12 Best Chess Openings That Every Beginner Should Know

Chess openings are the initial moves made by players at the beginning of a game. These moves aim to control the center, develop pieces, and prepare for the midgame. Chess openings are like the first steps you take in a dance; they set the stage for the rest of the performance, determining the position and mobility of your pieces. For beginners, understanding the basics of chess openings is crucial. In this article, we'll delve into the fundamental principles every beginner should grasp and explore 11 of the best chess openings to kickstart your game.

Why knowing these chess openings is important for beginners, you ask? Mastering chess openings helps beginners establish a strong foundation for the rest of the game. It provides structure, improves board control, and sets the stage for tactical moves. So, let us start with the basic opening principles you must know as a chess beginner –

Basic Opening Principles You Must Know

  • Develop Pieces Early: One of the fundamental principles of chess openings is to develop pieces rapidly by bringing out knights and bishops early. This way you control more squares and prepare for castling.
  • Don't Bring The Queen Out Too Early: While the queen is a powerful piece, bringing her out too early can make her vulnerable to attacks. Instead, focus on developing knights and bishops first.
  • Don't Move the Same Piece Twice: Avoid moving the same piece multiple times in the opening unless absolutely necessary. Every move should contribute to your overall strategy of controlling the center and developing pieces.
  • Develop Towards the Center: Commanding the center of the board is fundamental in chess. By developing pieces towards the center, you exert more influence and gain greater mobility.
  • Castle Early: Castling is a defensive manoeuvres that helps safeguard your king. Aim to castle early to protect your king and connect your rooks.
  • Connect the Rooks: Connecting your rooks by castling allows them to work together more effectively. It also prepares them for potential endgame strategies.

11 Best Chess Openings for Beginners

Mastering chess openings is essential for players of all levels, not just beginners. Let un now dive into exploring different openings that can lead to strategic improvement and overall enjoyment of the game - 

1. Italian Game (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4)

The Italian Game is among the oldest and most admired openings in chess. By developing the bishop to c4, white aims to control the center and prepare for rapid piece development. This opening often leads to open positions with opportunities for tactical play. One of the key ideas behind the Italian Game is to create pressure on the f7 square, which is a weak point in black's camp. Players of all levels appreciate the versatility of the Italian Game, as it allows for various strategic plans and can lead to both attacking and positional positions. 

2. Nimzowitsch-Larsen Attack (1. b3 Bb2 Nf3 e3 Nbd2)

The Nimzowitsch-Larsen Attack, also known as the Larsen Opening, starts with 1.b3, aiming for a fianchetto of the queen's bishop. This unorthodox opening prioritizes rapid development and control of the center. By fianchettoing the bishop to b2, white exerts pressure along the a1-h8 diagonal, challenging black's central control. The Nimzowitsch-Larsen Attack offers a flexible setup that can lead to a wide range of pawn structures and game types. While less common than traditional openings, it can catch opponents off guard and lead to unique middlegame positions.

3. Sicilian Defence (1.e4 c5 d6)

The Sicilian defence is a favourite among black players for its dynamic counterplay and potential for a sharp, tactical game. It begins with the moves 1.e4 c5, with black immediately challenging white's central pawn. By avoiding symmetrical pawn structures, the Sicilian Defence leads to asymmetrical and imbalanced positions, providing ample opportunities for both sides to fight for the initiative. The Sicilian Defence offers numerous variations, including the Najdorf, Dragon, and Scheveningen, each with its own unique characteristics and strategic ideas. Mastery of the Sicilian Defence requires a deep understanding of pawn structures, tactical motifs, and strategic plans specific to each variation. 

4. French Defence (1.e4 e6)

The French Defence is a solid and strategic opening for black that begins with the moves 1.e4 e6. By immediately establishing a pawn chain with d5, black aims to control the center and limit white's pawn breaks. The French Defence often leads to closed positions with a focus on pawn structure and maneuvering. Black's light-squared bishop, typically fianchettoed to b7 or developed to d7, plays a crucial role in defending the king's side and supporting the central pawns. Understanding the key pawn breaks, such as c5 and f6, is essential for both sides in navigating the complexities of the French Defence. 

