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divine_sun_cat 28 ( +1 | -1 )
new lines I need a new opening too. I'm bored with the ones I've tried. I've tried kings and queen pawn openings, sokolskys, Grob, Bird, King Charles, Krazy kat, 1.c3, and don't really fancy english, Larsens or knight openings. Anyone have much experience with 1.h4 or 1.a4?
smolensk 5 ( +1 | -1 )
There is one opening you have forgot, the best one.

philaretus 14 ( +1 | -1 )
New vistas The Jeffz2002 Opening has recently been discussed on another thread: 1.e4 e5 2.Ke2!? (see my analysis there).

As for 1.h4, there is a game between paulvalle and myself.
More: Chess
divine_sun_cat 7 ( +1 | -1 )
smolensk 1.f3?! is King Charles, amongst other names. I can't play it too well.
cairo 56 ( +1 | -1 )
There is two important things (among others) in chess there can be lethal, that is if you are bored or get unconcerned, how many points I got against players with that attitude is countless. However I'll recommend you divine_sun_cat to start minitournament(s) with some unortodox openings like any white first move, black can only respond 1...a6!?

Good luck onwards in the "scull crushing"

Best wishes
chessnovice 85 ( +1 | -1 )
... I was able to decipher most of the opening names to what move they belong to...

Sokolsky: 1. b4 (Polish), Grob: 1. g4, Bird: 1. f4, King Charles: 1. f3 (Barnes, I prefer...), 1. c3 = Saragossa, English 1. c4, Larsen's: 1. b3 (Nimzowitch-Larsen)

But I honestly couldn't find out what the Krazy Kat opening is supposed to be. Anyone care to enlighten me?

Anyway, as for my advise...
Before you start putting yourself through games like the Ware (1. a4) or Desprès (1. h4), remember that you can achieve some interesting/unusual games even through a normal first move (1. e4 and 1. d4). I was also interested in finding some unique openings a while back, and started playing Van't Kruijs (1. e3). But then I realized that you can make an out-of-the-book move in the third, or even tenth move of the game, and it'll actually be more interesting than any of the first-move unorthodox openings.
anaxagoras 36 ( +1 | -1 )
Good grief divine_sun_cat, have you really mastered the openings you list above? And if you're bored, why don't you fancy *good* openings like 1 c4 and 1 Nf3? Why start playing the bad openings before you've learned the good ones? Maybe there's something you're missing about opening play that is connected to why you don't like 1 c4 and 1 Nf3 (and for that matter, why you've become "bored" with 1 e4 and 1 d4).
keiserpaul 4 ( +1 | -1 )
anaxagoras The Crazy Cat is when white plays f3, g3, Nh3, Nf2, e3, c3, d3, Bg2, Nd2, Nf1 and b3
chessnovice 36 ( +1 | -1 )
... Thanks, keiserpaul, for answering my question. Somehow, I knew that if I posed a question about an unorthodox opening, you would be the man to answer it. ;)

The Crazy Cat looks a bit similar to the Hippopatomus to me. Not a big fan of the Nf1 move, but I have been known in my local chess club to give f3, g3, Nh3, Nf2 a try before. Interesting info...
tyekanyk 13 ( +1 | -1 )
how about....? None of you seem to mention Van Geet 1.Nc3 which is unorthodox and more playable than 1.f3 or the Crazy Cat. Or how about the Anderrsen opening 1.a3?
keiserpaul 29 ( +1 | -1 )
chessnovice ( Sorry, my previous message was directed to you, not to anaxagoras ). Yes the Crazy Cat is similar to the Hippopotamus. The difference is that in the Hippopotamus, an invention of the English player J.C. Thompson, the King Bishop goes to e2, while in the Crazy Cat , an idea of the American E.B. Adams, it goes to g2. The openings are playable with either color.
keiserpaul 73 ( +1 | -1 )
tyekanyk I do not understand why 1.Nc3 still is considered as being an unorthodox move. It is a sound developing move, just as 1.Nf3. ( Even more, moves as 1.e4 or 1.d4, make development possible, but are not developing moves in themselves.) As disavantage of the move it is claimed that it makes c2-c4 unpossible, but what then of 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 which is considered best, although also here it makes c7-c5 unpossible.
As for 1.a3, you can (you don't have to) play the black systems with White. Is that unorthodox ? It is claimed that you throw away the advantage of white's first move. So what, I am not aware of one "good" opening which leads , with the best play of black, to an advantage of white.
In my opinion both 1.Nc3 as well as 1.a3 are perfectly playable opening moves and do not deserved the status of Unorthodox.
baseline 18 ( +1 | -1 )
1.Nc3 Its not one of the accepted standard openings and therefore unorthodox. Its not bad just not as ambitious as 1.e4 or 1.d4 or even 1.Nf3. 1.a3 could very easily prove to be a useless move. If 1.a3 has any value it would have to be phycological.
keiserpaul 8 ( +1 | -1 )
baseline Statements, statements , slogans.
Why is 1.Nc3 not ambitious ?
Why is 1.a3 useless ?
If it is so easy to prove, please do it...
baseline 15 ( +1 | -1 )
Prove it? They are your moves buddy, why don't you prove how good they are?
Send me a challenge and I'll give you more than slogans to think about!
keiserpaul 13 ( +1 | -1 )
baseline So if you beat an opponent rated 200 points less than you, this will show the value of the opening ? A strange statement .
baseline 98 ( +1 | -1 )
database check checking my database I come up with the following interesting figures.

