Prophylactic play: Block your opponent

OCL2-01The idea of chess prophylaxis is to destroy your opponent’s plans. Prophylactic moves are not specifically intended just for improving one’s position, but also for preventing the opponent from improving his own.

“Do not always be thinking of attack! Moves that safeguard your position are often far more prudent.” – Aron Nimzowitsch.

Very often, we get overexcited by our own plans and attacking ideas, and forget that the opponent also exists. This can cause a negative game result.

“If you don’t follow what your opponent does, you’ll be complaining about unluckiness after every game” – Victor Korchnoi.

No chess player can fully avoid this typical mistake during the playing process, but we can limit it as much as possible.


Mainly we make mistakes not because of our missed opportunities, but through disregarding the moves and ideas of our opponent. The key word for prophylactic thinking is concentration. We have to imagine ourselves in our opponent’s place and think how he would react against our possible plan, or what intention he had while making his latest move.

OCL2-02Block Tactical Play

Prophylaxis is а strategy that leads to positional play, which can frustrate tactical/attacking players. Prophylactic play creates unpleasant consequences that keep the opponent from initating tactical play. One of its greatest advantages is that it keeps risk to a minimum while at the same time causing an aggressive player to lose patience, leading to mistakes. However, it frequently fails against an opponent who is content with a draw.


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