 d5 often result in closed games. These games emphasize maneuvering because pawn exchanges are delayed. Players who prefer strategic clashes to tactical melees like closed chess games.

Opening Name Opening Moves
Albin Counter-Gambit 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 d4
Blackmar-Diemer Gambit 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.f3
Chigorin Defense 1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6
Colle System 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 c5 4.c3
London System 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bf4
Queen’s Gambit Accepted 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4
Queen’s Gambit Declined 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6
Slav Defense 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6

Restricting Movement with Semi-Closed Chess Games

Semi-closed chess games are those in which White plays 1.d4 and Black responds with anything other than 1.…d5. As with semi-open games, these openings can result in asymmetrical positions that can become quite complicated. They appeal to the player who likes to counterattack.

Opening Name Opening Moves
Benko Gambit 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5
Benoni Defense 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5
Blumenfeld Gambit 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.d5 b5
Bogo-Indian Defense 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+
Budapest Gambit 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5
Catalan System 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g3
Döry Defense 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Ne4
Dutch Defense 1.d4 f5
Grünfeld Defense 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5
King’s Indian Defense 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7
Nimzo-Indian Defense 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4
Old Indian Defense 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6
Queen’s Indian Defense 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6
Torre Attack 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5
Trompowsky Attack 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5
Veresov Attack 1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bg5

Favoring the Sides with Flank Chess Games

In chess, the openings for flank games avoid or delay moving either the d-pawn or the e-pawn to the fourth rank. They appeal to chess players who want to play their system regardless of how Black responds.

Opening Name Opening Moves
Anderssen Opening 1.a3
Barcza System 1.Nf3 d5 2.g3
Bird Opening 1.f4
Dunst Opening 1.Nc3
Durkin Opening 1.Na3
English Opening 1.c4
From Gambit 1.f4 e5
Grob Attack 1.g4
King’s Fianchetto 1.g3
Larsen Opening 1.b3
Réti Opening 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4
Saragossa Opening 1.c3
Sokolsky’s Opening 1.b4
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