white wins 346908
black wins 285599
draws 282028 thats 53.3% for white

white wins 237480
black wins 174795
draws 211559 thats 55% for white

white wins 52590
black wins 39056
draws 48851 thats 54.8% for white

white wins 60021
black wins 42308
draws 60904 thats 55.4% for white

white wins 1733
black wins 1708
draws 1269 thats 50.2% for white

white wins 784
black wins 304
draws 206 thats 47.8% for white

The Orthodox Openings score somewhat better than the Unorthodox openings.
Its interesting that with 1.Nc3 a developing move you would expect to get atleast a level game, but whites results with 1.a3 are not as good. Granted any advantage white may have by virtue of the first move is a small one, but why give up even a small advantage?
baseline 71 ( +1 | -1 )
keiserpaul No stranger than yours. You offer nothing. I say that 1.a3 could easily prove to be a useless move, and you say why? What is its purpose then? Could it depend upon what black plays? Is it possible for black to adopt a plan that would render it useless? I think so. As far as 1.Nc3 I'll stick with my statement that its not bad, and I actually spent quite some time looking at this move some years ago. But I want more out of the opening. I want that small plus. Can you catch someone off guard with an unorthodox opening, sure, if your lucky but how do you get lucky in a correspondence game? I would say play the best moves you can, starting at the begining of the game right through the end.
keiserpaul 67 ( +1 | -1 )
Statistics Baseline,
I agree that you have a point with statistics. I have publiced some figures about this some time before at some GK-forum. They were based on a 2442134 games DB. But I have other figures for Nc3 than you have. Here is the list :
Nf3 scores 55.4 %
d4 55.2 %
c4 54.7 %
g3 54 %
e4 53.9 %
Nc3 53.5 % (based on 8452 games)
g4 52.3 % (based on 2049 games, this is the most despised unothodox opening, nevertheless this is not to see in the scores. In my opinion this is the result of much more analysis work than on most other unorthodox openings)
b4 52.3 %
b3 50.5 %
Na3 50 %
a4 48.4 %
f4 48.2 %
h4 47.4 %
c3 47.4 %
a3 46.9 %
d3 45.6 %
f3 45.2 %
e3 42.6 % (How is this possible ? Even Kasparov has played this)
h3 40.9 %
Nh3 37.6 %
White : 54.45 % (39.96 % wins, 28.98 % draws, 31.06 lost)
keiserpaul 42 ( +1 | -1 )
About 1.a3 I am not an 1.a3 expert, but I will do a try to give some basic ideas:
1 .. d5 2.Nf3 c5 3.c4 (a3 can be useful in a reversed Benoni or English)
1 .. g6 2.g3 Bg7 3.Bg2 d6 4.c4 e5 5.Nc3 c6 6.Nf3 Ne7 7.d4 (Reversed king's Indian)
1 .. e5 2.c4 (reversed Sicilian, a3 will be useful in most open Sicilian formations), Three Anderson-Morphy games went 2. .. Nf6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd Nxd5 5.e3 (reversed Taimanov)
So if you feel at home in the Black versions of this openings, why should you not try it in the reversed form as White (with a move plus) ?
chessnovice 160 ( +1 | -1 )
... I honestly see no problems with the Van Geet or Anderssen's Opening. I feel obligated to point out that the statistics that baseline gave are somewhat unfair to the unorthodox games. Take, for example, the number of games played for e4. There's a population of 914,535 games played (That's quite a database, by the way!!). Looking at the number of games playing Van Geet (4,710 games) or Anderssen's Opening (1,294 games) databases, it's clear that there is a huge difference.

However, for e4, baseline shows that 53.3% of wins go to white.
In Nc3, 50.2% of white wins.
In a3, 47.8% of white wins.

It's been a long time since I've had to use statistics (that will all change in a few months, though), so I can't go into it with any mathematics, unfortunately (I'm sure pebbles can, he comes across to me as an intelligent fellow when it comes to arguments like these). But basically my argument is that the standard deviation of the orthodox openings are much lower than that of the unorthodox openings. I'm sure that the more games you add with 1. a3 and 1. Nc3, the more closely related the percentages will become. Of course, it's easier to say you must add more unorthodox games than it is to actually find them...

