The Essential Easy Chess Openings Every Beginner Should Know

boy playing chess

As a game of strategy, chess allows players to employ a variety of techniques and moves to ensure a win. In fact, the first move is a good way to set up your win. This is why easy chess openings are what some beginners learn first.

There are over 500 chess openings that are legally playable. Thankfully, beginners don’t necessarily need to memorize all these openings. In fact, for those starting out, you only need to familiarize yourself with five opening moves.

Whether you’re a beginner hoping to learn new techniques or an older player that’s looking to refresh their strategies, this article discusses opening moves and lists down the most effective opening chess moves for both beginners and veterans alike:

What are Chess Openings?

In a game as complex as chess, every move counts–especially the opening moves.

Chess openings, otherwise known as opening moves, refer to the first few moves of a game. These moves help you set up, control the center, and develop your pieces. Chess for beginners also emphasizes how these first few moves dictate further moves you can make.

A good chess opening allows you to do the following:

  • develop material or pieces, which means putting pieces in more mobile positions on the board
  • protect your king
  • position a piece in a more favorable position for attack or defense

There are many complex moves that allow a player to do these, but beginners don’t have to panic. Some of the most skilled grandmasters still start off with easy chess openings that even a beginner would understand. Perfecting your strategy and practicing your basics is a good start when it comes to chess openings. Once you know all these openings, it makes it easier to learn and execute complex moves that take your game to the next level.

Essential Chess Opening for Beginners

As you learn about chess, more and more options will become available to you. Of course, it’s expected that intermediate players and grandmasters open with more complex moves. But beginners need not aim to master these complicated moves just yet!

For people like Nadav Berenstein, some opening moves are a staple, regardless of level and complexity. These moves are also beginner friendly which makes them a great option to practice with. If you simply want to solidify your foundation, then these chess openings are an absolute must for beginners.

The ten easy chess openings beginners have to know are:

The French Defense
white bishop taking over brown bishop

The French Defense is one of the first chess openings a beginner should know. This opening is used by Blacks and is a common defense against the common move 1.e4. The French Defense allows White pieces to have more control over the center in exchange for a wall of pawns.

The moves for this opening are: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5

This is one of the best chess openings for beginners because it teaches them basic principles such as pawn breaks, pawn structure, center control, and wing attacks. As one of the most common openings, the French Defense allows for more choices when it comes to strategy. It’s also a solid option when you wish to learn offensive tactics.

The Sicilian Defense

For avid chess lovers and enthusiastic beginners, the Sicilian Defense is a more aggressive answer to the 1.e4. Notably, Blacks use this move while the French Defense is used by Whites. This opening is particularly popular among players of a higher level. Its movements are: 1.e4 c5.

The Sicilian Defense has several variations, making it one of the more versatile options. It’s because of this reason that it can be quite complicated to employ the Sicilian Defense. Several variations of this move include the Najdorf, Dragon, Sveshnikov, Kan, Taimanov, Scheveningen, Classical, as well as anti-Sicilian variations.

The Italian Game

The Italian Game opens with 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 with the aim of controlling the center quickly. For this, the player will meet the initial moves of the Double King’s Pawn opening. Your pawn and knight is primarily supposed to control the center while you prepare the castle to safety.

This particular opening is great for chess beginners as it introduces them to more fast-paced gameplay. It is complex enough to give you a challenge when facing Blacks, while being simplistic enough for a beginner to follow.

The Ruy Lopez

white king down

Named after a Spanish bishop, the Ruy Lopez is a classic chess opening for beginners that involves the black knight and e5 pawn.

The movements of this specific opening are 1.e4 e5 2.White Knight f3 Black Knight c6 3. White Bishop b5. The point of this move is to put pressure on Black’s central pawn.

The Slav Defense

One of the most feared openings, the Slav is a popular opening that defends a d5 pawn using another pawn.

The Slav Defense is a combative response to the Queen’s Gambit. It is a very advantageous move for Blacks and is a prime choice for many beginners. The moves for this opening sequence are 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6.

The opening moves that make up the Slav Defense should be something that beginners familiarize themselves with. The prime reason, of course, is because of how formidable it is. Another reason is that beginners can know how to combat it–even if they aren’t particularly skilled at strategizing with this opening.

Learning Easy Chess Openings for Beginners

Chess openings and their corresponding movements are always a good starting point when learning the more complicated techniques of the game.

With a knowledge of the basic movements, a player can strategize and adapt their moves optimally. In fact, with the right opening, you can even guarantee a win. That being said, knowing and executing the different chess openings are two very different things.

Many chess openings are good for both beginners and experts. Grandmasters and players of all levels even have favorites among these classic openings! Try playing all of the possible opening moves–from easy beginner chess opening moves to complex and game-breaking moves–and pick out which works best for you and your match.

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