Réti Opening

The Réti Opening is a hypermodern chess opening whose traditional or classic method begins with the moves:

Réti Opening
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
d5 black pawn
c4 white pawn
f3 white knight
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
h1 white rook
Moves1.Nf3 d5 2.c4
OriginRéti–Rubinstein, Carlsbad, 1923
Named afterRichard Réti
ParentFlank opening
Synonym(s)Réti System
Réti–Zukertort Opening
1. Nf3 d5
2. c4[1]

White attacks Black's pawn from the flank, which may occasion 2...dxc4. White may couple this plan with a kingside fianchetto (g3 and Bg2) to create pressure on the light squares in the center.

The opening is named after Czechoslovakian Richard Réti (1889–1929). The opening is in the spirit of the hypermodernism movement that Réti championed, with the center being dominated from the wings rather than by direct occupation. Hooper and Whyld noted that if White fianchettoes both bishops, castles kingside, and refrains from occupying the center with pawns, the result may be described as the Réti system.[1]

1.Nf3 develops the knight to a good square, prepares for quick castling, and prevents Black from occupying the center by 1...e5. White maintains flexibility by not committing to a particular central pawn structure, while waiting to see what Black will do. Although van der Sterren began his treatment of the Réti with the significance of 1.Nf3 itself, he qualified the remark, underlining: "What Réti so brilliantly conceived was not just a certain move-order or a single variation, but an entire concept, the strategic concept of a flank opening."[2]

In the Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings (ECO), Réti Opening is classified as codes A04–A09, where it is closely associated with the King's Indian Attack.[3]


Scoresheet of Réti–Capablanca, New York 1924

According to Réti, the opening was introduced into master play in the early part of 1923.[4] Réti used the opening most famously to defeat José Raúl Capablanca, the reigning World Chess Champion, in a game at the 1924 New York tournament.[5] Alexander Alekhine played the Réti in the 1920s, but at that time almost any game that began with Nf3 and c4 by White was considered to be the Réti. Réti popularized these moves against all defenses in the spirit of hypermodernism, and as the opening developed it gained structure and a clearer distinction between it and other openings.

Hans Kmoch called the system of attack employed by Réti in the game Réti–Rubinstein, Carlsbad 1923,[6] "the Réti Opening" or "the Réti System". Savielly Tartakower called the opening the "Réti–Zukertort Opening", and said of 1.Nf3: "An opening of the past, which became, towards 1923, the opening of the future."[7]

Classic method: 2.c4 Edit

In modern times the Réti refers only to the configuration Nf3 and c4 by White with ...d5 by Black, where White fianchettos at least one bishop and does not play an early d4.[8]

After 2.c4 (ECO code A09), Black's choices are:

  • 2...e6 or 2...c6 (holding the d5-point)
  • 2...dxc4 (giving up the d5-point)
  • 2...d4 (pushing the pawn)

If Black takes the pawn, then in the same manner as the QGA, 3.e3 or 3.e4 regain the pawn with a slight advantage to White, as Black is left somewhat undeveloped. 3.Na3 and 3.Qa4+ are also good, and commonly played. This variety of White options limits the popularity of 2...dxc4. Trying to protect the pawn with 3...b5?! allows 4.a4! leaving white with a superior position. The alternatives - 2...d4, 2...c6, and 2...e6 - are more common, with the latter two generally leading to a Queen's Gambit type of position, and 2...d4 typically being answered with 3.e3 (sometimes leading to the Blumenfeld Gambit) or the interesting 3.b4!?


Position after 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 e6
Position after 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 e6 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 Be7 5.0-0 0-0

After 2.c4 e6, White can play 3.d4, transposing to the Queen's Gambit Declined.

3.g3 Nf6 is the Neo-Catalan Opening.

After 4.Bg2, Black may play ...Be7 or ...dxc4. After 4...Be7, White can play 5.d4, transposing to a Closed Catalan.

Or else White can castle, then Black probably castles as well.

1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 e6 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 Be7 5.0-0 0-0 6.d4 to
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0

With 4...dxc4 to 4.Bg2, White's most common move is 5.Qa4+, and this will not correspond to a 1.d4 line.

After 2.c4 c6, White can play 3.d4, transposing to the Slav Defense.

After 2.c4 c6 3.e3 Nf6, White can play 4.d4, transposing to the Slav Defense.

After 2.c4 c6 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6, White can play 5.d4, transposing to the Semi-Slav Defense.

However, White can play 5.b3 instead.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Hooper, David; Whyld, Kenneth (1992). The Oxford Companion to Chess (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 337, 479. ISBN 9780198661641.
  2. ^ van der Sterren, Paul (2009). Fundamental Chess Openings. Gambit. p. 248. ISBN 9781906454135.
  3. ^ "ECO codes, A04-A09". 365chess.
  4. ^ Schiller, Eric (1988). How to Play the Réti. Coraopolis, Pennsylvania: Chess Enterprises, Inc. ISBN 978-0-931462-78-8.
  5. ^ Richard Reti vs Jose Raul Capablanca, New York 1924
  6. ^ Richard Reti vs Akiba Rubinstein, Karlsbad 1923
  7. ^ Tartakower, Savielly; du Mont, Julius (1975). 500 Master Games of Chess (1952). Dover Publications. p. 636. ISBN 0-486-23208-5.CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  8. ^ Modern Chess Openings, 15th edition, by Nick de Firmian, ISBN 978-0-8129-3682-7, p. 718

Further readingEdit