Overall, I must agree with the argument given by keiserpaul. I do not feel that 1. Nc3 is any more detrimental than 1. Nf3, and 1. a3 is like playing as black with a move advantage.
anaxagoras 122 ( +1 | -1 )
<slaps forhead>

Some people still doubt that there is such a thing as hard-won *knowledge* about chess and openings.

1 Nc3 is inferior to 1 Nf3 because 1 Nc3 prevents neither 1...d5 nor 1...e5, while 1 Nf3 does prevent 1...e5. Moreover, 1 Nf3 makes way for speedy kingside castling, an important goal of most openings (1 Nc3 falls short in this respect). Again, it is true that 1 Nc3 is also inferior because is prevents the dynamic c2-c4, while in the Ruy Lopez Nc6 is perfect because Black is defending and needn't concern himself with an early c7-c5.

I agree with baseline here: why play an inferior opening like 1 Nc3?

As for 1 a3, shame on you for suggesting it. As an opening move it is a *shade* better than playing no move at all, and for that reason alone it deserves the harshest scorn.

As for proof, are you looking for the results of an experiment or a logical deduction? Baseline has provided the former by providing practical statistics. Here is the latter:

P1: A good opening (1) controls the center (2) opens developing lines (3) furthers the goal of castling.

P2: 1 a3 does not control the center, does not open developing lines, and does not further the goal of castling.

Conclusion: 1 a3 is not a good opening move.

Now we can move on to interesting questions about chess and openings.
v_glorioso12 11 ( +1 | -1 )
1.a3 can transpose into a reversed sicilian... so if u play it right, it could be kindof sorta good... mabye...
halfpast_yellow 66 ( +1 | -1 )
1.a3 Anaxagoras is right, looking outside the box it is like playing no move at all, and saying "I want to have the black pieces". All black has to do is play a reversed white opening, and if it so happens to be one where where black does not usually use a6, then the opening advantage move will be wasted.

Reminds me of Chandler's little heard of 'scud' line of the sicilian. If you like to defend with the Kings English against 1.c4, then as white, after 1.e4 c5 2. a4! and black has been scudded! And the game has 'transposed' to a reversed Kings English. It's the kind of thing to play against weakies who learn complicated Najdorf lines then complain that "a4 isn't in the books"
baseline 230 ( +1 | -1 )
keiserpaul As far as databases go I started with chessbase’s bigbase 2001 and have been careful to add only master level games and correspondence games played at the highest level. A database should be tailored to the user’s need and to be honest I don’t need those extra 1.Nc3 games and I suspect that many of the games in your base are lower level games.

Lets discuss the term Unorthodox. Unorthodox is a term used to describe thoughts and methods outside the main stream of current theory. The label “Unorthodox” by it’s self doesn’t mean that something is wrong. Sveshnikov was only an expert when he started to experiment with the unorthodox line of the Sicilian that now bears his name.

On playing reverse openings you must remember that Black is operating with more information than white! He has whites last move as additional information upon which to base his move, he can react to what white is doing. As white you must forge ahead with out certain knowledge of Blacks next move. What does a move like 1.a3 accomplish other than to start the game with a pawn weakness? Since Black hasn’t made a move it doesn’t counter anything, it does nothing to promote development it doesn’t stake out useful territory, its not making your king safer, you may hope that it will prove to be useful later in the game but at this point it is just that hope.

1.g4 is an ugly move but a dangerous one. When I was a weaker player I would think something like “is this guy nuts? He doesn’t know anything!” but now I see white saying “your king is not safe! Castle kingside and I will drive away the defender with pawn to g5 and storm your castled king!” Its success is due to the tactical talent of its devotees and their superior knowledge of the opening. Having said that I would rather play against a dangerous but unsound opening than a dangerous sound opening.

I believe that the pursuit of unorthodox openings has arrested the development of many a promising club level player. They should be perfecting their knowledge of mating patterns, combinational motifs and endgame play.

