I am trying to understand this position a bit better and would appreciate some help in doing so. I am black and it's my turn...

I played the move ..c5. I don't have a deep understanding of this specific position, hence my question (I'm ELO 1700) but my thoughts were along the lines of preventing white to get Bb4 in and at the same time gaining a tempo by kicking the knight. This then also allows me to bring my knight back into the game without obstructing any of my rooks.

For some reason this move was extremely bad (listed as the 10th best move with a relative score of 2.0 points lower than the best move)

Can someone please explain to me why this move is so bad?

[title "Black to play"]
[fen "1n1qr1k1/pr3ppp/2p2b2/8/2PN1Q2/2BP2P1/PP2PP1P/3R1RK1 b - - 0 20"]

1... c5

3 Answers 3


The reasons for not playing 20...c5 are mainly tactical. 20...g5 21. Qg4 h5 22. Qxh5 Bxd4 23. Bxd4 Qxd4 24. Qxg5+ Qg7 wins a piece for two pawns. Since you are already down three pawns for nothing, it won't do to just sit around and wait.

[fen "1n1qr1k1/pr3ppp/2p2b2/8/2PN1Q2/2BP2P1/PP2PP1P/3R1RK1 b - - 0 20"]

1... g5 2. Qg4 h5 3. Qxh5 Bxd4 4. Bxd4 Qxd4 5. Qxg5+ Qg7
  • 1
    A person would have to have some stones to go down 5 pawns for a piece, have an exposed King, with Queens on the board. But if White trades Queens now, Black doesn't even get a pawn after Rd2.
    – Tony Ennis
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 23:22
  • 2
    @TonyEnnis This would've been true if black wasn't already down 3 pawns before the start of this line. In the present situation though, all black needs to have to play g5 in the above position is a tactical eye combined with the knowledge that 3 pawns down in and of itself is losing. Thus it's easy to go for the only line that reduces black's material deficit. In the end of this line, white may have 5 pawns for the piece, but black still has fighting chances, as the white pawn mass has yet to move forward, and black can halt the pawns' progress with c5-Nc6, etc.
    – Scounged
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 8:00

To add some information to @overtheboard's answer, after c5 you are inducing Nf5, and you end up with three white pieces (Bishop, Knight and Queen) attacking you kingside. Also, since then white is menacing Nd6, forking both your rooks, you're not gaining a tempo, but giving a tempo to white and you do not have the time to activate your own knight.

  • 1
    Thanks for the answer. I wish I could mark both as correct, since they are. I think the positional explanation you've provided is perhaps even more relevant to my specific question.
    – z0mbi3
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 13:21

I like c5 for these positional reasons:

  1. You are one step closer to activating your knight, which you cannot at the moment because the pawn would hang.
  2. Forcing a bishop trade that will allow you to put the rook on the 7th and attack both e and a pawns, also avoiding the N fork on d6.
  3. Reducing the number of attackers on your K (minus the bishop), while not reducing your defences because Q can perform bishop's duties from f6.

20...g5, barring computer tactics is suicidal IMO, because you are undeveloped with a kingside attack on the way, and what do you do, expose your King some more?

  • IMO 20...g5 is not suicidal. True, you expose your king, but in the line shown by limits, all minor pieces are traded and white is left with only the queen in an active attacking position. Joining the white rooks in the attack will take time because there are still plenty of pawns around. Black should not have a problem to defend and might even create some attack on the king side, where there are no black pawns limiting the range of the rooks. Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 17:22
  • @user1583209 I was giving a positional evaluation, not a tactical one, as the OP asked for. From the positional standpoint, g5 is horrible. Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 17:46
  • Your argument however was purely tactical ("kingside attack....") Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 18:04
  • @user1583209 How so? King safety is one of the main positional factors, and I did not give any lines. Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 20:48

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