What is the weirdest opening in chess?

Answered by Jason Smith

The weirdest opening in chess is a subjective topic, as what may be considered weird to one person may be perfectly normal to another. However, there are a few openings that are often regarded as bizarre or unorthodox due to their unconventional nature and unconventional names. Here are seven of the weirdest chess openings:

1. The Toilet Variation: This peculiar opening gets its name from a famous incident in the 2006 World Chess Championship match between Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik. Kramnik frequently visited the restroom during the games, and Topalov’s team accused him of cheating by using computer assistance. As a protest, Topalov’s team suggested a “toilet variation” of the Slav Defense, where the players would take turns making moves from the restroom. While this opening is rarely played seriously, it gained fame for its unusual origins.

2. The Monkey’s Bum: With a name that is sure to raise eyebrows, the Monkey’s Bum is a whimsical opening that starts with 1.h3 followed by 2.a3. The idea behind this opening is to create a solid pawn structure while delaying the development of more important pieces. It is named after the resemblance of the pawn formation to a monkey’s behind. However, this opening is not considered sound at higher levels of play, as it neglects central control and piece development.

3. The Hillbilly Attack: This opening, also known as the Hillbilly Gambit, starts with 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 h6. It is named after its unconventional move 3.h6, which aims to prevent the pin of the knight to the king’s bishop after Bc4. While this move may surprise opponents, it is generally regarded as weak, as it hinders the development of the kingside knight and can lead to a cramped position.

4. The Frankenstein-Dracula Variation: This peculiar name refers to a variation in the Philidor Defense after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Bg4. The idea behind this move is to trade the bishop for a knight and disrupt White’s pawn structure. The name originates from the fictional characters Frankenstein and Dracula, who are often associated with horror and unconventional creatures. While this variation can lead to entertaining and unbalanced positions, it is not commonly played at higher levels due to its dubious nature.

5. The Hippopotamus Defense: This opening is characterized by the pawn structure resembling the wide-open mouth of a hippopotamus. It typically starts with 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Be2 Qc7 6.O-O Nf6 7.Nc3 Be7. The Hippopotamus Defense aims to create a solid and flexible position, with the pawns forming a strong barrier against opponent’s pawn breaks. While this opening may appear passive, it can be a tricky system to crack and has gained popularity among some players in recent years.

6. The Orangutan: This opening, also known as the Polish Opening, begins with 1.b4. It is named after the primate species orangutan due to the resemblance of White’s pawn structure to the animal’s arms and hands. The Orangutan is an offbeat opening that aims to control the center and develop the pieces harmoniously. While not as popular as other openings, it can catch unprepared opponents off guard and lead to interesting and unbalanced positions.

7. The Flick-Knife Attack: This unusual name refers to a variation in the King’s Indian Defense after 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.h3 O-O 6.Be3 c6 7.a4. This move aims to restrict Black’s pawn breaks on the queenside and prepare for a potential attack on the kingside. The name “Flick-Knife Attack” suggests the idea of a sudden and sharp thrust. While this variation is not commonly played, it can lead to dynamic and tactical positions.

The weirdest openings in chess are often characterized by their unconventional names, unorthodox pawn structures, or unusual moves. While these openings may not be considered sound or suitable for high-level play, they can add an element of surprise and fun to casual games or be used as psychological weapons to unsettle opponents. Ultimately, the choice of opening depends on personal preference and playing style.