keiserpaul 230 ( +1 | -1 )
anaxagoras I agree that the Queens Knight Opening does not hinder the reply 1. .. d5 but actually provokes it. Dick Van Geet supposses this being the most important explanation for the relative unpopularity of 1.Nc3. But there are positive points too that you have to consider. I shall quote Van Geet's ideas briefly. The first idea behind 1.Nc3 is to a certain extent related to Alekhine's Defence (which not hinder d4 nor e5, so the Alekhine must be unsound too acoording to your arguments). The knight is used to lure the pawns so far forward that they become targets of attack or that attacking opportunities occur in the area that is no longer protected by them. The second idea is that 1.Nc3 is not only a provocative move, but also a sound developing move. 1.e4 and 1.d4 make development possible, but are not developing moves in themselves. 1.Nc3 immediately develop a piece. This distinction may seem irrelevant, but in several situations it proves to be of extraordinary importance. Let’s look at Van Geet-Sokolov, Wijk aan Zee 1970. 1.Nc3 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nd4 g6 . Black tries to play the Scotch, but there is a difference because e4 has not been played. 5.Nd5 (BTW, now white can play c2-c4, which seems to be so important too you). Now 5. .. Bg7 loses top 6.Nb5 and 6. .. Be5 is met by 7.f4 a6 8.fxe5 axb5 9.Bf4, so Black played 5. .. a6 6.Bg5 f6 (6. .. Qg5 7.Nc7 Ke7 8.Na8 and 9.Nb6 or 7. .. Kd8 8.Nde6 are quite hopeless). 7.Bh4 Bg7 8.e4 Nh6 9.Bc4 Na5 10.e5 +- . In this game Black lost quickly because of stereotyped play, as he did not recognize the difference between a developing move, and a move that is only a precondition for development. The third idea is that sometimes favourable possibilities arise for fianchettoing the bishops, precisely because d4 or e4 have not yet been played. This can lead to influence over d5 or e5 and a strong attack.
So far the basic ideas. Besides a lot of transposition possibilities (the Vienna , the Richter-Veresov, the Closed Sicilian, and so on) and reversed systems with an extra tempo (1.Nc3 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.e3 d5 4.Bb5 is the Taimanov variation in the Nimzo-Indian, 1.Nc3 c5 2.Nf3 d5 3.e3 Nf6 4.Bb5 is Bogoljubow Indian, 1.Nc3 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.g3 d5 is Grunfeld,, and so on); the Queens Knight is not one opening but a collection of many, many openings, - just as 1.e4 is not just one opening -, each with different, various ideas , tactical or postional ways, attacking or defending lines, as well as a lot of gambits. A delight if you get bored of playing always over and over again the same Sicilian or Spanish lines, a whole new world of amazing lines and possibilities to enjoy. Do not condemn it on purely dogmatic points, you will miss a lot of fun.

jbmac 134 ( +1 | -1 )
I agree with Keiserpaul... I can't see why 1.Nc3 is considered to be worse than for example Nf3 or e4 or d4, because like anaxogoras said, a good opening should control the centre, open developing lines and further the goals of castling. Well 1.Nc3 does attack the centre of the board just like 1.Nf3 or 1.e4 etc. As for opening developing lines, whats the problem with doing that on the second or third move, after all, doing this on the second or third move would still mean you are in the opening. And 1.Nc3 does further the goals of castling, if you want to castle on the queenside.
Like keiserpaul said, 1.Nc3 can transpose into lots of sound openings anyway. I have recently played a few games with 1.Nc3, two of which transposed into queenpawn games and one of which ended up as a vienna gambit declined.
Like i said i have recently started playing 1.Nc3; against 1...d5 i will play 2.d4. Against 1...e5 i will reply with 2.e4(the vienna game, i have played this for along time anyway), against 1...c5 i will play 2.e4 and play for a closed sicilian, against 1...f5 i will play 2. e4 and against any N move i will probably play 2.e4.
On all of the above either 2.d4 or e4 is played, these moves being standard opening moves; controling the centre, opening up lines for development and therefore furthering the goal to castle. So i see no reason why 1.Nc3 is classed as unorthodox.
keiserpaul 50 ( +1 | -1 )
baseline I am still wondering about the low statistics of 1.a3 and I checked the games in the DB. Then I have followed your own statement about lower level games , so I dropped the games versus computers and all games with a White less than 2000 ELO. The results are clearly better : on 201 games, white won 71 games and scored 49 %. White's average was ELO 2253, Black 2247. I agree a lot of orthodox openings obtain better results, but you cannot claim that an opening with a score of 49 % is unsound.

keiserpaul 24 ( +1 | -1 )
anaxagoras Shame on me for suggesting 1.a3 ? OK, but then also blame Siegbert Tarrasch :
Tarrasch,S - Mendelsohn,J [A00]
Breslau, 1879
1.a3 e5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.e3 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.Be2 Nxc3 8.bxc3 f5 9.d4 e4 10.Nd2 Bxe2 11.Qxe2 a6 12.0-0 Bd6 13.Qh5+ g6 14.Qh6 Qf6 15.f4 0-0-0 16.Rb1 Ne7 17.Qh3 h6 18.Nxe4 Qe6 19.Nxd6+ Rxd6 20.Qf3 c6 21.Rf2 g5 22.Rfb2 Rd7 23.Qe2 Rc7 24.Rxb7 Rxb7 25.Qxa6 Qd7 26.Qa8+ 1-0

