Pirc Defense | Ideas, Principles and Common Variations

Pirc Defense | Ideas, Principles and Common Variations

Hi everyone, Stjepan here! I’ll start a new opening series today, and
it will be on the Pirc Defense, which is a hyper-modern opening, and a bit different
to the stuff I’ve been covering so far. The Pirc, often mispronounced as “perk”, or,
in Croatian, “Pirčevka”, was named after Vasja Pirc, a Slovenian Grandmaster, Yugoslavian
Grandmaster. So it should be called the Pirc Defense, because
he wasn’t Vasja “perk”. Anyway, it’s a hyper-modern opening in which,
after e4, black plays the move d6. This is quite a quiet move, and black is basically
giving up the center to white, and black agrees to play in a hyper-modern fashion, where he
allows white to create a strong center, and then he crashes through it afterwards if he
plays correctly. Now, you are going to see that the opening
bears a lot of resemblance with the King’s Indian Defense and with the Benoni in some
cases, so, all three have a similar idea of fianchettoing the bishop for black and striking
through at white’s center with c5 and e5. What black is basically doing, after the moves
e4, d6 and white’s normal continuation d4, taking the center, black hopes to develop
his minor pieces, castle his king, and then break open the white center. Now, what white should do in response to this
is, simply oblige, create a strong center and try to keep it afterwards. This will only be an introduction to the Pirc. I’m going to cover each variation you can
see on the screen in detail in a separate video, and we are going to go over all the
important lines, and here I’m going to try to give you the basic ideas behind the opening
and just show you what each side can play. Now, the good news for white against the Pirc
is that he gets to decide what type of game they are going to play. And very often white is the one who can decide
whether it will be tactical, whether it will be positional, and what types of positions
will arise from the game. Now, the normal move after d4 is Nf6, and
white play Nc3 here. The move f3 has been seen, and this is called
the Lion Defense now, this actually transposes, but it could also transpose into the 150 Attack,
which is the Pirc once again, so f3 is a strange sideline, so if you play the Pirc with the
black pieces, you need to be prepared for this as well. I’m going to go over it in the 150 Attack
video, so on that variation because it bears a lot of resemblance to it. But, as I said, after d4, Nf6, the main way
to defend your pawn is with the knight, so Nc3. And here black enters the normal Pirc Defense
with the move g6. I would like to mention one move briefly,
which actually transposes to the Philidor Defense, and, if you play e4 and you face
the Pirc often, then you must have faced this move. That’s the move e5. And this, if white misplays it, leads to an
endgame in which black is perfectly fine, I would argue even slightly better. If you get tempted and take the pawn, so dxe5,
dxe5, Qxd8, Kxd8. This is almost an improved Berlin for black,
because his c pawns aren’t doubled, he is actually challenging the e file with his e5
pawn. And this is completely equal. The face that black can’t castle doesn’t mean
absolutely anything, and black is going to play c6, Kc7, develop normally and have a
fine game. So, this sideline with e5 should be met with
Nf3, simply declining, and now you have entered the Philidor Defense, after Nbd7, Bc4, Be7,
etc. And I’m going to cover this in detail in the
Philidor series, this is the Lion variation. But, as I said, don’t be surprised if you
enter this position. So after e4, the Pirc with d6, d4, Nf6, Nc3,
black doesn’t have to play the main move g6, black can go for e5. And just remember not to take this pawn because
the resulting endgame doesn’t give white almost any advantage. And, by the way, sorry, I’m just moving into
a new apartment, so the recording setup is quite strange and I have a lot of stuff around
co I couldn’t find a normal table, but, anyway. Lets get going. So after Nc3 black plays g6. And, as I said, black’s idea is to allow white
to create a strong center, and then to fianchetto his bishop, castle his king and open up the
center, most commonly with c5, but with e5 as well. Hyper-modern openings haven’t been popular
really up until the 20th century, the Pirc has been played in the 19th century, but with
varying success, not really that much success, and in the 1960s, it became popular and played
commonly. Now, Bobby Fischer played it once against
Boris Spassky in the 1972 match, game 17 ended in a draw. And there are quite a lot of popular, strong
Grandmaster games which you can check out. So the first thing I would advise you to do
is to look at 10 or 20 games just to get a feel for the position. As I sad, white gets to decide what the opening
will be like. White has six moves here. Perhaps even more, but almost all other moves
apart from these six are quite dubious, and from these six moves, two are the most popular,
