Barnes Opening

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Barnes 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
f3 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 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
Named afterThomas Wilson Barnes
ParentIrregular opening

Barnes Opening is a chess opening where White opens with:

1. f3

The opening is named after Thomas Wilson Barnes (1825–1874), an English player who had an impressive eight wins over Paul Morphy, including one game where Barnes answered 1.e4 with 1...f6, known as Barnes Defence.

It is considered an irregular opening, so it is classified under the A00 code in the Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings.


Of the twenty possible first moves in chess, author and grandmaster Edmar Mednis argues that 1.f3 is the worst.[1] The move does exert influence over the central square e4, but the same or more ambitious goals can be achieved with almost any other first move. The move 1.f3 does not develop a piece, opens no lines for pieces, and actually hinders the development of White's king knight by denying it its most natural square, f3. It also weakens White's kingside pawn structure, opens the e1–h4 diagonal against White's uncastled king, and opens the g1–a7 diagonal against White's potential kingside castling position.[2]

Since 1.f3 is a poor move, it is not played often. Nonetheless, it is probably not the rarest opening move. After 1.f3 e5 some players even continue with the nonsensical 2.Kf2, which is sometimes called the Fried Fox Attack, Wandering King Opening, The Hammerschlag, Tumbleweed, the Pork Chop Opening, or the Half Bird as it is often called in the United Kingdom, due to its opening move f3 being half that of the f4 employed in Bird's Opening. One example of this is the game Simon Williams versus Martin Simons in the last round of the British Championship 1999, where Williams had nothing to play for.[3] Also played is 2.e4, called the King's Head Opening.

Despite its obvious deficiencies, 1.f3 does not lose the game for White. Black can secure a comfortable advantage by the normal means – advancing central pawns and rapidly developing pieces to assert control over the centre.

If Black replies 1...e5, the game might proceed into a passive line known as the Blue Moon Defence. It usually occurs after the moves 1.f3 e5 2.Nh3 d5 3.Nf2 (avoiding 3...Bxh3 4.gxh3 weakening the kingside) 3...Nf6 4.e3 Nc6 5.Be2 Bc5 6.0-0 0-0. White has no stake in the centre, but hopes to make a hole to break into.

If White plays poorly and leaves too many lines open against his king after 2.Kf2, he might be quickly checkmated. One example: 1.f3 d5 2.Kf2 e5 (Black places two pawns in the centre to prepare for quick development) 3.e4 Bc5+ 4.Kg3 Qg5#.

Fool's mate[edit]

Barnes Opening can lead to Fool's mate, 1.f3 e5 2.g4 Qh4#. Of all of White's legal moves on his second move, only one allows mate in one, while another, 2.h3, allows mate in two.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mednis, Edmar (1986). How to Play Good Opening Moves. Random House Puzzles & Games. ISBN 978-0679141099.
  2. ^ Larsen, Bent (1977). Lærebok i sjakk. Dreyer. ISBN 82-09-01480-3.
  3. ^ Opening Lanes Garry Lane,