The Mieses Opening is an unusual chess opening beginning with the first move 1. d3


Mieses Opening

While there’s nothing wrong with this move (and many opening systems involve a pawn on d3), there’s little incentive to make it on move one! This helps explain the rarity of the Mieses Opening in Master-level chess, but white can still get a respectable position.


Let’s take a look at how the game can proceed after white selects this opening.


It’s important to understand that that there are few (if any) continuations that are unique to the Mieses Opening. In almost all cases, the game with transpose to a better-known opening line.

For example, after 1. d3 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. e4

Reversed Philidor

We reach an unusual version of the King’s Pawn Opening – a sort of Philidor Defense with reversed colors.


Alternatively after 1. d3 d5 2. Nf3 c5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. Bg2 e5 5. 0-0 Nf6 6. e4:

KIA Mieses

Play transposes into the a line from the King’s Indian Attack, which white often begins with 1. Nf3 or 1. g3.


One key point to keep in mind is that black cannot stop white from playing d3 very easily in the opening. This means white can always play this move later, if they wish.

On the other hand, black can take control of key central squares (for example e4, d4, and c4) and make these squares harder for white to control!

Therefore, if white wants to occupy the center at all, it makes sense to do so on move one. White can always play d3 later.

Mieses Opening – Hippopotamus Setup

If white doesn’t want to transpose to any sort of mainstream opening, they may also choose to employ the so-called “Hippopotamus” after beginning with the Mieses Opening.

For example, 1. d3 d5 2. g3 e5 3. Bg2 c5 4. e3 Nf6 5. Ne2 Nc6 6. b3 Be7 7. Bb2 Be6 8. Nd2 0-0 9. h3 Qd7 10. a3

White Hippo

This setup aims to maximize flexibility at the expense of ceding control of the center. These 10 moves can be played in almost any order, so this, too, would be unrecognizable as a Mieses Opening!

I can’t recommend this set-up because black is considered to already have an advantage here. If you want to experiment with the Hippo, you might as well do it with the black pieces.

After all, your opponent can’t do much to prevent your setup with their “extra move,” and then you can still fight for an advantage when you have the white pieces!


The Mieses Opening is almost never seen at any level of chess. White can easily get a playable position out of this opening, but there’s little incentive to play d3 as early as move one.

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