The Ideas Behind the Modern Defence

Table of Contents 
    1. The basic idea behind the Modern Defence:
        1. Good points for Black about the Modern Defence:
        2. Good points for White in the Modern Defence:
        3. Bad points about the Modern Defence:
    2. Non-governmental health warning
          1. Game 1: Charity,A - Teichmann,E [B09] (Cambridge Open), 05.1980
    3. White Pawn centres
      1. Classical centre
      2. Geller system
      3. Three-Pawn centre
      4. Pseudo-Austrian centre
      5. Pseudo-Samisch centre
      6. Averbakh centre
    4. Ideas for Black
      1. Dark square strategy
      2. Light square blockade (Gurgenidze)
      3. Queen's-side attack
      4. Hedgehog strategy
    5. Variations of the Modern and Pirc Defences
        1. Byrne variation: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. Bg5
        2. System with Be3: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. Be3
        3. System with h3: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. h3 O-O 6. Be37
        4. Classical variation: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. Be2
        5. Austrian Attack: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. f4
        6. Gurgenidze system: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 c6 4. f4 d5
        7. Monkey's Bum: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 c6 4. Bc4 d6 5. Qf3
        8. System with Bc4: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 (or 3. Nf3) 3...d6 4. Bc4 Nf6 5. Qe2
        9. Geller's system: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. c3 d6 4. Nf3
        10. King Fianchetto variation: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. Nge2 Nf6 5. g3
        11. Three Pawns attack: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. c3 d6 4. f4
        12. Variations with an early Be2: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. Be2
        13. Averbakh Variation: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. c4 d6
      1. P.S. The Modern Defence and related openings.
  1. Example games:
    1. White's King's-side attack
          1. Game 2: Liu Wen Hue - Donner H [B07] Buenos Aires ol. FS, 1978
          2. Game 3: (75) Hessmer - Haefner Th. [B09] Corr., 1986
          3. Game 4: (77) Fischer,R - Udovcic,M [B06] Rovinj/Zagreb Rd: 12, 1970
        1. Hit back in the centre!
    2. Black's dark-square strategy
          1. Game 5: Kovacevic,V - Seirawan,Y [B07] Wijk, 1980
          2. Game 6: Cramling,D - Yrjola,J [B08] It shv., 1984
    3. Knocking out White's big centre
          1. Game 7: Stein ,L - Suttles,D [B06] Sousse Tunisia, 1967
          2. Game 8: Byrne ,R - Donner ,J [B07] San Juan Puerto Rico, 1969
          3. Game 9: Filip,M - Bronstein,D [B07] Moskva, 1967
    4. Black's Queen's-side play
          1. Game 10: Nunn John D M,J - Shirov Alexei,A [B06] Bundesliga, 1996
          2. Game 11: Crawley ,G - Hodgson,J [B07] 1989
    5. Black's light-square blockade
          1. Game 12: Herrera C - Garcia G [B15] Ch Cuba, 1989
    6. The Hedgehog
          1. Game 13: Barczay Laszlo - Ivkov Borislav [B06] Sousse Tunisia, 1967
          2. Game 14: Keres,P - Navarovsky [B06] Luhacovice (13), 1969
          3. Game 15: (80) Barczay Laszlo - Suttles Duncan [B06] Izt., 1967
    7. Black's active pieces
          1. Game 17: Povah Nigel - Nunn John [B08] 1977
    8. Black's King's-side attack
          1. Game 18: Kauranen,R - Richardson,K [B08] CC WM 10,F FS 1978
          2. Game 19: Kortchnoi,V - Fischer,R [E97] 1970



  BOTTERILL/KEENE The Modern Defence (Batsford)

  DAVIES The Modern Defence (British Internet Chess Server, Warwick)

  HORT The Modern Defence (RHM)

  NORWOOD Winning with the Modern (Batsford)

  NUNN The Pirc for the Tournament Player (Batsford)

  NUNN The Complete Pirc (Batsford)

  NUNN New Ideas in the Pirc (Batsford)

  SOLTIS Black to play and win with 1...g6 (Chess Digest)

The basic idea behind the Modern Defence:

First Black allows White to set up a Pawn centre.


(This is the simplest kind of Pawn centre that White can set up.)

  Then Black hits back at it.

Black's pieces are all on good squares and Black even has a share of the centre. White can try and grab more of the centre than this, but the more White tries to grab, the bigger target you have got!

  This is quite a fun idea and often leads to more unbalanced battles than boring old 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5...

[I must add that there are lots of ways to unbalance the old Italian game (4. c3, 4. b4) and you can always try something else at move 3 (3. Bb5, 3. d4)]

Good points for Black about the Modern Defence:

  • It is unusual and White may not have a clue how to behave
  • It is difficult and unbalanced and so is a good system to play for a win with.

Good points for White in the Modern Defence:

  • White is given a free hand to set up the centre just as they like.
  • White holds the centre so it is much easier for White to get pieces from one side to the other.
  • White can use the big centre to attack down the middle of the board with e4-e5 or f4-f5
  • Black has weakened the King's-side and White has a little start towards a King's-side attack down the h-file.

Bad points about the Modern Defence:

The Modern Defence is one of the most difficult and awkward defences played by Grandmasters, and you can often lose games without ever understanding why you lost.

