Kramnik introduced this idea in a couple of his games against Aroninan, but I am struggling to justify such a slow move in a rather open position:

[FEN ""]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Nxc6 bxc6 7. Bd3 d5 8. exd5 cxd5 9. O-O O-O 10. h3

Is there any other idea besides preparing Qf3 and avoiding Bg4?

  • it's a waiting move.
    – magd
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 14:06
  • 3
    It restricts the mobility of two of Black's minor pieces
    – M.M
    Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 4:23

3 Answers 3


Bg4 could be annoying to meet in this position for a few reasons:

  1. It would force white to move the queen to an awkward square, play f3 opening the g1-a7 diagonal or play the passive Ne2.
  2. White would prefer not to trade light squared bishops (with Be2) here as Bc8 is black's worse piece.
  3. Ne2, Qd2 and f3 all allow Bh5 with the idea of Bg6 essentially forcing a trade of black's bad bishop
  • 2
    Thanks for the explanation, but - 10. Bg5 also prevents Bg4 and develops a piece, and has been a traditional main line, so I guess some comparison between those two moves is important for understanding the full idea of 10.h3.
    – Joe
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 15:19
  • @Joe: After Bg5, I do not like ...Bg4 on the account of Qxg4 Nxg4 Bxd8 Rxd8 ( if Black tries Bxc3 then White plays Bxc7! and White has extra pawn + pair of bishops ) Nxd5! after which ...Rxd5 Bxh7+ loses the rook. Commented Jun 11, 2016 at 22:42
  • 1
    @AlwaysLearningNewStuff Doesn't 10.Bg5 Bg4 11. Bxf6 win a piece?
    – bof
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 2:55

You're making it harder for black to make his bishop a good piece that does work. To accomplish that objective you have to make that move right then (timing being an important factor here) whereas other improving moves like Re1 or Qf3 can be played then or a few moves in the future. If black played 9. Bg4 instead of castling white could get a nice tempo and misplace a black piece with 10. Re1+. Also in some future lines h3 can get rid of the tactical threat of back rank mate.

Whether there is a better improving move than that I can't tell you since I don't play the scotch, but that seems to be the logic behind 10. h3


White has a decided positional advantage in Black's broken up queen side. In order to get this, he had to give Black a free, open game.

White now wants to "close" the position somewhat by denying the square g4 to Black's bishop and knight. Black's compensation for his weak pawns is his "piece play" and White wants to reduce that "compensation."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.