Chess Openings Terminology: Part of the Chess Openings Guide

Chess Openings Terminology

Chess Openings Teaser - Types of OpeningsThis Chess Openings Terminology guide contains any additional terminology to do with Chess Openings, that hasn't already been covered in the previous Chess Openings guides. Current entries include:

Acronyms for the Pawns and Pieces

When you're new to chess, you just get used to the names of the Pawns and Pieces (Knight, Bishop, Rook, Queen & King), and then all of a sudden you're confronted with more experienced players, who are tired of writing their names in full, in their game's notation comments, so they begin to speed things up with their own preferred abbreviations or acronyms.

It'll probably help if we had a graphic showing the chessboard setup, at the start of each game:

Here's what you may need to decipher, presented in order of the Acronym, the Descriptive Title in full, then a short meaning/explanation ...


QRP Queen's Rook Pawn a-file Pawn, on the file of the Queen's Rook.
QNP Queen's Knight Pawn b-file Pawn, on the file of the Queen's Knight.
QBP Queen's Bishop Pawn c-file Pawn, on the file of the Queen's Bishop.
QP Queen's Pawn d-file Pawn, on Queen's very own file.
KP King's Pawn e-file Pawn, on King's very own file.
KBP King's Bishop Pawn f-file Pawn, on the file of the King's Bishop.
KNP King's Knight Pawn g-file Pawn, on the file of the King's Knight.
KRP King's Rook Pawn h-file Pawn, on the file of the King's Rook.

Examples of these acronyms used in context with a real game, might be ...

  • "White's KBP advanced to f4, when QBP to b3, was stronger."
  • "Black's QRP captures on b6, leaving Doubled Pawns on the b-file."

Though, it's also quite common for Pawns to be referred to by whatever file they're on, or where they've come from ...

  • "Black's c-Pawn captures White's d-Pawn on d4."
  • "White's c-Pawn blocks the check from Qa5, by advancing to c3."


QR Queen's Rook The Rook starting on a-file, on the Queenside.
QN Queen's Knight The Knight starting on b-file, on the Queenside.
QB Queen's Bishop The Bishop starting on c-file, on the Queenside.
KB King's Bishop The Bishop starting on f-file, on the Kingside.
KN King's Knight The Bishop starting on g-file, on the Kingside.
KR King's Rook The Rook starting on f-file, on the Kingside.

Examples of these acronyms used in context with a real game, might be ...

  • "White's KR has the advantage of being on a Half-Open g-file."
  • "If I were Black, I'd have exchanged the KN for White's QB."
  • "White's QPxKP."


Named Chess Openings

Okay, I'm not sure if this is official chess terminology, but what the heck ...

Named Chess Openings are those that have been given a proper name, such as "King Pawn Game ", or the "Indian Defence ", rather than just being identified by the sequence of moves, such as "1. e4", or "1. d4 Nf6".

Chess Openings are often Named after:

  • A Player (e.g. Larsen's Opening; Bird's Opening; Reti Opening);

  • A Geographical Region (e.g. the London Defence; the Russian Defence; Scandinavian Defence; French Defence);

  • Or, from a specific Peculiarity of the Sequence (e.g. King Pawn Opening; Reverse Sicilian;


Opening Moves vs Defence Moves

Just to confuse matters a wee bit, while the various sequences are described, collectively, as Chess Openings, there is a distinction made between Moves played by White and Black, respectively.

  • All of White's moves are known as Opening Moves ... which is nice.

  • All of Black's moves, in the Opening phase, are known as Defence Moves, since Black's first move is played to defend against White's Opening venture, plus subsequent offensive maneuvers.
Chess Openings - Types of Openings - Openings vs. Defence



There are some positions that can be reached during the Opening phase, via an alternative route (sequence). Such Openings are said to have "Transposed" into the other Opening (whatever it may be).

For example ...

Sequence 1 features the "Queen's Gambit ":

  • 1. d4 d5, 2. c4 e6, 3. Nc3 Nf6

Sequence 2 features the "English Opening ":

  • 1. c4 Nf6, 2. Nc3 e6, 3. d4 d5

... yet, both sequences result in the same position being reached.



Sometimes, you'll also find "Variations" named, typically after the prominent Player who either first used or championed a particular move, in a given sequence. Here's a few examples of Variations that can arise from the Classical Queen Pawn Opening ...

White can play the Mason Variation ...

Or, White can play the Levitsky Variation ...

Or, White can play the Chigorin Variation ...


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