  Juniors and amateurs may have much more fun, and learn much more about the basics of chess, when playing the familiar open games beginning 1. e4 e5. One more caution:

Non-governmental health warning

One of the first times I ever saw the Modern Defence played was in 1980 at the Cambridge Open. Local expert Erik Teichmann had the Black pieces against an opponent, who, while a strong County player, was graded far below Erik.

Game 1: Charity,A - Teichmann,E [B09] (Cambridge Open), 05.1980
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.f4 Nf6 5.Nf3 0-0

White plays a direct attacking line against Black's hypermodern opening.

6.Bd3 Nc6

  White breaks in the centre.

7.e5 dxe5 8.dxe5 Nd5 9.Bd2 Nb6 10.0-0 f6

  Black shouldn't open lines on the King's-side, that's just what White wants!

11.exf6 Bxf6 12.Ng5 e6

White plays a temporary sacrifice: White's centralised pieces can attack Black's King while the Black Queen's-side pieces cannot get back to defend.

13.Nxh7! Kxh7 14.Qh5+ (at this point Erik ceremoniously tore up his score sheet) 14...Kg8 15.Qxg6+ Bg7 16.Qh7+ Kf7 17.Bg6+ Ke7 18.Qxg7+ Kd6 19.Ne4+ Kd5 20.Qc3 Qe7 21.Qb3+ Nc4 22.Qb5+ Kd4 23.Bc3+ (Resigns)

  [23.Bc3+ Ke3 24.Rae1#]


  Rather an abrupt game. Now, most of your opponents can't play as well as Alec Charity, but if Erik can be blown away using this defence so can you. What went wrong here? Well, if you think about it, White's most basic plan in the opening is:

1. Develop quickly and grab as much of the centre as you can

2. Use your development and space advantage to attack the opponent's King

3. Attack by opening up lines for your better pieces.

  Now, in the Modern Defence Black seems to help White do all these things! All right, it isn't quite that simple, but if White is determined to attack Black it is very difficult to stop it happening, and there are several sharp White systems which come very close to delivering mate almost by force. All you need is one little mistake and Black is finished.

  In playing the Modern Defence you are playing a very risky, dangerous system with rules all of its own. To rub this point in, I give below a few master games where strong Black players just get smashed right out of the opening (Hue-Donner, Hessmer-Haefner, Fischer-Udovcic). You must be aware that this can happen to you, and what the do's and don'ts are of these positions.

  Here's Steve Haataja:


Good lines, in some sense, are ones that your usual opponents cannot refute. If you are having trouble dealing with early queen sorties, then your opponents are playing "good lines" by bringing out the queen early. If handling this situation gives you trouble, I suggest playing more offhand games against players who do this, and trying it out some yourself. You will learn how to deal with such situations by a combination of observing others handle it and good old trial and error.

Here is a personal example. When I began playing the Modern Defence, things went pretty well at first. But then I ran into a fellow at the club who would quickly castle Queen's-side, play h2-h4, then h5. The h-file would open up and he'd checkmate me in maybe fifteen more moves. These were five-minute games, BTW. He did this to me several times that first night.

It became terribly frustrating. Nobody else attacked as savagely as he did, and I did fine against less violent variations. He went so far as to play 1.e4 g6 2.h4 (a slap in the face) a couple times, with great success. But after about four weeks of beatings, I finally timed the counter-punch in the centre correctly (the general principle: counter a flank attack with play in the centre). His attack lost steam and I won. He soon stopped single-mindedly playing for checkmate down the h-file as I was winning every such game. That was one of the best chess lessons I ever learned. Quickly hitting back in the centre became an instinctive reaction to the dreaded h2-h4. You can read the principle 100 times in books, but until you actually experience it firsthand, it's just somebody else's theory. -- Steve Haataja

White Pawn centres

Classical centre

This is the most modest centre that White can build up. Black can easily get a share of the centre with ...e7-e5 but that doesn't do the Bg7 any good, so Black must also be careful to keep White's pieces under control and look for any active play that is going. It's actually quite an annoying system to play against! (See the games Cramling-Yrjola, and Kauranen-Richardson)

Geller system

This is another quiet system - White does not bite off more than can be chewed, and supports the d-Pawn against any pressure from the Bg7. Black can play ...c7-c5 and/or ...e7-e5 which may open up the long dark diagonal again. (See Filip-Bronstein).

Three-Pawn centre

This centre takes a little while to set up but is quite solid and can be dangerous once White gets some pieces behind it. Black must hit back with moves like ...c7- c5 and ...e7-e5. (See the games Stein-Suttles and Byrne-Donner below.)

Pseudo-Austrian centre

This is one of the most dangerous systems for White (as we saw in Charity-Teichmann), and many Black players try to move into a solid Hedgehog or Gurgenidze system in response (Games: Hedgehog: Barczay-Ivkov, Keres-Navarovsky, Engedal-Davies, Gurgenidze: Herrera-Garcia)

Pseudo-Samisch centre

White can play quietly behind this centre but can also use it to launch a King's-side Pawn storm with moves like g2-g4 and h2-h4. Black must try to keep this storm under control while hitting back in the centre or on the Queen's-side.

