Van Geet Opening

The Van Geet Opening (also called Dunst Opening) is a flank opening that starts with 1.Nc3. It possesses many names, and it took the name ‘Van Geet’ from a Dutch master with the same name who lived in the 1900s. Although Dunst Opening seems natural, it is not played as commonly at the high level as other moves, such as 1.Nf3, due to its cons.

Van Geet Opening

Winning percentages on both sides

Master Games Statistics

Results Rate
Victory for White 30%
Draw 38%
Victory for Black 32%

Statistics from 25 Million Amateur Games

Results Rate
Victory for White 49%
Draw 4%
Victory for Black 47%

How do 1.Nf3 and 1.Nc3 differ?

There are several differences between these two Knight developments. The 1.Nf3 allows the King safety and early development of the short side. This way, White can securely castle. Also, 1.Nf3 controls the e5-square and prohibits the enemy from pushing that pawn forward. 1.Nc3, however, does not stop 1.d5, as the Queen guards that square. Another difference is that the c4-pawn is often pushed into many openings, such as the Queen’s Gambit. By moving the b-Knight to c3, these openings will not be on the table because moving the Knight and playing c4 will lose time for White.

Transpositions to other openings

Van Geet Opening can transpose to many other lines and lead to various positions. Since Nc3 is played in some of the noticeable openings, it can be utilized as a flexible option to choose which opening to transition.

1. Closed Sicilian Defense

The Dunst Opening can transpose to the closed version of the Sicilian Defense (1.Nc3 c5, and 2.e4). The nature of this opening is closed and often positional, in contrast to the open Sicilian variations.

Van Geet Opening transposed to Closed Sicilian

After 2. e4 is played, Black usually goes for the 2…Nc6 to develop the Knight. Then, White can choose to fianchetto the Bishop (g3-Bg2 ideas) or play more actively with 3.Bb5. White can also choose to go for 3.f4 and strike the enemy by expanding on the Kingside. 3.Nf3 is also possible and can transition to an open Sicilian if White can play d4 later.

One sample line with 3.g3 could be 3…g6 (aiming to fianchetto the Bishop on g7), 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.Nge2 e6, 6.d3 (opening up the scope of the c1-Bishop), 6…d6, 7.Be3 (improving the Bishop to a safe square). In the resulting position, White can castle on the short side and aim to go for f4-f5 ideas and assault the enemy. Also, White can play Qe2 and castle on the long side and launch a pawn storm with h4-g4 to hunt the enemy King.

One sample line with 3.Bb5 could be 3…Nd4 (defending the c6-Knight and resuming a healthy pawn structure), 4.Bc4 (Keeping the Bishops), 4…e6 (aiming to strike with the d5), 5.Nge2 Nf6 6. O-O, 6…a6 (aiming to expand on the Queenside with b5), and 7.a4 (stopping the b5-pawn push). In the resulting position, Black would try to strike the center with the d5-push, and White would aim to dislodge Black’s f6-Knight and stabilize their position.

2. Blackmar Diemer Gambit

The Van Geet can also transpose to the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit after 1…d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.d4, and 3…Nf6. It should be noted that Black can take en-passant on move three (3…exd3) and avoid this gambit.

Van Geet Opening transposed to Blackmar Diemer Gambit

The nature of this gambit is calculative and tactical and lies in White’s rapid development. If White can cause immediate problems, they can gain significant chances. If Black can consolidate, they can exchange pieces and enter a winning endgame with a material advantage.

After 3…Nf6 is played, White’s most popular idea is to push the f-pawn to f3 (4.f3) and improve his pieces (5.Nxf3) after 4…exf3. White gets robust central control and quick improvement if Black doesn’t take.

One sample line after 4…exf3 could be 5.Nxf3 (improving the Knight), 5…g6 (aiming to fianchetto the Bishop on g7-square), 6.Bf4 (improving the Bishop and secure the e5-square), 6…Bg7 (preparing to castle), 7.Qd2 (aiming to castle on the long side), 7…O-O, and 8. O-O-O.

In the resulting position, Black would have an extra pawn. Since both parties have castled on opposite sides, this creates tactical opportunities for them to strike on the side where the rival King resides. White could strike with a3-g4, dislodge the enemy’s f6-Knight, and try to checkmate the opponent on the h-file. Meanwhile, Black can expand on the Queenside by marching a-, b-, and c-pawns and utilizing its g7-Bishop’s dominance on the ‘a1-h8’ diagonal.

3. Four Knights Game

One of the most common transpositions is the Four Knights Game. It can be achieved after a sequence such as 1…e5 2.e4 Nf6 3.Nf3 and 3….Nc6 is played. The move orders can also vary, and both sides can improve the Knights and then play e4-e5.

