11 best chess openings for White and Black

10 best chess openings for White and Black Chess openings

The best chess openings for White and Black: if you’re at the stage of learning openings, chess may bring about related questions. How to start the game in the most efficient way? What is the best chess opening move? Here we explore the intricacies of this phase in the game.

Characteristics of the best opening moves in chess for White and Black

There are two main intentions that players follow from the very beginning:

The first one is dominating the central squares. The reason is simple. This area of the board allows more control for pieces. Compared to the edges, they can reach more squares.

Another general rule in chess is developing your pieces. Basically, it implies moving them to more favorable positions. For example, at the start, the rooks, bishops, and some other pieces can’t move. The pawns in front of them block the way. Therefore, you need to advance them first in order to let the other pieces pass.

Further, we describe chess openings for White and Black. So you can study them and expand your repertoire in the game. However, it’s not all you can do.

Additionally, it is a good idea to read some chess opening books. They often contain proper explanations with illustrations and break down the steps in detail.

The best White openings: chess moves with the highest rating

The Ruy-Lopez

The best White openings - Ruy Lopez

  1. e4 e5
  2. Nf3 Nc6
  3. Bb5

The best White openings: from the theoretical perspective, this is the most interesting chess opening for White. Besides, it belongs to the oldest ones ever played in history. Starting from the 15th century, the opening’s been used at all levels of play. Over time, it has proved to be a working tool. Until today, the Ruy Lopez remains popular. It is used by both grandmasters in decisive tournaments and amateurs in regular matches.

You truly realize the strength of the sequence at the third move. Black has to combat White’s powerful position right away. The main line of this Spanish Game has numerous variations. That comes as no surprise provided that it’s been thoroughly researched for centuries. Some continuations are really complicated and long.

The combination employs all the principles that exist in chess. This is why among all openings White so often chooses the given option.

Scotch Game

The best White openings - Scotch Game

  1. e4 e5
  2. Nf3 Nc6
  3. d4

This one wins as the best opening in chess for White in terms of simplicity. The Scotch is known as an alternative to the previous opening in our list. As you might notice, the first two moves are identical.

This is an undemanding, straightforward, and valid chess opening. White plays d4 as the third move and makes Black surrender control over the center. Later it can be recaptured by White.

Overall, uncomplicated lines make it easy to remember them and apply whenever you need. It’s an interesting alternative to the Spanish Game which is used by virtually every player. The opening suggests an active approach and can bring White quick victory.

Danish Gambit

The best White openings - Danish Gambit

  1. e4 e5
  2. d4 exd4
  3. c3

There is an opinion that playing gambits and tricks during the opening doesn’t teach you chess. And that the opening principles aren’t practiced here. It’s because you’re expecting your rival to fall for some trap. But we would say, it’s not always like that.

The Danish Gambit works independently. It doesn’t matter if the opponent accepts it or not. In addition, we strongly believe that chess should be fun. And this opening suggests a whole lot of amusing moments as you play it.

This White chess opening features a standard line 3…dxc3. It looks common, especially if you’re not familiar with the Danish. So you may consider it as an opportunity to re-capture the pawn.

Actually, White may choose to sacrifice one more pawn and keep developing with 4. Bc4. Black keeps devouring the rival’s pawns moving 4…cxb2. And here White finally recaptures it with the bishop (5. Bxb2). Black results in a starting position without a single piece developed. In addition, it misses a pawn.

White, on the other hand, has a bishop and a pawn sitting in the central area. The other bishop is also out. By means of renouncing three pawns, White obtains massive development. It was 100% worth it. Once Black accepts the Danish, it’s not surprising for White to win within 10 moves. Sometimes it’s even faster.

Of course, the Gambit isn’t flawless. Once chess players reach an intermediate level, they’ll likely learn how to respond correctly. Black may accept all three gambit pawns. And even then, there are still ways to bring White a disadvantage.

Italian Game

The best White openings - Italian Game

  1. e4 e5
  2. Nf3 Nc6
  3. Bc4

It’s a solid White opening, chess players at an intermediate level will definitely like it. This combination represents a logical and straightforward approach just like the previous one. And similarly to the Ruy Lopez, it’s also been played for many centuries. Nowadays, you can often see this opening played in serious tournaments.

Both parties intend to gain dominance in the center with bishops, knights, e-, and d-pawns. A particular feature of the given combination is Black plays moves that look symmetrically. Some might say it makes The Italian Game boring.

When White puts the bishop on c4, the intention is to aim at f7. It’s a weak square. Another goal is to threaten the king before it castles. However, in most cases, both players have enough time to castle before any serious attack.

Most often, Black opens up the middle with d5 or a similar move. The rooks’ development toward the central files will be a good choice. It can lead to a favorable position as we’re approaching the endgame.

London System

The best White openings - London System

  1. d4 d5
  2. Кf3 Кf6
  3. Cf4

In terms of versatility, this is the best opening for White. Chess players can apply it against various Black defenses. Therefore, it’s easier to master since you’ll play it more frequently.

The attacking approach and the main line mostly don’t change as you play the opening. It repeats exactly the same moves. For that reason, London has a reputation for being dull and fairly boring. However, it’s not necessarily the case.

Your rival can start to experience pressure here quite early. The sequence of the second, third, and fourth moves for White may vary. It depends on Black’s response. But the moves should be done anyway.

On the whole, the given system works great against almost anything Black plays. In addition, it’s easy to learn. That’s why London has a such high popularity.

