A Visualization Of Popular Opening Chess Moves Over Time
Theoretically, there are 71,852 positions that can be obtained in chess after each player's fourth move, the vast majority of which are strategically useless. So where to start? This remarkable visualization shows how the opinions on this matter have changed over time.
These graphs were put together by computer science graduate research assistant Randal Olson. He explored a data set of 650,000 chess tournament games ranging back to the 15th century, though for this project he only used data on chess games dating back to 1850.
Looking at the graphic above, you can see how White's opening moves have changed, though aggression and the strategy of controlling the center have remained popular. The classic King's Pawn, in which the king's pawn is moved to e4 remains a staple, but other moves now rival it in popularity, including Queen's Pawn (Pawn to d4), the Zukertort Opening (Knight to f3), and the English Opening (Pawn to c4).
Because of the new openings, Black has had to adapt over time, as beautifully illustrated here: