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16 Best Chess Openings for White

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Assuming you have already learned the basic rules of chess, the next major step towards developing your game is understanding the moves and principles behind popular chess openings. And while each side generally follows similar opening principles and strategies, there are specific aspects to choosing and playing chess openings for White. 


There is no doubt that studying the best checkmate moves is a lot of fun, and solving tactical puzzles in the middle game often involves finding hidden checkmates and other combinations. But the reality is that you first need to develop your pieces into a solid middle game before you can hope to consistently win. The core principles behind proper chess openings for White are:


  • Develop your pieces
  • Control the center of the board
  • Protect your king


But knowing those concepts, in theory, is a lot different than being able to quickly move through the chess openings for White without making a tactical error that could cost you the game moments after it started.


Especially in a timed game, being able to make the first five or ten moves without calculating is a huge advantage, and it leaves you with more time in the middle and end game when it counts.


So if you are ready to learn some of the best chess openings for White and the principles behind them, keep reading to learn everything!


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Common Questions About Chess Openings for White

Before diving into the details of the various White chess openings, let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions on this topic.

What is the best opening for White according to Stockfish?

According to Stockfish, the best opening for White is to move your Knight to g3.

How many openings are there for White?

Possible chess moves increase exponentially as the game progresses, but in the beginning, White has 20 possible moves.

Is Ruy Lopez a good opening for White?

The Ruy Lopez is one of the most popular and reputable openings for White.


You might also like: Chess Openings: Chess Strategy for Beginners

quotation marks

You first need to develop your pieces into a solid middle game before you can hope to consistently win

Best Chess Openings for White

Queen's Gambit

Credit: Simplify Chess


Whether you are more of a tactical or a positional player, consider adding the following openings to your repertoire for White.

1. Queen’s Gambit

The Queen’s Gambit is one of the most popular openings for White and begins with the following moves:

  • d4 d5
  • c4

As you can tell, this move leaves the c4 pawn seemingly vulnerable, but Black cannot take that pawn for free, as White will later win a pawn back while having better central control. 


King's Gambit


2. The King’s Gambit

The King’s Gambit is the mirror of the Queen’s Gambit, sacrificing the kingside pawn for better central control. The first moves are:

  •  e4 e5
  • f4

From that point, Black can decide to accept or decline, and further study will give you lots of tactics for White.

Vienna Game


3. Vienna Game

The Vienna Game is a slightly aggressive opening for White that begins with the following:

  • e4 e5
  • Nc3

Variations exist from there, but the key is the Knight on c3 having fantastic control of the center.

Ruy Lopez opening


4. Ruy Lopez

This opening, named after a Spanish priest, puts pressure on Black with the following moves:

  • e4 e5
  • Nf3 Nc6
  • Bb5

The idea is to put pressure on the Black c6-knight to limit their pawn development.

English opening


5. English Opening

Many White openings begin with moving a pawn to e4 or d4, but the English opening features a pawn to c4 as the first move. The strategy here is to have a flexible approach that throws off many of Black’s standard opening sequences. 


Italian game chess opening

Credit: Simplify Chess

6. The Italian Game

The Italian Game is an opening that syncs up with the opening principles you read above, and it starts with:

  • e4 e5
  • Nf3 Nc6
  • Bc4

The strategy of this sequence is to continue putting pressure on Black’s weak f7 square.

london opening chess


7. London Opening

The point of the London opening is to develop the dark-squared bishop right away:

  • d4 d5
  • Nf3 Nf6
  • Bf4

This opening gives White strong control over the e5 square. It’s a notoriously solid opening favored among beginners but also used to great effect at the highest levels.

8. The Fried Liver

The Fried Liver opening is a way to transpose the Italian Game into a more aggressive attack for White that has the potential to end the game quickly:

  • e4 e5
  • Nf3 Nc6
  • Bc4 Nf6
  • Ng5

The last knight move for White puts pressure on Black’s weak f7 square.

9. Bird’s Opening

If you want a weird opening that will confuse your opponent, consider the Bird’s Opening move of pawn to f4. While not ideal for beginners, it can give you an edge over unprepared players.

10. Smith-Morra Gambit

The standard opening for a Smith-Morra Gambit is:

  • e4 c5
  • d4 cxd4
  • c3

With careful study of the variations in this opening, you can put aggressive pressure on Black and confuse amateur players.

catalan opening


11. Catalan Opening

Catalan is a solid, positional opening for White that can be transposed to from various move orders, but is most commonly reached with the following opening line:

  • d4 Nf6
  • c4 e6
  • g3

Combining the d4 and c4 pawns with the kingside fianchetto, White aims to apply long-term pressure on the centure and Black’s queenside.

12. Alapin Variation Opening

This strategy is a fantastic way to prevent Black from attempting a Sicilian defense, and begins with the following:

  • e4 c5


Here, White makes it harder for Black to control the center.

Reti opening


13. Reti Opening

Named after Richard Reti, this hypermodern opening starts with Nf3. It’s very flexible, as White has multiple options with his central pawns. Moreover, it can transpose to a d4 or a c4 opening, such as the aforementioned English opening.

four knights game opening


14. Four Knights Game

As the name implies, the standard line for this opening involves all four Knights coming into play early:

  • e4 e5
  • Nf3 Nc6
  • Nc3 Nf6

This symmetrical position gives White the chess tempo to launch an attack first.

Trompowsky Attack


15. Trompowsky Attack

This opening breaks some principles for White, but it puts pressure on Black immediately by developing a bishop:

  • d4 Nf6
  • Bg5

This attack helps White maintain the game tempo.

three knights opening

16. Three Knights Opening

This opening resembles the Four Knights Game, except Black moves a bishop instead of the last knight:

  • e4 e5
  • Nf3 Nc6
  • Nc3 Bc5

This opening can easily transpose into a line from the Four Knight Game.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot of theory and nuance to chess openings, and they tend to follow more significant themes that will put you in better positions for middle and end-game scenarios. Hopefully, you will now feel much more confident in choosing a chess opening for White in your next game!

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