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What's a good opening move?

Above you will see a draughts board set out for play. You will notice that the red coloured pieces have seven possible moves with which to start a game. Not all of these moves are as strong as each-other. Below we list the seven moves in order of the strongest opening move to the weakest opening move.

11-15. This is universally regarded as the best opening move to retain any advantage, moving from the "Single Corner" side towards the centre of the board. Sometimes this move is referred to as "Old Faithful".

9-14. This is considered as second best, moving from the "Double Corner" side towards the centre of the board. If this move is followed up by the "White" side moving 22-18, then backing the piece up by moving 5-9 at the next move is regarded best.

11-16. Known as the "Bristol", there is little difference in strength in this opening move and the following one. White's best reply here is 22-18 to hold any advantage there may be.

10-15. This move is sometimes referred to as the "Kelso", having been popularised by players from that area many years ago. White's best reply is regarded as 21-17 to take advantage of the slight weakness of the "Red" double corner.

10-14. This is much weaker than the previous moves as it allows the "White" side a number of strong reply's. This move is known as the "Denny".

12-16. Known as the "Dundee", this move tends to allow the "White" player to cramp the "Red" player's position after moving 24-20.

9-13. Known as the "Edinburgh", this is regarded as the weakest possible opening move although it tends to be played often by those learning the game. White is strong by playing 22-18.

When two players sit down to play a game of draughts and begin by making their own choice of opening moves, this style of playing the game is known as "Go-As-You-Please" (GAYP), with each player having complete freedom to begin as they choose. Sometimes also called "Free-Style" in books or magazines.

Another way of beginning games is to make a random move by each side from the 47 different ways of doing this, and then continue playing from this position or "Opening". This style known as "Two Move Openings" was popular in major tournaments and matches from the 1890's until the 1950's in the British Isles.

The method of beginning a game by balloting the first three moves of a game (two Red moves and one White move) known as "Three Move Openings" began in the USA in 1931, but was not used in Britain until the mid 1950's, and here in Ireland until the 1970's. At present there are 144 different opening combinations used in this style, with additional others used by those who like playing the game by post or e-mail.

Today the most popular way of playing a game remains the "Go-As-You-Please" method, although the official organisations that promote National Tournaments prefer to use "Three Move Openings".

© NorthWest Draughts Federation 2002