What Is The Veresov Attack?
- A chess opening for White
- Characterized by the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 or 1.d4 d5 2.Nc3
- Named after the Soviet chess player Gavriil Veresov
- A surprise weapon for White to catch Black off-guard
- An attacking opening which leads to an unusual position
- Played by Super-GMs like Hikura Nakamura, Baadur Jobava and Richard Rapport
The Veresov Attack (also known as the Richter-Veresov Attack) is one of the most dynamic chess openings for White which occurs after the move 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 or 1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 (see the position on the right).
White usually follows up with the move 3.Bg5 (the classical move) or 3.Bf4 (the trendy move).
It is an offbeat opening for White which has become quite popular in recent years. Strong and creative grandmasters like Baadur Jobava and Richard Rapport have started to play this opening frequently and have contributed a lot of fresh ideas to the opening.
On top of that, many other strong grandmasters like Mamedyarov, Radjabov, Nakamura, Naiditsch and even Carlsen started to use this opening as a surprise weapon.
One of the main advantages of playing the Veresov Attack – especially at club level – is that White usually brings Black out of his comfort zone as early as move 2.
Most club players have never studied the relatively rare Veresov Attack and don’t know how to play against it.
If studied well, the Veresov Attack can serve as a killer chess opening for White. Nowadays, with the availability of huge databases and chess engines which calculate way better than any human can, it’s a huge advantage when you’ve done a lot of home-preparation and your opponent has to figure out all the moves on his own at the chessboard. Hence, the Veresov Attack can be a deadly weapon in the right hands.
This opening guide on the Veresov Attack provides you with all you need to know about this fascinating opening:
- What are the overall advantages of playing the Veresov Attack?
- How can White launch an early attack in this opening?
- Which opening traps and typical tactical motifs should both sides be aware of?
Are there good setups for Black with which Black can defend against this opening? All these questions will be addressed in this article.
How Can The Recent Popularity Of The Veresov Attack Be Explained?
Why has the Veresov Attack become so popular in recent years?
First of all, it’s a common occurrence among chess players of all levels to avoid heavy theoretical lines. In many openings, theory develops at a rapid pace. Most average players can’t devote many hours a day to study the latest trends in chess openings and can’t keep up with all the new lines and variations. Therefore, they tend to look for openings which are less forced, less explored and require a lot less up-to-date theoretical knowledge.
The Veresov Attack is one of those chess openings for White. The basics and key concepts of this opening are easy to learn and most of the time, Black players are also out of book early in the game. This is what many busy chess players like.
However, there is another important reason which explains the popularity of the Veresov Attack.
The reason is that the Veresov Attack is closely connected with the fashionable London System.
For many years, a very classical way to play the London System was to play the slow thematic moves 1.d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3.Bf4, followed by the moves e3, c3, h3, Bd3 or Be2 and 0-0.
However, theory moved on and opening experts figured out that the move order with 2.Bf4 allows more options such as 3.Nc3 against Black’s King’s Indian setup, going for immediate center expansion with e2-e4.
For this reason, according to the theory, the move 2.Bf4 is considered to be more accurate than 2.Nf3 as it leaves White with more options against Black’s various setups.
Due to the fact that Black has several ways to get easy equality with King’s Indian and Grunfeld setups against the classical London System, many White players started to play 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 g6 3.Nc3 (see the diagram on the right).
In this position, White threatens to play e2-e4, gaining a lot of central space.
If Black does not play the Pirc Defense against 1.e4, he usually can’t allow this and needs to play 3…d5 which leads to the Veresov Attack.
The Veresov Attack – Basics and Key Concepts
As stated above, the Veresov Attack starts with the moves 1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 (or 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3).
The move 2.Nc3 (see the diagram on the right) looks logical and counterintuitive at the same time.
One the one hand, it’s logical because White goes with the main opening principles. He occupies the center and develops one of his knights.
On the other hand, this move breaks with conventional wisdom about Queen’s Pawn Openings as it physically stops White from playing the common 2.c4, leading to the Queen’s Gambit.
This is also the main drawback of the Veresov Attack. White can’t use his c-pawn to fight for the center.
Instead, White’s idea is to go for quick piece development. He also keeps his options open to castle kingside or queenside.
