Names of Chess Openings

Here is a long list of the names of most of the chess opening moves, and the official name of that chess opening.

The main pawn moves are:

Other less common pawn moves for White are:

Pawn moves that are weak and don’t really deserve an official name, although some of them have one:

It should be noted that some of these first moves by White are not as bad as their reputation. At worst, White has simply wasted their first-mover advantage, and it’s like White is now playing Black with a reverse opening.

The Knight move openings for White are:

  • 1. Nf3 … Reti Opening (not very popular, but is very good, deserves more outings, this is like the 4th best White opening after e4/d4/c4, it really is good!). Often seen in master chess tournaments.
  • 1. Nc3 … Dunst Opening or Queen’s Knight Attack (unusual, very rare, but in theory it is strategically fine).
  • 1. Nh3 .. Amar Opening (not good).
  • 1. Na3 .. Durkin’s Opening (Not good).

The main and common Black openings (“defences”) against “e4” are:

  • 1.e4 e5: King pawn openings. Popular with beginners. Ancient openings that have been played for centuries, and are still good.
  • 1.e4 c5: Sicilian Defence. A very popular aggressive opening for Black. The most popular opening for Black against e4 at both the master level and in club play.
  • 1.e4 c6: Caro-Kann Defence. A solid and slower defence for Black, but very good.
  • 1.e4 e6: French Defence. A solid but sometimes tactical defence for Black; very popular and good.
  • 1.e4 d5: Center Counter Defence. Tactical defence with open positions. Popular at club level, but less so at master level.
  • 1.e4 d6: Pirc Defence. Tactical attacking opening for Black, but not very popular.
  • 1.e4 g6: Modern Defence. Tactical attacking opening for Black, similar to the Pirc, and also not very popular.

Common King Pawn openings (“1.e4 e5”) are:

Common versions of the Sicilian Defence (“1.e4 c5”) include:

Unusual Black defences against “e4” that probably won’t go well against a master, but are playable at club level, include:

Bad black openings against “e4” that don’t even really have an official name include:

  • 1.e4 f6
  • 1.e4 f5
  • 1.e4 h6
  • 1.e4 h5
  • 1.e4 a5
  • 1.e4 Na6
  • 1.e4 Nh6

The main and common Black openings (“defences”) against “d4” are:

  • 1.d4 d5: Queen Pawn Openings. Long-standing openings for centuries. Still very good. Very popular.
  • 1.d4 Nf6: Semi-open queen pawn openings. Leads to numerous sub-variations. These are good and very popular.
  • 1.d4 f5: Dutch Defence. Aggressive and very playable opening, but not hugely popular.

Common variations in the double Queen pawn openings (“1.d4 d5”) include:

Common black openings in the “1.d4 Nf6” lines include:

Less common Black openings against “d4” include:

Odd openings that are not usually regarded as good (well, not good against masters anyway):

Rarely seen Black openings against “d4”:

Bad black openings against “d4” include:

  • 1.d4 f6
  • 1.d4 h5
  • 1.d4 a5
  • 1.d4 g5 (allows Bxg5!), but h6 and then g5 is Basman’s Defence.

So there are plenty of good openings to choose from for Black or White. Just try to avoid the bad ones!