Many of us who play chess have our favourite openings that we spend a lot of time studying. It could be the Italian Game, Spanish Game and many more. However, our opponents will repeatedly stun us time and time again with abnormal pawn and knight moves we have never prepared for. They will also try to annoy us by not playing into our favourite openings. If you are facing these problems and are at a loss for what to do, this article is for you. You will learn how to play against these weird openings with these tips and tricks up your sleeve.
Tip 1 – Find weaknesses in your opponent’s position
There are many types of weaknesses in chess, and most weird openings have them. The two broad categories are obvious weaknesses and subtle ones.
Obvious weaknesses weaken one’s postion immediately but not necessarily a lot. Examples of these weaknesses are exposing your king, losing material and leaving a piece undefended. These weaknesses are easily seen and sometimes easily exploitable. Use these to your advantage and you should do just fine.
Subtle weaknesses are those that are not so clear to see and difficult to exploit. Most of these are long-term weaknesses such as being behind in development and moving your pieces away from the centre. In that case, you should probably develop your pieces normally and try to take the initiative. What I mean is that try to be the one to attack first, like opening the centre, using flank attacks or putting pressure on files and diagonals. Try to use those weaknesses to slowly overwhelm your opponent.
Tip 2 – Decide on the severity of the weakness
Deciding the severity of a weakness is crucial. This will help you decide whether to attack straight away, put pressure on the weakness or continue developing your pieces. If the weakness is obvious and severe, you should start attacking it soon as you might not have another chance. However, if the weakness is obvious and not as severe, add pressure to the weakness using your minor pieces and your pawns. When the weakness is subtle and not as severe, continue developing normally and bring more pieces into the action while getting your king to safety. This way you have more attackers to take advantage of these weaknesses and more flexibility.
Tip 3 – Be aware of traps
Most people who play weird and unorthodox openings aim to trick their opponents by using tactical gambits and prepared lines. Many people fall for these traps and lose material or just have a much worse position to play. Always be one the lookout for any captures and deflection tactics your opponent can make, and thinks twice before capturing your opponent’s pieces.
Tip 4 – When in doubt, DEVELOP NORMALLY
This is what most people forget about when meeting strange openings. If you cannot find any weaknesses, it does not harm to continue developing normally. Just bring your pawns to the centre, bring your pieces out and castle. Most of the time, this would give you a decent position against your opponent. Although you have to be aware to tricks and traps that your opponent has, as written in the previous tip. Otherwise, don’t overthink it
Tip 5 – Be even weirder
Sometimes the best way to deal with someone who catches you off guard is to catch them off guard. Like this variation above, you can create your own funky opening to foil your opponent’s plan. In this case, black tries to add more defenders to the h1-a8 diagonal to blunt the light square bishop. These funky openings can be fun to play and interesting games are sure to follow. This is however quite risky, so make sure you do not make a blunder along the way.
Countering weird openings
Let’s conclude everything we have learnt. Look for weaknesses in your opponent’s positions, judge the severity of them, look out for traps, develop normally and be even weirder. These are the 5 strengths you need to play against these unorthodox openings. Now you can put these new skills to the test against your opponents. I wish you all the best in your next games! If you want a more detailed explanation, watch this video by a national master.