15 Best Chess Opening Moves That You Absolutely Must Know

15 Best Chess Opening Moves That You Absolutely Must Know

The opening stage sets the foundation for a game of chess.

A solid understanding of opening ideas and knowledge is crucial for making the best moves in chess.

Many players want to know what is the best move in chess opening.

This article explores the 15 Best chess openings that every player should be familiar with.

1. The Scotch Game

Scotch game

Scotch game

The Scotch Game picked up its name after its use in a match between the Edinburgh and London chess clubs. Initially, the Scotch game was a rarity on the chessboards of the masters until Kasparov started using it with great success in the 1990s.

After 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4, All the moves played directly attack the center. The moves fight for the initiative.

One of the advantages of the Scotch game is that all the moves are free-flowing.

Since the Scotch aims for piece activity, it is best to use it for an open tactical game.

2. The Italian Game

Italian game

Italian game

Its roots can be traced back to the sixteenth century. White immediately with c3 followed by d4. The game can also be played with the e4-d3-c3 pawn formation.

The ideas behind this opening are backed by Classical Chess Strategy

The Italian opening can be played in a calm positional manner but also can be changed to an aggressive style. This depends on the player’s preference.

Therefore, the Italian Game is a flexible opening.

3. The Ruy Lopez

Ruy Lopez Spanish

Ruy Lopez Spanish

Ruy Lopez has a rich history of ideas. It is one of the chess openings to win and is preferred by top players.  The Ruy Lopez follows the Classical Chess Strategy in which pieces activity and positioning are important.

After Bb5 white is not really threatening to capture on c6 to win the pawn on e5 as there is Qd4 for black.

So the Ruy Lopez is quite literally a ‘threatening’ opening in the sense that White is continually threatening to exchange on c6 at the most favorable moment.

From here onwards, play can take various directions. White can choose the structure or strategy most preferable and continue on from there.

4. The Nimzowitsch-Larsen Attack

Nimzo Larsen

Nimzo Larsen

Nimzowitsch opened this way on three occasions in the 1920s. Bent Larsen successfully employed it in the 1960s and 1970s. With the immediate fianchetto, White takes a positional route with the idea to fight for the center from a distance.

If White knows what the correct plans and strategies are in this opening then White has an upper hand. In the end, it is good chess moves that matter.

The resulting positions are strategic and do not long hours of preparation to use it.

5. The Sicilian Defense

15 Best Chess Opening Moves that You Absolutely Must Know

15 Best Chess Opening Moves that You Absolutely Must Know

The idea behind the Sicilian Defense is to develop pieces and pawns in a flexible manner to counter white’s advanced pawns. In most cases, White responds to c5 by moving the pawn to d4 and recapturing the knight. Although there are other approaches possible as well i.e. without playing the move d4.

This opening deviates from the Classical chess strategy, requiring creative thinking in terms of where to place the pieces and which part of the board to develop first.

The Sicilian can lead to a very complex structure. Black can end up with a variety of pawn configurations.

White can castle on either the Kingside or the Queenside. White can use space and better piece development to play strategically or engineer an attack on the black king.

Some of the best chess games ever played started out with the Sicilian defense.

6. The French Defense

French Defense

French Defense

The French Defense was first used in a correspondence team match in 1834.

At first glance, move e6 appears to be an advanced chess move.  It is, however, a forced method of avoiding any tactics on the f7 square. Many great players have made the French their primary weapon. Botvinnik, Yusupov, and Kortchnoi are well-known French defense practitioners.

The opening shifts from active moves and puts more attention on countering White’s strategy.

Many players either like or dislike this opening. White players appear to be divided on the issue. There are some that love to play against it, and others who feel uncomfortable with it that it is not a rarity to see even some players switch to 1.d4!

7. The Caro Kann Defense

Caro Kann

Caro Kann

The main idea of the Caro Kann is to not limit the mobility of the light-squared bishop with e6. The disadvantage is that the black knight is deprived of the c6 square.

Because of its repeated structures, this is one of the best chess openings for beginner and intermediate players.

After d5, if white exchanges on d5 then black obtains a central pawn majority. As for 3.e5, it gains space, but now the c8 bishop can go to f5. Other options are Nc3 or Nd2. Here Black can safely continue with development.

Kaprov used the Caro Kann in many of his games and by studying them players can learn some of the best chess techniques to convert an advantage.

8. The Scholar’s Mate

15 Best Chess Opening Moves that You Absolutely Must Know

15 Best Chess Opening Moves that You Absolutely Must Know

It’s one of the quickest tricks in chess to win. The Scholar’s Mate is a checkmate pattern in which the White’s queen and bishop attack the enemy king early on. The pattern is to move the queen to h5, then threaten f7 with the bishop on c4.

This is a smart chess opening to play against a beginner. As they won’t recognize this pattern of checkmate.

