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This chess opening for Black is greatly underestimated. Owen’s Defense starts starts with 1. e4 b6. It’s a relatively unknown opening that should surprise your opponent right from the start of your game, dragging them into unknown territory and forcing them out of their opening repertoire so that they have to think for themselves! Being full of tricks and active possibilities for Black, it is one of the best chess openings to keep up your sleeve, especially when playing against amateur players, at the local chess club, or in quick games.
In this exclusive video, GM Igor Smirnov takes a close look at Owen’s Defense and clearly explains the key moves and ideas behind it. Black uses a hyper-modern concept: let your opponent place his pawns in the center, seemingly in control, but then make them the targets of your attack with this menacing weapon!
The variations are wild and crazy, Black’s idea is to fianchetto the queenside bishop, and weaken White’s position b doubling their pawns. A non prepared White player can quickly find themselves in great trouble. Watch the look of shock on your opponent’s face from the very first move!
John Owen once defeated the chess prodigy and legend Paul Morphy in an informal game in London with this chess opening for Black. If it can catch out even the very best players in history, it’s certainly a chess opening worth remembering when you want to try something a little different.
What’s more, the opening can also be adapted and used by White where instead of playing 1. e4 b6, White can instead play 1. b3! If Black then plays 1…b6 anyway, it doesn’t hurt at all to have an extra tempo as White.
Many players consider the move 1…b6 to be an incorrect line, falling away from basic opening principles of battling for the center, but GM Igor Smirnov says that they couldn’t be further from the truth. Already underestimating the effect of Owen’s Defense could be a deadly mistake from White.
Add this chess opening to your repertoire as Black, or White, with this video from GM Igor Smirnov.
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