Every chess player improves by applying prophylaxis to their games. You can do it consciously or without knowing you are using it.
The moment you stop to ask, “What is my opponent’s plan?” and make a move to prevent that plan, you are applying prophylaxis.
Seeing your opponent’s immediate threats is one thing, but anticipating his plan several moves in advance is more challenging. To reach this point in your chess development, you must make an in-depth study of prophylaxis.
Make it a vital part of your chess training, no matter your playing level.
Although you are likely to change your opening repertoire, the chess strategy of prophylaxis is one you will use your entire chess career.
World Champion Anatoly Karpov was known for using prophylaxis in many of his chess games. Please take a look at how Karpov used it in his victory over Timman.
Prophylaxis Is Crucial In Chess Openings
Playing chess openings on auto-pilot is never a good idea! Sometimes we become so familiar with our openings we assume our opponent will follow theory.
In light of this danger, it is good to understand the reasons behind the moves in your opening repertoires—especially the chess moves where you apply prophylaxis.
One of the best chess openings that use prophylaxis is the Ruy Lopez. The opening moves are 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6.
White’s attempt to win a pawn with 4.Bxc6 and 5.Nxe5 fail if Black recaptures with the d-pawn. 4…dxc6 allows Black to meet 5.Nxe5 with 5…Qd4 attacking pawn and knight.
By choosing to play 4…dxc6 in his chess opening, Black uses prophylaxis. He prevents his opponent from winning a pawn.
That’s why the most common response to 3…a6 is 4.Ba4 when play usually continues:
4…Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Bb7
It is good to consider your plans, how your opponent might react to them, and apply prophylaxis ahead of time in chess. This ensures you can successfully implement your plan.
White played 8.c3 to support the d4 advance. However, if he plays this move instead of 9.h3, Black can apply pressure on the center with …Bg4.
The h3 move in chess openings frequently prevents…Bg4 or …Ng4. Of course, knowing when it is needed and when not to use it is vital.
9.h3 would be a loss of tempo if White intended to play d3 instead of d4 because the pawn on d3 is not under attack. In this instance, White can ignore …Bg4 and continue his development with Nbd2.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and applying prophylaxis in chess will give you much more than an ounce of prevention. In fact, you can play many fine games using prophylaxis as your primary chess strategy.
You can block all of your opponent’s plans and watch as his frustration mounts. The more frustrated you make your opponent, the more likely he will make a mistake.
What can be more satisfying than watching him crumble without being in the slightest danger of losing? Imagine how good it would feel to win a game where your opponent never once placed you in check, never mind threatened a checkmate.
GM Fabien Libiszewski has created a three-hour course packed with practical wisdom that you can apply in your games right away!
The clear explanations behind the moves will not only help you see the value of prophylaxis but also deepen your chess understanding. Most importantly, Fabien will tell you why a move got played.