two are the main lines. The move f4 is the Austrian Attack, and the
move Nf3 is the Classical Variation. Those two are the best for white. And those two are objectively the strongest
way for white to play. Now, they are completely different. The move f4 is tactical, leads to very sharp
positions in which white is going to attack as soon as possible, and the move Nf3, the
Classical Variation, with this move white is going for a slow, steady advantage which… In these positions black can hardly equalize,
if white plays correctly, so I think that people who play the Pirc Defense hope for
f4, and something aggressive because that gives them more chances, because the Pirc
is a fighting opening, and if you dampen their counter play with Nf3, which Nf3 does perfectly,
then players with black, especially lower rated ones often get confused and find their
pieces cramped on the back row. Imagine the bishop being here, the king castled,
the bishop either goes here or here, the knight goes to d7, so all of black’s pieces are stuck
on the first three rows, and white can expand normally and almost create a perfect chess
setup. Be3, Bd3, 0-0, Qd2, Rd1, Re1, and you have
a position as if it came from a textbook, while, on the other hand, black is cramped
on the back row and still has to find some counter play. the other lines which I’m going to go over
are Be3, which is a very, very aggressive setup, and c6 is the main move for black. Here white goes Qd2. This is the so called 150 Attack. I have no idea why is it called that, and
it’s quite an unimaginative name, but, still. And this setup basically is something like
the Yugoslav Attack, and white is going to play f3, 0-0-0, play g4, h4, sack, sack mate,
the Bobby Fischer method, and I have to say this is one of my favorite ways to fight the
Pirc Defense. Another line which is quite popular is Bg5,
this is the Byrne variation, named after Byrne, an American Grandmaster. And this, I wouldn’t recommend because I think
this is… Well, your bishop is going to end up on g3,
and I can’t really see a big advantage for white after Bg7, Qd2, h6, Bh4, g5, Bg3. I mean, black has sort of overextended his
pawns on the kingside and it’s going to be much harder to castle, but still, I think
that you need your bishop on e3, and I would prefer to play other lines. One very interesting way for white to play
is the move g3, the Sveshnikov System, and this doesn’t really copy black’ plan, because,
even though both sides are going to fianchetto their bishops, white still has a broad center
and white can sometimes even continue with the move f4 and cramp black’s position down. So after Bg7, Bg2, 0-0, Nge2, e5, h3, this
position is quite playable for white and I like it. It’s unusual and most people who play the
Pirc Defense aren’t going to be used to this. And the last variation which we are going
to go over is Bc4, and this is the Kholmov System, and even though it’s been played a
long time ago, it’s sort of a new idea to develop the bishop to c4, because normally
the bishop goes to e2, and then to c4 in some lines. This is a very aggressive setup with which
white could have quick wins and the bishop is, of course, much better on c4 than on e2. So lets say Bg7, Qe2, Nc6, e5, opening up
the center, Nd7, Nf3. You can see that black is sort of forced to
go back and white has a free hand in the center, and, as in every chess opening white isn’t
much better or anything, but, if black is not careful he could get in trouble much faster
than white because white has more space, white has more activity, and white’s king is, at
the end, safer because there are no black pieces around it. So these, all of these six we are going to
go over in separate videos. So the series is going to be six video. Let me just go back to this position. So, the Pirc Defense is, well, myself as an
e4 player, I like to face it because I think that black can go wrong much sooner than white
can. Of course, if white isn’t careful then he
could blunder, and, several strong grandmasters have played it. I would want to name Yasser Seirawan in particular,
who’s played it for a long time, and you can check out a lot of his games. He brought numerous ideas to the theory of
the Pirc, and his games are very instructive, and you should check out his games to see
how to play this with the black pieces. Nevertheless, I prefer the position for white. Let’s just go over some of the main lines. So f4, the Austrian Attack with the idea of
basically bringing another defender to the center, so the move e5 can be played, but
it doesn’t work. And in the Austrian Attack, one thing you
have to remember is that once black plays the move e5, your general plan is to take
with one pawn and then advance the other. You should never take twice. So after e5, lets say e5 here even though
it’s not the best move, you either take here, or, after e5 you take here, so lets say this
happens. So, in the Austrian Attack, you basically
