Usually I am a defensive player. Because of this, a few years ago, I created an opening set of moves, where I moved every other pawn forward 1 space, starting with pawn a2. To be more specific, I moved pawns a2, c2, e2, and g2 to a3, c3, e3, and g3, respectively.

There are ways to get through to row 1 using a queen or bishop, but except for one way (going diagonally to h1 with a queen), any piece will be immediately captured at almost any point in rows 1-4. That one way, using a queen to get to h1, does do a lot of damage, because eventually it threatens the king, and is hard to be stopped.

I am an amateur chess player, so I do not know a lot about all of the tactics. To experienced chess players, this may look like a stupid question. I apologize for that.

Is this weakness enough to make the strategy not worth it, or is it still a good idea?


8 Answers 8


It's definitely not a good idea. If it were one, there would be a real opening for it. One problem with moving all your white-squared pawns 1 space forward, is that you lose so many moves developing your pieces. However, this is the 'small' disadvantage. The big one is, that all of your white squares are very weak.

Look at this position:

[fen ""]
1. a3 e5 2. c3 d5 3. e3 e4 4. g3 Nc6

Black just needs to put his pieces on nice squares like for example Ne5 or Nc4, Bg4 with Nf6. Also a disadvantage is that you lose much space. Your knights have nearly no squares, where they can move. Bc1 is completely useless.

If you lose your white-squared bishop, the black pieces will destroy you, because you can't defend all the white squares.


The issue with your opening strategy is that you neglect the development of your pieces. While you are pushing your pawns, your opponent will bring their pieces into the game. In general, the three most important guidelines of the opening are:

  1. Controlling the center. The closer a piece is to the center, the more influential it becomes.

  2. Developing your pieces. Your pieces are not doing much in their original positions. Bringing them forward will allow you to attack and defend effectively.

  3. Keeping your King safe. If your king is trapped, you lose- Game Over! Therefore, before the opening is finished, it is imperative that your king is in a safe spot. This is usually accomplished by castling.

The problem with your opening move sequence is that it fulfills none of these goals- without any pieces developed, your control of the center is practically nonexistent. Furthermore, by pushing the pawns, you create weaknesses which can be exploited. In this case, you end up with no pawns on light squares, which means that every light square becomes a weakness where your opponent will aim their attack. Your opponent's light-square bishop in particular would have free rein in your position, unopposed by any pawn. In contrast, your dark-square bishop would become hemmed in, unable to move; your other pieces would be similarly hindered and unprotected as they were blocked by the pawns or left undefended by them.


Following on the others answers, you may be interested in Wikipedia's pawn structure article to look for structures which suit your playing style, and their associated openings.


Your opening might fit your style, but it is objectively weak as @Niklas explained, you might want to checkout Reti opening : 1.Nf3 and English opening : 1. c4. Those openings are objectively strong and are common weapons of positional players.

However, I encourage you to play open games, and learn about tactics.


The most important rule in chess is that every single move should do something for you, it should have one or more goals. What does a3 (Anderssen's Opening) do for you? Do you control the center? No. Do you gain space? Very little. Do you free your pieces? Also very little (and the wrong one, as the opening is the era of knights and bishops, not of the rooks). Do you support further advances? Maybe b4, but you could play b4 right now (this is called Sokolsky Opening or Orangutan, and is certainly playable, but maybe not the best choice for beginners). So a3 is already dubious. Wikipedia puts it that way:

This opening move does little for development or control of the center. In some cases, White can transpose the game to an opening where 1.a3 might have been useful, but using a tempo on such a move already on move one seems premature. ... Anderssen's Opening is not a very constructive move for White, more a waiting move. However, some players may enjoy the psychological value of such a move, or believe it will help them against an opponent with a superior knowledge of opening theory.

So if you really want to have that type of closed, passive position, use some hedgehog variation. If you just want to avoid too much "theory", choose one of the not so common white opening moves (b3, b4, f4, g3, maybe c4), but at least look at the common ideas behind them. Don't throw away your advantage because you are to lazy to look at a few variations.


Here's what National Master Dan Heisman has to say:

If you put all your pawns on the same color it makes the squares of the opposite color terribly weak. (A weak square is one that is unoccupied and can no longer be guarded by a pawn. It is not a square where there is a vulnerable pawn or piece.)

The pawns on the third rank are guarded but the light squares are very weak

8/8/8/8/8/P1P1P1P1/1P1P1P1P/8 w - - 1 0

When I see this diagram today, instead of seeing “safety” I see “ugly, weak squares” in-between!

It is good to have your pawns connected, but it is often better to have at least a pawn duo (two pawns side by side) at the lead, rather than have a diagonal chain where the pawns just guard each other. In the following diagram White has three pawns in the lead on the same rank, even better:

A smoother pawn structure with more space:

 8/8/8/8/2PPP3/1P5P/P4PP1/8 w - - 1 0

Notice in the above diagram the only squares that can be thought of as possibly weak are c3 and d3, and these are both behind the pawns, so they are relatively inaccessible and therefore not as weak or vulnerable. For example, these two squares are easily guarded by rooks but not easily attacked by the opponent’s rooks.


This is a style known as a "hedgehog" defense, but it is not a good one, because it is "random." Specifically, it allows Black to play moves like c5, d5, e5 and pieces right behind them, without interference. The resulting formation will be stronger in terms of board control than yours. Also, you have put all your pawns on Black squares, meaning that if your light squared bishop is ever lost or exchanged, you'll be very weak on light squares, as one of the other answers pointed out.

There are hedgehog defenses, mostly for Black, such as d6 and e6. As White, you can play d3 and e3, but why do so when you have the extra move. But these moves are part of a whole plan, and need to be followed up correctly. Your system doesn't do this or have much of a plan.

  • 2
    This is not the hedgehog formation. The hedgehog formation has pawns on a6, b6, d6, e6, f7, g7, and h7.
    – limits
    Commented Jul 19, 2015 at 19:51

I teach the beginners in my local chess club not to make too many opening pawn moves, since they lose time that you should be using to develop your pieces. Just move enough pawns, preferably in the center, to let out your minor pieces and prepare to castle. If you fall too far behind in development while your opponent is getting his pieces out, he will soon have an overwhelming position where even the prospect of sacrifices may present themselves for him to finish the game quickly. Read any beginner's chess manual, even old ones that you can find online, to get a better understanding of these chess basics. This miniature game will demonstrate what I'm talking about. C.Conero vs. P. Short, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4 h6 4.Nc3 c6 5.d3 a5 6.Be3 b5 7.Bxf7 Kxf7 8.d4 Be7 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.Nxe5+ Ke6 11.Qg4+ Kxe5 12.Qf4+ Ke6 13.Qf5+ Kd6 14.Bf4#

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