wadvana 18 ( +1 | -1 )
Following From jbmac After 1.Nc3 d5
2.Bg5 is also a unorthodox yet new line in which white scores heavily.
Such lines seem to co-ordinate well with the current boom in Trompowsky openings.
keiserpaul 7 ( +1 | -1 )
wadvana The bishop jumping over the d2 pawn is very unorthodox, indeed.
ir0nh0rse 23 ( +1 | -1 )
I think you people are to hard on unorthodox oppenings. I certainly havn't mastered the game enough to say that I shouldn't play a certain oppening move. It doesn't look like any other human being has either.
baseline 37 ( +1 | -1 )
keiserpaul If you find avg. results of 49% with the white pieces acceptable then by all means play 1.a3?! Please forgive me if I want to do a little better than that!

Breslau 1879? are you serious? Look like Tarrasch was insulting his opponett.

If black plays poorly any white opening will look good.
1.Nc3 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 g6?! I think 3...Nf6 and if 4.Bg5 Bb4 is not too hard to find over the board.

anaxagoras 113 ( +1 | -1 )
Keiser Paul, it is irrelevant whether Tarrasch played 1 a3.

"The first idea behind 1.Nc3 is to a certain extent related to Alekhine's Defence (which not hinder d4 nor e5, so the Alekhine must be unsound too acoording to your arguments)."

You need to interpret me as intelligent if you want to have a discussion about this. Would you also suggest I argue that the French, Caro Kann and Pirc defence are all inferior because they do not prevent e4 or d4? I hope not. The argument is that if White will open with a Knight, the King's Knight is the better choice because it fulfills more goals of opening play than 1 Nc3, and even restricts Black's center play. You are correct that Alekhine's defence provokes 2 e5, but that is a proper strategy for Black, not for White (because White is guaranteed better central influence anyway with correct play; why give central influence to Black when you hold the White pieces?).

What you have to say about the lines that arise from 1 Nc3 is very interesting, and I would not expect 1 Nc3 to be a bad opening. What I'm saying is merely that 1 Nc3 is not as strong as 1 Nf3.
caldazar 231 ( +1 | -1 )
First off, I do not advocate weird opening lines. Then again, I don't advocate any particular openings in general. I figure it's better to play in a fairly straightforward manner, at least for amateurs, rather than engage in all kinds of tricky and offbeat ideas. Still, chess is supposed to be fun and if playing unorthodox ideas is fun for you, I suppose that's fine.

That said, saying that 1. a3 and 1. Nc3 are inferior is a bit harsh.

I play 1. Nc3 on rare occasions, usually in tournaments, as a way to get my opponent out of books lines that I don't enjoy playing. I'm a 1. e4 player, but there are some lines of the Silican and the French I do not care to face in certain tournament situations, usually because I do not understand how to work with the assets I 'gain' (is a theoretical advantage an advantage if you can't find a way to exploit it?). I assure you that I play 1. Nc3 to win, usually attempting to get into something like 1. Nc3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. e4 type of positions (1. Nc3 e5 2. e4 Nf6, and I'm in a Vienna). No experience with the type of "luring the pawns foward" idea keiserpaul mentions as I don't play these types of strategies, but I have to believe it's playable.

I have nothing to say about 1. a3 except that it strikes me as a waiting move, with all the pros and cons associated with such a strategy.

I find the notion of "goals of opening play" a bit outdated myself. This isn't the early 1900s anymore; the goal of opening play is to reach a playable middlegame. 1. Nc3 either allows you to reach some sort of playable, respectable position, or it does not. Perhaps 1. Nc3 only leads to what theory books call '=' while some other line or plan may give you '+/=', but to my mind this size of advatage is insignificant in amateur play anyway.

White is guaranteed better central influence? I've never come across a plan or strategy that assures this myself. White can secure better central influence, sure, but usually only if Black permits it (usually because Black obtains some other asset to work with in exchange).

