Bishop Opening

The Bishop’s Opening is a King Pawn Opening where White avoids playing Nf3. White moves the Bishop first by playing “2.Bc4”.

Diagram: Bishop Opening

Many beginners play this opening without realizing it! Their goal is to play Bc4 followed by Qh5 or Qf3, to get Scholar’s Mate. Plenty of beginner games end this way.

The downside of the Bishop Opening is that it is regarded as a little slower than a lot of the main Nf3 openings (e.g. Scotch Game, Ruy Lopez). It is somewhat similar to the Giuoco Piano, and indeed can transpose if Black plays Nc6 (although White can try for Scholar’s Mate if preferred).

Overall, the advantages of the Bishop Opening for White may include surprise value and that it avoids some of Black’s more irksome defences, such as the Petrov Defence, Latvian Gambit, and the Queen Pawn Counter Gambit.

The Bishop’s Opening may transpose into:

The main Black replies to the Bishop’s opening are:

  • 2..Nf6
  • 2..Nc6
  • 2..Bc5

Main Line: 2..Nf6

Main Line 2..Nf6: The correct response for Black to the Bishop’s Opening is probably Nf6, which is a good developing move (and avoids Scholar’s Mate).

Diagram: Bishop Opening with Nf6

After 2..Nf6, White can play quietly with “3.d3” or play a gambit line “3.d4”.

Bishop’s Gambit Opening: Nf6 d4 Gambit Line

Diagram: Bishop Opening with Nf6 d4 Gambit

After “2..Nf6, 3.d4!?” the position is interesting for White. If Black accepts the pawn with “3..exd4”, then White may transpose to the Urusov Gambit with “4.Nf3!?” (which in turn can transpose to the Two Knight’s Defence, Perreux Variation, if declined by Black with “4..Nc6”).

Bishop’s Gambit: Black Plays 3..Nxe4 instead of 3..exd4

Diagram: Bishop Opening with Nf6 d4 Gambit

Black might also try “3...Nxe4” (rather than “3..exd4”), although that’s regarded as poor.

Bishop’s Opening Transposing Line: 2..Nc6

Transposition Line 2..Nc6: If Black replies simply “2..Nc6” (rather than “2..Nf6”), which is also strong and more boring. White may consider simply transposing with “3.Nf3” and thereby leading to a standard choice for Black:

The advantage of “2..Nc6” for Black is that it usually brings the opening back to the main variations with “2.Nf3”, which are likely to be better known than the other lines of the Bishop’s Opening.

Bishop’s Opening Symmetrical Line: 2..Bc5

Symmetry Line 2..Bc5. Black can play the copycat move Bc5.

Diagram: Bishop Opening with Bc5

White can play simply “3.Nf3” when “3..Nc6” becomes the Giuoco Piano, main line, with possible following variations including the Greco Attack, Evan’s Gambit, or Italian Gambit.


Transpositions: The Bishop’s Opening is quite flexible and can lead to many other openings by transposition:

The downside is that some variations in the “2.Nf3” lines cannot really be reached from the Bishop’s Opening, at least not in the early moves:

Related Chess Openings Topics

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