Averbakh centre

White can transfer the weight of the attack to the Queens'-side by playing c1- c4 before developing the Queen's Knight. This can be very like - even become - lines of the King's Indian Defence (Games: Korchnoi-Fischer).

Ideas for Black

Dark square strategy

This is the most common sort of central counter-attack. Black must be careful to get the King out of the way before opening up lines in the centre. (Games: Kauranen-Richardson, Cramling-Yrjola)

Light square blockade (Gurgenidze)

This is a very solid system which Black players often play against dangerous White systems like the Pseudo-Austrian. Black should aim to hold things tight on the King's-side and gradually move into White's Queen's-side.

  This is almost a separate opening, and can actually arise commonly from the Caro-Kann Defence. Below I give several whole games to give you a feel for this way of playing, and if you want to take up this strategy, I recommend you play over all of them (as notes to Herrera-Garcia).

Queen's-side attack

Black hopes to make trouble on the Queen's-side - either opening a file or nudging the Knight away from the defence of e4. Black must be careful though, because White can also try to make use of open lines there if White has not castled Queen's-side. But if the White King is to be found there, the Black Bg7 is already pointing straight at him!

  (Games: Crawley-Hodgson, Nunn-Shirov, Polajzer-Davies)

Hedgehog strategy

Black can set this arrangement up against more or less any White system. It is not a strategy in itself, just a way of waiting. It is very flexible and Black can try to make a break at any point on the board, but Black can get stuck without any active play because Black cannot get enough pieces to any one spot on the board. White can then pick a time and place to break through. So Black cannot just curl up, but should aim to break up White's centre with moves like ...c7-c5 (Games: Barczay-Ivkov, Keres-Navarovsky, Engedal-Davies).

Variations of the Modern and Pirc Defences

Byrne variation: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. Bg5

White can play with pieces or follow up with f2-f4.

System with Be3: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. Be3

Usually White plays Qd2, maybe with a Samisch-style centre, maybe not.

System with h3: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. h3 O-O 6. Be37

One idea is to play a sort of classical variation with Bc4.

Classical variation: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. Be2

A modest system aiming for quick development and a small edge.

Austrian Attack: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. f4

An aggressive line grabbing space in the centre and King's-side.

Gurgenidze system: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 c6 4. f4 d5

A blockading line, useful against the Austrian Attack.

Monkey's Bum: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 c6 4. Bc4 d6 5. Qf3

An anti-Gurgenidze idea: "If that works, then I'm a Monkey's Bum!" (Nunn-Shirov)

System with Bc4: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 (or 3. Nf3) 3...d6 4. Bc4 Nf6 5. Qe2

White often follows with e4-e5; with early Nf3 White may play quietly with c3

Geller's system: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. c3 d6 4. Nf3

Another modest system hoping to blot out the Bg7

King Fianchetto variation: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. Nge2 Nf6 5. g3

A quiet line with slow play: Black can play standard moves.

Three Pawns attack: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. c3 d6 4. f4

Another space-grabbing line, but not very good on piece development.

Variations with an early Be2: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. Be2

White intends to follow up with h2-h4 or g2-g4, hoping for an attack.

Averbakh Variation: 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. c4 d6

A move towards Queen's-side openings like the King's Indian or Benoni The Modern Defence is just the fianchetto of the King's Bishop while delaying the development of the King's Knight. If the King's Knight is played to f6 early on, we may have transposed into one of two other openings: the Pirc Defence or the King's Indian Defence.

  The Pirc Defence is usually played with the move order 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3, which stops White moving into a Queen's-side opening with c2-c4. With a Modern Defence move order White can play something like 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. c4 when a later ...Nf6 will transpose into the King's Indian Defence. This is a good fighting defence to the Queen's-side openings, which many Grandmasters like to play, and usually begins 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 (see Korchnoi-Fischer).

  If you don't like playing the King's Indian Defence (it is very complicated - whole books have been written about single variations of the Defence!) but still want to play the Modern Defence, you don't have to play ...Nf6 and instead you can find some other move after 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. c4 d6 4. Nc3, like 4...Nc6, 4...Nd7 or even 4...f5. On the other hand, Black's side in these various lines of the Averbakh Variation can be tricky to handle.

  One clever move order is 1. e4 g6 2. d4 d6 3. c4 when 3...e5 is the idea. If White now pushes on here with 4. d5 you can play 4...f5, and if White plays 4. dxe5 dxe5 5. Qxd1+ Kxd1 then your King's Bishop can come out to c5 instead of being stuck on g7. If you don't want to White to be able to move over to a Queen's-side opening at all, you can always play the Pirc Defence with an early ...Nf6 and Nb1-c3.

Example games:

White's King's-side attack

Game 2: Liu Wen Hue - Donner H [B07] Buenos Aires ol. FS, 1978
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Be2 Bg7 5.g4 h6?

  Weakening the King's-side even more; 5...c6 6. g5 Nfd7 is better, or 5...Na6 planning ...c5.

  Oddly, in reply to 5. h4, Black can reply 5...h5, because it is difficult for White to open a file without creating weaknesses in White's own position. 5...c5, hitting back in the centre, is also a good reply.

6.h3 c5 7.d5 0-0?

  Having weakened the King's-side so much, that's the last place Black should put his King! Perhaps Jan thought that White had given up the idea of a King's-side attack after 6.h3, but...

