The Pirc (1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6) is a hypermodern opening with a deceptively deadly attacking edge. Black’s g7 bishop and queen on a5 shred White’s position, setting a ton of tactical and strategic problems that will overwhelm most players.
The Modern Defense is similar to the Pirc but we delay the development of the knight to f6, staying flexible and giving White more opportunity to make mistakes.
In this video, Grandmaster and opening theoretician Fabien Libiszewski explores the many tactical opportunities and strategic plans available to Black in the Pirc and Modern defenses.
For the best learning experience, pause the video whenever GM Libiszewski asks you a question and try to calculate the answer. Active learning is the best way to improve your chess!
Chess Tactics in the Pirc & Modern Defenses
Let’s explore an example from the video (be sure to watch the whole video for plenty of other examples!)
Take a look at this diagram. It is a position from a game between Renier Gonzalez and Mihail Marin, played in 2007.
White played 6.f4, playing for a strong center and intending to play e5 later. Black played 6..c5, counter-attacking and trying to undermine White’s center.
After 7.dxc5, what would you play with the Black pieces?
This is quite typical in these structures. The best move is 7..Qa5. The idea is to pin the knight on c3, and attack the pawn on e4 with the f6 knight. Black threatens to play ..Nxe4 next move.
If White tries to block this plan with 8.Bd2, then Black can take on c5 with the queen, 8..Qxc5, keeping Black’s central pawns in a good state. Capturing with ..dxc5 results in a pawn structure that favors White, and Black still hasn’t prevented White from playing e5 soon. After e5, Black would no longer have the pawn on d6 to attack the e5 pawn, and Black’s bishop on b7 would be a terrible piece, blocked in and not doing anything useful.
Having the queen on c5 is also annoying for White because it makes it more difficult for White to castle short.
The game continued 8.Qf3 but White missed something here. What should Black play in response (diagram)?
8..Nxe4 is a strong move because after 9.Qxe4, Black would play 9..Bxc3+ and after 10.bxc3 Qxc3+, Black picks up a rook.
White played 9.Nge2 and then Black played 9..Nxc3, although 9..Nxc5 was also a strong option, where he is a pawn up and White has no compensation for it.
10.Bd2 Nc6 11.Bxc3 Nb4 attacking c2, and we see that Black is much better.
Play the Pirc and Modern Defenses
This is a free preview of GM Libiszewski’s brand new 8-hour in-depth training designed to give you a lifetime repertoire for Black.
Playable against 1.e4, 1.d4 and most other first moves, this is a complete repertoire you can use for the rest of your playing days.
You get the perfect mix of plans and theory as Fabien explains the strongest strategies against each of White’s favored variations.
Typical tactics that can win you the game on the spot, GM-level attacking ideas your opponents will struggle to resist… it’s all here.