King’s Pawn or Queen’s Pawn, That Is the Question

People often wonder whether they should play 1.e4 or 1.d4, wondering which one better suits their ‘style’ etc. Very often the choice comes down to whether they like playing against particular defences, for example the Sicilian can put people off from moving their King’s Pawn forward (the best lines are still thought to be the very sharp ones with 3.d4) whilst against 1.d4 the Gruenfeld often causes similar concern.

My own take is that it really doesn’t matter that much as there are plenty of perfectly sound ways or reaching a playable middle game with either move. For example I played 2.d3 against the Sicilian, even as a strong IM. And there are other interesting second moves for White there, for example Broadbent’s forgotten 2.c4 is not at all silly and would suit players who like positional manoeuvres rather than an early tactical clash.

What about getting an ‘opening advantage’ as White? Well it’s not at all clear that such an advantage exists, though most main lines tend to give White a slight statistical edge. In any case this is likely to be overshadowed by players playing some good moves, and this takes us out of the opening and into the realm of general playing skills and the middle game.

Here anyway is me beating Stuart Conquest with my home made 2.d3. And I doubt that it would have happened so quickly with a more normal opening.