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List of chess openings facts for kids

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Chess openings are listed and classified according to their first few moves. There are some interesting statistics on the frequency of chess openings, from chess data bases.


1800–1900 1901–1935 modern
e4–e5 64% e4–e5 31% e4–e5 15%
e4 other 23% e4 other 20% e4 other 35%
d4–d5 10% d4–d5 28% d4–d5 15%
d4 other d4 other 16% d4 other 23%
other 5% other 12%

These statistics show a movement away from symmetrical defences to asymmetrical defences. In particlular, in reply to 1.e4, the Sicilian and French defences, and to 1.d4 the Indian defences. Also, particularly amongst strong players, an increased use of the English Opening for White.

King's Pawn openings

KP opening: 1.e4 e5
Start of chess board.
a8 black rook b8 black knight c8 black bishop d8 black queen e8 black king f8 black bishop g8 black knight h8 black rook
a7 black pawn b7 black pawn c7 black pawn d7 black pawn e7 __ f7 black pawn g7 black pawn h7 black pawn
a6 __ b6 __ c6 __ d6 __ e6 __ f6 __ g6 __ h6 __
a5 __ b5 __ c5 __ d5 __ e5 black pawn f5 __ g5 __ h5 __
a4 __ b4 __ c4 __ d4 __ e4 white pawn f4 __ g4 __ h4 __
a3 __ b3 __ c3 __ d3 __ e3 __ f3 __ g3 __ h3 __
a2 white pawn b2 white pawn c2 white pawn d2 white pawn e2 __ f2 white pawn g2 white pawn h2 white pawn
a1 white rook b1 white knight c1 white bishop d1 white queen e1 white king f1 white bishop g1 white knight h1 white rook
End of chess board.

1...e5 replies

Asymmetric replies

  • Alekhine's defence 1.e4 Nf6
  • Caro-Kann defence 1.e4 c6
  • French defence 1.e4 e6
  • Sicilian defence 1.e4 c5
    • Open variations 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 followed by 3.d4
    • Closed variations 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 not followed by d4
  • Centre counter 1.e4 d5 (also called Scandinavian defence)
  • Pirc defence 1.e4 d6 (may also be played against 1.d4)
  • Modern defence 1.e4 g6 (may also be played against 1.d4)

Queen's Pawn openings

1...d5 replies

Asymmetric replies

Other opening moves

There is no opening book for real beginners. The reason is that some degree of understanding is needed before the details of an opening can be grasped. Books like the following show complete games with elementary explanations of the moves.

  • Chernev, Irving 1998. Logical chess: move by move. London:Batsford.
  • Chandler, Murray 2004. Chess for children. London:Gambit.
  • King, Daniel 2000. Chess: from first moves to checkmate. London:Kingfisher. Illustrated, 64 pages.
  • Pritchard, David Brine 2008. The right way to play chess. 8th ed, Right Way.
  • Wolff, Patrick 2005. The complete idiot’s guide to chess. 3rd ed, New York:Alpha.

Other sources

None of these are suitable for beginners, but might be used by chess teachers and players of intermediate strength. Tip for teachers: always check with book reviews.

  • John Watson. Mastering the Chess Openings, Gambit Publications. Four volumes by a leading American author and chess coach.
    • Volume 1 (1. e4): (2006)
    • Volume 2 (1. d4): (2007)
    • Volume 3 (1. c4): (2009)
    • Volume 4: a wide-ranging discussion of general opening topics. (2010)
  • Openings reference works:
    • Nick deFirmian et al. 2008. Modern chess openings, 15th ed, Random House N.Y. (these two versions are almost identical)
    • John Nunn et al. 1999. Nunn's chess openings. Everyman, London.

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