Worst chess openings ever for white and black: Explained

Chess board setup

Many forums online claim to have the worst chess opening as their proposition, however, a lot of them lack insight from the bigger picture since the actual worst can change depending on the situation. There is no actual “worst chess opening” objectively, rather there are a bunch of chess openings that are worst all together.

Many chess openings are really the bottom of the barrel but even among them there shouldn’t be the “worst of the worst” since all of them can be good with a large number of caveats. This is going to be the topic of this article, we will be discussing some of the worst chess openings for white and black while you should decide what is the worst for you.

If you are interested in this subject you should keep on reading.

Worst chess openings for white

Worst chess opening #1: Bongcloud attack

If we are talking about the worst of the worst chess openings for white there  probably couldn’t be a better candidate than the Bongcloud attack, it is literally crafted to be the worst opening there is. Everything about it is made to violate as many rules as possible in the opening to give white a disadvantage.

The bongcloud attack is considered a prank opening, it is often used in online chess entertainment. Its use might imply that white is putting themself in a disadvantage as part of a self-committed challenge.

Twitch streams like Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura and World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen have utilized it in internet blitz chess, notably games against top-level opponents. Similar opening variations in which one of the sides advances the king on move two have been given the moniker.

The name of the opening is believed to have originated either with Chess.com user “Lenny Bongcloud,” who attempted this move unsuccessfully, or with a more generic allusion to a bong, a tool used to inhale pot.

By denying castling, the king obstructs both the queen and the light-squared bishop’s advance, leaving the king exposed, squandering a tempo, and doing nothing to help White’s situation; the king’s advance breaches recognized chess strategic rules.

Unlike several other problematic openers, the Bongcloud lacks any redeeming characteristic, putting it considerably outside of established norm. English Grandmaster Nigel Short characterized the opening as a “insult to chess” in a Twitter update.

Worst chess opening #2: Amar opening

If you watch a lot of elite games you will notice that the g1 knight is mostly going to be developed to f3 in most of white’s variations, this is not an accident since it is one of the most optimal moves in the opening. From f3 the knight is going to be out of its starting square and would influence the center for a combination later in the game.

This is so fundamental that it is frequently seen in all other variations, any other move that would sabotage this established goal will only be detrimental for white. This knight h3 move of the amar opening really destroys this goal since the knight is not going to be as influential at the corner.

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This is actually one of the most cornerstone knowledge in the opening; pawns and pieces near the center of the board are going to perform a more critical role than those that are along the edges of the board. Anything that is on the edge will not cover as many squares and therefore be limited on what they can do.

Since the knight is the one that is easiest to develop (the knight can jump over the blockaded pawns) it should be placed on f3 where it is going to be the most influential, the amar opening sends the knight to h3 where it is not going to be doing much. Plus it promotes another fundamental flaw in one’s opening preparation.

Many will say that you shouldn’t move the same piece twice in the opening for a reason, every move should develop as many pieces as possible in order to have many options in the middle game. The amar opening incentivizes white to move the h3 knight a second time since h3 is not that ideal.

This will cause white to be delayed in development and potentially lose the game altogether from white having too many passive pieces.

This opening might be referred to as the “Ammonia Opening,” in the same way as the Durkin Opening is referred to as the “Sodium Attack,” considering NH3 is the chemical name for ammonia. In a similar vein to the Durkin Opening, white advances the knight to the periphery of the chessboard, where it really doesn’t rule any of the major squares of the board.

Worst chess opening #3: Grob opening

Many people who are new to chess will probably encounter this opening, the grob opening, probably from a single guy on youtube that wants to see interesting games. However do not be fooled, this is not a good opening choice and you probably will not have a good game especially if you are just a novice.

This play seems to be a breach of the opening fundamentals of chess, according to the principles of the game. Instead of taking the centre with his initial move in the Grob Opening, white decides to push a wing pawn to a weak square in order to gain a king side advantage.

Not only that there is literally nothing to gain with this g4 push (it doesn’t take the center nor lead to a development of an essential piece) but it also sabotages white’s kingside by destroying the pawns that would have protected the white king. Now castling kingside is not that ideal and queenside is the only option (or not castling at all).

This provides a head start for black for pushing the pawns since they already know where a white is going to castle, they can already concentrate an attack on the queenside anticipating this strategy. This in itself is quite dangerous since white will likely be on the defensive side, but it also doesn’t do justice for the color.