8.h4! e6


9.g5 hxg5 10.hxg5 Ne8 11.Qd3 exd5 12.Nxd5 Nc6 13.Qg3 Be6 14.Qh4


14...f5 15.Qh7+ Kf7 16.Qxg6+! Kxg6 17.Bh5+ Kh7 18.Bf7+ Bh6 19.g6+ Kg7 20.Bxh6+

  [20.Bxh6+ Kh8 21.Bxf8+ Qh4 22.Rxh4#]


Game 3: (75) Hessmer - Haefner Th. [B09] Corr., 1986
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4 Bg7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.e5 Nfd7 7.h4 c5 8.h5 cxd4 9.hxg6


9...dxc3 10.gxf7+ Rxf7 11.e6 cxb2 This may win by force but Black is taking an awful risk playing this way. This game was played by correspondence, so he may have thought he could find his way out of any trouble, or he may just have trusted his books...

  [11...Rf6 12.exd7 Bxd7 13.Bd3 h6 14.bxc3 Nc6[[threesuperior]]]

12.exf7+ Kf8 13.Bxb2 Bxb2 14.Bc4 Qa5+ 15.Kf1 Nf6 16.Rb1 Qc3 17.Bb3!?

  [17.Ne5 Bf5; 17.Bd3 Bg4]

17...Bg4 "with great advantage to Black" - Botterill & Keene. 18.Ng5! Bxd1

  [18...Qxb3 "better, but still winning for White" - Nunn]

19.Rxh7 Nbd7 20.Ne6# 1-0

Game 4: (77) Fischer,R - Udovcic,M [B06] Rovinj/Zagreb Rd: 12, 1970
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.f4 Nc6 5.Be3 Nf6 6.h3 0-0 7.g4


An enormously bold - even arrogant - way of playing. White intends to swamp the Black King's-side.

  The first rule of these positions is:

Hit back in the centre!

7...e5! 8.dxe5 dxe5 9.f5 gxf5 10.gxf5 Nd4

  Exchanging Queens first was safer! 11.Nf3 c5 12.Bg5 Qb6 13.Bxf6 Qxf6 14.Nd5 Nxf3+ 15.Qxf3 Qh4+ 16.Ke2 Be6 17.Ne3 Rad8 18.Rg1


Black has some ideas for counterplay, but is in too much trouble on the open g-file. 18...Kh8 19.fxe6 fxe6 20.Qg3 Qf6 21.Qxg7+ Qxg7 22.Rxg7 Kxg7 23.Ng4 Rf4 24.Ke3 Rdf8 25.Be2 h5 26.Nxe5 Rh4 27.Rg1+ Kh7 28.Rh1 Rhf4 29.Nd3 R4f7 30.Nxc5 Rc8 31.Nxe6 1-0

Black's dark-square strategy

Game 5: Kovacevic,V - Seirawan,Y [B07] Wijk, 1980
1.d4 g6 2.e4 d6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.Be2 Nf6 5.g4 c6 6.g5 Nfd7 7.h4 b5 8.h5 Rg8 9.hxg6 hxg6 10.Nf3 b4 11.Nb1 a5 12.a4 c5 13.d5 Nb6 14.c4 Kd7 15.Nbd2 Rh8 16.Rg1 Kc7 17.Rb1 Rh3 18.b3 Qh8


Black's control of the dark squares is complete. 19.Nf1 N8d7 20.Bf4 Ne5 21.Nxe5 Bxe5 22.Bxe5 Qxe5


The disappearance of Black's monster Bishop has not saved White, the dark squares still belong to Black. 23.f3 Bd7 24.Qc2 Qd4 25.Rg2 Rh1 26.Rf2 Qh8 27.f4 Qh4 28.Rd1 f6 29.gxf6 exf6 30.e5 fxe5 31.fxe5 Rf8 32.exd6+ Kb7 33.Bd3 Re8+ 34.Be2 Rxf1+ 35.Kxf1 Qh1# 0-1

Game 6: Cramling,D - Yrjola,J [B08] It shv., 1984
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Be2

  [5.h3 0-0 6.Be3 a6 7.a4 b6 (7...Nc6; 7...d5!?) ]

5...0-0 6.0-0 Bg4


7.Be3 Nc6 8.Qd2 e5


This standard position has been largely abandoned by White, while bored Blacks have been experimenting with an early ...c6. 9.dxe5

  [9.d5 Ne7 10.Rad1 Bd7 11.Ne1 b5! 12.a3 (12.Bxb5 Nxe4) 12...a5 13.Nd3 c6 14.dxc6 Bxc6 15.Bh6 b4 16.Bxg7 Kxg7 17.axb4 axb4 18.Nb1 Qb6 19.Kh1 Rab8 Barlov-Jansa, Bor 1985: Black is at least equal, according to John Nunn]

9...dxe5 10.Rad1 Qc8 11.Qc1 Rd8 12.Rxd8+ Qxd8


13.Rd1 Qf8 14.h3 Bxf3 15.Bxf3


15...h5!? with the idea of exchanging the B on h6. 16.Nb5 Rc8 17.c3

  [17.Nxa7 Nxa7 18.Bxa7 b6 and the Bishop is buried ]

