Starting a game of chess well is just as important as starting a race quickly.

The best players of the past 500 years have worked out the best ways to start a game.

If you want to be a good player you have to learn from them.

The best OPENINGS have NAMES.

Some are named after a famous player who played or wrote about them.

Some are named after a country where they were played.

Others describe the opening in some way.

In this lesson you'll learn some names and then learn more about a couple of OPENINGS.

When you've played a game try to look up the name of the OPENING. If it hasn't got a name the chances are that it's no good!

The best openings for less experienced players start with these moves: White plays e2-e4 and Black replies e7-e5.

(There are other moves which are just as good but harder to learn.)

The most natural move second move for White is Ng1-f3. Why is this a good move?

It DEVELOPS a piece
It THREATENS the Black Pawn
All of these

Black has to do something about his THREATENED pawn. The usual move is Nb8-c6.

Why is this a good move?

It DEVELOPS a piece
It DEFENDS the Pawn on e5
All of these

One move White can play is Bf1-b5. Why might you want to play this move?

To DEVELOP a piece
To get ready to CASTLE
All of these


It's one of the most popular openings for Grandmasters to play.

RUY LOPEZ was a 16th century Spanish priest who wrote about this opening.

You pronounce it RUE-Y LOPETH.

White can also develop his Bishop to c4. Why?

To DEVELOP a piece
To get ready to CASTLE
To ATTACK the weak Pawn on f7
All of these

This is a very popular move in junior chess.

It's a good move for someone like you to play and a move that a lot of kids will play against you.

The name of this opening depends on Black's next move.

If Black plays Bf8-c5 it's the GIUOCO PIANO or ITALIAN OPENING.

It was studied by Italian players in the 18th century.

GIUOCO PIANO means QUIET GAME in Italian. GIUOCO means GAME (it has the same origin as the word JOKE) and PIANO means QUIET or SOFT (as in PIANOFORTE). Pronounce it JOKE-O PIANO.

Or if Black plays Ng8-f6 it's the TWO KNIGHTS DEFENCE.


Obvious, isn't it??

White can also play d2-d4 on move 3. What's the point of this?

To put another pawn in the CENTRE
To OPEN A DIAGONAL for the Bishop on c1
To THREATEN the Pawn on e5
All of these

This is the SCOTCH GAME.

It was played in a CORRESPONDENCE GAME (a game played by post) between London and Edinburgh which lasted from 1824-1828 (a long match!).

It's called the SCOTCH GAME even though the English used it first.

White can also play Nb1-c3 on move 3, when Black usually plays Ng8-f6. Why Nb1-c3?

To DEVELOP a piece
To DEFEND the Pawn on e4
All of these

The position in the previous diagram is, surprise, surprise, called the FOUR KNIGHTS GAME.

If Black plays something else on move 3 it's the THREE KNIGHTS GAME.

In this position White can play Bf1-b5, the SPANISH FOUR KNIGHTS.

Or he can play Bf1-c4, the ITALIAN FOUR KNIGHTS.

Or d2-d4, guess what, the SCOTCH FOUR KNIGHTS.

Let's look at the SCOTCH GAME in more detail.

White's THREATENING the Black e-pawn - it's ATTACKED twice and only defended once.

Black's best move is to take the pawn: e5xd4 and White takes back with the Knight: Nf3xd4.

Black has quite a wide choice here.

Most beginners capture the Knight: Nc6xd4. This is not such a good move - the White Queen is strong on d4 as it is safe from immediate attack by a knight or bishop.

The two moves we recommend for Black are Bf8-c5 (THREATENING the Knight on d4) and Ng8-f6 (THREATENING the Pawn on e4).

Look at the position after Bf8-c5.

White must either MOVE or DEFEND the Knight. He has several reasonable moves here.

We'll take a quick look at two of them.

Suppose White takes the Knight on c6.

Black can play b7xc6, or he can set a trap by playing Qd8-f6.

It's White's move here. You have a choice of two moves.



I hope you didn't fall for that trap! Always watch out for attacks on f2 or f7!

Instead White can set a trap by playing Bc1-e3 - an excellent move, DEVELOPING another piece and DEFENDING the THREATENED Knight.

Here it's Black's move. Again you have two moves to choose from.



Yes, Ng8-f6 loses either a Bishop or a Knight.

Look at this position carefully. The White and Black Bishops are in line, with a White Knight in between them.

White plays Nd4xc6, and, if Black takes the Knight White can play Be3xc5.

If you don't see this set up the position on your chessboard and play it through yourself.

Instead of Bf8-c5 Black can play Ng8-f6, when White may well reply Nb1-c3.

(In case you're confused the moves are 1.e2-e4 e7-e5 2.Ng1-f3 Nb8-c6 3.d2-d4 e5xd4 4.Nf3xd4 Ng8-f6).

This position could also come from the SCOTCH FOUR KNIGHTS.

In this position Black's best move is Bf8-b4.

Black's move ATTACKS the Knight which DEFENDS the Pawn on e4.

He's also PINNING the Knight on c3.

He would like to play Bb4xc3 followed by Nf6xe4, or even Nf6xe4 at once.

White must do something about his e-pawn.

Which of these moves should White play?

Nd4xc6 Bf1-d3

Qd1-e2 Qd1-f3

Yes, White should exchange his Knight before he loses it. He still has to defend e4, though. How?

a2-a3 Qd1-d3

Bf1-d3 f2-f3

Yes, Bf1-d3 is the best move, DEFENDING the THREATENED Pawn, DEVELOPING a piece and getting ready to CASTLE.

For your homework, play some games with the SCOTCH and see how you get on.

Rememnber - the first moves are 1.e2-e4 e7-e5 2.Ng1-f3 Nb8-c6 3.d2-d4 e5xd4 4.Nf3xd4


You have now completed the YOUR FIRST OPENINGS assignment.