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8 Chess Openings Played by Magnus Carlsen E-mail
Written by Yury Markushin   
Monday, 14 November 2016 00:00

8 magnus carlsen openingsEvery player wants to play like famous Magnus Carlsen. We saw him crashing his competition, winning tournament after tournament and match after match. He has many perks including photographic memory, super-human IQ and ability to stay focused for 6-7 hours straight.That’s not the only reason he is so successful. His opening preparation has to do a lot with many of his wins.

Today we will take a look at 8 chess openings that help Calrsen stay on top of the rating list and keep the World Championship title.

Magnus Carlsen’s Openings for White:

1. Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6

8 openings calrsen plays

The Berlin Defense has a reputation of a solid opening and even a drawish one. It is sometimes referred as the “Berlin Wall”. This opening leads to positions that Magnus excels at, thus it’s on top of “to-play” list.

2. Sicilian Defense

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6

8 openings calrsen plays

Sicilian Defense is the most popular, highest scoring response to 1.e4. The sole reason why 1.d4 is statistically better for white is because there is no Sicilian Defense against it. It is no surprise Carlsen has to face the Sicilian on daily basis in many his games. And he doesn’t mind. He has proven many time that he know a thing or two about the Sicilian.

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3. Ruy Lopez – Open Variation

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4

8 openings calrsen plays

Open variation of Ruy Lopez is another favorite in Carlsen’s repertoire. It is a very solid opening, leading mainly to positional chess. Carlsen prefers quiet games where he can capitalize on his main advantage – higher quality moves and smaller error percentage.

4. Scotch Game

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4

8 openings calrsen plays

Scotch Game is considered a very drawish opening, where black has no difficulty equalizing.

Why Magnus Carlsen is playing this opening? Doesn’t World Champion and number 1 player wants to play for a win with white pieces?

Of course!

Carlsen’s style is unique, he plays his best in seemingly equal positions, yet he is capable of winning many minimizing the risk of losing. That’s why Scotch is one of the openings of choice.

Magnus Carlsen’s Openings for Black:

5. Queen’s Indian

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3

8 openings calrsen plays

Queen’s Indian is a very solid, hyper-modern opening. Black fianchetto his queen’s side bishop early on in the game. As in the other Indian defenses, center is controlled by pieces not pawns. This opening is famous for its counter-attacking chances and was played by many strong players including Magnus Carlsen.

6. Ruy Lopez – Berlin Defense – Open Variation

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4

8 openings calrsen plays

Carsen plays Berlin Defense with both colors and gets consistent results. This is a great opening choice for a player like him. Carlsen reaches easy equality and that’s where the game actually begins. Don’t be surprised to see a 60+ move struggle.

7. Sicilian Defense

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6

8 openings calrsen plays

Sicilian Defense is another opening that Carlsen plays with both white and black. There is slight change up in lines and variations he picks, but the beginning moves are the same. Sicilian can be played both aggressively and positionally. He usually picks the second option, unless he is in a “must win” situation.

8. Queen’s Gambit Declined

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3

8 openings calrsen plays

Queen’s Gambit Declined is the opening that was tested extensively during many World Championship matches including Alekhine – Capablanca, Kasparov-Karpov and the recent Anand-Topalov. Black constructs a solid position with central pawns and it’s what considered to be one of the most solid defenses in chess theory. No wonder Magnus Carlsen plays it as well!

Those 8 openings are the most common openings that Magnus Calrsen plays. It doesn’t mean however he cannot play anything else. Carlsen is very versatile player capable of employing large variety of openings including Najdorf, Reti, Ninzo-Indian and many more. Openings help him at achieving playable Middlegame positions where he can outplay his opponents. That’s the main, most important goal behind the opening on super GM level.

Is it a good idea for you to play these openings?

There is no way to be certain, but some of the openings he plays like QGD and Sicilian are very popular and fairly universal. If you feel like they fit your personal style, go ahead and try it out in your own games!

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Last Updated on Monday, 14 November 2016 12:10


0 #3 Deo Jones 2016-11-29 23:23
I like the selection of opening actually and hope to master them in my own games!
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0 #2 benson 2016-11-22 11:07
nice piece of work
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+1 #1 Richard 2016-11-14 14:20
Interesting selection of openings, especially as Black against 1.d4, with no Kings Indian Defence. It would have been good also to have had references to some actual games Carlsen used with these openings. Carlsen is an expert in all openings and has even played 1.a3! (Carlsen, Magnus vs. Grischuk, Alexander
World Blitz Championship 2010 | Moscow | Round 38.1 | 18 Nov 2010 | 1/2-1/2). Having a good opening repertoire for both colours is essential to be a good chess player. :-)
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