I have played a game recently and at move 7 the engine suggested f4 as best continuation, but I failed to understand why. When I see the move, all I see is a super weakening move, especially with a lot of pieces on board. What might be the idea(s) behind this move ?

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1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 { A21 English Opening: King's English Variation, Reversed Sicilian } Bc5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. Nxe5 Nxe5 5. d4 Ng4? { (0.43 → 2.98) Mistake. Best move was Bd6. } (5... Bd6 6. c5 Be7 7. dxe5 Bxc5 8. Bf4 Ne7 9. e3 Ng6 10. Bg3) 6. dxc5 Qf6 7. Ne4? { (3.17 → 1.96) Mistake. Best move was f4. } (7. f4 Qc6)

It is either f4 or f3 to defend the threat on f2. Intuitively I prefer the tempo that f2-f3 gets, but the idea of f2-f4 with e2-e4-e5 is probably what the computer likes.

  • wouldn't you be afraid of say Qh4+ g3 (the king sounds a bit unsafe) – Salah Eddine Lahniche Jan 4 at 9:48

Here, f4 is a good move. Because you can move e4 in near future. Then it will be a better position for you. You are dominating on centre. Before you move e4, it is hard to push d5 by black because three of your pieces already attacking d5. So it is hard to black to stop you moving e4.


If you ask yourself: Why is Ne4 bad? the answer will reveal itself. The only moves are Ne4, f4 and f3 to meet the threat Qxf2+.

As to your comment, "There are a lot of pieces of the board." I don't see any pieces? There is only a White Knight, a Black Queen and a Black Knight. The bishops and rooks are away on vacation...

  • I agree with you, there are three ways to defend, my instinct said move the knight with a tempo, if challenged, challenge the black knight. I ruled out moving the f pawn because it does sound weakening and if Qh4+ was the follow up I'll have to move my g pawn too .. – Salah Eddine Lahniche Jan 4 at 9:45
  • If a weakness cannot be exploited, it is not a weakness. @SalahEddineLahniche – Jossie Calderon Jan 4 at 21:59

7.Ne4 places the knight in an awkward position and makes it a target. After 7...Qe5 8.Qd5 Ne7 9.Qxe5 Nxe5, White is definitely better but Black's g4-knight has safely regrouped.

The point behind 7.f4 is to stop Black from moving his knight to the e5-square, while simultaneously neutralizing Black's attack on f2. Now White is ready to take up the whole centre with 8.e4. Another idea White has at his disposal is 8.Nd5, since the knight is still on c3 and not on e4.

7.f4 only looks weak temporarily. Once the e-pawn reaches e4, it looks very strong.

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