List of chess openings

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Chess openings are listed and classified according to their first few moves. There are some interesting statistics on the frequency of chess openings, from chess data bases.


1800–1900 1901–1935 modern
e4–e5 64% e4–e5 31% e4–e5 15%
e4 other 23% e4 other 20% e4 other 35%
d4–d5 10% d4–d5 28% d4–d5 15%
d4 other d4 other 16% d4 other 23%
other 5% other 12%

These statistics show a movement away from symmetrical defences to asymmetrical defences. In particlular, in reply to 1.e4, the Sicilian and French defences, and to 1.d4 the Indian defences. Also, particularly amongst strong players, an increased use of the English Opening for White.[1]

King's Pawn openingsEdit

KP opening: 1.e4 e5

1...e5 repliesEdit

Asymmetric repliesEdit

Queen's Pawn openingsEdit

1...d5 repliesEdit

Asymmetric repliesEdit

Other opening movesEdit


Sources for beginnersEdit

There is no opening book for real beginners. The reason is that some degree of understanding is needed before the details of an opening can be grasped. Books like the following show complete games with elementary explanations of the moves.

  • Chernev, Irving 1998. Logical chess: move by move. London:Batsford. ISBN 0-7134-8464-0
  • Chandler, Murray 2004. Chess for children. London:Gambit. ISBN 978-1904600060
  • King, Daniel 2000. Chess: from first moves to checkmate. London:Kingfisher. Illustrated, 64 pages. ISBN 0-7534-0447-8
  • Pritchard, David Brine 2008. The right way to play chess. 8th ed, Right Way. ISBN 978-0716021995
  • Wolff, Patrick 2005. The complete idiot’s guide to chess. 3rd ed, New York:Alpha. ISBN 0-02-861736-3

Other sourcesEdit

None of these are suitable for beginners, but might be used by chess teachers and players of intermediate strength. Tip for teachers: always check with book reviews.[2]

  • John Watson. Mastering the Chess Openings, Gambit Publications. Four volumes by a leading American author and chess coach.
  • Openings reference works:
    • Nick deFirmian et al. 2008. Modern chess openings, 15th ed, Random House N.Y. ISBN 0-8129-3682-5 (these two versions are almost identical)
    • John Nunn et al. 1999. Nunn's chess openings. Everyman, London. ISBN 1-85744-221-0

Related pagesEdit


  1. Watson, John 1998. Secrets of modern chess strategy. Gambit, London. Part 2: New ideas and the modern revolution. p93
  2. John Watson's review columns