The Grob Opening is an unorthodox flank opening that starts with White playing 1.g4. It is not considered a good option at a high level because it already creates irreversible weaknesses in White’s position.
It is named after a Swiss chess master who deployed this opening in his games and examined it in depth in the early 1900s. Grob Opening is not used at the elite level due to low success results and an objectively worse position than White.
Winning Percentages on Both Sides
Master Games Statistics
|Victory for White
|Victory for Black
Statistics from 11 Million Amateur Games
|Victory for White
|Victory for Black
The main idea of Grob Opening is to catch the opponent off-guard. This line is not considered a good one, especially one of the worst openings that White can play on the first move. The reason is that the g4-pawn push weakens White’s Kingside and creates opportunities for the opponent to take advantage of. White usually puts their light-squared Bishop on g2 to target the ‘a8-h1‘ diagonal. The White Queen often goes to b3 to assault the b7-pawn. Black doesn’t have to do much to be better. They often consolidate their position and exploit White’s vulnerabilities.
Grob Opening Theory
The 1…d5 line often leads to positions where White tries to complicate matters and take advantage of the undefended weak squares in Black’s position. Black is typically objectively better and aims to consolidate during the early game.
Grob Gambit Accepted allows White to assault the undefended b7-pawn and create problems for the opponent. Black can usually give up that pawn due to White’s lack of development and weak King.
Grob Gambit Declined often leads to positions where White expands on the Kingside with pawns, and Black tries to take advantage of the weakened squares.
The 1…e5 variation often allows Black to take advantage of the weak ‘e1-h4‘ diagonal, while White aims to utilize its Bishop on the ‘a8-h1’ diagonal.
It is the most played variation in Grob’s Attack. It starts with 1.g4, and Black responds with 1…d5. Black has the straightforward threat of capturing the g4-pawn in the next turn.
White usually responds by giving up that g4-pawn and creating their plan with 2.Bg2. This move aims to scope the long ‘a8-h1’ diagonal and target the light squares once the c8-Bishop leaves its home.
Another move to be mentioned is 2.h3. This move allows White to protect their g4-pawn; however, it gives up the center once Black plays 2…e5. Black may also target White’s advanced g-pawn by going 2…h5. In that case, White usually captures Black’s h-pawn (3.gxh5), and Black tries to oppress White by exposing their weaknesses.
One sample line with 2.h3 could be 2…e5 (controlling the center), 3.Bg2 (Preparing the c4-pawn push to assault the b7-pawn), 3…c6 (solidifying the pawn structure), 4.d4 (fixing the d5-pawn and preparing the typical c4-push to open up the light-squared diagonal), 4…e4 (expanding in the center), 5.c4, 5…h5 (assaulting in the flank to create menace on the weakened dark squares), 6.Nc3 (attacking the d5-pawn and improving the Knight), 6…hxg4 (exchanging the Rooks to activate the Queen on the h-file), 7.hxg4, 7…Rxh1, 8.Bxh1, 8…Qh4 (developing the Queen nearby the weak King), 9.Bg2 (Protecting the Bishop), and 9…Nf6 (continuing on development).
In the resulting position, Black would aim to strike on the Kingside to hunt the White King. On the other hand, White would try to bring their King to safety.
Since the 2.Bg2 line is more common, we will examine it further in detail in this article.
Grob Gambit Accepted: 2. Bg2 Bxg4
It begins with 1…d5, and after White develops the Bishop to g2 (2.Bg2), Black captures the g4-pawn (2…Bxg4). By taking the pawn, Black weakened the b7-square, and White usually aims to exploit that.
After 2…Bxg4, the most common move by White is 3.c4 to utilize the g2-Bishop and assault the b7-pawn. Black typically protects either with 3…c6 or 3…e6.
3…c6 is more common because in the 3…e6 line, White can check with 4.Qa4, and if Black is not careful and plays a move like 4…Nc6 (intending to block the check), 5.cxd4 would be a double attack to both c6-Knight and g4-Bishop).
Once 3…c6 occurs, White can try to assault the b7-pawn by going 4.Qb3. This typical idea can be met by simply allowing that capture to happen. 4…e6 is an excellent way to reply to continue developing the pieces. White can capture the pawn (5.Qxb7) and make the material balance even. Since the a8-Rook is under attack, Black has to play 5…Nd7 to protect it with the Queen. Then, White can capture the undefended c6-pawn (6.Qxc6). Black usually moves the a8-Rook to the c8-square (6…Rc8) to target that Queen and utilize the Rook on the c-file.
The final position would be hard for White to play due to the lack of development and King’s safety.
Black would like to open up the c-file and attack the undefended Bishop. White would need to consolidate and fight for equality.
