The 10 Most Aggressive Chess Openings For White & Black!

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As you become an experienced chess player, you begin to specialize in the various tactics and openings of the game. However, you need to remember that mastering some of the most aggressive chess openings doesn’t win you the game. The whole purpose of openings is that they help you reach the middle game with an advantage. Having said that, there are a plethora of books that have been created to study chess openings alone. Several chess champions have spent countless hours analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of various chess openings and sequences.

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It goes unsaid that in your development as a chess player, you will need to take a look at the various openings. We believe that you should choose an opening that feels natural and makes sense to you. Furthermore, you should also ask yourself—Do you prefer quiet, maneuvering positions or sharp, open lines? Furthermore, while choosing opening positions, your goal is to reach the middle game that plays to your strengths.

Below we have a list of openings for both Black and White, let’s discover which of these styles are you most comfortable with—

5 Most aggressive openings for White

1. Evans Gambit

Named after William Davies Evans, the Evans's Gambit is a variation of the Italian Game and one of the most aggressive chess openings for White. It dates back to as early as 1827 and has been played by chess legends such as Bobby Fischer, Vladimir Kramnik, Garry Kasparov, Nigel Short, and others.

The opening moves of Evan’s Gambit are 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4.

Evans's Gambit

A gambit occurs when a player gives up her chess piece—usually a pawn—to secure a better position. As such, Evan’s Gambit also revolves around the idea of—

  • Keeping the Black King from castling
  • Sacrificing Pawns
  • Attacking consistently
  • Creating pressure for your opponent
  • Maintaining the positional edge.

Generally, the gambit starts with 4. b4 in which the White attacks the Black’s bishop. The black can move away and decline the gambit.

The White loses its pawn to distract Black’s pieces and retreats from the center.  The White may attack the center of the bishop after 5. c3.

The general way to accept the gambit is when the bishop recaptures the b pawn.  However, the knight can also capture the pawn. This leads to a major variation on move 7. Bc5.

2. Smith-Morra Gambit

The Smith-Morra Gambit is one of the most popular responses to the Sicilian and one of the most aggressive chess openings.

The opening moves of Smith-Morra Gambit are 1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3

Smith-Morra Gambit

In Smith-Morra Gambit, the White usually puts its bishop on c4 to attack the weak f7 pawn, and focuses on the castled kingside, after its knight is on f3.

During the course of the game, the White moves to place its rooks on the semi-open d file and the open c file. As such, the White has several potential attacking lines, keeping the Black on its toes.

The general idea is to be aggressive and to maintain a sharp line against black’s Sicilian Defense. The White intends to not only take out Black from the usual Sicilian lines but also makes development moves to jeopardize the position of the Black’s king.

3. The King’s Gambit

The King’s Gambit is one of the oldest and regarded as the most aggressive opening in chess. In the game, the White challenges Black’s center control in the second move and attacks Black’s kingside. The various possibilities that this opening offers have fascinated some of the greatest minds of chess history, including Spassky, Fischer, and Tal.

The opening moves of the king’s gambit are 1.e4 e5 2.f4

King’s Gambit

In King’s Gambit, the main idea is to sacrifice the White’s pawn to get counterplay and advantage as the game develops. The Black may or may not accept the pawn sacrifice, thus changing the character of the game. As such the King’s gambit has four variations—

  • King’s Gambit Accepted: Classical Variation
  • King’s Gambit Accepted: Fischer Defense
  • King’s Gambit Accepted: Bishop’s Variation
  • King’s Gambit Declined

4. Scotch Game

The main idea of the Scotch Game is when the White pushes d2-d4 on the third move, instead of developing the King’s Bishop, which is a more common move in other aggressive chess openings.

The opening moves of the Scotch Game are 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4

Scotch Game

Scotch Game uses the Center Game strategy, in which d4 develops lines and offers the White the opportunity to take center control early on in the game. The Black also has the opportunity to develop the game easily. The Black should concentrate on making the main move that is to take on d4 immediately.

If the Black remains passive and does not capture the pawn immediately, the White is open to push d4-d5 or play dxe5 and establish central control, while also gaining a lot of space.

Let’s suppose, the Black plays a move like d7-d6—supporting the e5 pawn, the White can choose between d4-d5 or dxe5 and get an advantage:

3. d4 d6

4. d5 Ne7

5. c4

Scotch Game

Another option is to open up the center with 4.dxe5.

3. d4 d6

4. dxe5 dxe5

5. Qxd8+ Kxd8

6. Bc4

Scotch Game

5. Ruy Lopez

The Ruy Lopez also known as the Spanish Opening or Spanish Game, is regarded as one of the most aggressive chess openings that are characterized by the moves: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5. The opening is played at the highest levels of chess and is named after 16th-century Spanish priest Ruy López de Segura.

Ruy Lopez

The Ruy Lopez opening has the reputation of being one of the best ways for the White to fight for an advantage after 1.e4 e5.

In Ruy Lopez, the game starts with White developing a piece and attacking Black’s defender of the e5-pawn. The bishop on b5 is engaged and can also pin the c6-knight.

As such, the Ruy Lopez has two major categories depending on the Black’s third move:

3… Nf6, the Berlin Defense

 the Berlin Defense

3… a6, the Morphy Defense

the Morphy Defense

The easiest way to reach the Ruy Lopez can be described as follows—

  • White moves the King’s Pawn two squares
the Ruy Lopez
  • Black moves the King’s pawn two squares forward
the Ruy Lopez
  • White then attacks the black’s pawn by putting the Knight on f3
the Ruy Lopez
  • Black then defends this pawn with the Queenside Knight
the Ruy Lopez
  • White then attacks the Knight with its bishop.
the Ruy Lopez

5 Most aggressive openings for Black

1. The Sicilian Defense

The Sicilian Defense is regarded as one of the most difficult chess openings there is to master. It is played in response against move 1.e4.The main idea behind this most aggressive opening in chess is that the White plays the first move e4, and tries to capture central control since the beginning of the game.

