Anderssen's Opening

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Anderssen's Opening
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
a3 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
OriginAdolf Anderssen, Paris, 1858
Named afterAdolf Anderssen
ParentIrregular opening

Anderssen's Opening is a chess opening defined by the opening move:

1. a3

Anderssen's Opening is named after unofficial World Chess Champion Adolf Anderssen, who played it three times[1][2][3] in his 1858 match against Paul Morphy. While Anderssen was defeated decisively in the match, the games he opened with this novelty scored 1½/3 (one win, one loss, one draw).

As Anderssen's Opening is not commonly played, it is considered an irregular opening. The move is classified under the A00 code in the Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings.


This opening move does little for development or control of the center. In some cases, White can transpose the game to an opening where 1.a3 might have been useful, but using a tempo on such a move already on move one seems premature. In fact, this opening is based on the idea that White is playing with the black pieces, but he has the move 1.a3 already played. If a game starts 1.a3 e5 2.e4 Nf6 3.Nc3, Black cannot proceed in Ruy Lopez-fashion, and if Black plays 3...Bc5, then 4.Nf3 puts Black into the Two Knights' Defence and White's a3 precludes many possibilities.

Anderssen's Opening is not a very constructive move for White, more a waiting move. Some players may enjoy the psychological value of such a move, however, or believe it will help them against an opponent with a superior knowledge of opening theory.

Among the more common Black responses to Anderssen's Opening are:

  • 1...d5, which makes a straightforward claim on the center;
  • 1...g6, which prepares to fianchetto the bishop to g7 (since developing the bishop to b4 is unlikely) where it puts pressure on the slightly weakened queenside squares;
  • 1...e5 is also possible, but White can then play 2.c4, leading to a kind of Sicilian Defence with colors reversed, where a pawn on a3 can be useful. Another approach is 2.e4 Nf6 3.Nc3, transposing to Mengarini's Opening.


A modern proponent of the move is Croatian International Master Dr. Zvonko Krecak.[4] In March 2010 the then world number one Magnus Carlsen played the opening in the blindfold game against Vassily Ivanchuk at the Amber chess tournament. Carlsen later lost the game.[5]

Named variations[edit]

  • 1.a3 g6 2.g4 (Andersspike)
  • 1.a3 e5 2.h3 d5 (Creepy Crawly Formation)
  • 1.a3 a5 2.b4 (Polish Gambit)

See also[edit]



  • Angus Dunnington (2000). Winning Unorthodox Openings. Everyman Chess. ISBN 978-1-85744-285-4.
  • Eric Schiller (2002). Unorthodox Chess Openings (Second ed.). Cardoza. p. 48. ISBN 1-58042-072-9.
  • Benjamin, Joel; Schiller, Eric (1987). Unorthodox Openings. Macmillan Publishing Company. ISBN 0-02-016590-0.