The Van Geet Opening, named after Dutch International Master Dirk Daniel Van Geet, is an unconventional chess opening that begins with 1.Nc3.
This offbeat strategy attracts players who want to avoid mainstream openings and are interested in setting the board for a rich, complex game.
This article aims to explain the move order, theory, strategy, purpose, variations, and history of the Van Geet Opening.
We’ll also examine its suitability for beginner and intermediate players, as well as its frequency of use at the grandmaster level.
Move Order of the Van Geet Opening
In the Van Geet Opening, White begins the game by moving the knight to c3.
The resulting position after 1.Nc3 is often quite unusual compared to the more traditional openings, with many potential directions for the game to take.
Theory, Strategy and Purpose of the Van Geet Opening
The idea behind the Van Geet Opening is to control the center squares while keeping the pawn structure flexible.
1.Nc3 aims to establish early knight development and facilitate the subsequent pawn pushes like d4 or e4.
This knight move can also confuse opponents who are not familiar with such an unorthodox opening.
Variations of the Van Geet Opening
Several variations can follow 1.Nc3. Two of the most common responses are 1…d5 and 1…e5.
After 1…d5, White can choose to go for the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit with 2.e4, or a type of Sicilian Defense in reverse with 2.e3.
After 1…e5, White often responds with 2.Nf3, leading to a Double Knights’ Opening.
Transposition of the Van Geet Opening to Alekhine’s Defense
If black responds to 1. Nc3 with 1. Nf6, 2. e5 transposes the position to the Nc3 version of the Alekhine’s defense:
If black responds with 2…d5, this transposes the Van Geet Opening into Alekhine’s Defense: Scandinavian Variation:
Encyclopedia of Chess Variations: Van Geet Opening
Evaluation of 1.Nc3
The evaluation of the Van Geet Opening, 1.Nc3, is approximately +0.00 – neither an advantage or a disadvantage for white.
We rate is #8 out of 20 on our list of opening moves.
Theory & Continuation Lines of 1.Nc3
Below are some common continuation lines and theory of 1.Nc3:
1… d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. Bf4 Bf5 4. e3 c6 5. Bd3 e6 6. Nf3 Bg6 7. O-O Nbd7 8. h3 Qb6 9. Bxg6 hxg6
1… d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. Bf4 Bf5 4. e3 e6 5. Nf3 Bd6 6. Bxd6 Qxd6 7. Bd3 O-O
1… d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. Bf4 Bf5 4. e3 e6 5. Bd3 c6 6. Nf3 Be7 7. O-O Bxd3 8. Qxd3 Nh5 9. Ne2 Nd7 10. Qb3
1… d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. Bf4 a6 4. e3 c5 5. dxc5 Nc6 6. Nf3 Bg4 7. h3 Bxf3 8. Qxf3 e6 9. g4 h6 10. h4
1… d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. Bf4 c5 4. e3 cxd4 5. exd4 a6 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. h3 Bf5 8. g4 Bg6 9. Ne5 Qb6 10. Na4 Qxd4 11. Qxd4 Nxd4 12. Nxg6 hxg6 13. O-O-O Nc6 14. Bg2 e6
1… d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. Bf4 c5 4. e3 cxd4 5. exd4 a6 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Ne5 Bf5 8. Nxc6 bxc6 9. Na4 e6 10. c3 Bd6 11. Bxd6 Qxd6 12. Bd3 O-O 13. Bxf5 exf5
Example Game of Winning with the Van Geet Opening
Below is an example game of white winning by employing the Van Geet Opening.
There are many fun tactical sequences in the game.
And many hard choices for both players in a complicated position.
They have to find what pieces to attack and which to defend.
Game at move 18 (white with +2.35 edge)
Full Game – Van Geet Opening (transposed to Alekhine’s Defense: Scandinavian Variation)
1. Nc3 Nf6 2. e4 d5 3. e5 Nfd7 4. d4 c5 5. f4 cxd4 6. Qxd4 e6 7. Be3 Nc6 8. Qd2 f6 9. exf6 Nxf6 10. Nf3 Bb4 11. Bd3 Ng4 12. a3 Qa5 13. Rb1 Nxe3 14. axb4 Qb6 15. b5 Nb4 16. Na4 Qa5 17. Ke2 d4 18. Nxd4 Ned5 19. c4 e5 20. cxd5 exd4 21. Rhe1 O-O 22. Nc5 a6 23. Ra1 Qc7 24. Qxb4 Qxf4 25. Kd1 Bf5 26. bxa6 bxa6 27. Bxf5 Rxf5 28. Qc4 Qg4+ 29. Qe2 Qxe2+ 30. Rxe2 d3 31. Nxd3 Rxd5 32. Ra3 Rc8 33. Kd2 a5 34. Rc3 Rb8 35. Kc2 Rd7 36. Nc5 Rf7 37. Kb1 h6 38. Ka2 Rf1 39. Rd2 Kh7 40. Nb3 a4 41. Nc5 Rb4 42. Rg3 Rf7 43. Ka3 Rb5 44. Nxa4 Ra7 45. Rc3 Rab7 46. b3 Rb8 47. Nc5 Ra8+ 48. Kb2 Rab8 49. Rc4 R8b6 50. Kc3 Rf6 51. b4 Rf1 52. Kb2 Rb8 53. Ne4 Rh1 54. h3 Re1 55. Nc3 Re5 56. Kb3 Rb7 57. Rd5 Re3 58. b5 Re6 59. Kb4 Rg6 60. g4 Re6 61. h4 Rf6 62. h5 g6 63. Rdc5 gxh5 64. gxh5 Kg8 65. Rc8+ Kg7 66. R4c7+ Rxc7 67. Rxc7+ Kf8 68. Nd5 Rf5 69. b6 Rf1 70. b7 Rb1+ 71. Kc5 Rxb7 72. Rxb7 Kg8 73. Kd6 Kh8 74. Ke6 Kg8 75. Nf6+ Kh8 76. Rh7# 1-0
History of the Van Geet Opening
The Van Geet Opening is named after Dirk Daniel Van Geet, a Dutch International Master who frequently used this opening in his games during the mid-20th century.