You can reach the Sicilian with the following moves—

  • First, move the White’s King’s pawn two squares (1. e4)
The Sicilian Defense
  • Then, the Black responds by moving the light-squared Bishop’s pawn also two squares (1… c5).
The Sicilian Defense

The Black may respond by moving the c-pawn, and also by taking control of the important central d4-square to create an asymmetrical position.

Depending on the Black’s response, the Sicilian Defense can be divided into the following main variations:

  • The Najdorf variation
  • The Dragon variation
  • The Classical variation
  • The Scheveningen variation

You can counter the Sicilian Defense either by using Niche Lines against the Sicilian or by choosing lines that lead to positional or tactical games.

2. Pirc Defense

Named after the popular Yugoslavian chess player Vasja Pirc, this King’s Pawn Opening is one of the most aggressive chess openings. It begins with 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6

The basic idea of the Pirc Defense is the Black’s aim is to achieve a solid setup in the opening and to develop and castle his pieces quickly. The White can either choose to attack immediately or can develop pieces first.

The four major variations of the Pirc Defense can be classified as:

  • Austrian Attack (4.f4)
Austrian Attack
  • Two Knights System (4.Nf3)
Two Knights System
  • 150 Attack (4.Be3)
150 Attack
  • Byrne Variation (4.Bg5)
Byrne Variation

An easy way to reach Pirc Defense can be stated as follows—

  • The White moves the King’s pawn two squares (1.e4).
the King’s pawn two squares
  • In reply, the Black plays the Queen’s pawn one square (1...d6).
 Black plays the Queen’s pawn one square
  • The White may take charge of the center and move its Queen’s pawn two squares (2.d4).
 Queen’s pawn two squares
  • The Black reacts by attacking White’s pawn and developing the Knight (2...Nf6).
The Black reacts by attacking White’s pawn and developing the Knight
  • The White then protects this pawn and develops its own Knight (3.Nc3).
The White then protects this pawn and develops its own Knight
  • The Black clears the way for the Bishop (3...g6).
The Black clears the way for the Bishop

3. Scandinavian Defense

This is one of the oldest and most aggressive openings in chess by Black that is described in Scachs d'amor. The main idea of the Scandinavian Defense is that from the first move the Black tries to challenge the center-right with its Queen pawn. The only smart move for White here is to capture this pawn. The Black can decide between—taking back with the Queen or attacking with the Knight.

Depending on Black’s options, the Scandinavian Defense can be categorized into three major variations—

  • The Modern Variation
  • The Gubinsky-Melts Defense
  • Main line: Mieses-Kotrč Variation

The easiest way to reach the Scandinavian Defense is as follows—

First, the White has to move the King’s pawn two squares (1.e4).

Scandinavian Defense

Then, the Black replies by moving the Queen’s pawn two squares (1...d5).

Scandinavian Defense

The first decision that the Black needs to make is whether or not to take the pawn on d5. If Black does not take and plays 2...Nf6 instead, then there is the first major variation.

If Black takes it, the best move for White is to develop the Knight to c3 and capture the Queen on d5.

Black then needs to decide: where to move the Queen? One of the variations is to play 3...Qd6 and the mainline is to move the Queen to a5.

4. King’s Indian Defense

The King’s Indian Defense is one of the most aggressive chess openings and hypermodern. It has the following opening moves 1. d4 Nf6 and 2. c4 g6

As in other hypermodern chess openings, the main idea for Black is to develop minor pieces and give up central control, allowing White to take control instead.

This relaxation in Black’s control is only to counterstrike White’s gained space and weaken overextended pawns. Black takes central control in exchange for a strong defensive position that is not easy to break.

The main line of the King’s Indian Defense is:

  • White moves Queen’s pawn two squares 1.d4
  • Black reacts by moving Knight two squares 1…Nf6
 King’s Indian Defense
  • Then, White’s moves c-pawn two squares 2.c4
  • Black moves it's g-pawn one square 2…g6
 King’s Indian Defense

5. Benko Gambit

Named after Hungarian-American chess player, Pal Benko, this chess opening is popular among amateur chess players and gives Black a winning advantage. This type of aggressive chess opening begins with the following moves—

  1. d4 Nf6
  2. c4 c5
  3. d5 b5

The main idea for the Benko Gambit is for the Black to sacrifice his b-pawn to gain quick development and achieve a strong attack on open files.

Based on White’s choice to play this opening, the three major variations for Benko Gambit are—

  • Benko Gambit Accepted - King Walk variation
  • Benko Gambit Accepted - Fianchetto variation
  • Benko Gambit Accepted - Positional variation

You can reach Benko Gambit with the following moves—

  • The White must first move the Queen’s pawn two squares (1.d4).
  • The Black replies by moving its Knight two squares (1...Nf6).
Benko Gambit
  • The White reacts by moving its c-pawn two squares (2. c4).
  • Then, the Black moves its c-pawn two squares (2...c5).
Benko Gambit
  • The White replies by pushing the d-pawn one square (3. d5).
  • Then, the Black responds by moving its b-pawn two squares (3...b5).
Benko Gambit

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