Chess openings

Chess openings are the first stage of the game. They are usually based on defined theory and have established names. A good opening sequence provides better protection for the king. It also increases control over a certain area of the board and develops the pieces. As a result, a player has more opportunities to capture the rival’s pieces and checkmate.


Opening sequences are divided into several groups:

1. Open Games. The category comprises all combinations starting with 1.e4 e5.

Open Games


2. Semi-Open Games. Here White moves e4, but Black doesn’t respond symmetrically with e5. Any other reply falls into this group.

Semi-Open Games


3. Closed Games. They are characterized by the following beginning: 1.d4 d5.

Closed Games


4.Semi-Closed Games. White plays d4. Black chooses to move any other way than d5.

Semi-Closed Games


5.Flank openings. It’s played by White and involves either both flanks or just one. The parts of the board outside the central d and e-files refer to the flanks.

Flank openings


6. Irregular first moves for White. Two centuries ago the term described any Game that is not Open, nor Closed. As theory has advanced, lots of unusual moves have been admitted to standard. There’s never been an exact meaning, and many writers describe it differently. Encyclopedia of Chess Openings doesn’t provide the details either.

Сhess openings: main principles

Here are the main points you need to know about opening combinations. They’ll help you understand the logic of starting sequences. Also, you may encounter a situation where the rival plays a move you haven’t studied. In case you don’t recognize the opening, these principles can save your game.

  • Pawns control the center. By dominating in this space you get room needed to maneuver.
  • Move the pieces from their starting position. Developing is essential in chess. Sitting on your back rank won’t get you many wins.
  • Castle at an early stage. It’s risky for a king to remain on its initial square if the center is open.
  • Don’t involve your queen early without the necessity. If you still decide to move it, make sure it can’t be easily attacked. For that reason, knights, as well as bishops, are developed first.
  • Don’t use the same piece twice in a row. Otherwise, you may find yourself lagging in development compared to the rival.
  • Keep the king’s short diagonal protected. This area is hazardous to expose, so always keep an eye on it.


Choosing an appropriate opening is essential to defeating the opponent. It builds a reliable base and expands your capabilities to control the process. We recommend that you take to studying it as early as possible. Read more about chess theory at