17...Kh7 18.Na3 Bh6 19.Bxh6 Qxh6 20.Qxh6+ Kxh6 21.h4 Kg7 22.Nc4 a5 23.Kf1 Kf8


This is quite OK for Black. 24.Ke2 Ke7 25.Ke3 b5 26.Na3 Na7 27.Be2 c6 28.Nb1 Ne8 29.Nd2 Nd6 30.g3 Rd8 31.f4 exf4+ 32.gxf4 Nac8 33.Nf3? Nc4+ 34.Kf2 Rxd1 35.Bxd1 Nxb2 36.Be2 Na4 37.c4 b4 38.Nd4 Kd7 0-1

Knocking out White's big centre

Game 7: Stein ,L - Suttles,D [B06] Sousse Tunisia, 1967
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.c3 d6 4.f4 c5


A bold but hopefully temporary Pawn sacrifice. 5.dxc5 Nf6!? 6.cxd6 exd6 7.e5

  [7.Nf3 0-0 8.Bd3 Black can exploit the act that he has already castled: 8...Nxe4! 9.Bxe4 Re8]

7...dxe5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.fxe5 Re8 10.Nf3


Duncan Suttles may have chosen wrongly here: 10...Nc6?

  [10...Ng4!? (Botterill/Keene) 11.Bg5+ f6 12.Bh4 (12.Bf4 fxe5 13.Bg5+ Kc7) 12...Nxe5 e.g. 13.Nxe5 Rxe5+ 14.Kf2 Rf5+! with easy equality, since White has no good square for his King.]

11.Bb5 Bd7 12.Bxc6 Bxc6 13.0-0 Ng4 14.Bg5+ Kc8 15.Nbd2 h6 16.Bf4 g5 17.Bg3 Ne3 18.Rf2 Nf5 19.Nc4 Bd5 20.Nfd2 Nxg3 21.Nd6+ Kd7 22.Nxe8 Rxe8 23.hxg3 Bxe5 24.Rd1 Kc6 25.Nb3 b6 26.Nd4+ Kc5 27.g4 Bf4 28.Nf5 Re5 29.g3 Rxf5 30.gxf5 Bxg3 31.Rfd2 Bf3 32.Rf1 Bf4 33.Rxf3 Bxd2 34.Rd3 Bf4 35.Rh3 Kd5 36.Rxh6 Ke5 37.Rh7 f6 38.Rxa7 Kxf5 39.Kf2 Bd6 40.Rb7 Bc5+ 41.Kg2 1-0

Game 8: Byrne ,R - Donner ,J [B07] San Juan Puerto Rico, 1969
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.c3 d6 4.f4 Nf6 5.Bd3 e5 6.Nf3 exf4 7.Bxf4 0-0 8.0-0 c5 9.Nbd2 cxd4 10.cxd4 Nc6


White still has his centre but none of the advantages that can go with it. Black has good development and an equal game. 11.Qb3 d5 12.e5 Ne4 13.Nxe4 dxe4 14.Bxe4 Nxd4 15.Qe3 Ne6 16.Bg3 Qb6 17.Qxb6 axb6 18.b4 b5 19.Rf2 Re8 20.Rc2 1/2../strong>

Game 9: Filip,M - Bronstein,D [B07] Moskva, 1967
1.Nf3 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.e4 d6 4.c3 Nf6 5.Nbd2 0-0 6.Be2 b6


Preparing ...c5 7.0-0 e6 8.Re1 Bb7 9.Bd3 c5 10.dxc5 bxc5 11.e5 dxe5 12.Nxe5 Nc6 13.Ndc4 Nxe5 14.Nxe5 Qc7 15.Qe2 Rab8


Black's split Pawns are not weak because White is not organised to attack them - in fact, the half-open b-file gives Black a little initiative. 16.Bd2 Ba8 17.Nc4 Nh5 18.Be4 Bd5 19.b3 Rfd8 20.Rad1 Nf6 21.Bc2 Qb7 22.Na5 Qb6 23.Nc4 Qa6 24.Ne3 Qxe2 25.Rxe2 Bc6 26.f3 a5 27.Be1 Rxd1 28.Nxd1 a4 29.bxa4 Ra8 30.Bf2 c4 31.Bd4 Nd5 32.Bxg7 Kxg7 33.Be4 Rxa4 34.Bxd5 Bxd5 35.Ne3 Bc6 36.Rc2 Kf6 37.Kf2 Ke7 38.Ke1 Kd6 39.Kd2 Kc5 40.Kc1 Ra8 41.Rd2 f5 42.Rd4 Ra4 43.Kb2 e5 44.Rd8 Ra8 45.Rxa8 Bxa8 46.Nd1 Bc6 47.Kc1 g5 48.Kd2 Bd7 49.Ke2 f4 50.Nb2 h5 51.Kf2 g4 52.g3 Bc6 53.fxg4 hxg4 54.gxf4 exf4 55.Kg1 Bf3 56.Kf2 Be4 57.Kg1 Bc2 58.Kf2 Bb1 59.a3 Bc2 60.Ke1 Kd5 61.Kf1 Bd3+ 62.Kf2 Bg6 63.Nd1 Be8 64.Nb2 Bb5 65.Ke2 Ke4 66.Kf2 Kf5 67.Kg1 Kg5 68.Nd1 Kh4 69.Kg2 Ba4 70.Nf2 g3 71.hxg3+ fxg3 72.Kg1 Bc2 73.Kf1 gxf2 74.Kxf2 Kg5 75.Ke3 Kf6 76.Kd4 Bb3 77.Kc5 Ke7 78.a4 Kd7 79.a5 Kc7 80.Kb5 Kb7 81.Kc5 Ka6 82.Kb4 Ba2 83.Ka4 Bb1 84.Kb4 Bd3 85.Ka4 Bc2+ 0-1

