Chess openings are an important component of the game. Since time immemorial, players and enthusiasts have tried to develop powerful opening moves which would flummox the opponent.
Chess openings are practical, effective, and time-tested initial moves that help you to avoid traps such as Fool’s Mate, acquire a good position in the middle game, save time during the game’s opening, and gain control of the game among other benefits.
While the count of the number of opening moves is many, there are a select few which are used the most in modern day chess games and tournaments.
Let’s delve into some of the most popular chess openings in the modern era:
- Ruy Lopez
Named after a Spanish priest with the same namesake Ruy Lopez De Segura, the Spanish Game (as it is also known as) is one of the most used modern day chess openings.
The key objective of this move is to gain control of the centre of the board where the fight will be the most intense.
It is a solid opening as white has good control of the centre with their pawn and knight, and can castle with their next turn. The most common response for white in this position is a6, forcing white to decide what to do with their bishop.
It may seem tempting to take the knight as it doubles black’s pawns. However, this is a dubious strategy as, generally speaking, bishops are considered to be slightly better than knights.
- Sicilian Defence
This is an opening even the experts swear by. This is the most common response to e5, instead of just responding to the moves by white, black gets to control the centre and avoid the symmetry of e5.
This is the type of opening which is an excellent response for black. It gives both the pieces a chance to win and also opens up the room for attack.
This is an opening which is widely used in modern day tournaments worldwide.
- Caro Kann
This is an opening which is another favourite of the players playing with black pieces. As it gives a strong response to white’s e4 opening.
The benefit of the Caro-Kann is that it ensures that black will have an easier time developing their light-squared bishop. However, it comes with its own problems. black can no longer develop their knight to the c6 square where it is most naturally placed.
This opening also has its fair share of disadvantages. To begin with, black blocks the c6 square which could have been occupied by the b8 Knight, as a result, the knight is forced to move to d7. Also, white gets to acquire more space.
The above points notwithstanding, Caro Kann is an excellent opening move especially for black as it gives them a pretty good chance of winning.
- Queen’s Gambit
This is a very tactical move in which white seeks to take control of the centre by giving up a pawn temporarily.
It might seem tricky to many as black is free to take the unprotected c4 pawn. However, White is likely to win the pawn. The most common way for White to win the pawn back is with the move e3, which opens up the bishop to capture Black’s pawn. Black can continue trying to defend the pawn, though they will likely find themselves in an awkward position.
A very notable point about this opening is that it also gives an opportunity to the black player to respond to whites’ moves with an aggressive strategy. Hence it cannot be completely regarded as an opening that will benefit just the White player.
- French Defence
This opening particularly favours the black players. The main aim of using the French defence is to temporarily surrender the central area to white and at the same time limit its chances of attacking f7.
Even though this opening gives way to the white player to get hold of the centre, it forces the white pawn in the e line and pressurises the white player to play his next move wisely which is used to the advantage of the black player.
Though there are several other variations to the French defence the bottom line is that the one who dominates the centre stands a higher chance of winning.
Chess is a game which has kept on evolving over the centuries and continues to do so today as well. The openings which are the primary choice today might be replaced by other, more competent ones tomorrow.
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