The Van’t Kruijs Opening is an unusual Chess Opening beginning with 1. e3
White’s first move opens a line for the bishop to develop, and avoids making a commitment about which pawn to place in the center of the board first. White could perhaps follow up with a subsequent d2-d4 or c2-c4.
Though the Van’t Kruijs Opening is rare at all levels of chess, there’s nothing particularly incorrect about white’s first move. There are many well-respected openings that involve a pawn on e3, and we are likely to reach one of them within the next few moves. For example:
1. e3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. c4 e6 would transpose to a variation of the Queen’s Gambit Declined
1. e3 e5 2. c4 would transpose to an English Opening
In every opening system involving a pawn on e3, white will always get the chance to play e2-e3 later – black can hardly prevent white from playing the move!
But other key moves in the set-up (such as d2-d4, c2-c4, or other center-occupying moves) may be easier to achieve on move one than they would be later. Black has ways to take these squares under control as early as his first move, if white does not occupy the center themselves.
Therefore, any opening set-up involving a pawn on e3 can probably be reached by a better move order than playing the Van’t Kruijs!
In light of the above discussion, I really don’t think the Van’t Kruijs opening has any “independent value.”
That is, if I looked at any chess opening position after 3-4 moves had been played, I would never be able to identify the position as a Van’t Kruijs Opening. The game will almost always transpose to an opening set-up that’s better known by another name.
Truth be told, in my 10+ years of playing chess, I have never heard a chess player tell me “I play the Van’t Kruijs Opening” or “My opponent played the Van’t Kruijs Opening.” In fact, I had never even heard anyone pronounce the name “Van’t Kruijs” before – I had to look up the Dutch pronunciation when making the video above!
The only time I had ever even seen the name before was while messing around with opening databases as a beginner – experimenting with different openings and trying to learn their names. I suspect that many people inquiring about this opening today are doing the same – which is great!
The Van’t Kruijs Opening is better than its reputation, and is actually a fully reasonable first move. The reason it’s unpopular is simply that there’s little reason to play 1. e3 on move one, when it can easily be played later.
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