Unorthodox Chess Openings

Unorthodox openings are defined as those who have egregious violations of general opening principles and do not conform to accepted principles of sound strategies for the opening.

However after 5 hundred years or so of chess played with modern rules, one would think that the best strategies for opening a game have been worked out, but in fact experimentation early in the game continues to take place at both the amateur and professional levels. So the general guidelines for opening play remain in a state of flux.

Although there are a number of principles, which are agreed upon by nearly all experts, many of the most popular openings violate one or two of them. Unorthodox openings not only violate more but the violations are usually of a more serious nature. But there are chessplayers who firmly believe that openings, which do not conform to the accepted principles, are nevertheless worthy of being used in tournament games. In other words, they are "Playable", as these chessplayers would say.

If you want to win games, look for players who love to play the unorthodox openings because the most obvious features of most unorthodox openings are a reckless disregard of the center, awkward positions for minor pieces, giving up the right to castle, and creating weaknesses in the pawn structure. All the weaknesses you are trying to create for your opponents are built in to these openings just for the taking, you just have to find them and exploit them.

If most unorthodox openings are so bad why then are so many players attracted to these openings? There are many reasons and if you ask these people why they want to use them, you may not get an entirely honest answer. This being because many feel that in using these weird, controversial, unconventional, strange and mostly unknown openings that they may quickly gain the upper hand throwing off their opponent with this surprise opening and quickly winning the game in just a few moves in the opening itself. These people really believe that the unorthodox chess openings are a great weapon to spring on unsuspecting and often unprepared opponents.

Of course there are also people who want to play them because they think it would be a lot of fun to play such outright strange opening strategies. But these people are in the minorities.

These are usually the same people who have little patience to play long standard games. Their attention span is so short that they also don't have the patience to read and study chess basics. Their hope is that they can increase their rating the easy way with out working for it. They have no interest in knowing the basics of endgame theory because they have no intentions in playing a game long enough to get to the end game. They would rather lose the game on time with a quick lightning game than do this. This is why you see so many 3/0 and 1/0 games.

Lazy people and people with an attitude of trying to get by in life with getting the things that they want for little or nothing are people who play chess this way too. These are the people who you can take advantage of by making sure that your chess studies give you a all around broad base of knowledge in all the chess basics. This type of solid foundation is similar to getting your 12 years of schooling in before you are ready to tackle the complexities of collage math for example.

The problem with their thinking in using unorthodox openings is that if they are playing any one who has taken the time to get a good well rounded education in chess basics they will quickly find out that the reasons that higher level chess players rarely use these openings is that they are unorthodox openings because they usually do not follow the rules of what has been found out in years of chess history to follow solid and sound opening principles. If they really were so great, higher rated players would be using them often on a regular basis, and they do not.

In the following Unorthodox Chess Openings we will attempt to analyze them against using well known and sound opening principles.


If you want to beat a stronger player you must choose your Openings and Defenses very Carefully. For more information on why you should not use the unorthodox openings see this page On Beating a Stronger Player for more info on using the Unorthodox Chess Openings.

Beating a Stronger Player


Here is a good example of a really bad unorthodox opening called the Grob. And so it deserves a special place here to show it and it's bad variations.

The Grob Opening

Note: To go through the sub-variations, click on it and use the VCR bar to walk through it.

1. Englund Gambit

2. The Hippopotamus Formation

3. St George Defense

4. St George Gambit

5. Mosquito Gambit

6. Alapin Gambit

7. Orthoschnapp Gambit

8. Steinitz Attack

9. Omega Gambit

10. Alapin Opening

11. Alapin Opening2