I tried to represents all the main lines of the Pirc Defense to play at a 2000 ELO level. Am I right with the following tree? What I mean by right is I wonder if I do not miss any popular line or choose a bad move at some level. enter image description here

  • Just out of curiosity, how is this tree structured? Are the branches structured in a systematic way, like in order of popularity?
    – Scounged
    Commented Dec 15, 2018 at 15:34
  • Yes, exactly. Left is always more popular than right.
    – user18011
    Commented Dec 15, 2018 at 15:37
  • 2
    Ok then. I'm not sure what the tree is going to be used for, but depending on what you need it for you might need to expand/prune certain branches; for instance, the left-most leaves are the most important variations to know about in the opening and they should be expanded, while the branch 1.e4 d6 2.d4 e6 could be pruned somewhat.
    – Scounged
    Commented Dec 15, 2018 at 15:45
  • 3
    Using popularity to adapt depth is really a great idea.
    – user18011
    Commented Dec 15, 2018 at 16:04

2 Answers 2


If you are aiming to use this tree for practical use at 2000 level, you should start in the Pirc tabiya position after 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6. That's where it all starts, with main choices being 4.f4, 4.Be2, 4.Be3, 4.Nf3, 4.f3. (edit: Also 4.Bg5, 4.Bc4 and even 4.Bf4 as pointed in comments. And also 4.g3 and 4.h3)

That way, you will not be confused by games without ...g6 at all, like the Philidor 3...e5 or some moderns with 3...c6, 4...Qa5.

I don't think the 1.e4 d6 2.d4 e6?! branch will ever be useful to you. With Black, you won't ever want to play this. With White, if you face it you can tackle it by following general rules, and in any case a tree is not useful there. Also, I wonder how this very obscure sideline appeared in your tree. If you use popularity to select lines, have you consider how far 2...e6 lies behind 2...Nf6 ? Have you restricted your base to tournament play, if possible above a certain level (say, 1800) ?

If need be, you can build a separate tree for early deviations, like 2.Nf3, 2.Nc3 or 2.f4 - keeping in mind that they will often transpose later in your main tree in case of d2-d4. But if you have practical purposes, you want to get rid of parasitic information. That will also allow you to go deeper that move 5 - which is mandatory at 2000 level !

  • 1
    4 Bg5 and 4 Bc4 are also important, and I've had a number of games recently go 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 g6 3 Nc3 d6 4 e4 - apparently this is a Simon Williams recommendation
    – Ian Bush
    Commented Dec 17, 2018 at 9:17

After ...g6, playing Be2 and h4 with white is a popular option which is missing in your tree

  • 1
    There are multiple g6 in the tree.
    – user18011
    Commented Dec 16, 2018 at 8:28

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