It has to be understood from the very first that no opening is aggressive in the pure sense. What I mean is, you can very well play any opening tactically or positionally, some leaning more on either side.
But for a few openings, the tactical opportunities are far more than the rest. These are the openings where you might take the game toward aggressive middlegames faster and easier, and if you are one of those “fire in the blood” type of players, these aggressive white openings are worth a consider.
These openings are aggressive enough to put your opponent under pressure in a few moves and if you do it properly, you can make life difficult for your opponent, if he is not a chess grandmaster and not well-versed in the variations like you are.
7 Aggressive Chess Openings for White
Aggressive Opening #1. Fried Liver Attack
The sexiest name prize in chess opening probably goes to the Fried Liver Attack. The name in itself resounds aggression.
Also, know as the Fegatello Attack which basically means ‘dead as a piece of meat’, the move sequences are as follows:
- e4 e5
- Nf3 Nc6
- Bc4 Nf6
- Ng5 d5
- exd5 Nxd5
- Nxf7 Kxf7
- Qf3 Ke6
Then, the black King can be harried over the board, leading to a sweet checkmate.
This opening variation is still alive and kicking today at the amateur and grandmaster level. For the last game, we will look at a more recent example between two 2600-level players. Check out how white crushes black in the game below. (Note: The black player was one of Magnus Carlsen’s early coaches!)
Aggressive Opening #2. Danish Gambit
The idea of the Danish Gambit is simple. In fact, the idea of every gambit is simple. Let him be a pawn grabber while I create a formidable attacking position. In this case, the move order is:
1. e4 e5
2. d4 exd4
3. c3 dxc3
4. Bc4 cxb2
Yes, White lost two pawns but he is quite ahead in development and his Bishops are dangerously looking towards Black’s King’s Side.
As a child, I liked this gambit so much that I tried to play it even with Black. The games would follow a similar pattern: 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 c6 3.dxc6 e5. However, they were not probably sound but led to sharp and interesting positions, which at that point of my chess development was enough compensation for the sacrificed pawns.
Is it a popular opening today? Not at the top level. But, I can guarantee that if you play this gambit with unprepared players, you will have the chess time of your life.
However, it can get really messy if your opponent knows even a bit of theory. You might have to end up playing at pawn odds. Here’s a game that you might enjoy.
Aggressive Opening #3. King’s Gambit
The moves that follow in this gambit is as follows:
- e4 e5
This opening is one of the oldest opening gambits and eyes the weak f7 square. Depending on whether Black accepts the gambit or not, This opening has intrigued the great minds of Spassky, Tal and Fischer.
Some go for the aggressive 3. Bc4 targetting Black’s weakness right away but some play a bit cautiously with 3. Nf3 stopping 3…Qh4+. One of the most famous games in these lines is the ‘Immortal Game’ between Anderssen and Kieseritky.
King’s Gambit is an exciting chess opening for the creative chess player who likes combinations and sacrifices. Of course, gambits are such.
Aggressive Opening #4. Halloween Gambit
The Halloween Gambit, also known as the Müller–Schulze Gambit or Leipzig Gambit, is one controversial chess opening, often found in chess club games.
The moves are as follows:
1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Nc3 Nf6
This opening starts with the Four Knights game but quickly takes a surprising turn where the f6-Knight captures the e5-pawn.
Sound opening? Not much against chess masters.
But you might find club players using it to success against lower-rated players. Here is the position below:
The theoretician Oskar Cordel’s report in 1888 stated that this opening was very popular with the Leipzig club players. (It might be so much that this was worth reporting about.)
Strangely, the name, Gambit Müller und Schulze, is not named after any famous player, but rather a jocular German equivalent of “Smith and Jones”, or, “Tom, Dick, and Harry”.
Then why such a name ‘Halloween Gambit’?
The modern name “Halloween Gambit” originated from the German player Steffen Jakob, as per whom, “many players are shocked, the way they would be frightened by a Halloween mask, when they are mentally prepared for a boring Four Knight’s, and then they are faced with Nxe5.”
Quite a logic!
Aggressive Opening #5. Smith-Morra Gambit
Also known as the Nordic Gambit, the Danish Gambit is different from the Smith-Morra Gambit (or simply, the Morra Gambit) in one simple way. In Danish Gambit, the White d4-pawn is captured with Black e5-pawn whereas in Morra Gambit, it is captured by the Black c5-pawn instead. It is followed by c3 by White.
The idea is simple. Sacrifice two pawns for a solid development of pieces and a strong initiative. While the Danish Gambit is a bit more popular and has been utilized by masters like Alekhine, Marshall and Blackburne, the Morra Gambit was used thrice by Pierra Morra from France and Ken Smith from United States. Smith wrote nine books and forty nine articles on the same subject. Funny thing is, he lost all three games playing the gambit against Donald Byrne, Larry Evans and Henrique Mecking.
Here’s a great Smith-Morra Gambit game by the great Mikhail Tal below.
Aggressive Opening #6. Evans Gambit
Imagine an aggressive variant of Italian or Giocco Piano Opening and you got the Evans Gambit. White relents the centre control and in turn, stops Black from castling. Nice idea, eh?
As WGM Raluca Sgîrcea writes, “the idea is to continue with 5.c3 followed by d4, fighting for the control of the center and eye the black king after moves such as Qb3 and Ba3 at some point. At the top level it has been employed by players like Alexander Morozevich, Hikaru Nakamura, Maxime Vachier Lagrave and Nigel Short.”
Below is a great game between Garry Kasparov and Vishy Anand.
Frankly speaking, these gambits are not suitable at the grandmaster level. Those players know what you are doing and they can shatter your defense, picking that one little weakness you created.
However, if you are an intermediate chess club player and love to play daring combinations, why not give these a try? If you win, great. Even if you lose, it’s only a game.