The Pirc Defense is a chess opening for Black against 1.e4 which is named after the Slovenian Grandmaster Vasja Pirc. It has the reputation of being flexible and double-edged, and it occurs after the moves 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6.
This powerful opening gives you excellent winning chances as it’s a highly flexible, tricky, and double-edged opening with which Black can avoid premature simplifications and confidently go for the full point.
Many positions in the Pirc Defense promise Black more active play than in most other openings. Black is able to enter unbalanced positions, which allows him to aim for more than equality with the Black pieces.
Black can avoid premature simplifications, keep many pieces on the board and go for the full point. Therefore, the Pirc Defense is the perfect weapon for players who seek a complex strategic fight with the Black pieces.
In this video, GM Damian Lemos takes a deep dive into the Pirc Defense, and looks at the minor lines White can play, starting with 3. Bd3.
The Pirc Defense with 3. Bd3
Sidelines are sidelines for a reason. GM Damian Lemos explains that it does not make sense to memorize tons of theory to refute rare and harmless sidelines. It will cost you too much time and energy memorizing these variations.
When it comes to theory, you should focus on the important main lines which strong players go for. In these lines, you need to know your stuff inside out.
Knowing the most important recurring strategic and tactical motifs helps you to cope with the sidelines which often occur against weaker opponents.
After 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6, White can play the move 3.Bd3 (see the diagram on the left) to protect his pawn on e4. However, it has to be said that the bishop is not well-placed on d3.
White commits himself too early by moving this piece to d3. Very often against the Pirc Defense, the bishop is better placed on e2.
GM Damian Lemos suggests playing 3…e5, occupying the center. Black can, of course, play 3…g6. Then, however, he must be ready to play the King’s Indian Defense if White goes for 4.c4. After 3…e5, White has three options: 4.dxe5, 4.d5 and 4.c3.
If White plays 4.d5, the bishop on d3 is badly placed. Black can just develop his bishop to e7 and challenge the center with …c6.
After 4.dxe5, Black can continue with 4…dxe5 5.Nf3 Bc5 6.0-0 (6.Nxe5?! Bxf2+! 7.Kxf2 Qd4+ and Black regains the piece and his pawn) 6…Qe7.
In this position, Black can even consider castling queenside and play for a kingside attack with …h6 and …g5 in the long run. Black has at least equality, as you can see in the diagram on the right.
4.c3 can be met by the surprising 4…d5! 5.dxe5 Nxe4 and Black can develop all his pieces easily.
Be sure to watch the video for complete explanations of these plans, as well as GM Damian Lemos’ recommendations should White play 3. f3.
Lemos Deep Dive: The Pirc Defense
In his comprehensive 9 hours Deep Dive course, GM Damian Lemos builds up your knowledge on one of the most dynamic chess openings for Black, the Pirc Defense, one of the most dynamic chess openings for Black.
Put your opponents on the defensive with a classic counter-attacking weapon against 1.e4, the Pirc Defense (1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6).
With Super GMs like Grischuk, Ivanchuk, and Kramnik adopting this opening, you’re in an excellent company and can enjoy being a master of one of the most exciting opening options available to Black.