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The player controlling the white pieces should almost always be pushing for a win and not the one with black, going for the grob opening gives an opportunity for black to have the space and tempo to convert. Ultimately this g4 move doesn’t control the center nor help in developing any pieces, it is not a good opening.

Worst chess openings for black

Worst chess opening #4: Borg defense

This one pretty much resembles the grob opening except that this one is played on the black side, I can even argue that this is even worse than the grob opening since it inherently has the same disadvantages while having a slightly inferior color at this instance. If white is already having trouble with this opening then black should have more problems incorporating it.

This g5 move doesn’t help in controlling the center or develop any of black’s vital pieces, it weakens the kingside and further puts the player behind in tempo making the middlegame more challenging. In this case white is more likely to win since the said color has already an initial tempo advantage at the start of the game, this is fuel to the fire.

In this particular defense white also has a more active queen that can be placed on the kingside giving lots of opportunity for attacks, the overextended g5 pawn is also a good weakness to take advantage. White is very likely to win the weak g5 pawn in this line, black doesn’t have too many resources to defend and white as many opportunities to attack.

In addition, since it is unlike anything else you have ever seen, it completely negates an opposition’s opening repertoire. In quick and blitz games, when the enemy has little time to find out the opponent’s strengths and limitations, it is quite workable for black, but it is typically a loser for black in competitive games. Take note that castling is mainly ineffective for black, and keep an eye out for a Queen’s bishop assault towards square c7 from the white side.

Worst chess opening #5: Damiano defense

This one might be quite a shock for you but is an absolute mention, the Damiano Defense gives too many weaknesses for black and even has a line that would completely lose the game on the spot. First off, opening the h5 square for the white queen is notorious for giving problems for black.

With this f6 push the line to the king is open from h5 which the queen can take advantage of, it is such a juicy square that many attacks are possible if this is accomplished. If the queen managed to somehow get to the h5 square it would be disastrous, not only that there will be a direct check but also the queen is going to be very active from just a single move.

This h5 move is just generally a bad opening long-term since it weakens the kingside while providing no value whatsoever, white can always take advantage by focusing an attack on the weakened pawn formation. This kind of structure is not that bad when the king is already stuck in the corner, in this case white will just pursue the black king.

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The defense is one of the most ancient chess openers, with games going back several centuries demonstrating its longevity. It is a poor opening that provides White a significant advantage following the move 3.Nxe5. Even if White somehow doesn’t pursue this line of play, the basic improvement of 2…f6 results in a little edge for White since it weakens Black’s kingside while also taking away the most important square for the g8-knight.

This is actually the biggest deal breaker, after nxe5 (sacrificing the knight) it will only be better for white even with correct play. With regular play though it will just give an easy position for white or even something that is completely winning, allowing something like this so early in the game is unnecessary when you can just easily develop a pawn or piece.

Worst chess opening #6: Goldsmith defense

Now this one used to be one of the worst chess openings out there since it breaks so many fundamental rules in a chess opening, however, with the dominance of Alphazero this move does not seem to be that bad after all. However if we are to look at the statistics, human players do have bad performances with this line (among others) which still makes it one of the worst.

The h5 push early in the game is unwarranted and doesn’t really give much for black, it doesn’t put a pawn or piece near the center nor help in getting a piece developed. What it really does is nothing (if you are looking at the benefits), it doesn’t cause any threat nor give a long-term edge.

I can only give a disadvantage, by pushing h5 black is conceding control of a solid kingside pawn structure for the rest of the game. Castling kingside with black is not that ideal here, the king side pawns are already weakened and it is easy to formulate an attack for white.

According to chess theory, the Goldsmith Defense involves black forcing white to move its king rook’s pawn ahead two squares (h5) in reply to white making the traditional King’s Pawn Opening move (e4). The Pickering Defense is another name for this strategy.

The Goldsmith Defense is generally regarded to be unconventional and, as a result, is not usually effective. Nevertheless, it may be confusing for white, especially in games of blitz (very fast) chess.

The worst chess openings for white are the Bongcloud attack, Amar opening, and Grob opening. On the other hand the worst chess openings for black were the Borg defense, Damiano defense, and Goldsmith defense. The reasoning is usually the same, it doesn’t do anything, it doesn’t develop a pawn/piece, or it wrecks the kingside/queenside’s pawn structure.

If you want to be successful in chess openings you should absolutely avoid playing any of these, it will only make you worse and there are so many better options available. On the other hand, the reason why these don’t work is just as important and we should learn from it, thank you for reading.

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