Leonardis Variation of the King's Pawn Opening - 1. e4 e5 2. d3

Leonardis Variation of the King’s Pawn Opening (Theory, Variations)

The Leonardis Variation of the King’s Pawn Opening begins with the moves 1. e4 e5 2. d3.

Here we look into the details of this particular opening, exploring its move order, theory, strategy, variations, history, its suitability for different levels of players, and its frequency of use among grandmasters.

Move Order of the Leonardis Variation

  1. e4 e5

White opens the game by moving the king’s pawn two squares forward, followed by Black’s response with a similar move.

  1. d3

White’s second move is to advance the queen’s pawn one square, solidifying the center control.

Leonardis Variation of the King's Pawn Opening - 1. e4 e5 2. d3
Leonardis Variation of the King’s Pawn Opening – 1. e4 e5 2. d3

Theory, Strategy, and Purpose of the Leonardis Variation

The Leonardis Variation aims to build a flexible and solid position without directly confronting the center.

The pawn structure allows White to develop the knights and bishops easily.

Avoiding early confrontation means that the opening may lead to a slower, more strategic game rather than a tactical battle.

Continuations of the Leonardis Variation

Though the Leonardis Variation is considered a fairly straightforward approach, there are some common continuations for white after blacks second move:

  • Nf3, allowing White to prepare castling kingside.
  • Nc3, aiming to support the central pawn and provide further development.
  • g3, opening the way for the bishop to fianchetto on g2, supporting the central pawn structure.
  • f4, attacking black’s center, especially if 2… c5.

Sample Lines of the Leonardis Variation

Some sample lines of the Leonardis Variation:

2… c5 3. f4 d6 4. Nc3 Nc6 5. Be2 

2… Bc5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. c3 d5 5. Nbd2 Nf6 6. Be2 O-O 

2… Nc6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. c4 Bc5 5. Be2 O-O 6. O-O d6 7. Nc3 a5 8. h3 

2… Nf6 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. c4 Bc5 5. Be2 d6 6. Nc3 Bg4 7. Be3 O-O 8. O-O Bxf3 9. Bxf3 Nd4 10. Kh1 c6 

History of the Leonardis Variation

The Leonardis Variation is named after the Italian player Leonardo Leonardis.

It is not considered one of the mainstream openings, but it has been played for many years.

This opening has been seen in various levels of play, including some high-level games.

Is the Leonardis Variation Good for Beginners or Intermediates?

The Leonardis Variation is a suitable opening for both beginners and intermediate players.

For beginners, the solid structure helps in avoiding early tactical complexities.

For intermediate players, it offers strategic depth and opportunities for a nuanced middlegame.

King Pawn opening: Leonardis Variation

How Often Is the Leonardis Variation Played at the Grandmaster Level?

The Leonardis Variation is not commonly seen at the grandmaster level.

Top players usually prefer more aggressive and theoretically explored openings.

However, it has been employed occasionally as a surprise weapon or in specific situations against particular opponents.


The Leonardis Variation of the King’s Pawn Opening provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of chess openings.

It emphasizes control, flexibility, and strategic nuance over aggressive tactics.

Though not a popular choice among grandmasters, it offers great learning opportunities for beginners and intermediates.

The Leonardis Variation serves as a reminder that even less common openings can provide rich and rewarding chess experiences.

Whether one is just learning the game or looking to explore new strategic horizons, this opening provides a unique and thoughtful path to engage with the endless complexities of chess.

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