Van Geet Opening transposed to Four Knights Game

The nature of this variation is often balanced. Black typically equalizes without much difficulty, and White tries to develop pieces and create a plan. Both sides can castle on two sides, and these decisions form the fundamentals of the plans for both parties.

If white gets the d-pawn to d4 (4.d4), the game enters the Scotch Variation of the Four Knights. The critical aspect to look at is the semi-open files (d-file and e-file) and rapid development for both parties.

One sample line after 4.d4 could be 4…exd4 5.Nxd4, 5…Bb4 (pinning the c3-Knight and threatening Nxe4), 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 (protecting the e4-pawn), 7…O-O 8. O-O, 8…d5 (trying to get rid of the doubled c-pawn), 9.exd5, and 9…cxd5.

The resulting position would contain imbalances in terms of the pawn structure. Black usually utilizes the open b-file by putting a Rook on b8-square. White typically aims to use its d3-Bishop and the ‘b1-h7’ diagonal by sliding the Queen to the Kingside.

4. Vienna Game

As the most common transposition after Black plays 1…e5, the Vienna Game can be reached once White goes 2.e4. This opening is also flexible and can transpose to other variations, such as the Vienna Gambit (If White goes for an early f4-pawn push). The game can transition to the Four Knights Game after 2…Nf6 3.Nf3, and 3…Nc6 (check out the “3. Four Knights Game” section).

Van Geet Opening transposed to Vienna Game

As an ambitious move, 3.f4 (Vienna Gambit) often leads to tactical scenes by gambiting a pawn to assault the enemy King. Black has to be precise to retain their slight edge, or White can prevail and get the initiative.

Like the other gambits, Black’s main idea is often to consolidate and exchange pieces. On the other hand, White usually goes for the kill and seeks chances to checkmate the opponent.

If Black accepts the pawn (3…exf4), White can kick the f6-Knight by pushing the e-pawn forward (4.e5) and gain an advantage due to the rival’s inactivity of the pieces and inability to keep their King safe.

After Black’s Knight retreats to the only available square (4…Ng8), White can improve the g1-Bishop to f3 (5.Nf3) and get the f4-pawn by pushing the d-pawn and opening up the scope of the c1-Bishop.

As the most suitable approach, Black needs to find 3…d5 (against 3.f4) to keep their edge. This move allows Black to improve their pieces and simplifies the threats after a sequence of 4.fxe5 Nxe5 5.Qf3, and 5…Nc6.

The resulting position would be tactical, and White needs to be precise and create immediate play to avoid being lost. Black usually aims the weak e5-pawn, and Black tries to utilize the f1-Bishop on the ‘a4-e8’ diagonal and pin the c6-Knight.

Pros and Cons of Van Geet Opening

Pros Cons
White gets flexibility and chooses which opening to play after Black’s response. White cannot push the casual c-pawn to expand on the Queenside.
White starts with an offbeat opening and can create unique lines. Black can have the set-up they desire without facing difficulty.
Van Geet can take the opponent off the theory in many lines. There is no need for a specific Van Geet Opening counter, as Black equalizes quickly.
White can enter both tactical and positional games. White’s first move doesn’t create a threat and gives up the center.

Van Geet Opening’s Trap

This trap starts after Black plays 1…d5. White goes for 2.e4, and Black takes the offered e4-pawn (2…dxe4). Then, White plays 3.Bc4 and ignores the e4-pawn. This move is objectively bad but allows White to set up a trap by attacking the f7-square. If Black plays 3…Nf6, White offers another pawn by going 4.d3. After Black captures the pawn (4…exd3), White advances the g1-Knight to f3 (5.Nf3), and if Black captures the c2-pawn (5…dxc2), 6.Bxf7 wins the Queen in the next move.


The Van Geet opening is not as commonly played as 1.Nf3 and allows many transpositions. Black usually equalizes quickly, and White can choose the path of the game in the second move based on Black’s first move.

Written by
Emre Sancakli, Сhess Coach
has a rating of 2400+ on and, making him one of the top 5000 players in the world. He teaches many chess enthusiasts and even creates educational courses. As a writer, he keeps bringing his 'A game' to the content you will face on this website.
Ask Question


How common is Van Geet opening?

It is played less than 1% among the other openings at the master level and roughly 1% at the amateur level.

Is the Van Geet Opening good?

It is a viable opening; however, there are objectively better alternatives, such as 1.Nf3, to stay flexible.

How to play against Van Geet Opening?

Black’s best response to Van Geet Opening is 1…d5 and control the e4-square. The inability of White to push the e-pawn will allow Black to seize its ideas due to the lack of proper pawn breaks.

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