What are the Most Boring Openings in Chess? (A List)

Chess is everything: art, science, and sport. This is something that has been perpetuated continuously among chess players.

This might have been true in the past, but it is clearly not the case today. Modern chess games are full of preparation and memorization. Newer games are usually decided even before the actual game.

Chess can still be treated as a science or a sport, but definitely not as an art form.

Due to all of this memorization, some chess openings have gained the reputation of being really boring to play.

If you have watched some of these openings in higher-level play, you know that it will be a boring (probably drawish) game.

This article will list all of these boring openings that I have been seeing in higher-level play.

Whenever I see these openings being played, I almost have the urge to just shut down the entire live feed and move on with my day.

Without further ado, let’s begin. 

The most boring chess openings for the white pieces

I want to separate this into two phases, the most boring openings with white pieces and the most boring openings with black pieces.

I don’t want to give a general list where there is more for the white pieces, nor there is more for the black pieces.

I have chosen to give me three openings on each side, basically their own boring opening list.

It will be based on the things that I have seen on elite play and what I have experienced personally. This is my list for the white pieces:

1.) Ruy Lopez

Ruy Lopez in an online chessboard.

The most boring chess opening for white ever. With a lot of other boring chess openings, there was at least a time that they were played excitingly.

This is not the story of Ruy Lopez. Even at the start of our theoretical knowledge, Ruy Lopez is already well known as an opening that doesn’t lead to an exciting game.

The Ruy Lopez is literally one of the ancient chess openings that have been invented way before the era of Paul Morphy.

Imagine that, Paul Morphy himself, a really old legend, is still miles away from the first creation of the Ruy Lopez.

Now, just because it is really old does not necessarily mean that it is boring right?

The problem is, it has become considered that way because the positions that it creates are too equal.

The only exciting part that comes with this line is the marshall attack, it definitely ensures an exciting game.

However, with the introduction of anti-marshall ideas, the marshall attack is not really that played in the high level today.

If you are watching a game played at the elite level and you see Ruy Lopez, expect a quick draw or something.

Even the commentators themselves are aware of this stigma, whenever a Ruy Lopez is on the board they quickly move on to the “next game”.

There are very few exciting ruy lopez games, they just have been so analyzed at this point that they are just too drawish. Most of the lines in the Ruy Lopez would lead to a draw because of its intrinsic equality.

The introduction of the Berlin defense didn’t help out either. Super-grandmaster rarely cooks up a line from Ruy Lopez, they know that probably everyone has analyzed it and the variations wouldn’t lead to a decisive game.

In my opinion it is really the most boring chess opening for the white pieces. 

2.) English opening

English opening in an online chessboard.

The second most boring opening for the white pieces is the English opening. Just like the ruy lopez, it is a really old opening.

But I am not calling it boring just for the fact that it is old, the actual lines that will arise from the English are just so quiet.

It is one of the quietest open in chess both for the white and black pieces, in short, it is really boring. What I mean by quiet is that not a lot of things are happening at the same time (complication).

Most of the ideas are clear and you don’t really need to consult an engine to play the best moves. The best moves are just kind of expected since the opening is too predictable, it doesn’t lead to much complication.

Do not get me wrong, there are definitely traps that can arise from the English opening.

But to be frank, these “traps” are quite visible once you have become a strong player. Most of the time,  you and your opponent will develop the knights symmetrically, plus fianchetto the kingside bishops then castling.

It is that predictable, the positions just play on their own. When I see this played in the high-level I always thought to myself that white is just trying to play for a draw.

The c4 push barely even grabs the center, it is too reserved from the typical e4 and d4 opening move.

For that reason I think that this is the second most boring opening after ruy lopez. 

3.) London system

London system in an online chessboard.

This might be something that you disagree with which is understandable.

A couple of years back, most people will probably agree that the london system is one of the most tedious openings for white.

However, magnus carlsen suddenly started playing the london system and winning a lot of games with it.

He also stated several times that it is a good opening that most players should probably try it out, and it is a really good system.

I am not saying that it is a bad opening, I am saying that it is a tedious opening that doesn’t bring you any excitement.

The ruy lopez and the english opening are not bad openings either, in fact they are some of the best chess openings out there. It is just that they are too quiet, something that will surely bring out tedious positions.

The london is pretty much similar, the moves are expected for both the black and white pieces. In fairness, there is an annoying play that black can go for in this line, basically preventing white from castling.

