When faced with the decision of what to play at the start of the game, a novice may quickly become overwhelmed. So many possibilities, so much theory! What should he or she do now? What are the finest starting openings?
As is customary in such situations, the answer is that it depends. The beginner’s options are determined by his or her ambition. Are we talking about a youngster who aspires to be a professional chess player, or a novice who just wants to have fun with the game? To master the art of the chess you’ll will have to learn chess openings.
A gifted child should take his or her study of opportunities very seriously. They approached the study of middlegames and endgames in the same serious manner. There are no shortcuts here, and the potential young player will almost certainly have to study a large number of openings on his or her road to chess superstardom. So there are no better or worse opportunities for a gifted child; they are all part of the learning process.
What about the novice who just wants to have fun with the game?
This sort of player requires a game that is robust, easy to learn, and does not demand a lot of memorization. The following openers are suitable for this sort of player. (Keep in mind that a player must have at least two Black openings – one against 1.e4 and one against 1.d4 and the other closed systems – as well as one White opening.)
Best Openings for Beginners 1: Scandinavian Defense
In the case of Black vs. 1.e4, I would recommend the Scandinavian Defense. It’s basic and straightforward to understand; there’s little theory involved, and the concepts are simple to comprehend. To give you an example, I suggested the Scandinavian Defense with 3…Qd8 (after 1.e4 d5 2.ed Qxd5 3.Nc3) to a buddy who was looking for a quick and economical way to start the game. In the Scandinavian, Black’s strategy is straightforward: he moves the bishop to f5 or g4, then the pieces develop in the following order: the pawns to c6 and e6, the knights to d7 and f6, the second bishop to e7, and Black castles.
In the middlegame, there are a few possibilities, such as the knight leap to d5, what to do if White takes d5, and a Carlsbad. After Nxd5 cxd5, structure emerges, aiming towards the… C5 push, thoughts with…a5-a4, and that was about it. As a result, the Scandinavian Defence is a highly practical opener, and one that all beginners adore since it is the ideal opening for them – it only takes a few minutes to understand and then they are ready to play.
Best Openings for Beginners 2: Queen’s Gambit Rejected
When Black is up against 1.d4, I suggest the Queen’s Gambit Declined. The rationale for this suggestion is because the Queen’s Gambit Declined setup is universal – it works versus 1.Nf3, 1.c4, 1.b3, and 1.f4. By playing 1…d5, 2…e6, 3…Nf6, 4…Be7, and 5…0-0, Black may easily develop in the Queen’s Gambit Declined. Then, with the support of…b6, he wants to advance the light-squared bishop to b7 and push for the…c5 push. Depending on the situation, the knight from b8 might move to d7 or c6. This is essentially all a novice needs to know in order to comfortably play the opening and acquire a decent position afterward.
Best Openings for Beginners 3: London System
I would recommend the London System for White. It’s basic and straightforward, just like the Scandinavians. It ensures steady growth and a strong position in the middle. It’s very simple to learn since White’s movements are nearly automatic: 1.d4, 2.Bf4, 3.e3, 4.Nf3, 5.c3, 6.Nbd2 (these last two can be played in any sequence), 7.Bd3 (or 7.Be2), and castling.
White has a solid position with good center control and development and no vulnerabilities if the move h3 is played at some time to secure the dark-squared bishop. He may jump with the knight on e5 and construct his play around it, or he can take on c5 and push e4 or c4, or he can expand on the queenside with b4 and a4, or he can utilize the a-pawn to grab space on the queenside with a4-a5-a6. Again, this is more than enough for a newbie to begin the game with White and establish a respectable middlegame position.
As can be seen from the brief explanations of the openers above, the three greatest openings for beginners have one thing in common: they are all “schemes” to some extent. Schemes are openings that can be played automatically, with little regard for what the opponent is doing. The King’s Indian Attack (1.Nf3, 2.g3, 3.Bg2, 4.0-0, 5.d3, 6.Nbd2, and 7.e4) is an example of a plan. The schemes’ simplicity is their main feature. Because they are secure and ensure a decent middlegame position, the schemes are a handy short-cut in analyzing openings.
One thing that all three openers have in common, and that is also a property of a scheme, is that it is tough to go wrong with them, and possibly even more importantly for novices, to make a mistake. This is especially important for novices, as making a mistake early on can ruin the enjoyment of a game.
Creating a basic opening repertoire, like as the one given above, might be a quick initial step for a beginner to enter into the game with the assurance of getting a game. By playing a scheme, a beginner will gain confidence not only in the beginning but also in the middlegame, as he will have a better understanding of the many approaches that might be pursued.
For beginners, the opening should serve as a stepping stone to learning “how to play chess” — that is, better tactical control by avoiding mistakes, some fundamental strategy, and finally theoretical and practical endgame play. The player (now no longer a novice) should return to the opening and re-evaluate if these openings still fit his or her needs only after the level of these parts of the game has been upgraded.