Last modified on 25 May 2014, at 04:58

Chess Opening Theory/1. e4

King's Pawn Opening
a b c d e f g h
8 a8 b8 c8 d8 e8 f8 g8 h8 8
7 a7 b7 c7 d7 e7 f7 g7 h7 7
6 a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 g6 h6 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5 5
4 a4 b4 c4 d4 e4 f4 g4 h4 4
3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 3
2 a2 b2 c2 d2 e2 f2 g2 h2 2
1 a1 b1 c1 d1 e1 f1 g1 h1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position in Forsyth-Edwards Notation(FEN)

rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/4P3/8/PPPP1PPP/RNBQKBNR

Moves: 1. e4
ECO code: B00-B99 and C00-C99


King's Pawn OpeningEdit

1.e4Edit

White's aggressive opening move opens lines for the queen and king's bishop and fights for control of the squares d5 and f5. 1. e4, the most traditional of White's first moves, is popular at all levels of the game and is the favoured opening move of world champions Bobby Fischer and Anatoly Karpov, Fischer calling it 'best by test'. Openings with 1. e4 tend to emphasize violent tactics over slow maneuvering.

At this point Black must decide how to face White's aggression. With a pawn on e4, White's simplest plan is to play d4 on the next move, giving himself a strong 'classical' centre, so the most aggressive replies by Black challenge White's control of d4.

  • 1...e5 challenges it directly, establishing an equal share of the centre though allowing White to maintain for longer the initiative conferred by having the first move.
  • 1...c5, Sicilian Defence, creates an unbalanced position of attack and counter-attack and is the most popular move.
  • 1...Nc6 is playable but does not prevent d4 since the knight cannot take the pawn without the queen recapturing.

Alternatively, Black may challenge White's central control by targeting the newly arrived e4 pawn, either with

  • 1...d5, with a likely exchange of central pawns leading to a wide-open game in which minor piece placement is crucial, or with
  • 1...Nf6 Alekhine's Defence inviting White to build a large centre that may later be attacked.
  • 1...f5, the Fred defense, is considered by many to be a poor move but leaves White many options though most lead to an imposing center for white that black will attempt to dissociate with flank pawns.

Other first moves by Black allow White to place pawns on e4 and d4, with Black conceding a spatial disadvantage in order to prepare a counterattack.

  • 1...e6, French Defence, a popular move. Black follows up with d5. The main disadvantage of this opening is that Black's light-squared bishop becomes blocked behind his pawns
  • 1...c6 also prepares d5, but without blocking the bishop.
  • 1...d6 and
  • 1...g6 are related moves - where one is played, the other usually follows soon. The aim is to set up a solid but dynamic formation with Bg7 and usually Nf6 before deciding how to fight for the center.
  • 1...b6 is occasionally played but allows White to attack quickly.
  • 1...a6 neglects the centre and is not recommended to anyone less skilled than Tony Miles.[1]

Rarely played moves by Black include

  • 1...a5, is also not recommended, as it weakens Black's position.
  • 1...Na6, Lemming Defence, which is too passive.
  • 1...Nh6, Adams Defence, which is also too passive.
  • 1...h6, Carr Defence, which wastes time and weakens Black's kingside.
  • 1...h5, Pickering Defence, which does not help development.
  • 1...g5, Borg Defence
  • 1...f6, Barnes Defence, weakens the Black king.
  • 1...b5, Polish Gambit, unsound because 2. Bxb5 gives White a free pawn.

StatisticsEdit

Approximate chances: White win 39%, Draw 29%, Black win 32%
Estimated next move popularity: c5 41%, e5 25%, e6 13%, c6 7%, d6 4%, d5 4%, g6 3%, Nf6 2%, Nc6 0.5%, other moves less than 0.5%

Theory tableEdit

For explanation of theory tables see theory table and for notation see algebraic notation

1. e4
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Sicilian Defence e4
c5
Nf3
d6
d4
cxd4
Nxd4
Nf6
Nc3
a6
Be2
e6
O-O
Be7
f4
O-O
Be3
Qc7
=
Ruy Lopez ...
e5
Nf3
Nc6
Bb5
a6
Ba4
Nf6
O-O
Be7
Re1
b5
Bb3
d6
c3
Na5
Bc2
c5
=
Caro-Kann Defence ...
c6
d4
d5
Nc3
dxe4
Nxe4
Bf5
Ng3
Bg6
h4
h6
Nf3
Nd7
h5
Bh7
Bd3
Bxd3
=
French Defence ...
e6
d4
d5
Nc3
Nf6
Bg5
Be7
e5
Nfd7
Bxe7
Qxe7
f4
O-O
Nf3
c5
Qd2
Nc6
=
Pirc Defence ...
d6
d4
Nf6
Nc3
g6
f4
Bg7
Nf3
O-O
Bd3
Na6
O-O
c5
d5
Rb8
Qe2
Nc7
Scandinavian Defence ...
d5
exd5
Qxd5
Nc3
Qa5
d4
Nf6
Nf3
c6
Bc4
Bf5
Bd2
e6
Nd5
Qd8
Nxf6
Qxf6
=
Modern Defence ...
g6
d4
Bg7
Nc3
d6
f4
a6
Nf3
b5
Bd3
Bb7
Qe2
Nc6
e5
Nh6
d5
Nb4
Alekhine's Defence ...
Nf6
e5
Nd5
d4
d6
Nf3
Bg4
Be2
e6
O-O
Be7
c4
Nb6
h3
Bh5
Nc3
O-O
=
Nimzowitsch Defence ...
Nc6
d4
d5
Nc3
dxe4
d5
Ne5
Bf4
Ng6
Bg3
f5
Nh3
e5
dxe6
Bxe6
Nb5
Bd6
+/=
Owen's Defence ...
b6
d4
Bb7
Bd3
e6
Nf3
c5
c3
Nf6
Qe2
Be7
O-O
Nc6
e5
Nd5
dxc5
bxc5
+/=
St. George Defence ...
a6
d4
b5
Nf3
Bb7
Bd3
Nf6
Qe2
e6
O-O
c5
c3
d5
e5
Nfd7
dxc5
Nxc5
+/=

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ReferencesEdit

  • Batsford Chess Openings 2 (1989, 1994). Garry Kasparov, Raymond Keene. ISBN 0-8050-3409-9.
  • Nunn's Chess Openings. 1999. John Nunn (Editor), Graham Burgess, John Emms, Joe Gallagher. ISBN 1-8574-4221-0.