What are the Best Chess Openings to Improve Your Chess Game?

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What are the Best Chess Openings to Improve Your Chess Game?

Although we have already talked about the overall best chess openings here, now we are going to talk about the best chess openings to play in order to improve your chess game.

The main points are to have open or semi-open games in order to improve your strategic thinking in chess and to provide enormous opportunities for you to have experience with a lot of good tactical middle game ideas.

The point is by playing the below chess opening, they will expose you to many different kinds of chess games. Chess games where you have to know middle-game tactical ideas, as well as many longer-term strategic and positional ideas in order to win them. In other words, the below chess openings are the best chess openings in order to improve your own chess game in the most efficient way possible.

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Openings for White:

First off we have the Italian Game for white. This is one of the oldest openings that has been played in chess and has been analysed extensively throughout chess history. It also employs many of the main middle game and strategic ideas in chess that you must learn in order to play chess well.

1. Italian Game:

1. e4, e5; 2. Nf3, Nc6; 3. Bc4

Best Chess Openings - The Italian Game (FlyIntoBooks.com)
The Italian Game –
Chess Openings to improve your game

Main Variations of the Italian Game:

  1. The Guioco Piano
  2. Evan’s Gambit
  3. The Knights Attack (4. Ng5!)
  4. The Deutz Gambit
  5. Fried Liver Attack
  6. Traxler Counterattack
  7. Modern Bishop’s Opening
  8. Hungarian Defense

Click here for the video playlist for the Italian Game (Hanging Pawns)

Hanging Pawns is one of the best Chess channels for aspiring chess players. Currently, they have gone through most of the openings for e4 and will start their endgame series in June of 2019.

2. The Spanish Game (aka. The Ruy-Lopez)

The second opening we have for white is the Spanish Game (or the Ruy Lopez), which is also one of the oldest openings in chess. It too like the Italian Game has been played and analysed extensively throughout history and still is played at the highest levels of chess by players such as Carlsen,

1. e4, e5; 2. Nf3, Nc6; 3. Bb5

Ruy-Lopez (FlyIntoBooks.com)
The Spanish Game (aka the Ruy-Lopez)

Main Variations of the Ruy-Lopez

  1. The Exchange Variation: the simple approach by white
  2. The Berlin Defense: Kramnick’s strongest weapon
  3. The Marshall Attack: black gives up a pawn in exchange for attacking pressure and piece activity
  4. The Archangel (Arkhangelsk) Variation: black’s most aggressive line
  5. The Chigorin Variation of the Closed Ruy Lopez: attacking the Spanish by black
  6. The Breyer Variation of the Ruy Lopez: a positional approach by black

Click here for the video playlist for the Spanish Game (i.e. The Ruy-Lopez) (Hanging Pawns)

Openings for Black:

As well as White Openings, you also need to prepare a few openings for black too. There are two really great openings that will help you learn more principled approaches to chess – The Sicilian Defense and the Caro-Kann.

The Sicilian Defense is played all the way to the top of chess – including super-GMs like Carlsen and Caruana. It’s particularly important to get your head around because you need to learn how to play against it. You also need to learn how to punish bad moves by your opponent – in others words, you need to learn the theory of the Sicilian Defense!

1. Sicilian Defense:

1. e4, c5

Best Chess Openings - Sicilian Defense (FlyIntoBooks.com)
The Sicilian Defense –
Chess Openings to Improve Your Game

Main Variations of the Sicilian Defense:

  1. The Accelerated Dragon
  2. Pins Variation (5. f3)
  3. The Alapin (c3)
  4. Grand Prix Attack
  5. The Najdorf
  6. Sicilian Kan
  7. Kramnik Variation of the Sicilian
  8. Smith-Morra Gambit
  9. Taimanov Variation
  10. Rossomilo Attack
  11. Sicilian Dragon (Yugoslav Attack)
  12. Sicilian Dragon (Levenfish, Fianchetto, Classical)
  13. Scheveningen Variation
  14. Nimzowitsch Variation
  15. O’Kelly Variation (2. …a6)
  16. Hyperaccelerated Dragon (2. …g6)
  17. Sveshnikov Variation)
  18. Richter-Rauzer Attack
  19. Moscow Variation

Click here for the video playlist for the Sicilian Defense (Hanging Pawns)

2. The Caro-Kann:

The Caro-Kann is also another great opening to learn for black because it similar to the Slav Defense. The Caro-Kann can be played against 1. e4, and the Slav Defense can be played against 2. d4 with similar positional motifs in each.

The Caro-Kann can also carry you through to GM status if you want to go that far in your chess game. There’s lots of room here to improve.

1. e4, c6

Best Chess Openings - Caro-Kann Defense (FlyIntoBooks.com)
Caro-Kann Defense – Black Openings

Main Variations of the Caro-Kann:

  1. Caro-Kann Defense – Advance Variation
  2. Panov-Botvinnik Attack
  3. Caro-Kann Defense – Exchange Variation
  4. Karpov Variation of the Caro-Kann Defense (B17)
  5. Caro-Kann Main Line
  6. Two-Knight Variation of the Caro-Kann (B11)
  7. Fantasy Variation of the Caro-Kann
  8. Korchnoi Variation of the Caro-Kann
  9. Bronstein-Larsen Variation of the Caro-Kann

Click here for the video playlist for the Caro-Kann (Hanging Pawns)

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So, there you have it – the best chess openings to help improve your chess game.

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A.J. McMahon


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A novelist for Young Adults and Children. I am an extremely avid reader of science fiction and Korean literature, and love talking about books. I have worked and lived in Seoul, South Korea for over 5 years. I have TOPIK level 5 and enjoy reading Korean novels in Korean as well.


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