The Alekhine Defense – Play for a Win with Black!

the alekhine defense play for a win with black blog image

Play the Alekhine Defense in a chess game and send a clear message to your opponent – I’m here to win!

A chess player as great as Alekhine deserves to have a double-edged defense named after him. The move 1…Nf6 is in keeping with Alekhine’s attacking spirit.

Based on sound positional principles, you get to play for a win without resorting to a dubious or slightly inferior gambit.

Here you can play a solid opening to win!

Alekhine Defense Four Pawns Attack

“Know thy self” is sound advice when it comes to choosing your opening repertoire.

“Know thy enemy” is the next step after you have chosen your repertoire. When learning an opening pay attention to what the other side is planning.

In the Four Pawns variation (1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.f4) of the Alekhine Defense, white sets up an imposing center, going all-in with pawns on c4, d4, e5, and f4.

four pawns attack
By attacking the black knight white has established a broad pawn center without falling behind in development

The necessary qualities in a large pawn center are

  • flexibility
  • and the ability to advance.

These pawns will provide cover for the white pieces in the build-up to an attack. They must be flexible so they can advance against the black king.

Black can castle on both sides, so the white center must be able to advance on either flank.

Knowing white’s plans allows black to work on limiting the pawn flexibility and halting their advance. If the advance can’t be stopped, black must ensure it happens to his advantage.

One way for black to go about this is to play …dxe5 followed by …c5 while keeping firm control over the d5-square. 

Plan B for black is to undermine the center with …f6, and after …Bxf6, the pressure on d4 compensates for the weak e6 pawn.

Defending the Pawn with 7.Nf3

1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.f4 dxe5 6.fxe5 Nc6.

Although numerous pawn moves in the opening aren’t usually recommended, white has used them to attack the knight. This has kept him from falling behind in development.

In this position, the d4-pawn is attacked twice by black, so white must defend it with either 7.Nf3 or 7.Be3.

In the four pawns attack Black plays 6...Nc6 to put pressure on the d4-pawn
Black plays 6…Nc6 to put pressure on the d4-pawn

Black can meet 7.Nf3 with the natural 7…Bg4. This moves forces a weakening of white’s kingside pawn structure after …Bxf3.

When black plays …Bxf3, white must recapture with gxf3, or else the d4 pawn is lost. White can cope with this weakness because the black knights are both on the queenside, giving him time to protect his king.

After gxf3 black must resist the temptation to play …Qh4+ that is easily met by Bf2. Instead, it’s better to continue with normal developing moves …e6, …Be7, …O-O, …f6, etc.

Here is a game to show you the dangers white faces against the Alekhine Defense.

Defending the Pawn with 7.Be3

Against 7.Be3 black has a good way to play by developing his bishop on f5.

Play might continue 7….Bf5 8.Nc3 e6 9.Nf3 Be7 10.Be2 O-O 11.O-O.

Here is a game showing how to play against the d4-pawn.

Black Can Develop with …Bg7 in the Alekhine Defense

Instead of exchanging on the fifth move with 5…dxe5, black can adopt a King’s Indian Defense set-up against the Four Pawns Attack.

The big difference in the Alekhine Defense is instead of a knight on f6, black has a knight on b6. Still, this is a good way for black to develop.

Whenever you develop a bishop on g7, it combines very well with …c5 to increase the pressure on the d4-pawn. This is true of many openings and not only the Alekhine Defense.

1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.f4 g6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.Nf3.

Black can often develop with ...Bg7 in the Alekhine Defense
Black can often develop with …Bg7 in the Alekhine Defense

Even though he was rated almost 200 Elo lower than his opponent, Li was able to draw his game against Gipslis.

Final Thoughts on the Alekhine Defense

If you choose to play the Alekhine Defense in your chess games you create an imbalance on the first move. This immediately lets both players know they have every chance to win.

Although you want to have detailed knowledge of the opening from your chosen side it helps to understand what your opponent’s plans are.

Always remember even in an attacking defense it’s important to use prophylaxis to restrain your opponent.

Act Now! Get 50% Off! this comprehensive Alekhine Defense course by GM Marian Petrov. You will learn all you need to play this exciting defense confidently for Only $29.95!

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