Evans Gambit

The best White openings - Evans Gambit

  1. e4 e5
  2. Nf3 Nc6
  3. Bc4 Bc5
  4. b4

This is an aggressive variation of The Italian Game and a top option for White. The trick is that Black gets into a worse position when declining the gambit. However, accepting it also means falling into the rival’s trap.

White advances and gains influence over the central area by gambiting a flank pawn. Also, the line produces a number of exciting moments for White from the attacking perspective.

On the whole, it’s a challenging opening to play against. At the same time, you can play it at all levels. For White, the game often appears as a series of thrilling attacks resulting in a victory. The player should stick to the active strategy of constantly developing and assaulting the rival.

The best chess openings for Black

Now let’s explore the alternatives for Black that showed the highest efficiency in practice. They also serve as a popular tool for various types of players nowadays.

The Caro-Kann Defense

The best chess openings for Black - The Caro-Kann Defense

  1. e4 c6

This is one of the best options for Black to reply to e4. And recently, it significantly gained in popularity.

The best chess openings for Black - The Caro-Kann Defense Nxe4

2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 is the main line.

The best chess openings for Black - The Caro-Kann Defense Bf5

A typical reaction of Black is either 4… Nd7 or 4… Bf5. The 1… c6 and 2… d5 moves aim to control a certain part of the center. Meanwhile, White can move one more pawn with 2. d4. It’s nearly the most common option for White at this point. Black answers with d5.

In general, this chess opening for Black has a lot of benefits. It allows the player to successfully advance pieces. At the same time, it doesn’t produce weaknesses. Besides, Black increases activity to the max, yet the pieces don’t block one another. They’re coordinated in such a way that it’s problematic for White to sip through.

The French Defense

The best chess openings for Black - The French Defense

  1. e4 e6

This is a great response to the given opening move in chess. Most probably, White will continue with 2. d4 to increase influence in the center. Black repeats after the opponent with 2…d5 confronting the pawns of White. Then, the players may capture each other’s pieces and continue the game.

The best chess openings for Black - The French Defense with 2…d5 confronting the pawns of White

The general strategy involves prioritizing defense and advancing in a confined structure. Then, the counterattack follows.

The French belong to the universal Black openings. Chess players of all levels can keep it in their repertoire and play when needed. Black builds up a steady position and, by that, creates obstacles for White’s attack.

The Scandinavian Defense

The best chess openings for Black - The Scandinavian Defense

  1. e4 d5

The main line continues with the following chess opening moves: 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3. In the case, White attacks the queen, Black’s likely to go back with 3… Qd8. Further actions won’t be hard to memorize if you decide to move the queen back. Advance the knights and bring the bishop into the game. It can move to g4 or f5. The light-squared one should be activated first. Thus, later you can play e6 and apply the bishop that uses dark squares.

This is one of the easiest openings in chess to learn and practice. You don’t have to memorize the way pieces develop as it’s quite straightforward. That’s why it’s a good option chess openings for beginners. At the same time, top players also apply the sequence in tournaments. Besides, it allows you to castle both short and long, depending on your plan.

The Sicilian Defense

The best chess openings for Black - The Sicilian Defense

  1. e4 c5

We couldn’t think of a better response to the given opening chess move. Apart from being the most popular reply, it’s also statistically the best-scoring one.

It belongs to the combative chess openers. Black’s intention isn’t just coming to equality, but gaining an advantage over the rival. White may become initiative early, and Black should be careful with the opponent’s quick attacks.

The Sicilian is known for having a profound and complex theory. Many books dedicate hundreds of pages to cover all its aspects and variations. However, some of them aren’t so complex which makes them playable by chess novices.

With all that said, the given opening appears highly adaptive in many ways. Over the centuries of use, it’s proved to be a great defense for Black.

The Dutch Defense

The best chess openings for Black - The Dutch Defense

  1. d4 f5

One of the most common opening moves for chess is d4 and The Dutch is a solid defense. It can be successfully applied against almost any White’s start except for e4. The most played line is 1. d4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 g6. It’s called the Leningrad variation.

An important advantage of this opening is that the king isn’t open. Chess principles always emphasize this point. In addition, it’s an unbalanced and quite aggressive beginning. The pawn structure brings about multiple attacks, turning the game into an exciting event. Meanwhile, Black has a flexible, yet safe position, once king threats are avoided. It’s a small weak point in the very beginning.

This is not a frequent reply to White’s 1. d4. You’re not likely to see it often in serious chess contests. Nevertheless, certain top players have successfully applied it, including Alekhine and Najdorf.


All the sequences listed above stood the test of time and proved their efficiency. They brought victories many times in professional tournaments. Therefore, if you want to hone in on your skill, they should be learned. It’s a necessary component of every proper chess player’s arsenal. Knowing these combinations will make it easier for you to understand other, less common ones.

The principles are the same, and you can observe them implemented differently in various situations. Some analysis and getting familiar with previous studies efficiently complete the learning process.

In chess, the best opening moves are all based on the same basic rules. If you play for White, fight for the middle area from the start. For Black, it’s reasonable to aim for equality to minimize the opponent’s advantage. And, of course, the more you practice, the faster you grow your skill.

FAQ on chess openings for Black and White

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William Berrington
William Berrington is an experienced chess player and a candidate master of sports. He took part in many regional USA championships. Also, he contributes to chess popularization by giving workshops for beginners and interviews for newspapers.
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