I really like to play openings that contain f4 (f5 as black) for a number of reasons.

  1. It cannot be challenged with d pawn, which is initially protected by the queen.
  2. When the king knight is developed, the f pawn is no longer blocked.
  3. Unlike c pawn, it can be easily supported by castling kingside up to the board, and helps the development of the rook if exchanged.
  4. After king's pishop fianchetto, the diagonal is open and the bishop is very strong there.
  5. Even if exchanged early, after castling kingside, the king rook has a semi-open file, which makes it stronger.
  6. Enables Ng5 move, which can be nasty sometimes.

But usually this move is considered bad, or dubious at the best by grandmasters and engines. What is the reason?

      [FEN ""]
      [StartPly "3"]

      1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. f4 Nc6 4. Nf3 Bc5 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. e5 Nd5 7. O-O O-O 8.

      [FEN ""]
      [StartPly "3"]

      1. e4 e5 2. d4 d6 3. f4 exf4 4. Bxf4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Nf3 Bg4 7. Be2

  • 2
    There are a lot of openings with an early f4/f5. Do you mean why is it bad in general, or in the specific games in your question? I don't necessarily agree that it's dubious, certainly not at the club level. The King's Gambit, and it's cousins the Bishop and Vienna gambits are playable, as is Bird's opening, and the Dutch is occasionally seen at the GM level.
    – Herb
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 22:51
  • @HerbWolfe I've seen many YouTube videos and GM analyses, and checked the engines as well. They say it usually gives a disasvantage. I mean in general, not in these particular examples. I picked those because they are (i) the most frequently played moves and (ii) the best moves IMHO.
    – padawan
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 23:49

4 Answers 4


This is not an answer regarding the general merits of f4 or ...f5, but a specific analysis of the first example:

  [FEN ""]
  [StartPly "13"]

  1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. f4 Nc6 4. Nf3 Bc5 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. e5 Nd5 7. O-O O-O (7...Ne3 {Forking Queen and Rook} 8. Bxe3 {Forced} dxe3 9. Be2 {One way to prevent ...e2+}) 8. Kh1 *

In the final position of the alternative variation, white is cramped, has lost the bishop pair and is passive due to the threat of ...e2+. I.e. playing f4 exposes the diagonal g1-a7 (and to a lesser extent the e1-h4 diagonal).

Your second example has a similar tactical weakness on the e1-h4 diagonal:

  [FEN ""]
  [StartPly "7"]

  1. e4 e5 2. d4 d6 3. f4 exf4 4. Bxf4 Nf6 (4...Qh4+ 5. Bg3 {Forced} Qxe4+ 6. Qe2 Nf6 {Black might as well develop a piece} 7. Nc3 Qxe2+ 8. Bxe2) 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Nf3 Bg4 7. Be2
  • In your second example instead of the blunder 6.Bg3 White will play 6.g3 and Black's silly queen check was just a waste of time. White had a fine game already (thanks to Black playing 3...exf4? instead of 3...exd4) and 4...Qh4+ just made it better.
    – bof
    Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 13:01

It is not really possible to answer this generally as chess is more complicated and it really depends on what black is playing whether an early f4 is good or not.

I guess, what you actually like is the combination of e4 and f4. There are many examples where f4 is perfectly playable, such as in some Sicilians, the French defence and other semi-open games.

In open games (1. e4 e5) playing an early f4 tends to be somewhat dubious at the highest level, but is of course perfectly playable at the club level.

If you want a system opening with f4, why don't you play the King's Indian Attack, where "f4" is often ok whatever black does?


Firstly, #4 is wrong as the bishop is still blocked by the knight and, in your examples, the e pawn. Change this to "adding support in the center."

There are two weaknesses with moving the f pawn early. It weakens the kingside, especially the g1-a7 diagonal, and it wastes time in the opening. These allow for a quick attack on your king.

However, looking over many King's Gambits, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, and you should get many good games with your system.


It depends on the position but in the second position you gave sf has white with a clear advantage. In the first position sf has it -.9 but black is up a pawn which means the eval is based on black's material advantage. Positionally, white is a little better. I'm not sure where you're getting that white is worse positionally.

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