I know that some openings include fianchettoing the bishop. But sometimes, this isn't part of the opening, but I still need to decide whether to bring my bishop one rank forward (like Bg7) or to the other side of the board (like Bc4).

Someone told me that usually the fianchetto is useless if you push the center pawn closer to the fianchetto's bishop.

What should I look for to decide whether I should fianchetto or bring my bishop further up the board?


As an example, in the Sicilian as Black, I usually do 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6. At this point, I've already moved two pawns, so I am not going to do e5.

  • What do you mean "this isn't part of the opening"?
    – David
    Commented Oct 24, 2020 at 19:15
  • @David If the opening theory does not have a fianchetto as part of the moves
    – Marvin
    Commented Oct 24, 2020 at 19:22
  • 1
    Both center pawns get pushed in the opening almost always. Can you provide a position example where you are having trouble deciding? Commented Oct 24, 2020 at 19:39

3 Answers 3


In a lot of cases you just rely on your intuition. With enough experience you can tell whether a fianchetto makes sense in setups like the Sicilian. But here are some tips for when to do it:

  • If the long diagonal is open, since the bishop will not be blocked along it.
  • If your opponent doesn't have a bishop on the same colour as the soon to be fianchettoed bishop. This will make it more difficult for your opponent to trade off your bishop. Note that if the bishop does get traded off, it's not a huge deal, but now there's a hole in front of your king.
  • If the bishop has no responsibilities on its normal diagonal of development. E.g., in the Sicilian, if you've pushed ...d6 and then either ...e6 or ...e5, your bishop is often important in defending the d6-pawn. So fianchettoing it here usually isn't recommended. But if the e-pawn is left on e7 (like in the Dragon), there are no issues with the d6-pawn when you fianchetto.
  • If it would take two moves to develop the bishop anyway along the normal development diagonal. I.e., if your e-pawn hasn't moved yet, you'll have to spend a tempo pushing it and then bringing out the bishop. This means that if you go for the fianchetto, at least it won't waste any extra time.

All of these guidelines can absolutely be broken though. They are just some things to factor into your decision -- each position should be treated on a case by case basis.


One additional point: While a fianchetto structure in front of your own king might seem quite massive at first glance, it's usually more vulnerable to a pawn storm. When your opponent's pawns reach h5 or f5 it is hard to avoid that lines are opened towards your king. That's why white is so often going for opposite side castling in the Dragon or the Pirc.

  • 2
    Yes, by pushing the g-pawn you've created a hook that your opponent can use. Commented Oct 25, 2020 at 15:23

There is no general rule to follow.

It all depends on the exact position and how the game is going and what your strategy is for the middle game.

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