Best chess opening according to Stockfish


Stockfish is a free and powerful chess engine. At the time of writing, it is the best chess player in the world. This page presents the best first moves according to Stockfish 16. In order to find the best first move, I let Stockfish running so as to reach a sufficiently large depth. I was aiming for 80, but there was a power cut between 78/79. That shouldn't change the conclusions presented on this page. The following illustration shows the state of the game after the small white castling (6th move). The best opening would be the Giuoco Piano:

Best stockfish opening according to Stockfish

Stockfish Commands

To get the sequence below, I executed the following Stockfish commands:

position startpos
setoption name Threads value 70
setoption name Hash value 96000
setoption name MultiPV value 250

Thanks to the latter, it is possible to draw curves for all possible first moves (e2e4, d2d4, g1f3 ...).

The best opening

Here are Stockfish's top 20 first moves (depth 78/79):

  1. e2e4
  2. e7e5
  3. g1f3
  4. b8c6
  5. f1c4
  6. g8f6
  7. d2d3
  8. f8c5
  9. c2c3
  10. d7d6
  11. e1g1
  12. a7a6
  13. a2a4
  14. h7h6
  15. b1d2
  16. a6a5
  17. f1e1
  18. e8g8
  19. d2f1
  20. c8e6

The ideal opening is illustrated in the following video:

Direct link to the video.

The best ones

The reality is a little less Manichean. In fact, if you look closely at the results, you'll see that, depending on the depth at which you stop Stockfish at which you stop Stockfish, the first shot isn't always the same. Sometimes it's e2e4, sometimes d2d4 and sometimes g1f3. The following curve shows the advantage in centipawn (one hundredth of a pawn) of each first move as a function of depth:

Graph showing the advantage of each first move with Stockfish

If we plot only the 4 best moves, we can see that the first three are correlated with each other. We also discover that the fourth best move (c2c4) is detached from the first three and, above all, that it tends towards 0 as soon as we reach depth 71. This means that this move most probably leads to a draw.

Graph showing the advantage of the 4 best first shots with Stockfish


If you've come to this page because you were wondering which is the best first move in chess, then the answer is e2e4, d2d4 or g1f3. If you have to remember just one, then e2e4 is probably the one to play.


See also

Last update : 03/12/2024