Black's Queen's-side play

Game 10: Nunn John D M,J - Shirov Alexei,A [B06] Bundesliga, 1996
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c6 4.Bc4 d6 5.Qf3 e6 6.Nge2 b5 7.Bb3 a5 8.a3 Ba6 9.0-0 Nd7 10.Bf4 Qe7 11.Rad1 e5 12.Bg5 Ngf6


Black insists on a share of the centre as well as a counter-attack on the Queen's-side. 13.d5 c5 14.a4 b4 15.Nb5 Nb6 16.Qd3 c4 17.Bxc4 Nxa4 18.Ra1 Nxb2 19.Qb3 Nxc4 20.Qxc4 Rc8 21.Qd3 Qd8 22.c4 0-0 23.Ra2


A tense position where all the play is on the Queen's-side, and Black must be pleased with the two connected passed Pawns. Black sacrifices the exchange to remove White's last Queen's-side Pawn... 23...Rxc4 24.Bxf6 Bxf6 25.Qxc4 Qb6 26.Qc7 Qxb5 27.Qxd6 Kg7 28.Rc1 Rd8 29.Qc6 b3 30.Rb2 Qd3 31.Rcb1 Rc8 32.Qa4 Rc2 33.Rxb3 Qxe2 34.Rf3 Bd3 35.Qd7 Bxe4 36.Rxf6 Kxf6 37.Qd6+ Kf5 38.Rf1 Bd3 39.Qd7+ Kf6


Black has nibbled in a circle all the way around the board to finish off the White King! 0-1

Game 11: Crawley ,G - Hodgson,J [B07] 1989
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 c6 4.g3 g6 5.Bg2 Bg7 6.a4 0-0 7.h3 b6 8.Nge2 Bb7 9.0-0 Nbd7 10.Bg5 a6 11.Re1


An unusual opening by White: Black starts his Queen's-side play as usual.

11...b5 12.Qd2 b4 13.Nd1 a5 14.Bh6 e5 15.Bxg7 Kxg7 16.Ne3 c5 17.d5 Ba6 18.c4 bxc3 19.Nxc3 c4 20.Nb5 Nc5 21.Qc2 Rb8 22.Nxc4 Bxb5 23.axb5 Rxb5 24.Bf1 Nb3 25.Ra3 Nd4 26.Qc3 Qb8


Black has a comfortable initiative on the Queen's-side.

27.Kg2 Rc8 28.Rxa5 Rb3 29.Qc1 Qb4 30.Ra6 Rxb2 31.Qxb2 Qxe1 32.f3 Nxf3 33.Ra1 Qxe4 34.Nxd6 Rc2+ 0-1

Black's light-square blockade

Game 12: Herrera C - Garcia G [B15] Ch Cuba, 1989
1.e4 c6

  [1...g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c6 4.f4 (4.Bc4!? when 4...d6 may be best) 4...d5 5.e5 h5 is the Modern Defence move order.]

2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 g6 4.e5 Bg7 5.f4 h5 6.Nf3 Nh6 (6...Bg4!?)










7.Be3 Qb6

  [7...Bg4 is more usual: 8.Be2 (8.h3!?)

A) 8...e6 9.Qd2

(9.Bf2 Nf5 10.g3 Bf8 11.Qd3 Nd7 12.h3 Bxf3 13.Bxf3 c5 14.Ne2 Qb6 15.b3 Nxd4 16.Nxd4 cxd4 17.c3 Rc8 18.Bxd4 Bc5 19.0-0 Nb8 20.Rf2 Bxd4 21.cxd4 Nc6 22.Rd1 Kd7 23.Kg2 Ne7 24.g4 hxg4 25.hxg4 Rc6 26.Qe3 Qb4 27.Qd2 Qb6 28.Qe1 a6 29.Rfd2 Qb4 30.Qf2 Rc3 31.Rc2 Rxc2 32.Qxc2 Rc8 33.Qd2 Qxd2+ 34.Rxd2 Rc3 35.Kf2 Kc6 36.Be2 Kb6 37.Rd3 Rc2 38.a3 Ra2 39.b4 Kc7 40.Ke3 Kd7 41.Rc3 Nc6 42.b5 Nxd4 0-1 Aseev Konstantin N-Titov German/Kostroma Russia 1985)

  9...Nd7 10.g3 Nf5 11.Bf2 Bf8 12.h3 Bxf3 13.Bxf3 Bb4!