One of the key squares in the Veresov Attack is the e4-square. The knight on c3 is not that well-placed on c3 if White doesn’t get the move e2-e4 in. The e4-pawn advance is supported by the knight. Hence, it’s a good strategy for Black to try to control the e4-square, not letting White play this move.
White, in contrast, often tries to support the e4-break. He usually delays the development of his kingside knight to keep the option to support the e4-break with the move f2-f3.
The Veresov Attack – An Aggressive Chess Opening For White
To start with, we to a look at the attacking potential of the Veresov Attack. In the database, you can find many games in the Veresov Attack with resulted in a quick win for White. Let’s take a look at some of these games:
Richter, Kurt Paul – Grunfeld, Ernst: Berlin 1928
Zhao Xue (2504) – Li, Yunshan (2024): China 2016
Euler, Gerd (2307) – Hahn, Florian (2189): Vellmar 2018
The Veresov Attack: How To Play With White
So far, we’ve seen three crushing wins in the Veresov Attack as an appetizer to integrate it into your repertoire of chess openings for White as a surprise weapon. In all these games, an early kingside attack – which is a recurring theme in this opening – decided the outcome of the game.
Yet, Black does not always play a setup with an early …g6 which gives White a hook from which to launch an attack with his h-pawn. IM Valeri Lilov has published an exclusive free two-part video series for iChess in which he takes a look at several setups Black can try against the Veresov Attack.
In the first part of this series, IM Valeri Lilov takes a look at variations where Black plays an early …c6 and …Qb6, attacking White’s pawn on b2.
In the second part, IM Valeri Lilov investigates several other setups for Black and shows that even Super-GMs like Michael Adams have difficulties to face the Veresov Attack.
The Veresov Attack: How To Play With Black
The many examples above can easily lead to the impression that Black has a very hard time to counter the Veresov Attack. This is what often happens in practice as the Veresov Attack usually comes as a surprise to the Black player.
However, there are several interesting ways for Black to take the steam out of this opening. In the following section, we’ll give you several ideas on how to play against the Veresov Attack with Black.
Black’s Transpositions: The French Defense, the Caro-Kann and the Pirc Defense
First of all, Black can have an easy life against the Veresov Attack if he plays any of the openings mentioned in the headline.
Black Plays A Classical Setup With …d5
If Black knows a few precise moves, he can also play classically against the Veresov Attack by occupying the center and developing his pieces to natural squares. Let’s have a look:
In the following video, GM Damian Lemos analyzes another interesting possibility to play for Black. It was seen in round 9 of the Tata Steel chess tournament between Grand Masters Naiditsch (2718) and Harikrishna (2706).
Black got equality and a quick initiative after a nice maneuver involving …Nh5-Nb4!, launching a queenside attack and winning in less than 19 moves.
Naiditsch, Arkadij (2718) – Harikrishna, Pentala (2706): Wijk aan Zee 2014
Black Plays A Setup With …Nf6, …d5 and …g6
Last but not least, we take a look at a very common setup for Black. In the past, White scored many crushing wins in this variation. If Black knows how to approach this variation, however, he has nothing to fear.
Opening Experts in the Veresov Attack:
If you want to become an expert in your chess opening, it is a wise decision to regularly check the games of the world’s leading experts.
You can watch their approaches against different opening setups and become familiar with the latest trends, fashionable move orders or opening novelties.
If you choose to play the Veresov Attack, you have several opening experts to follow.
Nowadays, the biggest experts in the Veresov Attack are undoubtedly Baadur Jobava and Richard Rapport, who frequently play it against all the best players in the world.
Other strong players to follow are Hikaru Nakamura, Olexandr Bortnyk and Nils Grandelius.
Conclusion – Master The Veresov Attack
The Veresov Attack is an interesting opening for club players, and you should consider giving it a try to expand your horizons. You can add it to your repertoire to play it from time to time. Very few club players will be properly prepared against the Veresov Attack.
In essence, the Veresov Attack is an unorthodox and exciting way to create difficult positions. In this territory, the reward goes to the player who has more experience of the unusual tactical situation that occurs.
If you want to learn more about this exciting opening, we’ve got a special offer for you.
FIDE Senior Trainer IM Andrew Martin has produced a chess course on this opening from White’s perspective. You can now get it with 38% off.