I've played both 1. Nf3 (as a King's Indian and Reti) and 1. Nc3 (intending the afforementioned Vienna or e4-gambit ideas) and I honestly don't see the big deal (I don't particularly care for any of the ideas, but that's just personal preference). Both of the plans I play lead to playable positions with winning chances; what more can you ask for from a couple of moves?
tyekanyk 86 ( +1 | -1 )
About 1.a3 I won't go into depth about 1.Nc3, other people have done so already. I just want to mention the idead that made Anderrson play such an excentric, not unorthodox, move. There were certain conceptions at the time that at the very beginging of the game white was in some sort of positional Zugzwang and by playing a central pawn move, he would weaken himself for the endgame, (this was a corner stone at the time as you surely know all of 19th and 20th century grandmasters counted most of their strategies on the benefits they could amass in the endgame) and a Knight moves were also unsatissfactory because they stopped pawn breaks. As a whole the basic idea was to play for flexibility of the pawns and not to allow certain points on the board like d3, e3 be weakend by an rash pawn break.
keiserpaul 45 ( +1 | -1 )
baseline I agree that your line was "not to hard to find" , but the results are corresponding.
You suggest 1.Nc3 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 Nf6 , but then white is just a pawn ahead after 4.dxe5.
I suppose you meant 1.Nc3 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 then I have to disappoint you that I found 134 games in my DB in which White scores 57 %. After 5.Bg5 Bb4 6.Nxc6, White even scores 65 % ! The main line goes on with 6. .. bxc6 7.Qd4 Be7 8.e4 and White has achieved a favorable form of Scotch game.
keiserpaul 55 ( +1 | -1 )
anaxagoras I do agree that 1.Nf3 is better than 1.Nc3 for the reasons you explained. But I do not agree your statement that you called it inferior, and that was why I replied. I do not like the New Yorker system, but I shall not deny its merits, I only do not want to play each game the same stereotype moves. The Queens Knight offers more possibilities, and a lot of tactical variations, you can choose various lines early in the game. And it is not unsound, you have a fair chance to win. Not as much as with some orthodox openings, but it is playable. That was the origin of this forum : new lines.
loreta 89 ( +1 | -1 )
Be in peace, kittens I got interested in that discusion. I even did my personal research how these openings are used in top level. I take a threshold of last 5 years when both players were rated above 2400.
For 1.Nc3 I found 14 games scored 5:4:5 and between them a game Morozevich (>1700) - Kasparov (0:1). Then I looked into score of all games M.-K. That is 0.5 : 3.5 But in all other games Morozevich played 1. e4!
Less success was for 1.a3. The highest ratings were (maybe) in the game (IM) Minorian - (GM) Kacheishvili (near 1600), 1/2:1/2
I don't want to make any conclusion from saying above, just...
it's many reasons why one or another opening is played. As usually, you play not against pieces of opposite color but against a person who handles them.
When B.Larsen started to use (and got points) the Bishop opening, - it's was a shock for opponents and revival of that opening. The same got gone with use of Scotch by G.Kasparov...
fmgaijin 62 ( +1 | -1 )
1.h4 / 1...h5 I've been playing and analyzing these for fun for more than 25 years (these days, esp. in 1 or 2 min. games on ICC, USCF sites). To be quite honest, they aren't very good, but on the rare occasions I've played them in tournaments, I've had good results. Probably no one has played them in more serious games than master Jack Young, whom I taught them to back when we were teammates in college. His "scalps" include several very strong fellow masters who were depressed for a long time afterwards . . . e.g. 1.e4 h5 2.Nf3 h4 3.Bc4 h3 4.Ng5? d5! 5.Bd5? e6 and Black soon won (Master NN vs. Young, Chicago circa 1984).
peppe_l 182 ( +1 | -1 )
10 reasons to play 1.h3!! 1. It opens up the h2 square for the development of the king rook, where it would control black's 7th rank, defending against a rook invasion on this rank later on in the game.

2. It carries a threat: 2.h4, 3.h5, 4.h6, 5.hxg7, 6.gxh8

3. It prevents black's threat: 1…h5, 2…h4, 3…h3, 4….hxg2, 5…gxh1.

4. Your opponent's more traditional view of opening theory will lead him to believe that 1.h3 indicates that you are a chess moron, and will play much more carelessly.

5. It immediately ruins your ideal pawn formation for kingside castling, so you don't have to worry and fret about it for the rest of the game.

6. It just feels right.

7. If you move subtly, weaker opponents expecting something like 1.e4 or 1.d4 might not even realize that you moved, and they will let precious time on their clocks tick away.

8. It is creative: moves like 1.e4 are such clichés.

9. It virtually gives you the black pieces, helping to limit the amount of opening theory you need to know (since you are always playing as if you have black). Also, black is cool.

10. Playing 1.h3 is like saying "I don't need the advantage of moving first to beat you". The psychological advantage is enormous. Staying with this line of thinking, playing 2.a3 is like saying "I don't need a second move to beat you either". Putting your queen in the line of fire is like saying "I don't even need my queen to beat you" (or "I am stupid" depending on your opponent reads it), and your opponent will be confused and afraid. Stripping away all of your defenses from your king is like saying "My king is strong. He's a super-king. He will march out and destroy everything in his path." At this point all but the bravest opponents will resign.
keiserpaul 106 ( +1 | -1 )
10 reasons not to play 1.e4 or 1.d4 1. It puts a pawn at a place where it could be attacked from all sides
2. It destructs the ideal pawn chain which defends your king or queen
3. Computers play these moves, you prove that there is no difference between you and a silicon monster
4. Everyone plays it, you are just a herdanimal
5. Your brain stops thinking because it only has to repeat what has been played million times before
6. There will be no more discussions here and everyone on this dread will fell asleep
7. Other pawns will feel discriminated when they never might advance first
8. You eliminates the possibility that your opponent, after a weird first move, will be shocked so deeply that he looses immediately due to a heart attack
9. In the endgame you do not have these moves anymore at your disposal, and this increases the chance of Zugzwang.
10. These moves or only useful when being part of the Transvestite opening (first moves e4 , Ke2, Qe1, Kd1)

baseline 215 ( +1 | -1 )

