Top 10 Best Chess Openings for Black

Now, White can have some good moves up their sleeve that could wipe you off the chessboard. Whereas the Black always has the second move disadvantage.

So, what do we do? We need to have good defence moves to protect us from it, and of course, win the game. As players, it is important to be familiar with opening moves that you can use in your favour.

The top 10 chess openings for black are:

  1. Sicilian Defense
  2. Nimzo Indian Defense
  3. Queen’s Gambit Declined
  4. Dutch Defence
  5. King’s Indian Defense
  6. French Defense
  7. Scandinavian Defense
  8. Caro-Kann Defense
  9. Slav Defense
  10. Double King’s Pawn Game

And we are bringing to you the best bunch, so let’s dive right in!

1. Sicilian Defense

Sicilian is one of the best, highly regarded openings with a high success rate. Sicilian defence is usually used to retaliate in response to the move 1. e4 c5. So how does this let us win? Well, the Sicilian defence allows us to play asymmetrical positions, creating imbalances that will eventually take us over to the winning side.

Sicilian defence is no doubt an aggressive tactic. In fact, if you let yourself play passively, White can easily gain the lost momentum. Now, why do we use 1 c5? By using c5, what we actually do is encourage White’s advance and give it the opportunity to take the lead. But little does White know what awaits it afterwards. This very imbalance is what might save Black in the end.

Although it doesn’t look like everyone’s cup of tea, Sicilian Defence has been favoured for everybody’s taste. For example, those who are comfortable playing positional games can use the classical or the Scheveningen Variation. While the aggressive ones can make use of the Sicilian Defence Sveshnikov or the Najdorf variation.

2. Nimzo Indian Defense

Introduced in the early 20th century by Aaron Nimzowitsch, this is an Indian Defence that responds to a Queen Gambit away from pitfalls. The play of Nimzo Defence is about who gets the e4 square. To achieve that Black uses the queen’s bishop, often removing the c3 knight.

Black in turn receives a better pawn structure, using that to win the game, attacking and taking control of the light squares. The moves that come into play are

1. d4 Nf6
2. c4 e6
3. Nc3 Bb4

3. Queen’s Gambit Declined

So if you are an ardent chess player, it goes without saying that you will definitely need a few tricks in place to respond to a Queen’s Gambit. The move that completes the defence is

1. d4 d5

2. c4 e6

So why do we use e6? E6 allows us to stand headstrong in the centre. And along with the next moves like Nf6, Be7, etc, you can ensure that you have strapped yourself into a stronghold. Having said that, there are also a few disadvantages to this play – it could hinder the queen’s bishop. But at the same time, it also gives the Queen a lot of room to expand as soon as the King is brought to safety.

The fun doesn’t end there. There are a lot of traps and mazes in Queen’s Gambit Declined like the Elephant Trap, Rubenstein Trap etc. that you can use to your heart’s content.

4. Dutch Defense

Dutch defence is  one of those moves that you can use against pretty much any opening that isn’t 1.e4. The Dutch bring fire to the board by employing an imbalanced act, coupled with nasty kingside attacks and beautiful middlegames. Here the play is to use the castle and decide the placement of the bishop. Only after then, will we plan to attack the kingside. The moves are: –

1. d4 f5

Dutch defence is not for faint-hearted, because anything can happen in the course of the game. It is one of the most exciting openings, where there are chances of it going from being stable to a double-edged sword. Or maybe even go haywire for you.

One thing it can do is promise you a challenging good game.

5. King’s Indian Defense

This is one of the most flexible openings in chess that can be played against almost all openings. What happens here is that Black will seek to allow White to occupy the centre, only to attack and wipe them out. Black will play safe until d6 is guarding e5 square, and a strong kingside fortress is built. Only after that, will it start its attack on White. We can consider the defence done after the moves: –

1. d4 Nf6

2. c4 g6

6. French Defense

The French Defence seeks to undermine the White’s control for the centre and prepare you for a queenside counterattack. And better yet, it is easier to learn and play. French Defence is an alternative to Sicilian Defence if you don’t want to go down infinite variations of Sicilian. It is the best tactic against 1 e4, especially for beginners, allowing them to refine their pawn structure and their understanding of the game. The following moves mark the defence strategy

1. e4 e6

2. d4 d5

The French Defence revolves around playing around with the pawn structure, using that to win over the other side. Life on the chess board depends on the control of the centre of the board. So, the key is to dismantle the pawn structure of the White to win. And that is exactly what the French Defence seeks to do.

7. Scandinavian Defence

1. e4 d5

Here again, White’s central control will be challenged by the Black with the Queen pawn. Soon the only move White is likely to make is to take down the pawn. Which will leave black with two options. Firstly, to let Queen into the play. Secondly, to attack with the knight. Accordingly, there are three variations to it; The Modern Variation, Gubinsky-Melts Defence and the Main Line: Mieses-Kotrc Variation.

8. Caro-Kann Defence

Caro-Kann might be a little difficult to digest at the first go. Mainly because it may look like it’s challenging the basic opening principles of chess. Caro- Kann in a sense is a reformation of the Scandinavian and the French defence. In Scandinavian, the queen will have to move several squares, making it a risky play. While in French, the moves result in Black’s light squared bishop being a very passive piece. Again there are many variations to choose from. However, the opening is considered done after: –

1. e4 c6

9. Slav Defence

There are two reasons why the Slav Defence is the favourite among Grandmasters. First, 2 c6 lends credibility to black’s threat on c4. This actually helps black build a strong pawn chain structure. Second, it opens up the path of the light-squared bishop, which will come in need while making future moves.

1. d4 d5

2. c4 c6

Like others, the Slav also has its own variations. However, no matter the variation, the move 2 c6 is uniform across all variations.

 10. Double King’s Pawn Game

The list wouldn’t be complete without the Double King’s Pawn Game. So why is this defence so important? Well, this one is a breather for the Black as it has the ability to deal with pretty much anything White might throw at you.

Marked by 1 e4 e5, the game continues on different path lines according to the moves the White decides to go with. Let it be the Bishop’s opening or the King’s Gambit or a good Scotch Game, Black will be equipped to retaliate in several moves like the Philidor Defence, Elephant Gambit and so on.

Again, a gentle reminder. Every game is unique in its own way. You will have to be smart to employ everything you have learned accordingly. But done the right way, we promise you that you can transform your second-move disadvantage into the ‘best thing that happened to you – with the right moves.

Harikrishnan A

I am an International Fide Rated player with 10+ years of experience. Played many International Chess Tournaments and Commonwealth games.

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