In searching for the best starting moves in chess, White is confronted with twenty possible first moves. White may move any one of his eight pawns one or two spaces forward. White may also move either of his knights onto the third row, to a3, c3, f3 or h3.
Of those twenty possibilities, the best starting moves in chess are those that attack the centre or help development. So forget about starting with your flanking pawns.
Also, do not start by moving one of your knights to the edge of the board.
e4 and d4: The Two Best Starting Moves in Chess
There are two options that most people agree are the best starting moves in chess. They are 1.e4 and 1.d4. That is, White begins by moving either the king’s pawn or the queen’s pawn two spaces forward. In either case, white is attacking the centre and preparing to develop his pieces.
Bishops in chess can be tricky pieces to place correctly on the board in the opening game. Here is an example of a Queen Pawn opening blunder that involves the loss of White’s black-squared bishop. My opponent was the White player. 🙂
My opponent opened with d4 and I replied with Nf6. The first three moves suggested to me that White was playing a delayed Queen’s Gambit.
However, what followed was an ill-conceived string of bad Bishop moves that led White to disaster: 4. Bb5+ c6 (easily dealing with the checking Bishop, and completing Black’s pawn set-up)
5. Ba4 Bd6 (Black continues to develop.)
6. 0-0 Qc7 (eyeing Black’s h2 square and keeping the knight on f3 busy.)
7. Bd2 Nbd7
8. Bc3?? This is where things unravelled for White. Can you see WHY moving his bishop to c3 is a bad move here? Can you guess what Black did in response? What would you do if you were black?
Magnus Carlsen (white) played the Trompowsky Attack in the opening game of the World Chess Championship 2016.
Although World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen has used the Trompowsky Attack before, it came as quite a surprise as it is not the most common way to continue after the moves 1. d4 Nf6.
The Trompowsky opening has less theory attached to it compared to other Queen’s Pawn openings, which may be one reason why Magnus Carlsen chose it for the first game of the championship.
Another reason, as he partially admitted in the post-match press conference, may have been that the name sounds like “Trump-owsky” and was a cheeky way to refer to Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election earlier in the week. Magnus Carlsen’s family certainly thought so. When asked if that had anything to do with his choice of opening he replied, with a grin,
If you are playing Black, and White opens with “e4” (also known as the King’s Pawn Opening, or P-K4 in the old notation), one solid response that I prefer is to reply with “e6” – i.e. move your own King’s Pawn one space forward.
White’s second move is typically “d4” – i.e. moving the Queen’s pawn forward two spaces next to the King’s pawn. Black then plays “d5”, advancing his Queen’s pawn two spaces forward. Those are the opening moves of the French Defense (or French Defence in British English):