4 Opening Chess Tricks to Start Your Game off Strong

Updated October 18, 2021
People playing chess together

There are many opening chess tricks that you can use to outwit your opponents in the early stages of the game, and it's crucial for newer players to have a few go-to moves ready to whip out at a moment's notice. While no opening move is going to guarantee you'll win the match, expertly employed opening moves can give you a fighting chance against even the strongest players. After all, chess might be all about the long game, but mastering your opening moves might turn that long-game into one short match.

Opening Moves in Chess

In general, a game of chess can be divided into three different sections: opening, mid-game, and ending. Each of these sections of the game present their own challenges, and chess masters have been working out the best strategies for how players can navigate each one of these in order to win matches consistently. If you're just now coming to the game of chess, of course it's important to know the basics, but it's also vital to know how a player opens a game and how an can opponent respond.

For instance, the opening player (always the person playing white) is allowed to move any of their pawns forward two spaces instead of just the usual one for the very first move of the game. In response, the opponent (playing black) is allowed to move one of their pawns forward two spaces. Following those two moves, pawns return to only being able to move one space, and all of the other pieces can come into play as well. To establish a strong opening strategy, you should practice different openers and see which ones come naturally, as you'll probably recall these the quickest in an actual tournament setting.

Four Interesting Opening Moves

While the most common moves in chess open with white moving either to d4 or e4 in their first move, this isn't always the case. If you want to toss something unexpected your opponent's way to see how they'd react and how they'll try to can recover from their surprise, then check out these four opening moves.

The Scotch Game

The Ruy Lopez is a fundamental opening that all chess players use at some point in their chess career. However, the Scotch Game, which is a slight variation on the 16th century Spanish Ruy Lopez opening, gives you a lot of the advantages of the historic Spanish tactic without having to know as much chess theory. The whole purpose behind this white player opening is to put the white in a position to be able to control the center by freeing up a lot of space on the board.

To engage a Scotch Game opening, players will move:

  1. White pawn to e4 - black pawn to e5
  2. White knight to f3 - black knight to c6
  3. White pawn to d4

Continuations of this game allows white to double their pawns on the c-file, giving them a clear advantage. However, they need to protect their knight from any advances by the black's bishop.

The Caro-Kann Defense

The Caro-Kann Defense is actually a black opening and response to when white puts their pawn on e4. Using the Caro-Kann can help the black get into a solid and comfortable position early in the game, but it doesn't allow black too much room to be able to advance onto the board. Similarly, the white opponent has a lot of different opportunities to respond, meaning that you'll need to be well-versed in responses if you're going to employ this opening.

To engage the most common style of Caro-Kann Defense, players will move:

  1. White pawn to e4 - black pawn to c6
  2. White to d4

However, there is the Two Knights Defense variation which doesn't have white respond with a pawn to d4, but rather has them move:

  1. White pawn to e4 - black pawn to c6
  2. White knight to f3 - black pawn to d5
  3. White knight to c3

The Larsen's Opening

The Larsens Opening is an unexpected and non-aggressive opening for white players to us;e; instead of getting them into the center of the board, it allows them to control the dark square diagonal and potentially the black's king side while keeping other options open for future moves in the center. Given that this is an unusual opening to choose, especially in contemporary chess, it can be really advantageous to white players, as most opponents aren't prepared to counter it.

To engage with the Larsen's opening, the white players will move their:

  1. Pawn to b3
  2. Bishop to b2

The Latvian Gambit

Beginner and intermediate players often employ the Latvian Gambit as an opening black move for its aggressive statement. Since the white opponent doesn't have many options to avoid the gambit, they're pretty much forced to accept, putting control into black's hands early in the game. However, if you're not comfortable losing pieces throughout the game, then you shouldn't start with this defense as it'll take you risking pieces to ultimately win your match.

To engage the Latvian Gambit, players will move:

  1. White pawn to e4 - black pawn to e5
  2. White knight to f3 - black pawn to f5

Don't Forget the Rest of the Game

Don't let opening theory deceive you; it can be really tempting to feel overly confident once you understand a few opening strategies, but knowing openings doesn't secure you the game. Remember to keep your eyes open on the board for new moves to look up later and always be developing all three of your strategies at once because in chess, you don't ever want to skip metaphorical leg day.

4 Opening Chess Tricks to Start Your Game off Strong