want to be able to move one of your pawns forward, and that’s why you use the third
pawn, and it’s the most aggressive setup against the Pirc. Black’s most common move is Bg7, the move
e5 here for white isn’t really as dangerous, white continues with Nf3, black castles, Bd3,
and white develops his pieces before going to an attack. Na6 is played instead of Nc6, because this
could be an annoying tempo, the move d5, 0-0, c5, and here you cans see what black is trying
to do in the Pirc. Black has developed, black has castled, and
now he is trying to undermine the center. And the only way for white to keep his center
is to play the move d5. If white captures on c5, Nxc5 is actually
fine for black, and white doesn’t have a huge advantage at all. So white has to play for an attack. d5, trying to keep those pieces at bay, and
now lets say Bg4, which is the main move, and white’s idea is, ideally, to exchange
this main defender in black’s position and to advance the pawns when the position is
favorable and when you manage to get an attack out of your advancing pawns. In the Classical System, the story is quite
different, and this is probably my second favorite system against the Pirc. I usually play the 150 Attack with Be3, Qd2. But Nf3 is the most solid way to play. I’m not sure what is the main line now, f4
and Nf3 have both been played thousands of times in grandmaster games. I think about equally. But Nf3 is the most solid way. Bg7, Be2, as I said you don’t go to c4, sometimes
you do it later, but you need your bishop here because Bg4 is an annoying move, 0-0,
and here, already, you need to be prepared for sidelines, and there’s a variation which
I really don’t like facing. I have played this against a Fide Master about
a year ago or two years ago. He played c5 here immediately, opening up
the center before I got time to castle. I took and he played Qa5 and he is going to
recapture here with the queen. You really have to be careful. If I try to be greedy or something, then after
this move my position is just losing. You can see that black has a lot of tricks
in the Pirc, and you need to be careful from the start of the game. So lets say Nf3, Bg7, Be2, c5 is already possible
here and you need to be prepared for that, so the Pirc is an opening in which black tries
to lure you into his trap. He tries to put his king to safety and then
break through your center immediately. But the main move isn’t c5, it can happen
but 0-0, 0-0, c6 here, and black is trying to develop, create a small center and then
open it up later. C5 is possible here as well, d5 is the main
move, so in most cases when c5 is played you need to close the position down, now, ideally,
you would like to do that in a way that blocks down this bishop, which is really hard to
do. So black has significant counter play. You need to be prepared to have nerves of
steel with both sides here, especially with the black pieces, because, if you get scared
while playing the Pirc, if you panic, if you move your pieces backwards before it’s necessary,
then you are going to have a losing position. For example, in the Austrian Attack after
f4, Bg7, Nf3, 0-0, here I would play Bd3 and one of my opponents moved his knight backwards
fearing e5. I’ve actually had, in blitz games, after Nf3
my opponents moving their knight backwards. You need to know when you have to move backwards
and when you don’t have to retreat, when the position is fine. In that respect, the Pirc is a very complicated
opening and i hope I’m going to be able to explain all the variations thoroughly and
in a way in which you can understand them. I’m looking forward to that. Once again, a very complex hyper-modern opening,
very popular nowadays, and, even though you won’t see it in every 2800 game, or in world
championships, it’s still a very viable defense for black and if white doesn’t know hat he’s
doing, and if white is expecting something normal, such as e5 or c5, then the move d6
can be a very strong surprise weapon. Now, one thing I would like to mention is
that after e4, there is a defense very similar to the Pirc, and that’s the move g6 which
is the Modern Defense. And now after d4, Bg7, Nf3, d6, you might
think that this is the same as the Pirc, even though some people classify it as the Pirc-Modern
defense, the Modern is also known as Robatsch. The Modern Defense is basically when black
delays the development of the knight to be able to counter the move e5 better and to
have more options available for him. So we are going to cover the Robatsch or the
Modern Defense in a separate series, because they are different openings. Ok everybody, I hope you got something from
this introductory video on the Pirc Defense. It’s going to be six more videos with six
main variations. Please do let me know what you think. Let me know if you want some other variations
to be covered, some sidelines which you think are important. I might include them. And thanks very much! Thanks very much for watching and stay tuned
for more chess! See you later. Bye, bye!

