The best first move in chess: 5 principles of openings for White and Black

What is the best first move in chess? 5 principles of openings for White and Black Chess openings

The best first move in chess – the entire game is built on the first move in chess. The way it opens up greatly affects the outcome. That’s why players of all ranks thoroughly study the initial stage. It’s also a chess opening and includes one or several established moves.

The majority of them have been researched for hundreds of years. The theory behind them is vast and it’s constantly getting updated. Even professional players keep learning chess openings during their careers.

There are over 1000 items with fixed names and numerous variations for each one. It can be hard to organize the learning process with such a variety. Novices tend to look for the best option.

What is the best chess opening for beginners?

What is the best chess opening for beginners

So they often ask: “What is the best chess opening for beginners?” The answer depends on the situation on the chess board.

Also, one should consider the opponent’s level of mastery and strategy applied in the game. Ultimately, proper knowledge of theory combined with high adaptability in chess plays the greatest role.

Below we provide the main points on the topic. So that you can eventually learn to figure out the best starting moves in chess.

Chess opening principles: General aims during the opening stage

Chess opening principles: General aims during the opening stage

No matter what side you play for, there are common principles in opening play. Strategies for beginners should always follow them. However, it’s reasonable to stick to those rules at any level of skill.

An exception is deliberately ignoring some principle for the sake of getting another advantage.

  • One of the major goals is developing one’s pieces.

It means moving them on better squares and taking more advantageous positions. Advance your pawns and give way to the pieces behind them. It’ll help you mobilize quickly.

  • Controlling the center is another crucial point.

Once you dominate this area of the board, it’s easier to reach any other part. The classical way to do that is by placing pawns in the central squares.

  • Remember to keep your king safe.

Measures include castling or bringing it to the side of the board by other means.

  • One more important principle is preventing weaknesses caused by your pawns.

That is, no isolated or doubled pawns. Any formation without proper protection of your pieces is an opportunity for the opponent’s chess attack. Some openings use this concept to the advantage of Black, namely, The Sicilian and Dutch. In some specific cases, a proper pawn configuration is sacrificed in order to acquire dynamic play.

  • Piece coordination is essential in chess setups.

Make sure your pieces don’t impede each other’s advance.


All chess openings for White, as much as for Black, are divided into categories

All chess openings for White, as much as for Black, are divided into categories.

Every game refers to one of the following types:

  1. Open. After the first moves (e4 e5) both players’ pawns face one another.
  2. Semi-Open. After White’s e4 starting move the opponent plays any other way than e5.
  3. Closed. This kind of game is characterized by the opening sequence d4 d5.
  4. Semi-Closed. White chooses to play d4 and then Black makes any move except d5.
  5. Flank type of opening. This group is typified by using one or both wings in the very beginning.
  6. Indian Defense. The systems expanded to the point where they form a separate category. The idea is to give an asymmetrical reply to 1.d4, employing a hypermodern approach.

Examples of the best first move in chess openings for White and Black

We can easily calculate the best first move in chess for both sides using statistics. It counts the number of scores per 100 games and wins percentage. Therefore, the data is quite objective and accurate.

The best chess opening for White

So, what is the best chess opening for White? Based on the information from the chess database, the most favorable one is Queen’s Gambit.

Queen’s Gambit - The best chess opening for White

  1. d4 d5
  2. c4

It’s highly popular at all levels of play and proves to be efficient. The opening covers the vital point of getting control over the central area. It happens through sacrificing a wing pawn to gain a further advantage.

The best chess opening for Black

When it comes to Black, the Sicilian Defense is considered the most successful opening sequence. Almost a quarter of all games start with this combination.

The best chess opening for Black - the Sicilian Defense

However, despite being widely acclaimed, it’s not an easy option at all. Black declares control over d4 through the c-pawn that moves 2 squares forward.

  1. e4 c5

Thus, the fight for the central area begins. In addition, developing a queenside pawn provides Black with a special advantage. It builds a foundation for future actions on the flank.

Tempo in chess opening theory

Tempo in chess opening theory

The chess game is based on moves. In case you move a particular piece, the rest of them should stay put.

Every turn is a precious opportunity that is called a tempo. It would be logical to conclude that for each White’s tempo Black also gets one. But it’s not always the case.

Generally, if your piece experiences an attack by the opponent, you should move it. Otherwise, you lose this unit. So you choose to relocate it at the cost of developing some other piece. That’s how the opposite player gains a tempo.

Good chess openings highly prioritize developing one’s pieces. And for that, a player needs tempos. So the correct question would be as follows. “How do I advance without losing tempos? And, if possible, how do I gain tempos at the rival’s expense?” The answer is in the opening theory.

A perfect opening situation is advancing each piece to its best position in one move. But, unfortunately, an ideal opening like that doesn’t exist. There’s always a weakness that the opponent can take the advantage of. And that’s what makes the game interesting and diverse in terms of possible combinations.

To summarize, we’ve broken down the most important thing grandmasters consider when choosing an opening. It’s not about territory (the number of squares a player controls with their pieces). Neither does structure (maintaining one’s pieces supported by one another) play a great role. And it’s not a matter of the material (a number of pieces left). What really matters is development and tempos. Thinking in these terms first is professional quality.


When asking “what is the best opening chess moves?”, remember an important note. Without taking time to learn other game stages, the study may fall out of balance. So we also recommend working on your middlegame, as much as endgame tactics.

Read more:

Basic Chess Openings Explained

 40 best books for beginners

11 best chess openings for White and Black

Top 6 openings you must know – In this chess video lesson

FAQ about the best first move in chess

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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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