5. Caro Kann Defence (1.e4 c6)

The Caro Kann Defence is known for its solid pawn structure and flexibility, making it a favorite among beginners and experienced players alike. It begins with the moves 1.e4 c6, with black immediately preparing to challenge white's central pawn with d5. By establishing a strong pawn center, black aims for a solid and stable position while retaining flexibility for piece development. The Caro Kann Defence offers several variations, including the classical, advance, and exchange variations, each with its own unique characteristics and strategic ideas.

6. Queen's Gambit (d4 d5 c4 dxc4 Nf3)

The Queen's Gambit is a classic opening that involves sacrificing a pawn to gain control of the center and create attacking opportunities. It begins with the moves 1.d4 d5 2.c4, with white offering a pawn to undermine black's central pawn on d5. By accepting the gambit with ...dxc4, black can gain material but risks falling behind in development. The Queen's Gambit leads to rich strategic positions with opportunities for both sides to fight for the initiative.

7. King's Indian Defence (1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6)

The King's Indian Defence is a dynamic opening for black, aiming to counterattack from the flanks and create imbalances in the position. It begins with the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6, with black immediately preparing for a fianchetto of the king's bishop and challenging white's central control from the sides. The King's Indian Defence often leads to complex and double-edged positions with opportunities for both sides to play for the win. Comprehending typical pawn structures in the King's Indian Defence is essential for players looking to master this aggressive opening.

8. London System (1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bf4)

The London System is a solid and easy-to-learn opening that focuses on controlling the center and preparing for kingside castling. It begins with the moves 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bf4, with white developing the bishop to f4 and preparing to control the center with e3 and c3. The London System offers a flexible setup that can lead to a wide range of pawn structures and game types. Despite its reputation for simplicity, the London System can pose problems for inexperienced players if black fails to counteract white's central control. 

9. King's Indian Attack

The King's Indian Attack is a versatile opening for white, focusing on rapid development and attacking chances on the kingside. It typically arises after 1.Nf3 followed by g3, Bg2, and d3, forming a strong pawn structure and enabling quick piece mobilization. White often aims to castle kingside and launch an aggressive pawn storm against the black king. With the flexibility to transpose into various pawn structures, the King's Indian Attack allows players to adapt their strategies based on the opponent's setup. Its solid nature makes it suitable for players of all levels, from beginners to grandmasters, seeking dynamic play with clear attacking prospects.

10. Ruy Lopez (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5)

The Ruy Lopez is one of the oldest and most respected openings in chess history, dating back to the 16th century. It begins with white aiming to control the center and prepare for rapid development. The Ruy Lopez focuses on central control and leads to positions with complex pawn structures and strategic maneuvering. By developing the bishop to b5, white exerts pressure on the knight on c6 and creates potential threats against the f7 pawn. This opening is highly regarded for its flexibility, allowing players to choose from a wide range of variations based on their preferences and playstyle.

11. Scotch Game (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4)

The Scotch Game is a sharp and tactical opening that often leads to dynamic and exciting play for both sides. It begins with white immediately challenges the center by sacrificing a pawn. This aggressive approach aims to seize control of the center and create imbalances in the position. The Scotch Game offers white rapid piece development and the opportunity to launch aggressive attacks against the black king. However, black has several options to counter white's early pawn sacrifice and seize the initiative. With its rich tactical possibilities and potential for sharp play, the Scotch Game appeals to players who enjoy dynamic and unpredictable positions.


Mastering chess openings is crucial for all players as it lays the groundwork for the rest of the game, influencing strategic decisions and shaping the course of play. Understanding the basic opening principles, such as controlling the center, developing pieces efficiently, and ensuring king’s safety, sets the stage for success in the middle and endgame. Moreover, exploring a variety of openings provides valuable insights into different pawn structures, tactical motifs, and strategic plans.

Each opening has its own unique characteristics and challenges, offering endless opportunities for exploration and growth. Whether you're drawn to solid and strategic play or prefer sharp and tactical battles, there's an opening suited to your style and preferences. Therefore, investing time and effort into studying chess openings is a worthwhile effort for any player aspiring to improve their skills and reach their full potential. So, grab your chessboard, delve into the fascinating world of openings, and embark on your journey to becoming a well-rounded and confident chess master!