Friday, April 14, 2017

How Do You Open a Chess Game?

I'm going to try something a little different this week. Partly because I'm a little tight for time with the Easter holiday coming up, but also because I wanted to start a conversation with you.

So I'll ask you a question, and based on you're answers and those of other readers, I'll write an article.

What do you play for your first move and why?

What do you play with White and why?

What do you play against 1.e4 and 2.d4 with Black and why?

I'm looking forward to your answers!

Happy Easter!


  1. I am not sure IF my reply will suit your needs and expectations, but I will answer the questions.

    1) What do you play for your first move and why?
    A: I play 1.c4, 1.d4, 1.e4 or 1.Nf3 as white. I play it because I learn to open the game with "a pawn to the center" (d4 and e4) or to control a central square (c4 or Nf3). In general - it depends on who I play against and what type of positions I would like to play (and sometimes even if I have a good or bad mood).

    2) What do you play against 1.e4 and 2.d4 with Black and why?
    A: Against 1.e4 I most often reply as 1...e5 or 1...c5, however sometimes even 1...d5, but much more seldom. I simply reply with these moves, because I do not know other systems (opening variations) and I have the biggest experience with these replies.
    And if my opponent plays 1.e4 and 2.d4 I exchange c-pawn or e-pawn with 2...cd4 or 2...ed4. It is simply because I do not want my opponent to build strong center (two pawns duo).

    Please let me know if these answers are good enough and if I understood your request correct.

    Happy Easter!

    1. Your answer is very good, Tomasz. Although you might perhaps elaborate on your White openings. For example, you play both 1.c4 and 1.Nf3, although they often can transpose into specific positions. Why would you choose one over the other? Also, is there one of these options that you prefer the most?

      There is no right or wrong fact, perhaps I am making a mistake asking you to elaborate on your answer!

  2. One of my first opening "tomes" was "How to Think Ahead in Chess: The Methods and Techniques of Planning Your Entire Game" by Horowitz and Reinfeld. They advocated playing the Colle system with White. Against 1. e4 they advocated the Sicilian Dragon. Against 1. d4 they advocated the Lasker Defense to the Queen's Gambit Declined. (Perhaps this may be the start of my "love" of Dr. Lasker's thinking on chess!)

    I don't have a lot of theoretical knowledge of the openings from either side. I used to (at 1500 level) study specific variations out to 10-12 moves, but I quit doing that a long time ago. It seemed that (most of the time) I either got sidetracked into a variation that I had never seen, or I mangled the line on entry into the early middlegame, so there was little gain from all that work. I also realized that memorizing a specific variation out to a "good" position left me with a position that I did not know how to play, and I would usually blunder in short order.

    I usually play 1. d4 with White, and occasionally 1. Nf3 but rarely (if ever) play 1. e4. I usually play either some variation of the London system or the Colle system, depending on how "energetic" I want to play.

    With Black, I usually answer 1. e4 with some variation of the Sicilian (usually a Najdorf). I figure that if I'm not going to study an opening, then I have to be prepared to work very hard to figure out how to respond if I play a sharp opening sequence like that. It forces me to think deeper than I would otherwise.

    I answer 1. d4 and 1. Nf3 with 1. ... Nf6. I simply like to have an idea of which direction the White player is going before I commit to a Pawn structure.

    I'm not averse to opening theory, but at my current level, there is considerably more to be gained from middlegame and endgame study. If I ever reach Expert level (not likely given my age and lack of interest in tournament wars), then I guess I will have to work more on my opening system(s).

    Happy Easter to you and your family - and to you too, Tomasz!

    1. Robert,

      Very interesting. Thank you for your response. So against 1.d4, you play 1...Nf6, are there specific systems/set-ups that you like?

  3. Sorry for the delay: I just got back from an out-of-state trip.

    Not really any "systems" per se. If I have some idea of what my opponent likes to play, then I will try to target them with something they don't usually like to play against.

    I often play around with different possibilities, trying to keep transpositions open. Sometimes I will play with the Nimzoindian or Queen's Indian, or the Queen's Gambit Declined, or some variation of "strong point" defense of d5, sliding into a Slav-like defense with e6-d5-c6 on occasion. I rarely play King's Indian, Pirc-Robatsch, Modern, Benko or Hedgehog defenses. Too many subtleties for me!

  4. Very interesting! I'm hoping to get a few more responses and then I'd like to write a sort of summary with my thoughts on the topic. Should be neat once it's complete.

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