I want to find a way of transposing into the Hanham Variation of the Philidor Defense, without a way for White to deviate. For example, in the normal move order, White may have the move 3. Bc4 or 3. Nc3, which I want to avoid. I have tried the Pirc defense, but it doesn't work. Is there any other opening which will transpose?

  • It'd be helpful to explain what variation you're talking about in the question itself
    – David
    Aug 14, 2020 at 18:46

1 Answer 1


No. Black cannot reach the Hanham variation (e.g. the Philidor setup with Nd7, Nf6, e5 and sometimes c6) by force.

The modern move order to reach the Hanham variation, however, is 1. e4 d6! 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 e5. This is black's best move order to reach the Hanham variation because white usually transposes to the Hanham variation with 4. Nf3.

Experienced white players usually don't avoid the Hanham with the above move order because the main alternative 4. dxe5!? lets black equalize easily as recent results have proven.

  • However, White will get a lead in development after 4.dxe5.
    – user24344
    Aug 12, 2020 at 4:04
  • Engine indication gives a large advantage to White after 4.dxe5 at 40-ply.
    – user24344
    Aug 12, 2020 at 10:06
  • 2
    There’s a big gap here between the engine analysis (which has white up around a pawn) and practical results in the databases (which have black not only equal, but winning more often than losing). Aug 15, 2020 at 3:43
  • 2
    Playing out a game around 25-ply, stockfish quickly ends up in an opposite colored Bishop ending with white up a pawn that looks like a dead draw to me. Aug 15, 2020 at 4:03

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