Benjamin,J (2575) - Nunn,J (2585) [A00]
Lloyds Bank op London (7), 1987

1.Nc3 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 of course this is what I meant! I couldn't help but wonder where you got those games in your database so I check chessbase's online base they had 129 games from this position where white scored 54% nice but a typical white advantage. You would think more people would want to play the Napoleon Attack. 5.Bg5 Bb4 6.Nxc6 here chessbase has 35 games and white scores 58.5% quite impressive even if less than your figures. 6...bxc6 it seems that white scores 61% after this move but both Bxc3 and dxc6 appear better. [6...dxc6 7.Qxd8+ Kxd8 8.0-0-0+ Ke7 9.Ne4 h6 10.Bxf6+ gxf6 11.e3 h5 12.a3 Bd6 13.h4 Bg4 14.Nxd6 cxd6 15.Rd2 d5 16.c3 Bf5 17.Be2 Rag8 18.g3 Bg4 19.Bxg4 Rxg4 20.Rd4 f5 21.Rhd1 Rd8 22.R1d2 Rd6 23.Kd1 Ke6 24.Ke2 c5 25.R4d3 a5 26.Kf3 a4 27.Ke2 Rg8 28.f3 Rgd8 29.Kf2 Ke5 30.Ke2 Rb6 31.Kf2 Rg6 32.Rd1 Rb6 33.R1d2 Rd7 34.Ke2 Rg6 35.Kf2 Rgd6 36.Rd1 Rc6 37.R1d2 Rd8 38.Ke2 Ke6 39.Kf2 Rdd6 40.Rd1 Rb6 41.R1d2 Rb3 42.Ke2 Rbb6 43.Kf2 Ke5 44.Ke2 Ke6 45.Kf2 Rb3 46.Ke2 c4 47.Rd4 Rdb6 48.Rxd5 Rxb2 49.e4 fxe4 50.fxe4 R2b3 51.Rxh5 Rxc3 52.Rh6+ f6 53.g4 Rxa3 54.g5 Ke5 55.Rc2 Rh3 56.Rxf6 Rxf6 57.gxf6 Kxf6 58.Rxc4 a3 59.Kd2 b5 60.Rc6+ Ke7 61.Kc1 Rh1+; 0-1 cullutlls,Dulllo (2325) - Grabarczyk,Miroslaw cappelle op 2003
6...Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 bxc6 8.Qd4 0-0 9.Bxf6 Qxf6 10.Qxf6 gxf6 11.Rb1 d6 12.g3 Be6 13.Bg2 Rab8 14.Kd2 c5 15.a4 Ba2 16.Rb5 Bc4 17.Ra5 a6 18.Be4 Rb6 19.Bd3 Bxd3 20.exd3 Re8 21.Re1 Re5 22.f4 Rxe1 23.Kxe1 c4 24.Kd2 Kf8 25.d4 c6 26.g4 d5 27.Rc5 Ke7 28.a5 Rb5 29.Rxc6 Rxa5 30.g5 fxg5 31.fxg5 Ra1 32.h4 a5 33.Rc7+ Ke6 34.Rc6+ 1/2-1/2 Belkert,Guenther (2438) - Marciano,David (2505) Fra-ch 2002] 7.Qd4 Be7 8.e4 0-0 9.Bd3 h6 10.Bh4 d5 11.e5 Ng4 12.Bxe7 Qxe7 13.f4 f6 14.0-0 fxe5 15.fxe5 Rxf1+ 16.Rxf1 Qxe5 17.Qxe5 Nxe5 18.Re1 Nxd3 19.cxd3 Kf7 20.d4 Rb8 21.b3 Bf5 22.Na4 Be4 23.Nc5 Re8 24.Kf2 g5 25.Rc1 Bf5 26.Rc3 Kg7 27.b4 h5 28.Ra3 Rb8 29.Ra4 Bc2 30.Rxa7 Rxb4 31.Rxc7+ Kg8 32.Ke3 Rb2 33.a4 Ra2 34.Rxc6 h4 35.Rd6 Bd1 36.Rg6+ Kf7 37.Rxg5 h3 38.gxh3 Rxh2 39.Rxd5 Rxh3+ 40.Kf4 Ra3 41.Rd7+ Kf6 42.Rd6+ Ke7 43.Ra6 Kd8 44.a5 Be2 45.Re6 Bc4 46.Rc6 Bb5 47.Re6 Bc4 48.Re3 Ra2 49.Rc3 Bf1 50.d5 Bg2 51.a6 Bxd5 52.Rd3 Kc7 53.Rxd5 Kb6 54.Ke4 Ra1 55.Rh5 Re1+ 56.Kd4 Rd1+ 57.Kc4 Rc1+ 58.Kb4 Rb1+ 59.Kc3 Rc1+ 60.Kb3 Rb1+ 61.Kc3 Rc1+ 62.Kb2 Rg1 63.Rh8 Rg7 64.Rh5 Rg3 65.Rd5 Rh3 66.Kc2 Rg3 67.Kd2 Ra3 68.Ke2 Rh3 69.Kf2 Rh4 70.Kg3 Rb4 71.Rd8 Rc4 72.Rb8+ Ka7 73.Rb7+ Ka8 74.Rc7 Kb8 75.Rb7+ Ka8 76.Rb5 Ka7 77.Kf3 Rd4 78.Ke3 Rd5 79.Ke4 Rd1 80.Ke5 Rd2 81.Rb7+ Ka8 82.Rd7 Rh2 83.Kd5 Rh6 84.Rd6 Rh5+ 85.Kc6 Rh1 86.Rd8+ Ka7 87.Rd7+ Ka8 88.Nd3 Rh6+ 89.Rd6 Rh8 90.Nb4 Rc8+ 91.Kb6 Rb8+ 92.Ka5 Rh8 93.Nd5 Rg8 94.Nc7+ Ka7 95.Nb5+ Ka8 96.a7 Rc8 97.Rb6 A nice vicory for the American champion, who is well known for taking an unorthodox opening out for an occosional spin. 1-0