(13...h4!? 14.g4 Ng3!? with counterplay for the Pawn that will be lost on g3. 15.Rg1 Qb6 16.0-0-0 Qa6 17.Qd3 Qxd3 18.Rxd3 c5 19.Nb5 c4 20.Rdd1 Rc8 21.Bxg3 hxg3 22.Rxg3 a6 23.Nc3 b5 24.Rh1 Rh4 25.Ne2 Nb6 26.g5 c3 27.b3 a5 28.Bg4 Bb4 29.Ng1 a4 30.Rh2 Ke7 31.Kd1 Ra8 32.Nf3 Rhh8 33.Ne1 Nd7 34.Nd3 axb3 35.cxb3 Ba5 36.Nc1 Nb8 37.a3 Bb6 38.Ra2 Rc8 39.Rd3 Nc6 40.Rxc3 Bxd4 41.Rd3 Bb6 42.b4 Nxb4 43.axb4 Rxc1+ 44.Kxc1 Rxa2 0-1 Arnason Jon L-Christiansen Larry M/It open 1986)

  14.a3 Qa5! 15.g4 hxg4 16.hxg4 Rxh1+ 17.Bxh1 Ne7 18.Bh4 Nb6 at least equal if not better for Black: Pasman-Ciocaltea, 1982;

B) 8...Nd7;

C) 8...Nf5 9.Qd2 e6 10.Nd1 Nd7 11.0-0 Bh6 12.Nf2? Bxf3 13.Bxf3 Nxe5 14.dxe5 d4 15.Bxd4 Qxd4 16.Qxd4 Nxd4 17.Nd3 Nxc2 18.Rac1 Nd4 19.Kf2 0-0-0 20.Rfd1 Nxf3 21.Kxf3 Rd4 22.g3 Rhd8 23.Nf2 Bf8 24.Rxd4 Rxd4 25.Rc2 Kc7 26.Ke3 Rd5 27.Ne4 Be7 28.Rc1 a5 29.b3 b5 30.h3 a4 31.g4 h4 32.bxa4 b4 33.Rb1 Ra5 34.Nd6 Rxa4 35.Nxf7 Rxa2 36.Nh8 Bc5+ 37.Kd3 Ra3+ 38.Ke2 Re3+ 39.Kd2 Rxh3 40.Nxg6 Rg3 0-1 Morris-Norwood, 1990]

8.Rb1!? Bg4 9.Be2 e6 10.b4 Nf5 11.Bf2 Bf8

"Black has done everything right." - Norwood. 12.0-0 Nd7 13.Na4 Qc7 14.c3 Be7 15.Nb2 a5 16.a3 Kf8 17.Ng5 Bxe2 18.Qxe2 Kg7 19.g3 Qd8 20.Qd2 axb4 21.axb4 Ra2 22.Kg2 Nb6!

This is good for Black, White has no real idea what he can do next. 23.Qc1 Bxg5 24.fxg5 Nc4 25.h4 Qd7 26.Kh3 Re8 27.g4 hxg4+ 28.Kxg4 Rh8 29.Rh1 Qd8 30.Rh3 Qg8 31.Nxc4 dxc4 32.Rb2 Rxb2 33.Qxb2 Qh7 34.Kf4 Qh5 35.Qd2 Ra8 36.Rh1 Ra3 37.Be1 Ne7 38.Kg3 Ra1 39.Rh2 Rd1 40.Qf2 Nf5+ 41.Kf4 Rd3 42.Qe2 Ne7 43.Qxh5 gxh5 44.Ke4 Nd5 45.Bd2 Kg6 0-1

The Hedgehog

Game 13: Barczay Laszlo - Ivkov Borislav [B06] Sousse Tunisia, 1967
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.Bc4 a6 5.0-0 e6 6.Bg5?! Ne7 (Black was going to do this anyway) 7.Qd2 h6 8.Be3 Nd7 9.Nc3 b6 10.Rfe1 Bb7 11.a4


Black may be crouching but his position is solid. White, having achieved more or less complete development, just decides to try and hack through straight away, but it all goes wrong ... 11...Nf6 12.e5 Nfd5 13.Bf4 Nxc3 14.Qxc3


14...0-0 15.exd6 cxd6 16.Qa3


White's attack has produced a threat to the d-Pawn, but Black is ready to counterattack. 16...Nf5 17.c3?


17...Bxf3 18.gxf3 e5! 19.Bg3

  [19.dxe5 dxe5 20.Bxe5 Bxe5 21.Rxe5 Qg5+ 22.Kh1 Qf4]

19...h5 20.dxe5 dxe5 21.Kh1 Qg5

  [21...Qg5 22.Rg1 (22.Bxe5 Bxe5 23.Rxe5 Qf4) 22...h4 23.Bxe5 Qh5]


Game 14: Keres,P - Navarovsky [B06] Luhacovice (13), 1969
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Nf3 a6 5.Bc4 e6 6.Bg5 Ne7 7.0-0 h6 8.Be3 Nd7 9.a4 b6 10.Re1 Bb7 11.Ra3


Paul Keres was one of the greatest attacking players of the game, but grinds to a halt against the hedgehog... 11...Nf6 12.Bd3 0-0 13.h3 c5 14.dxc5 bxc5 15.e5 dxe5 16.Nxe5 Nfd5 17.Bxc5 Nxc3 18.Rxc3


A confused position where both sides have loose pieces. 18...Qd5 19.Bf1 Qxd1 20.Rxd1 Bd5 21.Bxe7 Rfe8 22.Rc5 Bb7 23.Rc7 Bd5 1/2../strong>

Game 15: (80) Barczay Laszlo - Suttles Duncan [B06] Izt., 1967
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.Bc4 c6 5.Nc3 b5 6.Bb3 b4 7.Ne2 a5 8.c3 Nf6 9.e5 dxe5 10.Nxe5 0-0 11.0-0 Nfd7 12.Ng4?! a4! 13.Bc2 c5 14.Bh6 a3!


