Irregular Openings are chess opening moves that you would not expect to encounter on a day and daily basis. Certainly not as frequently as regular Flank Openings. In fact you could maybe wait a whole lifetime to have an opponent play one of these against you.
These openings are on the margins of chess theory. They only have a handful of games in the databases from which to draw lessons from. They have been discounted by the masters and subsequently by everyone else because they don't do enough, they involve some structural weakness or in some cases they're just plain bad.
They are grouped together and given a single classification in the Encyclopedia of Chess Openings. That classification is A00. Let's sift the interesting and quirky from the simply weak.
Anderssen's Opening sees White kick off the game with 1.a3. This move is a waiting move pure and simple. You play it trading your first move advantage for control of b4. This may or may not be of benefit to White later.
Clearly 1.a3 can transpose into any of a multitude of openings. If it is the QGD or any opening where Black would like to pin the c3-Knight to the King, then 1.a3 is perhaps justified. You can maybe argue whether or not the compensation is adequate.
If it's a KID, Benoni or Grunfeld where Black's dark square Bishop goes to g7 then 1.a3 is just a wasted tempo. White has handed Black the initiative for absolutely nothing.
The Ware Opening also called the Meadow Hay Opening is a move played be absolute beginners in most cases. I remember in school when we learned to play. We had to figure out our strategy for ourselves. 1.a4 was a very popular choice!
How else do you get your Rooks into the game right? Slowly but surely the sharper ones among us began to see the flaws after 1.a4 e5 2.Ra3? Bxa3.
From time to time reasonably strong players have been known to use the Ware Opening as a once in a while surprise weapon. This is of course not with the intention of 2.Ra3. 2.g3 is a much wiser choice. Maybe a5 will be played later with Ra4 in the works. 2.Ra3 might be risked in the 1...d5 lines.
The Sokolsky Opening has also been dubbed the Orang Utan Opening. Here White might be trying some kind of Polish Defense with reversed colors. After 1...e5 2.Bb2 Bxb4 3.Bxe5 and 3...Nf6 saves the h8-Rook.
Black might also play more quietly with 2...d6 or 2...f6 (to blunt the b2-Bishop that will shortly appear). Then Black will hope that 1.b4 will look especially ill-advised.
Just five games out of five million in my database began with this move. That's right. Your chances of facing this are one in a million! White won one of those five games and lost two. Not a great advert.
The 2...Bxb4 line led to an open game with lots of piece play. The quieter moves led to positional affairs with White pushing his pawns forward on the Queenside and maneuverings behind the pawn shells.
The Saragossa Opening is the move 1.c3. How should you evaluate this move? It's not necessarily a bad move. c3 gets played in many openings as a support for a later d4 push or to make room for a retreating Bishop to c2.
You have to ask the question of how useful it is to commit to c3 on the first move. You are limiting yourself to systems where White plays this move later on.
If you end up with a position that requires Nc3, then Nd2 might not cut it. If you need to play c4 you end up losing a tempo. You may get an inferior version of such a c4 line. The only possible advantage of the move is that it may confuse your opponent. He may struggle to find a response he is comfortable with.
The Barnes Opening is named after Thomas Barnes. The idea is to play 2.Kf2. It is a highly dubious adventure although with perfect play White can probably get a playable game.
It's easy to come unstuck when you voluntarily create weaknesses around your King. The e1-h4 diagonal is weak and now the King's Knight can't protect the h4-square. The a7-g1 diagonal is also an open road to your King.
If you want to play the Barnes Opening do your homework and figure out the best way to transpose to your favorite lines. It can be a route into the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit where f3 is also played later on.
Grob's Attack is a clever baiting idea that starts with 1.g4. Black will usually reply with 1...d5. This claims central control and attacks the g4-pawn. Then you will play 2.Bg2 letting the pawn go!
It appears you are not getting anything for your sacrifice as the d5-pawn is supported by the Black Queen. But after the pawn is captured you can play the key move 3.c4!, taking advantage of the pin. The d5-pawn is frozen to the spot. You are x-raying b7 with your Bishop and the Rook would be trapped.
Black must give more protection to d5. The moves ...c6, ...e6 and ...Nf6 have all been tested and ...c6 is found to be the most solid. You will have tactical resources in all these lines revolving around winning the d5-pawn and more importantly the d5-square. You will play against b7 and f7 with your Queen, light square Bishop and your Knights.
In the Clemenz Opening you start with 1.h3. When this move is played in any system, on maybe the 8th or 10th move, it's functions are clear. White is taking control of g4 in order to keep enemy pieces out. It also supports a bold g4 advance.
1.h3 can possibly be okay as long as you transpose to an opening where this move would be played anyway. If Black plays a system where he won't be trying to utilize g4 then your first move can only be described as a wasted tempo.
Good openings to transpose to might be Grob's Attack or the Creepy Crawly which continues with 2.a3. Here your intentions are definitely focused on limiting Black's space. If you can hem him in then you should be able to catch up on development and emerge with a space advantage.
The Kadas Opening or Desprez Opening (1.h4 has been called lots of things!) is the Kingside's answer to the Ware Opening (1.a4). It could be a precursor to an attack on Black's Kingside (h5, h6 and so on).
On the other hand it could be intended as a beginner's attempt to release the Rook into the fray via h3. At any rate you need more than control of g5 from your first move.
If you face this unusual first move from behind the Black pieces your continuation is clear. 1...d5 and/or ...e5 taking the center and releasing your minor pieces in the normal manner. With proper play you should get whatever advantage is going as the best White can hope for is equality. And that would be a good result for him.
You play 1.Na3 in the Durkin Opening or Sodium Attack. This Knight can't do much from a3. It's merely a stepping stone to the much better c4-square from where the Knight can have a much greater influence on the game.
After 1...d5 you can challenge this central pawn with 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nc4. Now your Knight has reached his targeted post. You can continue with an English type game and try to make use of the open c-file.
This isn't the most forceful opening. It is playable though and flexible. You are throwing the theory books out the window and ensuring that the game will be positional with some dynamic features. You're ready to start playing chess from the very early moves.
You may wonder why the Dunst Opening (Van Geet Opening) finds itself in the ranks of the irregulars. Why isn't such a logical looking opening move played more often? Isn't c3 the best square for White's Queen's Knight?
It falls slightly short on a couple of counts. It does not impede Black's freedom in the center. Black can play either 1...e5 or 1...d5 in reply. Remember the Queen supports the d5-pawn.
There is also the drawback that the Knight blocks in his own c-pawn. The c4 advance features in many of White's opening schemes and 1.Nc3 takes this option away. None of this is to say that the Dunst isn't perfectly playable. You can still get an adequate position.
1.Nh3 makes the game an Amar Opening also called the Paris Opening or the Drunken Knight Opening. After 1...d5 the usual continuation is 2.g3 to protect the Knight without damage to the pawn structure.
This Knight would like to go to f4 so 2...e5 is played to prevent this and give Black a big center.
You can find several interesting variations in the Amar. As White you give up material and/or accept positional compromises for debatable chances. With good sound play Black ought to get an edge in these lines. As White you have to trust in Black's ability to play some inaccuracies.
The Irregular Openings are some of the hidden secrets of chess. And yes it may be best that some of them stay hidden. For all of that a few of these options deserve a second look and perhaps even a little bit of work.
You can even win with some of them like the just previously mentioned Amar Opening. Or indeed for that matter, Anderssen's Opening, which kicked this whole thing off.
These quirky sidelines are a perfect lead in to another kind of opening available to you. The kind of opening where you toss your opponent some bait and try to get a bite. Openings centered around an early sacrifice. These openings are gambits.