That is interesting, but only if white falls for it. Most of the time it is just the same boring moves that are repeated over and over again, it is too predictable.

This makes it the third most tedious chess opening for the white pieces. 

The most boring chess openings for the black pieces

After creating the most boring openings for the white pieces, of course we also need to list the most boring openings for the black pieces.

This list is easier to create than the first one.

Once you see all of these openings we will probably agree with me, they are trying very drawish/tedious opening lines.

This is the list:

1.) Berlin defense

Berlin defense in an online chessboard.

Definitely the most uneventful chess opening for black. This is like the Ruy Lopez, but it is for the black pieces.

Ironically, it is a line that comes from the ruy lopez itself. It was popularized by Vladimir Kramnik after he had defeated the legend Garry Kasparov with it without even dropping a single game.

I think the reason why Kasparov is so weak against this is because it simplifies a lot of things early on. Kasparov is an attacker, he likes playing aggressively and winning from a tactic that exists in the imbalance.

The Berlin defense solves that part for kramnik, it simplifies the position so much so early in the game. It is one of the few openings in chess where its most played line will lead you straight into the end game.

After playing a series of moves you will already be in the endgame, that is crazy. It definitely is the most uneventful opening for the black pieces, the endgame line doesn’t help either.

Aside from ruy lopez, it is also memed as the most tedious opening in the high level since it leads to so many draws.

I don’t think that any aggressive player will like the Berlin defense, it makes the position dry. It is not that the Berlin defense is a bad opening, it is just an uneventful one. 

2.) Queen’s gambit declined

Queen's gambit declined in an online chessboard.

The queen’s gambit declined is the second most tedious opening for the black pieces.

This is like the Berlin defense, but it is played in the d4 line. Interestingly, the queen’s gambit declined is probably one of the best replies against d4.

However we are not talking about the viability of the opening here, we are talking about its excitement factor.

The queen’s gambit declined is solid, too solid. It is hard to break the position for white, and there is likely not a lot that is going to happen during the opening.

Black on the other hand will probably not play aggressively (otherwise they wouldn’t play the queen’s gambit declined in the first place).

There are some good positional pushes that both black and white can do here if given the chance, but really nothing exciting. Since the position is too solid (unbreakable), it is hard to create any attacking opportunities.

The side that over pushes in this line will probably get punished, so players tend to play safely (and predictably).

This is one of the most played chess openings at the top level, and it is also one of the most drawish. It has a reputation of equality.

For this reason I think that it is the second most uneventful opening for the black pieces, it is just too defensive. 

3.) Petroff defense

Petroff defense in an online chessboard.

This might not be something that you expect since the petroff/petrov defense is not as popular as the other openings.

However this deserves the spot for the third most uneventful chess opening with the black pieces.

This is the favorite opening line of Fabiano Caruana during his world chess championship match against magnus carlsen. And you wonder why Magnus and Fabiano drew all of their 12 games straight.

The petroff defense is a drawish opening, you trade pawns early in the game and will move back and forth for a lot of time. There is a line that was so straight up into the endgame, which is always an indication of tediousness.

Whenever I see this played at the top level, the game always leads to an endgame for some reason.

I think this is because there are just too many lines from this opening that can lead you to the endgame.

Do not get me wrong, I have seen many competitive games from the petroff. But I have also seen many drawish games that have come from it, far too many.

This is why the petroff defense is the third of this list. Compared to other more normal chess openings, the petroff is quite drawish (a.k.a. boring).

Conclusion

The top 3 most boring chess openings for the white pieces include: The Ruy Lopez, the English opening, and the London system, this is in the ascending order of importance.

The Ruy Lopez is just way too analyzed at this point, the English opening is too predictable, and the London system doesn’t really allow any aggressive line at all.

As for the black pieces, the most boring chess openings include the following: the Berlin defense, the Queen’s gambit declined, and the petroff defense, also in the ascending order.

The Berlin defense literally has a popular line that leads straight to the endgame. The queen’s gambit declined is too solid, so solid that you probably won’t be able to push any initiative.

The Petroff defense on the other hand, also has some lines that lead to the endgame, however, it is actually quite exciting at times which is why it only got third place.

Overall these are the most tedious chess openings out there for both of the pieces.

From what I have experienced in my own games, as well as what I have seen from the games between top players, this is accurate.

Maybe there is a better list, but this is definitely a good one. That is all for this article, thank you for reading. 

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