35 comments / Add your comment below

  1. It is called the 150 attack after English players. They have a separate rating system to Fide and it was popularized by players with a rating around 150. That’s as much as I know🤷🏼‍♂️

  2. What if white decides to chase the knight in the opening with 3. e5? I assume it leads to the exchange of queens by black, followed by 5. Kxd1 Ng4. But isn't that just worse for black?

  3. I've been watching your videos for some time now, and i have got to say, your dedication, discipline and workrate is just inspiring to a Chess novice as myself. Amazing! Best Chess videos on YouTube! I was wondering if you have any plans for a Kings Indian series in the near future? Its my favourite response to d4. Best of luck to you!

  4. #Woww….Sir, You are Really Great Teacher!!! #Im_learning_Too_much_from_Ur_Videos!! #Very_Good_Explanation_in_Each_Part☺️!!

  5. Sir, I have a request! Could you please do the King's Indian Defence series. I am starting to play tournaments and I am choosing my opening repetor as black. Your Ruy Lopez and Italian Game series helped me a lot. Thank You.

  6. Nice video and I'm happy to see the Pirc covered because right now I do not really have anything against the it. Are you going to cover the Modern after the Pirc because of their similarity or are you going to cover something else?

  7. I used the analysis with chess dot com in this position you are actually better after Bb5, Be2, takes takes, then take d7 even after knight takes e4, you castle and have a better position if you play accurately.

  8. 150 attack used by lower rated player to beat higher rated player easy 🙂 I think it might be stronger than the austrian attack or the Nf3 because black seem to have slightly slower counter play than in the dragon.

  9. I think you should cover the main openings first like QGD, Slav or Benoni first why are you covering openings like King gambit and Pirc those are rare.

  10. i love the pirc defense please make more videos about it, and please talk a little bit more about the tricks that black can play, thanks

  11. Another amazing and instructional video! I love how you compare other openings structures to the one you're talking about! It helps so much with my broad understanding of Chess! I can't thank you enough! I admire your consistency in making these awesome videos and training hard!! I know you'll make GM! Keep being awesome! I'm learning so much! Knowledge is truly the most valuable thing in this world, so thank you so much for sharing!!!

  12. I've been pronouncing it wrong. Thanks for giving the correct pronunciation and explaining how the opening should work. I'm not a fan of the Pirc because of what it allows for white. Engaging instruction as usual.

  13. Another brilliant video. Very informative. I have always got into a cramped position leading to a very sharp attack and quick loss. Looking forward to learning some ideas… Thank You For Your Efforts!!

  14. I am a modern defense player but I was recommended by a FM to consider the pirc because it leads to similar positions, but with less theoretical knowledge required. I'm impressed by this video and will enjoy your other pirc vids, and will continue to watch your modern ones too 🙂

  15. Great instruction video , easy to understand , i also play the Pirc. I'm 1600-1700 so this is good additional info. i will add you to one of my favorites including GingerGM . :))))) I just subscribed :))))

  16. Do you cover positions exclusively from the white perspective? I'd like some videos focusing on openings from the black perspective.

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