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The pawn move from h2 to h3. I do not understand the reason behind this.

10

It's a common idea in the position. It's there to prevent Be3 Ng4. Allowing Ng4 with the bishop on e3 is not good; White's dark bishop should be exchanged with Black's strong g7-bishop, something like Be3-Qd2-Bh6 or Be3-Bd4-Bxg7.

Please note White played 10.Be3 immediately next. Without 9.h3, something like this would have happened:

9.Be3 Ng4! 10.Qe2 Nxe3!

Black's position is fine with the strong g7 bishop unchallenged. 9.h3 is a good move.

  • Is there a reason to prefer 9. h3 to 9. f3? – eyeballfrog Nov 30 '18 at 19:47
  • 2
    @eyeballfrog Yes, and it has to do mainly with king safety and not wanting to weaken one's own position. in general, playing h3 instead of f3 is a bit safer for white's king if white ever wants to castle short, since it doesn't open up a long diagonal from a7 to g1. Moreover, a pawn on f2 guards the e3 square which makes it easier for white to keep control over some key dark squares in their position. – Scounged Nov 30 '18 at 21:14

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