Pirc Defense | Ideas, Principles and Common Variations

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The Pirc Defense is a very versatile hyper-modern opening and it provides great fighting chances for black.

The opening was named after the Slovenian Grandmaster Vasja Pirc, who popularized it in the second half of the 20th century. It has been played before, but it was never really taken seriously. As all modern openings, it neglects the classical chess principles. In fact, it goes directly against them.

Th idea behind the Pirc Defense is for black to fianchetto his kingside bishop and castle quickly and to strike at white’s center later on with the moves c5 or e5. Meanwhile, white is given a free hand and is able to form a strong center with pawns on e4 and d4 (often on f4 as well).

It’s similar to other modern openings, such as the King’s Indian or the Benoni, and it has similar ideas, so those types of openings may complement the Pirc well in your repertoire. Playing the Pirc against e4 and the KID against d4 would be most logical.

There are sic common variations of the Pirc, and every one results in a different type of middlegame. Every variation will be covered in detail in a separate video.

After the opening moves:

1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6, white gets too choose a system. The Pirc can be a slow, maneuvering opening, but it can also be tactical and sharp. On move 4, white shows his cards and steers the game.

4. f4 Austrian Attack is the most aggressive setup white can choose. Bringing the third pawn to the center, white prepares a strong central and kingside attack. This variation almost always leads to attacking games with no time to waste for either side. The Austrian Attack is also the most popular way for white to play with thousands of grandmaster games.

4. Nf3 Classical Variation is the most solid approach for white. White doesn’t allow black to have any initiative and hopes to hold a minute opening advantage straight into the endgame. If white plays properly this is true in practice as well. Black, on the other hand, has to be quick to develop and to open up the center and he can’t waste any time. If he does, his pieces will be cramped, he will lack space and be worse.

4. Be3 150 Attack is a very aggressive attacking setup for white, similar to the Yugoslav attack in the Sicilian. White goes for castling queenside, f3, Qd2, g4, g5, h4 and storms the black king in his sleep on g8.

4. Bg5 Byrne Variation is a seldom used system which can be venomous if black isn’t prepared for it.

4. g3 Sveshnikov System is an interesting idea in which white fianchettoes on the kingside too. Games tend to be positional and often easier to play for white due to his space advantage.

4. Bc4 Kholmov System develops the bishop to the most natural square from where it eyes the f7 weakness. It’s a rather new idea and it can be very sharp. White isn’t as solid as in the classical where the bishop goes to e2.

#chess #pircdefense #chessopenings


  1. You will be GM very soon, you are having many followers from all over the world,
    Nobody gives nice explanation like u…thanks very much
    I want you to make more videos on endgame

  2. Dear Stepan, can you show what black should o if white refuses to ply 2.d4 and instead plays 2.Nc3 or 2.f4. Is there a good plan which goes not into the Sicilian Grand Prix?

  3. Hi
    Thanks for the nice videos. I like your channel a lot because it has a nice pace. Sometimes (mostly) my mind feel dizzy due to rapid intake of information. But I prefer it this way rather than slowly going over the moves.

    Here i want to say that you and GM Ben Finegold are my teachers of chess from YouTube. In his videos one thing I don't like is that for a long time he goes over very slowly and suddenly the moves are so rapid that it become hard to follow.
    I have one question regarding this opening. Many times my opponents play 2… g7 before Nf6 then is it OK to go for three pawn centre. Does three pawn centre has any advantage at all?

    Thank you in advance

  4. I'm new to chess and I find your explanation really understandable. Thanks!

  5. They called this the 150 Attack, because players of this strength (ELO 1800) can easily play this position and get strong play without any theory. The original Argentine idea probably is only viable after 4. Be3 Bg7 5. Qd2 0-0 6.0-0-0 c6 (or Nc6)

  6. What if bc5 happend what should black do ?

  7. I really love this defense, it's giving me quite a bit of success against higher rated players

  8. great and very instructive video, thanks for making it!

  9. I’ve been looking for a straightforward educational chess channel forever thanks

  10. Great job!! Looking forward to other videos.

  11. Came for how to play the pirc, but ended up learning how to counter the pirc. Great video nonetheless!

  12. I'm trying to learn the Pirc defense to advance from 1650 to 17-1800+ but whenever I play against very solid players, I always end up a pawn down and it stems from a center push which fails. Could you make a video covering center push strategy?

  13. You should label this "how to attack Pirc defense"

  14. ​ @Hanging Pawns You don't seem to like this one very much. Which opening do you suggest for beginners?

  15. Sunit Tarafdar ( সহজ পাঠ) says:

    You talk Tooooooooooooooo ooo oooo ooo oooo ooo oooo ooo oooo much

  16. This is the best pirc summary in the world.

  17. Thank you, Stjepan, your content is amazing. Insightful video. And thank you for properly pronouncing "Pirc" and "fianchetto."

  18. I'm just now learning the real theory behind the game. I knew how the pieces moved but nothing about openings or hanging pieces, 3 way guards and sacrifices. I have issues with vision though. Sometimes I can see exactly what they want me to do and why. Some games I can see 6 moves ahead. Most games I make mistakes, I have a 2 move vision, I leave pieces unguarded, and have problem focusing on the whole board instead of imminent attack. I know that's their plan but I cant seem to break it

  19. Could you please show the a through h labels on the board.
    I love your content; I’m a subscriber.

  20. Wow. You are amazing. You must work so hard to put these together. They are top quality. So clear. Really perfect. Well done.

  21. Came here for learning the pirc but Learnt how to play against the pirc. Got the White's perspective. Thank you

  22. Sir, I have a content on pirc defense ,and I am pretty confused as to whether it should be B00 Pirc defense or B07 Pirc defense , because after Nc3 I go as black with d5 which is why after Lichess has no record of the subsequent moves being played at any point of time.So it would be a great help if you could help me out in this matter in your free time .I am in my beginning stages ,so my videos might not appeal to you as yours do ,but I hope you will another chess aspirant to love the game of brains. Here is my videos link : https://youtu.be/XGU3UmuP2Hg

  23. Excellent video and an excellent series on the pirc. Good work, thanks for this, I learned a lot.

  24. i play 2. …g6 and NOBODY plays 3.c4 because they are all STUPID and BAD AT CHESS >:(

  25. You are one of the best chess tutors on YouTube. I've learned a lot from your videos. Thank You Stephan! Keep up the excellent work.

  26. Bayonett charge is one that beats alot of pirc players if they aren't familiar with how to defend against it.

  27. Can someone tell me the name of the GM mentioned at 10:14?

    Greate videos btw. I would love it if you could include some of these additional info you are mentioning, either with text on the video or on the description 🙂


  28. Thanks for making these, what about the Czech-Pirc Defense with f6 instead of b6, with the idea to move the Queen to the 5th rank on the next move to pin the white King? Any thoughts on that variation?

  29. Why can't chess-tubers ever show you an opening without showing you 10000 other things that can be played

  30. Internal injection truly here under God Louy$lugz says:

    I know them challenges at times are known to be restudied

  31. Internal injection truly here under God Louy$lugz says:

    I restudied

  32. The exact video I was lookin for my friend plays the pirc defense I usually play f4 when goes c6 now I’ll play him more aggressively with the move Be3 sac sac mate!!!

  33. this is hands down the best openings channel that exists

  34. 7:11 wikipedia: They called this the 150 Attack, because players of this strength (150 ECF) can easily play this position and get strong play without any theory.

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