Beginners Chess Opening TIER LIST with Hikaru and Levy | Part 1

GM Hikaru Nakamura and IM Levy Rozman use @tiermaker to rank chess openings from the point of view of a beginner (800-1300). (We will rank openings for club level players later)

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0:00 Intro
1:00 Accelerated Dragon
2:29 Advanced Caro-Kann
4:22 Nc3 g4 Ng2 var
4:30 Regular var
5:45 Advanced French
7:45 Alapin Sicilian
9:10 Alekhine’s Defense
10:26 Benko Gambit
11:35 Benoni
13:21 Berlin Defense
16:20 Bird’s Opening
16:55 Fool’s Mate Kindergarten Nationals Story
19:03 BongCloud
20:07 Budapest Gambit
21:13 Caro-Kann
23:13 Catalan
24:51 Closed Sicilian
26:28 Danish Gambit
30:04 Dragdorf
31:45 Dutch Defense
34:39 English
37:03 Englund Gambit
39:28 Evan’s Gambit

#gmhikaru #chess #gothamchess


  1. Levi, now I see why you can't get stronger than 2300, even though you've essentially dedicated your life to chess. For starters, little fella, 1.f4 is perfectly fine. After 1…d5 it's a Dutch Defense with an extra tempo. Unless you can demonstrate that somehow White is in zugzwang, the extra move can only be an improvement. And Grandmasters, you know, people who actually have some ability at chess, unlike yourself, still regularly play the Dutch Defense to this day. So this move is an improvement over an opening that Grandmasters play to this day. And in fact many GM's, including Carlsen and Kasparov, occasionally play 1.f4 proper. Yet somehow an annoying little dwarf who has to beg people to get on their podcasts, with a paltry 2300 rating, knows better than Grandmasters. Every other reply by Black is even better for White. 1…e5 2.fxe5 is a very healthy +/= at a minimum. Only a student of yours would misplay an opening so badly as to allow a scholar's mate.

  2. The truth is, anyone of reasonable intelligence can get well over 1800 with nothing other than decent tactics. You don't even need to start looking at openings until you are over 2000. The games at the lower rating levels are not won in the opening or the endgame. They go back and forth as a result of one tactical blunder after another.

  3. I've literally just started studying chess yesterday and it's so wild to me that chess is 'this is really great but only if your opponent does a very, very specific set of moves otherwise it's garbage'

  4. I just watched a vid of Levy saying the English opening is really good, now he’s saying it’s really bro 🙇‍♂️🙇‍♂️

  5. “You can let them through”.

    Guy is living in a real life rook tower surrounded by pawns.

  6. My favorite opening is "really bro"

    No, I will not explain lol

  7. If I was Levy I would be intimidated by Hikaru and I think he was

  8. I don’t see the Botez Gambit? That’s I’m my repertoire!!

  9. Just chiming in that, as a 2200, I basically only play Alekhine's Defence (whenever responding to e4 – which is most black games) and The Whale variation of The English (c4 – the usual response is e5 – then e4).

    Alekhine is weird in that while it isn't a particularly good opening because I have played SO MUCH of it, I can often just bop people out of events. It's one of those opening where you need to run it down against an engine over and over and over to learn the proper lines because normal people just don't encounter it. Like, I played a 2500 recently (younger guy, like 23 or so) who didn't even know it existed. After 6 moves he stopped for about 15s in our bullet game to think about how he ended up in a losing position.

    The Whale is just because I'm not a nice person. It is very, very good at creating closed positions, and most people don't like playing closed positions or expect white to go for that route. I, however, enjoy watching people squirm because they feel like they've run out of options. It makes me feel like an avatar of The Buried, from The Magnus Archives.

  10. Thank you! As an advanced beginner, it really helped me!

  11. So I just started playing again and every time I start I literally forget everything you thought us and just play by heart…I need help

  12. I looked up "Bird's Opening", this was the first result and within 5 seconds of the video all of my dreams of learning this opening were crushed.


