What Is The Most Underrated Chess Opening

What Is The Most Underrated Chess Opening


Are you looking for some unusual openings to spice your weekend games up? Then you’ve come to the right place. From the bizarre and unexpected to the unorthodox and risky, these openings are sure to catch your opponent off guard and provide you with a unique and exciting playing experience.

In this article we’re going to take a look at some of the most underrated chess openings in the world of chess. Some of these are not the strongest openings when we look at them from an objective-engine kind of view, but if we’re talking casual chess then these openings are a great source of fun for anyone!

Whether you’re looking to surprise your opponent with a new and unexpected opening, or simply want to explore the many fascinating variations and strategies of the game, this article is sure to provide you with plenty of inspiration and ideas for your next game of chess.

Our List of 9 Underrated Openings

Weird opening?

Vulture Defense

This one is considered a variation of the Benoni Variation, here black can quickly move their knight into e4 as early as the third move to surprise their opponent too. This is a risky opening by black but just like the Benoni defense it leads into exciting open games for black. Give this opening a try whenever you get the chance for some fun matches while playing black.

The Flick-Knife Attack

Also related to the Benoni, the Flick-Knife Attack is an aggressive response to the modern Benoni variation. The name comes from the fact that this variation resembles a twisted knife on the board, it’s also because some of blacks moves are very risky and can lead to serious consequences early on (take a look at the 8. Bb5+ check for example!).

The Hillbilly Attack

Magnus Carlsen used this opening during his great run in the 2015 World Blitz championship, so this is a really viable opening. Some might think this is an unsophisticated opening but it does pack a punch so there are many reasons why you should give it a try.

Sacrificing your e4 pawn to get a fast attack into black’s kingside can pay off and lead to some interesting games!

Prickly Pawn Pass System

A variation of the Botvinnik System which itself is part of the English system. In this opening variation black advances his pawn into a6 which leads into a reasonable closed game for white.

It’s not a popular game by any means but it’s perfectly serviceable and it almost guarantees your opponent has no experience with this line.

Campomanes Attack

Named after Florencio Campomanes, FIDE’s fifth president. It’s most notable for being used during a couple of controversial matches like: 1978’s Karpov-Korchnoi and 1984 Karpov-Kasparov. The name comes from an atypical third move in the Caro-Kahn standard line.

Apocalypse Attack

Probably named like this because of the lonely nature of a single piece going to war by itself, this opening is quite rare but it’s very playable. Considering most people have probably never seen it in play you’re probably going to be able to have some fun playing with this opening.

Moving the knight, a second time seems like a really bad move but in this case the numbers are actually quite solid, most people never play this because playing like this is usually frowned upon, but this is one of the few cases where deviating from the norm could work.

The Sokolsky

With 1. B4 you’re immediately throwing out most chess theory out the window. This opening sets up an attack on queenside and is so uncommon at higher levels of play that it will probably take some people out of their comfort zones.

The biggest draw for this opening for white is that while it doesn’t generally lead to real advantages on the board, the unusual positions that it leads to are solid for white so it’s generally a great way to spice things up.

Center Game

This old opening line was mostly abandoned by the early 1900s, only a couple of strong players favored it or even played it back then. It wasn’t until the late 1980s that some players started experimenting with It again.

Alexei Shirov, Michael Adams and Judit Polgar are some of the most notable names since then that have played this opening, but most recently super GM Ian Nepomniachtchi played it a bit.

The opening focuses on attacking the center and leads into an open game with lots of tactics involved, players who feel like their tactical game is strong might want to experiment with this opening to gain an edge.

Blackmar–Diemer Gambit

If you’re looking for an aggressive opening that works at the amateur level then this gambit is perfect for you. Not only is the name cool but there are lots of ways that black players can mess up when playing this aggressive this early on.

This gambit is a controversial one, there are many masters who will happily dismiss this opening as unsound while a lot of amateur players will swear by it. The reality is that this is yet another opening that does work at the club level and if you practice it then it’s going to lead you into some interesting games.

Pirc Defense

We saved the best for last and this opening is really solid so keep reading. The Pirc Defence was considered a unregular opening for a very long time, Kasparov had this to say about the Pirc: “hardly worth using in the tournaments of the highest category”, as it gives White “too many opportunities for anybody’s liking”.

This opening doesn’t try to fight white on the center like the others, instead it attempts to undermine white’s position from the flanks. It gives way to exciting and interesting games for black so it’s a viable opening to add to your repertoire.

What Is the Best Chess Opening

Which one is better?

The Sicilian Defense is probably your best choice if you’re looking for a single opening you can play all the way into grand-master rank. It’s suitable for any kind of player and it has many variations. It’s quite popular so the downside is that most players are prepared to face this kind of defense and you need to take that into account.

The Sicilian Defense is a response to White’s first move of 1.e4. Black immediately counterattacks in the center with 1…c5, challenging White’s control of the d4 square and creating a pawn chain on the c-file. This pawn structure can be used to launch attacks on either side of the board depending on how the game develops.  The Sicilian Defense is divided into many different variations, each with its own unique characteristics and strategic ideas. Some of the most popular variations include the Najdorf, Dragon, Scheveningen, and Sveshnikov.

This opening is highly respected and powerful so it has been played by many of the world’s top chess players. Its dynamic and aggressive nature make it a favorite of those who enjoy attacking, while its flexibility and strategic potential make it a versatile choice for players of all styles.


We covered a lot of openings in this article but there are still thousands of them (actually there might be more than 500 named openings!). But in general, the list of great openings is not as long as the rest of them. Most players will benefit from learning opening theory to a certain extent.

What I mean by that is that, in general most amateur players will benefit to a certain extent (5-8 moves) and then it’s better to focus on their fundamentals like not blundering, tactics and being able to capitalize when their opponent makes a mistake. Putting too many hours on opening theory is a common mistake at the lower levels so don’t spend too much time on this.

If you want a solid plan that will get you through the beginning of your chess career then follow this:

For beginners: Learn one opening for white and two for black.

For white the Giuoco Piano is a great choice for beginners as it doesn’t involve many complex variations and can be transposed easily. Then for black you should learn a response to both 1. e4 and 1. d4. The French defense and the Slav defense are great openings to start out with.

For Intermediate players: Similar ideas work here, but you can add another opening for white to increase variation when playing the same players. Common recommendations at this level are the Ruy Lopez and the London system. Try and become equally confident in 1. e4 and 1. d4.

Besides the Sicilian continuing with the previous recommendations for black works well too!



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