The first few moves in a chess game are actually quite important. Don’t believe me? play pawn to g4 and g3 as your first opening moves and you could end up getting checkmated in what is known as the Fool’s mate!
There are many different opening moves in chess such as the king’s pawn opening which begins with the move pawn to e4, or the queen’s pawn opening which begins with the move pawn to d4. These appear to be the best first move option for white according to many games played over the centuries.
However, you may want to know, “What is the best second move in chess?”
Not to worry. In this article, we will discuss the best second move with the black and white pieces, and why these moves are so effective.
Here is what you should know.
Best Second Move In Chess For White
The best second move in chess for white is Knight to f3.
2.Nf3 is the most popular second move played over the chess board, and is deployed in openings like the King’s pawn opening, Sicilian Defense among many other well known openings.
On the other hand, pawn to c4 is the best second move for white in the Queen’s pawn opening. However, when it comes to the overall best second move in chess, Knight f3 is the clear winner.
Knight f3 works well with both the king’s pawn opening or the queen’s pawn opening. This move helps control squares in the center namely d4 and e5.
Lichess Master’s database shows that Knight f3 is the most common second move for white
Knight f3 in the King’s Pawn Opening
The king’s pawn opening begins with the moves 1.e4 e5. White’s best second move here is to go 2.Nf3. Knight f3 is a flexible move for white and helps to quickly develop white’s kingside pieces.
White delays the development of his f1 bishop rather than committing it to a square such as c4. If black now goes ahead and play 2…Nc6, white can now bring out his bishop to b5 which transposes into the Ruy Lopez.
Knight f3 is flexible and gives white plenty of options, such as transposing into the Ruy Lopez
Speaking of options, white also has the alternative of playing pawn to d4 which transposes into the Scotch Opening. The knight on f3 supports the advance of white’s d pawn. Without the knight on f3, pawn d4 would not be that effective.
Knight f3 supports the advance of d4 in the Scotch Opening
Knight f3 is also an attacking move as it threatens to capture black’s e5 pawn on the next move. We should always try to attack our opponent according to the “principle of attack”. The move knight f3 is in keeping with this principle.
Knight f3 in the Queen’s Pawn Opening
The queen’s pawn opening begins with the move pawn to d4. D4 grabs space in the center, prevents black from playing e5, and opens up the diagonal for white’s dark squared bishop on c1.
Black usually replies with the move 1…Nf6 (most popular choice) or 1…d5. Unlike the king’s pawn opening, white’s most popular 2nd move in the queen’s pawn opening is to actually play pawn to c4 instead of knight to f3.
Best second move for white in the Queen’s pawn opening is pawn to c4
The reason why c4 is better than knight f3 in the Queen’s pawn opening is because the pawn on c4 grabs more control of the center. It prepares the move Knight to c3 without white having to block the c-pawn with his knight. Once the knight gets to c3, white’s ideas is to play pawn to e4 and claim more dominance in the center.
Nevertheless, knight f3 is still a great 2nd move option for white in the queen’s pawn opening and is the second most played move in this type of position. In fact, white usually carries out the same idea of pawn to c4 on the next move in preparation for Knight c3.
Knight f3 is the second most played move in the Queen’s pawn opening and is a viable option for white
Knight f3 In The Sicilian Defense Opening
Knight f3 is the best second move in almost all the king’s pawn opening and that includes the Sicilian Defense. The Sicilian Defense encompasses a large catalogue of openings where white’s second move is to play 2.Nf3.
Once again, knight on f3 supports white’s advance of the d pawn in the event black captures on d4.
Knight f3 is the best second move in the Sicilian Defense
The knight on f3 controls the e5 square, thereby preventing black from advancing his e pawn to the e5 square. Knight f3 is almost always played in the Sicilian Defense with a few exceptions like the Alapin opening where white delays Nf3 and play the move pawn to c3 instead, which prepares a pawn advance in the center.
Best Second Move In Chess For Black
The second move you play with black will depend on which opening your opponent plays with the white pieces. In the king’s pawn opening after knight f3, black’s best second move is to play 2…Nc6.
Knight c6 is the best second move for black in the King’s Pawn Opening
Knight c6 supports the pawn on e5 and adds more control over the d4 square in the event white pushes pawn to d4.
Knight c6 is a developing move and is in keeping with the principle of development. Another way black could have defended the pawn is with the move pawn to d6, but this creates a cramp in black’s position as the f8 bishop is locked behind the pawn chain.
Knight c6 not only defends the pawn on e5, but it gives black the option to bring out his bishop to an active square such as c5 rather than having it locked behind the pawn chain.
Knight c6 in the Sicilian Defense Opening
Knight c6 is also one of the most played second moves in the sicilian defense opening. The knight on c6 maintains control over the central squares. Black stays flexible and does not commit to d6 or e6 pawn structure.
Black’s best second move in the Queen’s Pawn Opening
After 1.d4 black has several ways to reply but his main options are 1…Nf6, or 1…d5. Pawn to d5 is the more classical approach whereas Knight to f6 plays in the hypermodern spirit of controlling the center from a far.
d5 and Nf6 are almost always met by the move pawn to c4 which transposes into the Queen’s Gambit.
In this position, the best second move for black is to play e6.
According to the chessbase database, pawn to e6 is the most preferred second move option after white deploys his pawns on c4 and d4. Pawn to e6 activates black’s bishop on f8 and keeps the center intact.
Pawn to e6 is also played in the Nimzo Indian Defense, another hypermodern setup for black of controlling the center without occupying it with pieces.
Black’s second move e6 is popular in openings like the Nimzo Indian Defense
A common theme that is present among most chess openings is the deployment of the kingside knight on move 2. Developing the kingside knight is almost always the best second move for white whether you are playing the queen’s pawn opening or the king’s pawn opening. The knight on f3 plays a crucial role in the battle for the center, which is the main strategy in almost ALL chess openings.