I believe I am on record saying 1.Nc3 is not bad. Indeed you have forced me to agree that it can be used as a tricky transpositional move. This is not a line I would play as black anyway. I would go for 1...c5 and the Sicilian alternatives, white has a couple of traps in this line black needs to be careful of but nothing forcing. 1.Nc6 may well be the best of the unorthodox opening because it can transpose so easily into the more orthodox!

Have a merry rebel christmas!
keiserpaul 82 ( +1 | -1 )
baseline Merry Christmas too my friend !
Indeed, in the line mentioned, 6. .. Bxc3 is slightly better, ( but I am doubtful about 6.. .. dxc6 ).
If you want to reply 1. .. c5 on 1.Nc3, you have to take care of two possible answers, besides a closed Sicilian after 2.e4 but that will not be to the taste of a Nc3 player).
My pet line (although considered by some as a bit doubtful) goes 2.d4 cxd4 3.Qxd4 Nc6 4.Qh4 (not possible in normal Sicilian lines). Now the most frequent move is 4. .. Nf6 (even Kasparov has chosen this way when being confronted with the position), but this leads to a sharp line of the Trompowski after 5.Bg5 (5. .. e6 6.e4 Be7 7.0-0-0 Qc7 8.f4 is an example). Better is 4. .. d5 5.e4 (the tricky Be3 5. .. d4 0-0-0 is also possible ) d4 6.Nd5 e6 7.Qxd8 Kxd8 with equality.
A second line is 2.Nf3. There can follow Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 (e6 5.Bf4) 5.Bg5 (or Bf4) d6 (Bg7 ? 6.Ndb5) 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Nd5 Kf8 8.e4. All these lines show the amazing tactical possibilities of the Queens Knight.

baseline 68 ( +1 | -1 )
keiserpaul Black seems to get into trouble when he forgets basic opening principles, When your sitting there looking at 1.Nc3 you have to remember you have to remember thats still one more developing move than you have. Bobby Fischer once said that as black you need to equallize as black before you go looking for something.

1.Nc3 c5 is interesting, when I checked my database on 1.Nc3 c5 I had 97 games but they are allmost all mismatches from one side or the other, which renders the stats useless. The 38% winning advantage for white is misleading since the white players had ratings on average 154 pts below black. 1...d4 is also posible, would you reply 2.Nf3? or go with 2.e4 or 2d4?
keiserpaul 17 ( +1 | -1 )
baseline 1. Nc3 d5 is considered as the main line. Now 2.d4 is Richter Veressov 2.Nf3 and 2.f4 are both possible while 2.e4 is commonly played. A good line is 2. .. d4 3.Nce2 e5 4.Ng3 Be6 5.Nf3 f6 6.Be2 Ne7 7.0-0 Ng6 8.d3 Bd6 9.Nf5, but there are so many other possibilities.