Chess Openings: If you are a current club chess player I have 3 questions for you… Have you been struggling to find an opening that suits you and your playing style? Has it become harder to get into winning positions with your current opening repertoire? Has playing the same opening resulted in boring, predictable middlegames?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, read on to discover your new favorite opening based on ChessBase’s win statistics!
Before we get started, we know there are so many openings you could choose from.
- Some of you love tactical games where you can strike your opponent and claim some spicy wins.
- Some of you love positional games where you can slowly poke your opponent until their ultimate defeat.
Still, we want to give you a unique, widespread perspective as to what openings the top players around the world have been most successful within their games.
Maybe an opening or two looks interesting enough to try out.
Additionally, for each opening, we will review Win/Draw/Loss statistics (for openings with well over 1000 rated games), general ideas, piece placement, and more.
- A higher Win/Draw/Loss percentage -> more winning games for White
- A lower Win/Draw/Loss percentage -> more winning games for Black
Let’s get started!
Top Scoring Chess Openings For White:
1. Queen’s Gambit + English Opening
The English is an opening setup characterized by the initial move 1. c4.
However, the Queen’s Gambit as shown below describes a very successful opening for White. This happens with an additional d4 d5, but can be transposed from the English:
Win/Draw/Loss = 58.3%+
- Potentially gambiting the pawn (aka “sacrificing it”) to gain immediate control of the center.
- Allowing for rapid development on the queenside
- Getting increased space on the queenside
2. Chess Openings: King’s Fianchetto Game
The King’s Fianchetto Game describes any starting line or transposed line with the move “g6” as shown below:
The most common game that occurs from the King’s Fianchetto is the King’s Indian Attack. This attack is called “King’s Indian” as it resembles the King’s Indian setup but in reverse colors, as shown below:
Win/Draw/Loss = 56.3%+
- Quickly bringing safety to the king
- Easily developing pieces to strong squares
- Setting up potential attacks to the queenside and strong center
3. Ruy Lopez
Unlike the other two openings mentioned, the Ruy Lopez is a King’s Pawn Game (meaning we start with 1. e4 rather than 1. d4).
Though the Ruy Lopez Opening does require your opponent to play a couple of moves precisely, getting into this sharp setup has proven to lead to very positionally and tactically appealing games.
Take a look below:
Win/Draw/Loss = 56.2%+
- Fighting for central control by developing all of your pieces to strengthen those middle squares
- Bringing immediate action to the board with simple, yet clever threats
- Allowing you to fluidly change your attacking trajectory as necessary
4. Chess Openings: Open Game
The Open Game, as it is commonly known, is also a King’s Pawn opening that allows White to quickly take charge of the center and ask Black what his plans are. Take a look below for details:
Win/Draw/Loss = 55.2%+
- Getting quick gains in the central squares
- Giving a lot of potentials for your pieces to move (open diagonals for bishops and open ranks for rooks)
- Allowing for simple strategic ideas to come into play based on Black’s decisions
5. Trompowsky/Pseudo-Trompowsky Attack
Finally, shown below is the Trompowsky Attack that is characterized by White’s Dark squared bishop. We classify two main kinds of games that generally transpose into each other.
These are based on whether Black plays 1…d5 as shown below:
Or if they play 1…Nf6 as shown below:
Win/Draw/Loss = 54.6%+
- The “Trompowsky bishop” can be an annoying piece for your opponent as it prevents Black from developing the e3 pawn safely.
- Allowing you to potentially ruin Black’s pawn structure by capturing the early developed knight
- Gives you the freedom to develop and centralize your pieces while Black is focused on that one bishop.
Top Scoring Chess Openings for Black:
1. Sicilian Kan
The Sicilian as a whole is characterized by the moves 1. e4 c5 as shown below:
The Kan variation of the Sicilian (one of the most popular) includes the initial move a6 potentially along with e6 and Qc7. In this position shown below, White quickly neutralizes White’s knight movements:
Win/Draw/Loss = 38.8% and below
- The Kan allows you to prevent White from attacking your position
- Giving you more than enough time to develop your pieces
- Allowing you to decide when you want to open the closed position and attack White
2. Chess Openings: Modern Defence
The Modern Defence is characterized by the moves 1…g6 and 2…c5 as shown below:
Win/Draw/Loss = 44.9% and below
- In the Modern, you can immediately question White’s safety along the dark-squared diagonal
- You also give way for your queen and knights to attack freely
- Puts White in an initially defending mode
3. 1…c5 Openings
The set of 1…c5 openings cannot directly be classified into any particular opening. However, their success of them is well attributed to the sharpness of play that arises from them.
For example, openings like the Modern and Sicilian can quickly question White’s intentions in the center and queenside:
Win/Draw/Loss = 46.2% and below
- Similar to both the Modern and Sicilian
4. Grunfeld Defence
The Grunfeld is a very solid structure for Black that is similar to the King’s Indian Defence.
The main difference between the two openings is that Black moves his/her pawn to d4 instead of d3 as shown below:
Win/Draw/Loss = 47.6% and below
- Allowing Black to take solid control of the center
- Giving way for many potential attacks both in the center and the queenside (depending on which line of the Grunfeld one plays)
- Giving White trouble as to how he/she will attack Black’s well-defended king
5. Chess Openings: Nimzo-Indian Defence
Lastly, we come to the Nimzo-Indian, which is characterized by the moves e6 and Nf6 as shown below:
Win/Draw/Loss = 49.7% and below
- Even though the win percentage is barely in Black’s favor, Black has many opportunities to attack the queenside and center.
- Questioning White’s pawn structure
- Giving way for lots of potential attacks and positional gains on all sides of the board
If any of these openings catches your eye, give them a try! They aren’t too difficult to learn the basics of, and you can be sure you will have some awesome games.
In fact, if you do end up trying a few, let us know in the comments which one you chose and why!
We also recommend reviewing the 31 Great Chess Quotes from Garry Kasparov.