Grob Gambit Declined: 2. Bg2 с6
In this variation, Black does not take the g4-pawn but instead plays the usual c6-pawn push (2…c6) to stay solid and avoid early complications.
White can play the c4-pawn push, similar to what we analyzed in the Grob Gambit Accepted Variation. White can also try to hold on to the g4-pawn by playing 3.h3.
Once 3.h3 occurs, Black can have two main responses. They can either take control of the central space by going 3…e5 or try to undermine White’s Kingside pawn structure by going 3…h5.
One sample line with 3…e5 could be 4.d4 (fixing the d-pawns), 4…e4 (expanding in the center), 5.c4 (attacking the d5-pawn and opening up the Queen’s entrance to the Queenside), 5…Bd6 (improving the Bishop to create threats on the dark squares), 6.Nc3 (improving the Knight), 6…Ne7, and 7.Qb3 (increasing the oppression over the d5-pawn and trying to attack Black in the Queenside).
In the resulting position, White would try to pressure the d5-pawn and attack the Queenside, whereas the opponent would try to assault White on the Kingside by exposing the weak dark squares.
If Black plays 3…h5 to undermine the g4-pawn, White can capture the pawn (4.gxh5), and Black can maneuver the g8-Knight to h5 by going 4…Nf6 and 5…Nxh5. White would try to create their ideal set-up with c4-d4 (5. d4 and 6. c4) pawn pushes combined with Qb3.
This variation takes place once Black responds with 1…e5. The e5-move is objectively worse for Black because White can catch equality in many variations. However, White usually cannot claim more than an equal position because Black can be solid without allowing White to complicate matters.
After White develops the f1-Bishop to g2 (2.Bg2), Black typically goes for 2…d5 to control the center. At this moment, most amateurs choose to go for the typical 3.c4 move. However, in many cases, it leads to a worse position than 3.d4 because Black can expand in the center and put the b8-Knight at c5 to clamp the position.
One sample line is 3.c4, 3…d4 (taking the space), 4.Qb3 (idea of attacking the b7-pawn), 4…Nd7 (5.Bxb7 loses to 5…Rb8), and after 5.d3, Black can put the Knight on the c5-square (5…Nc5) and have a good stable position with an extra pawn.
Hence, White usually needs to fight for the center and not let the opponent push the d-pawn further.
One sample variation could be 3.d4, 3…e4, 4.c4, 4…c6 (protecting the d5-pawn), 5.Nc3, 5…Bb4 (pinning the c3-Knight), 6.Qb3 (Attacking the b4-Bishop), 6…Bxc3, 7.bxc3, and 7…Ne7. Black often aims to expose the weak f4- and h4-squares by controlling them and putting pieces such as Ng6-Nf4. White aims to pressure the opponent’s advanced pawns and create the ideal pawn break.
Pros and Cons
|White can surprise their opponent if they catch them off-guard.
|It is considered one of the worst openings in chess for White.
|Most amateur players don’t know how to play the Grob Opening.
|White usually gambits a pawn, which leads to worse endgames if the Queens are traded off.
|White can create tactical chances and trick Black on many occasions.
|If Black knows the Grob Opening counter, they can easily win the game at a high level.
|If Black stays solid, they can almost never be worse due to White’s long-term weaknesses.
|It is hard to find a safe place for the White King.
Common Trap in Grob Opening
This Grob Trap begins with the Gambit Accepted Variation. White plays 3.c4 (to activate the g2-Bishop), and Black responds with 3…e6 to protect the d5-pawn. Then, White plays 4.Qb3 to increase the pressure on b7. Here, if Black plays 4…Qc8 to protect the b7-pawn, White has 5.cxd5, and if Black recaptures back with the e-pawn (5…exd5), 6.Bxd5 would intend to capture the b7-pawn and f7-pawn simultaneously. Once Black protects the b7-pawn with 6…c6, White wins a full piece after 7.Bxf7 and 8.Bxg8.
The Grob Opening is an unusual chess opening that starts with 1.g4. It is known as one of the worst tries by White and is not played at a competitive level because Black is objectively close to winning after the first move. Since amateurs make mistakes, this evaluation does not translate to the results of beginner games. Every player can play it at least once or twice to learn the pawn structures and tactical patterns it contains.
Who invented the Grob Opening?
The Grob Opening was pioneered by Swiss International Master, Henri Grob. He popularized this unconventional chess opening during the mid-20th century.
Is the Grob a good chess opening?
The Grob Opening is considered unorthodox and risky. While it’s not commonly seen in professional play due to its potential weaknesses, it can be effective in surprising opponents in casual games.