The Kadas Opening, also referred to as the Desprez Opening, is a dubious flank opening that begins 1.h4. This line is rarely played at any level, as it creates weaknesses from the first move. Kadas Opening is sometimes chosen by the top players in non-competitive games to prove their ability to strike back even in an inferior position.
Winning percentages on both sides
Master Games Statistics
|Victory for White
|Victory for Black
Statistics from 4.9 Million Amateur Games
|Victory for White
|Victory for Black
Why shouldn’t you play the Kadas Opening?
Kadas should not be played because it creates many vulnerable squares around the White King. This prohibits White from castling on the short side and creates long-term targets for the enemy. If Black plays normal-looking moves, they can maintain their advantage without facing difficulties.
How to Counter Kadas Opening
There are several responses as Kadas Opening counter.
The 1…e5 variation is the most commonly played approach to punishing 1.h4. It often allows tactical games. White typically throws the h-pawn up to h6 to harm the enemy’s pawn structure. Black usually develop their pieces and prove their advantage.
The 1…d5 variation is similar to the 1…e5, and they often transition to one another.
The 1…Nf6 variation is a more flexible approach for Black, where they still keep their slight advantage and wait to see the White’s intentions.
Kadas Opening Schneider Gambit: 1…g5
This variation starts after Black plays 1…g5. This move is considered a blunder, as White can capture the g5-pawn (2.hxg5) and maintain the pawn. The 1…g5 response is scarce at all levels.
One sample line after 2.gxh5 could be 2…d5, 3.Nf3 (developing the Knight and protecting the g5-pawn), 3…Bg7, 4.d4 (fixing the pawns and asking Black where the initiative is), 4…c5, 5.c3 (maintaining the solid pawn structure would not allow imbalances), 5…cxd4, and 6.cxd4.
The resulting position would be quite easy for White to convert. White would try to exchange pieces and win the game with the extra pawn they possess. Black would need to create some sort of aggressive idea, or they would lose drastically.
This variation begins with 1…e5. This move is the most common response against 1.h4 at the club level. White is usually worse and needs to make h4-pawn work in some scenarios. To do that, White often needs to create an attack on the Kingside and make the h4-pawn look smart.
2.h5 is the most common continuation in these lines. This, of course, creates a long-term weakness on the h5-square. This pawn can be a severe weakness in the endgame as well. Black usually replies with 2…d5 and controls the center of the board.
White can try to complicate the game with the move 3.h6. This move sacrifices a pawn but intends to harm Black’s Kingside pawn structure if Black captures the h6-pawn with the f8-Knight. If 3…Nxh6 occurs, White can play 4.d4 and attack both the d5-pawn and h6-Knight. If Black tries 4…Ng4, ugly-looking 5.f3 would kick the g4-Knight away, as the h1-Rook covers Qh4 ideas. And after 5…Nh6 is played, White can take the Knight (6.Bxh6 and 6…gxh6) and double Black’s short-side pawns.
This kind of position would be objectively better for Black due to weaknesses around White’s dark squares. However, if White castles Queenside and Black castles Kingside, White can try to exploit the weaknesses around their opponent’s King.
After 2…d5, if White tries to act normal and play 3.Nf3, Black can punish them by moving the e-pawn forward (3…e4). Due to the lack of reinforcements in the center, the Knight would have to jump across the board by giving the opponent many tempos or retreat to g1-square.
In these variations, Black usually needs to develop normally, and the game will be in their favor. White needs to create a master plan, or the weaknesses in their position will be exploited in some part of the game.
This variation begins after Black plays 1…d5. If White plays 2.h5, the game can, and probably will, transition to the position we already analyzed after 2…e5.
As the second most common move, Black can also choose to play 2…h6. This allows White to establish 3.d4 and stop Black’s e5-pawn push ideas.
One sample line in this variation could be 3.d4, 3…Nf6 (improving the Knight and putting pressure on the h5-pawn), 4.Nf3 (developing the g1-Knight, and intending for Ne5 moves), 4…Bg4 (aiming to capture the f3-Knight and double White’s Kingside pawns and assault the h5-pawn), 5.Ne5 (attacking the g4-Bishop), 5…Bxh5 (winning a pawn for Black), 6.c4 (trying to open a route for the d1-Queen on the Queenside to exploit the vulnerable light squares as Black’s light-squared Bishop is not on that part of the board), 6…dxc4, 7.Qa4+ Nbd7, and 8.Qxc4.
In the resulting position, the game would be close to equal due to White’s activity despite being a pawn down. White usually tries to get a position like this, as playing as Black might be challenging, and one wrong step would cause severe problems for Black.
After 4.Nf3, Black can also choose another path and play more actively with 4…c5. This would be a better choice for them, as White would need to react and not have as much fun on the Queenside because Black’s light-squared Bishop would protect some key squares.
This variation starts with 1…Nf6, and is the third most popular option at the master level. Compared to 1…d5 and 1…e5, it is more flexible and unambitious but keeps Black’s slight advantage intact.
Once Black plays 1…Nf6, White can play 2.d4 and stop Black’s idea of 2…e5. Black usually responds with 2…d5 and fixes the pawn structure.
3.h5 is quite popular for White among club players; however, it is unnecessary as the position is relatively stable. White can try to double Black’s pawn structure by going 3.Bg5, and 3…Ne4 (protecting the Knight) would equalize the game for White after 4.Nd2 occurs.
Another idea for White could be simply playing 3.e3 to open up the scope of Queen on the ‘e1-h5’ diagonal. After a move like 3…e6, White can launch a pawn storm with 4.g4, and once Black plays 4…h6, White can develop the pieces on the Queenside and castle long. By playing moves like Nc3 and Qe2, White would prepare a Kingside attack once and also put their King into safety.
The nature of these games, as shown, can be positional. Although Black has an objective advantage, if they castle on the long side without compromising their King’s safety, the h4-move can be helpful to initiate an assault on the enemy.
Traps in the Kadas Opening
Kadas Opening beginner’s trap starts with 1…Nf6 line. Then, 2.d4 d5 3.Nf3 Bg4 (assaulting the f3-Knight), 4.Ne5, 4…Bh5 (protecting the Bishop), and 5.f3 occur. Since White wants to play g4-h5 and trap Black’s Bishop, Black usually plays 5…h6. 6.g4 is still played, and after 6…Bg6, White captures the g6-Bishop (7.Nxg6 and 7…fxg6) and weakens the enemy Kingside. Then, the critical 8.Qd3 exploits these vulnerable light squares. Black tries to hold on to the g6-pawn with the King (8…Kf7), 9.h5 gxh5, and 10.gxh5 secure that square for White. 10…Kg8 is played to put the King into safety, and 11.Bh3 would intend to checkmate the opponent. If Black tries to cover the e6-square (11…Qd6), White can go 12.Bf4 and distract the Queen. The game could end with a blunder after 12…Qxf4 and 13.Be6 checkmate.
Kadas Opening is an opening that creates long-term weaknesses. Since it does not control the center and breaks the main principles, it is not recommended to deploy this line.
Why is the Kadas opening bad?
The Kadas Opening is often deemed suboptimal because it fails to control the center, develop pieces effectively, or adhere to traditional chess principles. This opening, which involves an early h4 pawn move by White, does not directly support central control or development of knights and bishops, key elements for a strong opening strategy.
Is the Kadas opening playable?
While not popular at the highest levels, the Kadas Opening is playable, especially in casual or club-level games. Its unconventional nature can sometimes throw off opponents. However, it’s generally less effective against experienced players who can capitalize on its weaknesses.