The Best 10 Openings for White
In this post, I share a list of what I think are The Best 10 Openings for White. We will be analyzing the main variations of these lines, as well as commenting on the kind of positions we get with them, some insights, concepts and typical plans.
I decided not to sort them, because I don't consider one better than the other. All of them are good choices, and it's a matter of like and style what you decide to play. Besides, some of these openings are against Sicilian, others against King's Pawn, etc., so I think comparing doesn't make too much sense.
10- Queen's Gambit
ECO D06-D09 (ECO is the Code for this line in the Encyclopedia of Chess Openings)
1.d4 d5 2. c4.
This is a strong system. The idea is to fight against black central pawn since the beginning. Black can either accept or decline the gambit. They can also play Slav or Semi-Slav defenses. Something interesting is the fact that Queen’s Gambit is not really a gambit, because White can get back the sacrificed pawn if they want.
Depending on the line, the positions arose can be more complicated or quieter.
9- Ruy Lopez (or Spanish Game)
1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5
It's always on-trend. It’s one of the favorite openings for Elite Players in the Chess World. The idea of this line is to put pressure on the knight on c6 (notice move 3. Bb5) defender of the black center, so at some point, White could be able to remove it and get the pawn on e5. Right now there is a lot of theory inside this famous variation.
The main option for Black after Bb5 will be 3 … a6 (Morphy Defense), although there are some interesting alternatives, like Nf6, d6, f5 or Nge7.
8- The English
The famous English opening… The idea is to control the center with the c pawn. Always depending on the line, but very often, White will get nice and quiet positions on the board. Sometimes there won't be any real advantage, but they are easy to play systems and well-known positions for those who study and practice it. It's not the best opening for beginners, but, once the players get some level, it can be a great and fresh choice.
Something good with English, is that in general there is not as much theory to study as in other openings like King’s Pawn. Some of the most popular replies Black can play are c5 (Symmetrical) or the more traditional e5.
Mikhail Botvinnik, Tigran Petrosian, Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov and Magnus Carlsen are some World Champions who played it.
The Best 10 Openings for White: Tops 7-5.
7- London system
ECO D02, A46, A48
1.d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Bf4
(Some players prefer this order 1.d4 d5 2. Bf4 Nf6 3. Nf3)
This is on a great trend. You can think about it like a system, where you don't to mind too much about the order of the moves, but the squares the pieces will be placed at. White develops quickly, sometimes there might be some attack in the kingside, but very often it's just a quiet game with a balanced position or maybe a slight advantage for White.
It seems very comfortable for beginners (it’s easy to learn and play), but also World Champion Magnus Carlsen has been playing it lately with very good results.
Definitely, one of the best 10 openings for White.
6- King's Indian Attack (KIA)
More than an order of moves, this is a scheme, where White develops pieces like in the Diagram below.
The name is because the development for White in this attack is similar to how Black develops on the famous King's Indian Defense (KID). This System is really interesting and versatile, because White can play it against some different defenses, like Sicilian, French or Caro Kann, and at the same time is flexible, because we can start with 1. Nf3 or 1. e4, and then very often there won't be pressure with the order we develop the pieces.
Frequently, Black castles kingside, and then White prepares an attack there, taking advantage of the space superiority they get in that wing of the board. On the other side, black will have to counter-attack in the queenside and the center.
The positions on the board will be tactic, dynamic and entertaining.
World Champions Boby Fischer and Vasili Smyslov played King's Indian Attack.
5- Scotch Game
1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4.
This is another nice choice. World Champion Garry Kasparov (one of the best in Chess History) played Scotch Game and turned it into a really playable and nice opening for White.
After 3. … exd4 the mainline is 4. Nxd4, but also there are some dynamic alternatives like Scotch Gambit (4. Bc4) and Goring Gambit (4. c3).
The Best 10 Openings for White: Top 4 and 3.
1.e4 c5 2. c3
If you hate to memorize many variations until move 15 about complicated and open Sicilian positions, this is the Opening you need. On this line, the positions on the board will be less sharp than in other Sicilian variations, and the best is that you won’t have to prepare against Najdorf, Paulsen, Dragon, Scheveningen, etc., because… you know what? Alapin avoids all those Defenses.
1.d4 Nf6 2. Bg5
The idea with Trompowsky Attack is to threaten at some point the capture on f6, creating doubled pawns. Something very nice is that it's avoiding all the theory behind important defenses like Queen's Indian or King's Indian.
Magnus Carlsen has played in World Championships.
The Best 10 Openings for White: Top 2 and 1.
1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4
This is one of my favorite choices for beginners. It's easy to play, there will be typical and reach positions, fight for the center, kingside attacks, strategical plans… At the same time, it’s still popular among the best players in the world.
After 3. Bc4, Black can have two main options: Bc5 (Giuco Piano) and Nf6 (“Two Knights Defense”).
1.d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3
This is another strong and popular system. We can talk about two main possibilities for Black: accepting the gambit on c4, which is the Open Catalan, or, declining this gambit: Closed Catalan. The light squares bishop on g2 is called The Catalan Bishop, and it’s an important piece on this system.
Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik played Catalan.