Despite its relatively recent introduction into high-level play, this opening quickly gained a reputation for being both unexpected and provocative.
Whether It’s Good for Beginners or Intermediates
The Van Geet Opening is well-suited for both beginners and intermediate players.
For beginners, it offers a great way to learn about less conventional openings and the concepts of piece development and control of the center.
For intermediate players, the Van Geet Opening offers opportunities to throw their opponents off balance and enter into less explored lines of play.
How Often It’s Played at the Grandmaster Level
The Van Geet Opening is not commonly seen at the grandmaster level.
While it can occasionally surface as a surprise weapon, most grandmasters prefer to stick with more traditional openings, due to their proven reliability and the depth of known theory.
However, this doesn’t diminish its strategic potential or its capacity to provide exciting and creative games.
FAQs – Van Geet Opening
1. What is the Van Geet Opening in chess?
The Van Geet Opening, also known as the Dunst Opening or the Sleipner Opening, starts with the move 1.Nc3.
Named after the Dutch International Master Dirk Daniel Van Geet, this opening is generally considered an irregular opening, meaning it’s not commonly seen in top-level play.
Nevertheless, it can be a surprising and effective choice in club games and for players looking to avoid mainline theory.
2. What are the main strategies associated with the Van Geet Opening?
The main strategy of the Van Geet Opening involves quick piece development and control of the center squares.
White’s knight move to c3 on the first move is aimed at controlling the d5 square and allowing flexibility in pawn placement.
In addition, the Van Geet Opening often leads to open, asymmetrical positions that can offer rich tactical opportunities.
3. How does 1.Nc3 affect the structure of the game?
Playing 1.Nc3 typically leads to a non-symmetrical structure and can catch unprepared players off-guard.
The game can transpose into many different openings, depending on Black’s response and how the game unfolds.
For instance, it can transpose to openings such as the Vienna Game (1.e4 e5 2.Nc3), the English Opening (1.c4), or even the Sicilian Defense (Closed) (1.e4 c5 2.Nc3).
4. What are common responses to the Van Geet Opening and how should White proceed?
Common responses by Black include 1…d5, 1…e5, 1…c5, and 1…Nf6.
In response to 1…d5, White often continues with 2.e4 to challenge Black’s control of the center.
If Black plays 1…e5, White can opt for 2.Nf3 aiming to establish a solid setup or can go for 2.f4 to start the Vienna Gambit.
Against 1…c5, 2.Nf3 and 2.e4 are popular choices. Against 1…Nf6, White might consider 2.e4 or 2.d4.
5. Can the Van Geet Opening lead to a closed game?
Yes, depending on the specific moves chosen by both players, the Van Geet Opening can lead to a closed game.
For example, if White chooses to follow up with a King’s pawn move (e3 or e4) and Black responds similarly (e5 or e6), the game can quickly transition into a closed position with a slower pace of play.
6. What are some famous games featuring the Van Geet Opening?
While the Van Geet Opening is not commonly used at the highest levels of professional chess, it has been employed in a number of notable games.
Dirk Van Geet himself has used it multiple times with great success in his career.
Another famous instance was the game between International Master Jeremy Silman and Grandmaster Edmar Mednis in the 1986 U.S. Open.
7. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Van Geet Opening?
Strengths of the Van Geet Opening include its flexibility, the rapid piece development it enables, and the surprise factor it can have due to its relative rarity.
It can also lead to complex, asymmetric positions that provide tactical opportunities.
On the downside, the Van Geet Opening does not immediately stake a claim in the center with a pawn, and an experienced player can seize the opportunity to establish a strong presence in the center.
It also does not put immediate pressure on Black, allowing them a relatively free hand in the opening.
8. How can one learn and practice the Van Geet Opening effectively?
The best way to learn and practice the Van Geet Opening is by studying games where it has been used, either in books, online databases, or chess software.
Understanding the ideas behind the moves and the resulting positions is crucial.
You can also practice by playing games using this opening against chess computers or human opponents, either online or in club play.
The Van Geet Opening is an unusual, yet intriguing opening that offers a wealth of unique strategic considerations and variations.
Named after Dutch International Master Dirk Daniel Van Geet, it encourages players to step outside the confines of traditional openings and explore a more freewheeling style of play.
While not commonly employed at the grandmaster level, it serves as a valuable tool for beginners and intermediate players to expand their repertoire and understanding of the game.
Regardless of its popularity, the Van Geet Opening certainly adds to chess’ rich repertoire, demonstrating that even at the very start, creativity and surprise can play a vital role.