Black is determined to open up the long dark diagonal! Nimzovitch always used to say that a Pawn chain should be attacked at its base, which in this case is b2. 15.Bxg7 axb2 16.Rb1

  [16.Bxf8 bxa1Q 17.Qxa1 Nxf8 18.Nh6+ Kg7 19.cxb4 Kxh6 20.dxc5 Wade says this is better for Black.]

16...Kxg7 17.cxb4 Nb6 18.Ne5 cxd4 19.Bb3? f6 20.Nd3 e5 21.Rxb2 Nc6 22.a4 Qd6 23.Qc2 Bf5 24.Ng3 Bxd3 25.Qxd3 Nxb4 26.Qb5 Rfb8 27.Ne4 Qe7 28.a5 Nd7 29.Qc4 f5 30.Ng5 Qxg5 31.Qf7+ Kh6 32.Qxd7 Nd3 33.Rbb1 Nc5 34.Qd5 Rxa5 35.Bc4 Rxb1 36.Rxb1 Qe7 37.Bf1 Ra7 38.Re1 Rd7 39.Qg8 e4 40.Bc4 0-1

Black's active pieces

Game 17: Povah Nigel - Nunn John [B08] 1977
1.e4 d6 2.d4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.Bc4 Nc6!?

  [4...Nf6 is a normal Pirc]

5.Nf3 Nf6 6.h3 0-0 7.Qe2 e5 8.dxe5 dxe5 9.0-0 Nd4 10.Qd3 Nd7 11.a4?! Nc5 12.Qd1 c6 13.b3 Nce6 14.Nb1 Qf6 15.Nh2 Nf4 16.c3 Nde6 17.Ng4 Qh4 18.Nd2 Ng5 19.f3



  [19...Ngxh3+ 20.gxh3 Qg3+ 21.Kh1 Qg2#]


Black's King's-side attack

Game 18: Kauranen,R - Richardson,K [B08] CC WM 10,F FS 1978
This game was played in the world correspondence championship.

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.Be2 Nf6 5.Nc3 0-0 6.0-0 Bg4 7.Be3 Nc6 8.Qd3 e5 9.d5 Ne7 10.Rad1 Bd7


Black wants to keep the 'good' light-squared Bishop on the board. It's not quite a King's Indian but in this game Black eventually fires off a classic KI-style King's-side attack. (Compare Korchnoi-Fischer 1970) 11.Nd2 Nh5 12.g3 a6 13.Bf3 b5 14.a3 Qe8 15.Qe2 Nf6 16.b4 h5 17.Nb3 Ng4 18.Nb1 f5 19.exf5 gxf5


Recapturing with a Pawn leaves Black in control of lots of central squares, and gives him the g-file to attack down. 20.Bg5 Bf6 21.Bxf6 Nxf6 22.Bg2 Qf7 23.Qd2 Kh7 24.Na5 Rg8 25.c4 bxc4 26.Nc3 h4 27.Kh1 Qh5 28.Qe2


28...Ng4 29.Bf3 Qh6 30.Bxg4 Rxg4 31.f3 Rg7 32.gxh4 Rag8 33.Nxc4 Qxh4 34.Ne3 f4 35.Ng4 Nf5 0-1

Game 19: Kortchnoi,V - Fischer,R [E97] 1970
This exciting game was played in a blitz tournament.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Nf3 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.Nd2 c5


Black blocks the Queen's-side so it is harder for White to attack there. 10.a3 Ne8 The Knight gets out of the way of the f-Pawn. 11.b4 b6 12.Rb1 f5 13.f3 f4 14.a4 g5


In this typical King's Indian position with a blocked centre, it's as if each side has their own private arena for action. 15.a5 Rf6 16.bxc5 bxc5 17.Nb3 Rg6 18.Bd2 Nf6 19.Kh1 g4 20.fxg4 Nxg4 21.Rf3 Rh6 22.h3 Ng6 23.Kg1 Nf6


24.Be1 Nh8 The real Grandmaster touch. 25.Rd3 Nf7 26.Bf3 Ng5 27.Qe2 Rg6 28.Kf1 Nxh3 29.gxh3 Bxh3+ 30.Kf2 Ng4+ 31.Bxg4 Bxg4 It's easy to see the appeal of the KID after such a game. 0-1

Chess Quotes

The King himself is haughtie care,
Which ouerlooketh all his men,
And when he seeth how they fare,
He steps among them now and then,
Whom when his foe presumes to checke,
His seruants stand, to giue the necke.

The Queene is queint, and quicke conceit,
Which makes her walke which way she list,
Ans rootes them up, that lie in wait,
To worke hir treason ere she wist:
Hir force is such against her foes,
That whom she meets, she ouerthrowes...

— Nicholas BRETON (1542-1626), The Chesse Play.