Opening Chess Strategy: The Pirc Defense – GM Damian Lemos (Part 2)
The second video of this free three-part video series on the Pirc Defense by GM Damian Lemos is out! If you want to get familiar with some important opening chess strategy in one of the best chess openings for Black against 1.e4, you are right here. Did you miss the first video in which GM Lemos investigated White’s most aggressive opening setup against the Pirc – the Austrian Attack? Never mind – you still have the chance to watch it for free here.
The aim of this three-part mini-course on the Pirc Defense is to understand the key concepts and the main strategic ideas such as the different pawn breaks against White’s centre and various pawn sacrifices which help Black to take over the initiative.
Why play the Pirc Defense against 1.e4?
First of all, the Pirc Defense has long been the choice of players looking to win as Black against 1.e4. That said, the Pirc Defense is the choice of champions. The opening is named after the Slovenian International Grandmaster Vasja Pirc and frequently played by many top GMs including Vladimir Kramnik, Alexander Grischuk or Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.
Another advantage of the Pirc Defense is that many 1.e4 players won’t be expecting it. That said, the Pirc Defense gives you excellent winning chances due to its complexities. It is a highly flexible and double-edged opening with which Black can avoid premature simplification and go for the full point.
Soviet Union 1967: Volovich, Anatoly – Simagin, Vladimir
1. d4 – The Pirc Defense usually arises after the move order 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6. As we’ve seen in the first video, however, there are many move order transpositions. This is another advantage of playing the Pirc Defense. Even if your opponent plays 1.e4, you can still play 1.d6 and provoke him to go for 1.e4, occupying the centre right from the start.
1…d6 2. e4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 (see the diagram on the right) – Here we are. This is the starting position of the Pirc.
4. g3. This time, White goes for a more positional setup. 4…Bg7 5. Bg2 Nbd7 6. Nge2 O-O. So far, both sides played logical moves. 7. f4 (see the diagram on the left).
Instead of completing the development with some logical moves like 0-0, h3, Be3 Qd2, Rae1, White decides to grab more space in the centre. Now, Black has to prove that he is able to contest White’s pawn centre. In the game, Simagin finds an instructive way to do so.
7…c5! – Challenging the centre. 8. Be3 cxd4 9. Nxd4 Nb6 (see the diagram on the right).
This move might look strange at first glance. Knights are usually badly placed on b6. Here, however, there are several ideas connected with this move. First of all, Black threatens to occupy the c4-square. Secondly, the knight move frees the c8-h3 diagonal and Black can play …Ng4 or …Bg4 at an appropriate moment. A third idea is introduced by Simagin in the game.
10. Qd3 – White prevents Black from playing …Nc4. 10…Ng4! – a typical move, attacking White’s strongest minor piece and freeing the h8-a1 diagonal for the bishop. 11. Bd2 e5! (see the diagram on the left).
An excellent move by Simagin. He opens the position as White’s king is still on e1. One opening chess strategy of the Pirc Defense is to play dynamically. In the game, Black succeeds to challenge White’s centre.
12. Ndb5 exf4 13. Bxf4 – This move is a mistake. At first glance, it looks logical to recapture with the bishop as Black’s pawn on d6 isn’t defendable any more. However, after 13.Bxf4, Black gets control over many important squares, especially the e5-square for his knight. 13…a6 14. Nxd6 Ne5 15. Bxe5 Bxe5 16. Nxc8 Bxc3+ 17. Qxc3 Rxc8 (see the diagram on the right).
After some more moves and some massive exchanges (which GM Damian Lemos explains in the video) we can try to evaluate the position. White is a pawn up, but he faces a tough defensive task. His queen is attacked, his king is still on e1 and if the queen moves, Black can continue with dynamic moves like …Nc4 and …Qa5+.
In the game, White quickly lost control and couldn’t handle his task to defend. He resigned in a few more moves.
If you want to see how Black continued his powerplay, you have to watch the video with great insights into the thoughts of a grandmaster.
Opening Chess Strategy: The Pirc Defense – Conclusion
As we’ve seen, the Pirc Defense is an opening of counterplay.
You often have the chance to sacrifice a pawn in order to get the initiative or to go for several pawn breaks against White’s centre. This makes the Pirc Defense to one of the best chess openings against 1.e4. Stay tuned for GM Damian Lemos’ third video on the Pirc Defense and acquire a lot more knowledge about the opening chess strategy.
Do you want to learn more about the key concepts and ideas of this complicated opening system?
Do you want to learn more about the key concepts and ideas of Chess Openings? Click here to get a copy of “Best Chess Openings – DVD Bundle” from GMs Damian Lemos and Rafael Leitao