    (this list isn’t illustrative of GothamChess’ [Levy’s] full recommendations, to see his recommendations in-depth. Search for his “Favorite Openings by Rating” video and “Top 8 Best Openings” for more in-depth repertoire building resources)

    + Legendary Openings =

    39:28 – (White) Giuoco Piano Game: Evans Gambit
    5:45 – (White) Advanced French
    21:13 – (Black) Caro-Kann Defence
    26:28 – (White) Center Game Accepted: Danish Gambit

    + Unbreakable Openings =

    4:22 – (White) Advanced Caro-Kann (Nc3 + g4 + Nge2)

    + Legit Openings =

    24:51 – (White) Closed Sicillian
    34:39 – (Black) Englund Gambit
    7:45 – (Black) Sicillian Defence, Alapin Variation
    31:45 – (Black) Dutch Defence


    + "Really, bro" Openings =

    34:39 – (White) English
    23:13 – (White) Catalan
    1:00 – (Black) Sicillian Defence, Accelerated Dragon Variation
    13:21 – (Black) Ruy López Opening: Berlin Defence
    30:04 – (Black) Sicillian Defence, Dragdorf Variation
    [Najdorf + Dragon Variations]

    + "Tricks Only" Openings =

    20:07 – (Black) Budapest Gambit
    11:35 – (Black) Benoni Defense: Modern Variation

    + "Garbage" Openings =

    4:30 – (White) Caro-Kann Defence, Advance Variation (Regular)
    10:26 – (Black) Benko's Gambit
    2:29 – (Black) Caro-Kann Defence, Advance Variation (h4)
    9:10 – (Black) Alekhine's Defence
    16:20 – (White) Bird's Opening
    19:03 – (White) King's Pawn Opening: The Bongcloud

  14. I always love the background music on Hikaru's channel. It's super chill.

  15. u know i play on lichess im 1100 there and this will help me so much tbh I will keep u updated how my rating goes up after I learn these openings

  16. Why did you put bongclould in garbage?! I thinks it's the best opening

  17. Horrible video, you guys move around way too fast and a good portion of the gifs are unreadable

  18. As a beginner, I didn't see my openings here. I play the following:

    Black: Dragon Sicilian / King's Indian

    White: London System / King's Indian reversed

    Are these considered good or bad?

  19. The egg on my face for playing the bird 🕊️ 🤣

  20. I wonder what they think about the Ponziani? I'm a beginner and really like it but idk

  21. 16:34 as a beginner myself, i LOVE the birds opening. Its wonderful.

  22. Ty man now iknow what to teach my students

  23. hey, as a beginner i wonder why can't we play e4-c6-e5 against caro kann ? if he goes d5 en passant and if they attack the pawn just d4

  24. Hikaru not giving a single opinion in this video

  25. at intermediate level and some tournament play i play the french and the advance is actually my favorite variation to play against as black

  26. Really useful video guys. I am 1230 rated on Rapid, without knowing openings, it's time to learn. I feel like I am a good beginner. I did learn Gioco Piano a long time ago, I kind of base everything on that, I need to know more opening now, I like Ponziani for white.

  27. as a 2700 rated player this makes me so sad 🙁

    But I unfortunately I have to agree with the decisions for a beginner player. I always play unorthodox openings, and I NEVER lay e4 or d4. but I have learned them at a professional level, so I can play them and get away with it. other beginners have to be careful with what they play until they are at a high level of rating.

  28. Why do these guys suck but I can’t stop watching them?

  29. 3:50 I just couldn't help but notice some dude suggesting the "nigerian opening" where you flood the center with promising emails 🤣

  30. Disagree re Danish. Everybody 1200 and over seems familiar with that and easily comes out with an edge in the middle game. It's just too common.

  31. I m remember few years back on 1 of yours streaming someone asked you, what you think about Siciliana Dragon defense..? You said it's trash and that got stock in my ahead and now you said it not really…🤷‍♂️🤭👋

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