It is also useful to try this in bullet or hyper-bullet games. Because there is a good chance, the opponent may be caught off guard.

9. The Queen’s Gambit

15 Best Chess Opening Moves that You Absolutely Must Know

15 Best Chess Opening Moves that You Absolutely Must Know

The Queen’s gambit is a very solid and dependable opening that players can use. Some of the best chess players in history have the Queen’s Gambit as a main weapon in their repertoire.

After the initial moves, Black can respond in multiple ways. The most principled continuation is to support the d5 with e6. Another popular response is c6. Black brings the c8 bishop to play later on, usually placing it on b7.

White builds a d4-e3 pawn structure in the middle. White can use many of the plans that are available in the position, for e.g to engineer the e4 break.

10. The King’s Indian Defense

Kings Indian Defense

Kings Indian Defense

The King’s Indian Defense is one of the most enigmatic openings. Black employs an effective chess strategy of countering White’s center.

The core idea of the King’s Indian Defense is based on a dark-squared approach.

Black will play either c7-c5 or e7-e5. Initially, all the moves are rather easy and do not necessitate finesse.

One of the appealing aspects of this opening is that it may be utilized against not only 1.d4 but also against various other first moves except e4 which helps to explain its widespread popularity.

11. The London System

The London system is an effective chess opening for all levels. All the moves in this opening are easily understandable. The typical piece locations are shown below:



It’s a good choice for players who want to focus on the middle game and not so much on theory. The London system has well laid out middlegame strategies.

At the beginner intermediate level, it is not important to make the most effective moves but to play smart chess moves. It means knowing where to fight the opponent and making the Black fight on turf known to the White player.

As white plays the London structure more often than Black, white will definitely have more experience in handling the complications.

12. The King’s Indian Attack

15 Best Chess Opening Moves that You Absolutely Must Know

15 Best Chess Opening Moves that You Absolutely Must Know

In the King’s Indian attack, White makes sensible good chess moves in the first moves. It is a very practical opening as the repertoire will be narrow.

The King’s Indian attack generally has a closed nature to the game. With strategic elements gaining in importance.

When the center is closed or static, players have to maneuver their pieces around to good positions.

White usually intends to continue with h3-g4, followed by bringing pieces to the near opponent’s King. Black must respond by generating counterplay on the queenside.

Because the center is static, this chess opening can provide white players with some of the best chess attacking options.

13. The Danish Gambit

15 Best Chess Opening Moves that You Absolutely Must Know

15 Best Chess Opening Moves that You Absolutely Must Know

The goal of this gambit is to give up two pawns for a clear development advantage. It provides white with strong piece activity as well as numerous opportunities for the Black to go wrong.

A smart chess strategy for club players would be to put pressure on the opponent from the start.

It has a psychological impact on the opponent because they are now under constant pressure to defend themselves. This frequently results in a significant error that can be exploited.

14. The King’s Gambit

15 Best Chess Opening Moves that You Absolutely Must Know

15 Best Chess Opening Moves that You Absolutely Must Know

The King’s Gambit is an opening that has made chess history. White immediately grabs space and challenges the advanced pawn on e5.

This is an effective chess opening as it teaches the value of time and development. It also puts the opponent under pressure, forcing them to defend properly.

Black has the option of accepting or rejecting the gambit. After declining the gambit, Black usually proceeds solidly with 2…Bc5 or counterattacks with 2..d5. It is important to note that following 2.f4, white does not threaten to play 3.fxe5, because of 3…Qh4+

By playing the King’s gambit, players over time have conducted some of the best chess attacks and there are several legendary moves and tactics that can be associated with this opening.

15. The Marshall’s Legendary Move

Frank Marshall is regarded as one of chess’s most daring and fierce attackers. He played with a swashbuckling style and chess attacks. Marshall clearly prioritized development and piece activity over other considerations.

In his game with Stefan Levitsky in Breslau in 1912, Marshall made one of the most brilliant moves in chess history.

This is without a doubt one of the best moves in chess.

15 Best Chess Opening Moves that You Absolutely Must Know

15 Best Chess Opening Moves that You Absolutely Must Know


What is the most successful opening move in chess?

Historically 1.e4 and 1.d4 have been equally successful from the White side, although it depends on a player’s ability and style whether a particular opening will be successful or not. From the black side, the Sicilian Defense and King’s Indian Defense have a high win rate.

What are the best 3 moves to start chess?

The 3 best moves to start a chess game are 1.e4, 1.d4, and 1.c4. Each of these three best opening moves has its own characteristics positions and style.

What is the most attacking chess opening?

The most attacking chess openings are gambits. Some of the most attacking gambits are the King’s Gambit and Marshall Gambit.

You also might like Best Gambits for Black to Play: Complete Guide, 5 Best Aggressive Openings for Club Players as Black as well as 7 Greatest Games on Scotch.

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