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I heard from IM Andrew Martin that if you are unsure what to play as Black, you should play the following moves no matter what White plays (not sure I agree with him saying no matter what White plays though). Those moves are g6, Bg7, and c5 with the idea of opening up the c file and bringing your Queen out to a5 or b6. Has anyone had any success with this approach? He specifically didn't mention the Robatsch (Modern) defense, but that is initially what this appears to be.

[FEN ""]
1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 c5
  • 7
    The mention of doggedly playing g6, Bg7 and c5 "no matter what" reminds me of a story from an old Chess Life about the care needed when using conditional moves (e4ec.org/glossary.html) in correspondence chess. A player received the move 1.d4 in the mail, and to save time and postage, sent along with his reply 1...g6 the conditional move 2.Any Bg7. So his opponent alertly replied with 2.Bh6! Bg7 3.Bxg7 (which probably saved a lot more postage and time). – ETD Mar 13 '13 at 21:59
  • @EdDean - Good point. This is why I did not completely agree 100% with what Andrew Martin said, but with everything, it has to be taken with a grain of salt. – xaisoft Mar 13 '13 at 22:42
  • The 1.anything g6 2.anything Bg7 defense can be a problem in bullet chess for the same reason. – dfan Mar 14 '13 at 1:57
  • depends on your rating really. I'd say anywhere below 2200 FIDE this is a good idea for black. – magd Apr 6 '15 at 12:20
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There is a whole book about this system, The Sniper: Play 1...g6, ...Bg7 and ...c5! by FM Charlie Storey, published by Everyman. It has gotten mixed reviews on Amazon and on the ChessPublishing forums.

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  • Wow, it is interesting that you found this. I have played it a few times and I noticed my opponents started playing it against me. – xaisoft Mar 14 '13 at 2:03
  • this is practically a link-only answer, if the links die (or I simply don't want to visit them) the answer is not very useful – ajax333221 Mar 14 '13 at 4:09
  • I have updated the answer to include more information. – dfan Mar 14 '13 at 12:23
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That's pretty much a slightly worse version of the (Hyper) Accelerated Dragon. 1.e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. d4 (but instead of playing cxd4 you play Bg7). The Modern Defense/Pirc is most likely just an inferior version of the Sicilian. Black would ideally like to play c5 and cxd4 in most cases anyway, but could be making it more difficult for himself to do so (white has extra options with dxc5 or d5 now when black pushes c5). But in practice Modern/Pirc is still playable because delaying c5 (or omitting it) could avoid some potentially early sharp lines.

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As a practioner of the Modern myself, I must say I believe this is a clear over-simplification. The line with 3.. c5 is sometimes not the optimal. For example, when white plays 3. Nf3 then 3.. c5 which invites 4. dxc5 as per the below makes for a game that's not easy to play for black.

[FEN "rnb1k1nr/pp1pppbp/6p1/2q5/4P3/N1P2N2/PP3PPP/R1BQKB1R b KQkq - 1 6"]
1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nf3 c5 4. dxc5 Qa5+
5. c3 Qxc5 6. Na3

Here, it's better to stay flexible and play 3.. d6, and then if white plays 4. Nc3, it's possible to play 4.. a6, or of course to transpose to the Pirc with 4. Nf6.

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