Classification of Openings Part A


We have overemphasised the importance of openings in the column before. We provided the general tips of chess opening and the overarching objectives beside the inevitable hunt of attaining a better position of carving a win. This included the following:

  • Development and activation of major pieces
  • King safety
  • Control of the centre
  • Prevention of bad pawns
  • Setting up of a solid attack
  • Pieces coordination

The article today is dedicated to the classification of openings. Because of different styles of play and objectives of every game there is a catalogue of openings arranged in either their starting position on the board or according to the type of game they lead to- closed or open games.

There are five main classes of chess openings, each having over five opening lines. The acronym ECO which is derived from openings reference book called Encyclopaedia of Chess Opening first published by a Serbian Company called Sahavski Informator in 1974 is used to code them.

Currently on its 5th edition, the book provides a list of both common and rare chess openings. The five opening classes are covered next, starting with the simplest and most common category of all, Open Games Opening Category.


  1. Open Games opening category

Also known as double king pawn or Symmetric, the open games category leads to open games characterised by exchanges and less complex lines and tactics. The first move for white is 1. e4 usually replied by black’s e5.

For the most part, the category which is considered most popular immediately works on the controlling the centre and it freezes two, the queen and the bishop. Openings in the category include King’s Gambit, Bishop’s opening, centre game, Vienna Game Danish gambit, Four Knights game, Italian game, Scotch game Ruy Lopez and Petrov’s and Philidor Defences.


  1. Semi-Open Games Opening Category

The category follows the open games category in terms of popularity, ease, and straightforwardness. In this opening category, when white plays 1.e4 black immediately breaks the symmetric and responds with moves other than …e5.

The most version of the semi open is the black’s response with push a of c pawn to c5 know as the Sicilian defence. Other common semi-open openings include the French defence where black plays e6, Caro-Kann Défense where black responds with a quite c6 pawn, Alkhein defence black puts the knight on f6, Pirc defence when black plays d6, Morden defence where black plays g6, Scandinavian defence where black responds with a bold d6 pawn push. The subsequent moves in this category border between open and closed games hence the name semi-open.


  1. Closed Games Opening Category

The openings classified as closed games begin with a 1.d4 d5 moves. The move 1.d4 offers the same benefits to development and centre control as does 1.e4. But unlike with King Pawn openings where the e4 pawn is undefended after the first move, the d4 pawn is protected by white’s queen.

The slight difference has tremendous effect on opening. The most important closed openings are in the Queen’s Gambit family (White plays 2.c4). Whereas the King’s Gambit is rarely played these days at the highest level, the Queen’s Gambit remains a popular weapon at all levels of play.

Also compared with the King pawn openings, transpositions among variations are common and critical in closed games. The category includes the following exciting games.

  • The Double Queen’s Pawn Opening or closed gams where black’s response to 1d4 is d6,
  • Slav defense where after 1d4 d5 white follows up with a c4 move which is responded to by black with a c6
  • Multiple variations of Queen’s Gambit
    • Queen’s Gambit accepted (QGA) 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4
    • Queen’s Gambit Declined( QGD) 1.d4 d5 2c4 e6
  • Stonewall Attack
  • Colle System


The closed games provide very good platform for positional play and the games usually take longer to shape up with most players holding their cards close to their chests regarding attacks they are planning.









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