Two days ago, I played, a game as Black and after the analysis I was quite surprised to see that the computer suggested, in several moves throughtout the game, the move d5. In this position I think Black should develop first with g6 (what I played) and solve the situation in the center later. enter image description here

I think the justification for this move is that it dismantles White center but I am not sure why it should not wait until later in the game.

As Black, I always try to keep a pawn on e5 (in this case) on c5. Can someone confirm this and explain me the Pirc Defense idea behind this?

Thanks in advance.

  • 1
    It's worth noting that the line for Black that both "Pirc Alert!" and 2Grandmaster Repertoire: The Pirc Defence" recommend against this line is 1 e4 d6 2 d4 Nf6 3 Bd3 e5 4 c3 d5 - it turns into something that looks a bit like an open Ruy Lopez. d5 also occurs in the Bg5 lines against the Pirc, as after e5 Ne4 hits the bishop, and in the Dragon like lines against the Austrain attack
    – Ian Bush
    Nov 30, 2019 at 7:52

2 Answers 2


In most early-stage Pircs, black is slightly worse, so of course, the computer will prefer any move that equalizes, or in this case, gives you a slight advantage.

White is not well-placed in the center due to the pin on the Nf3, and the Bd3 interferes with the Qd1's protection of the center (d4) too. Black can effectively "blow-up" the center here, which leaves him at least equal.

It comes down to specific tactics here, and d5 works. If you wait, white may play d5, and your opportunity would be lost.

One more note: I do not play e4, so I don't think about this much, but in many e4 openings, black wants to get in the equalizing d5, thus you don't usually see the bishop on d3 since it makes d5 easier to achieve. It is usually on e2, c4, or b5, so Bd3 was probably not best. In d4 openings, which I play, Bd3 is common, but black already has d5 in, so it is fine.

  [FEN ""]

  1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Bd3 e5 4. c3 Bg4 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. Be3 d5 7. Nbd2 (7. exd5 Qxd5 {The black queen is now well-placed, and threatens e4.}) 7... dxe4 8. Nxe4 exd4 9. cxd4 Nxe4 10. Bxe4 Bb4+ 11. Kf1 $15

Playing ...d5 isn't your typical Pirc idea, although it can be played under the right circumstances. In the diagram, White's d3-bishop and f3-knight are vulnerable to a potential ...e4 push. In addition, your g4-bishop provides some tactical possibilities by pinning the knight. Concretely speaking, everything just works nicely for an immediate challenge in the centre. It's not so much that ...d5 is a "Pirc move", but rather that it just works well in this particular position.

You are correct that normally you wouldn't play like this so early on in the Pirc, but one must always adapt if the position calls for it (in any opening). Also, with the bishop on g4 you won't really be able to get a satisfactory Pirc position by playing normally anyway. In both the Pirc and King's Indian type structures, it's very important for Black to retain his light-squared bishop (in order to fight for the weakened light-squared complex). If White is given control over the light squares so early on, you'll be facing an upward struggle.

  • 1
    Somewhere in Alekhines Best Games, I think versus Rubenstein, there is a comment that when your opponent makes an unusual move, you should consider unusual moves yourself. i think that this nice answer explains why
    – Philip Roe
    Nov 30, 2019 at 20:59

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