After 10 moves as Black, I often end up in a position very close to this, where I still have left my options open about castling.

[FEN "r3k2r/ppqn1ppp/2pbpn2/5bB1/2B5/P1NP1N1P/1PP2PP1/R2Q1RK1 w kq - 3 11"]

Although I play this opening fairly often, I don't really have a clear idea how to attack. Sometimes, if White hasn't played h2-h3, I attack the pawn on h2 with my bishop and queen., But it doesn't really go anywhere. I find the two White knights block a lot of my attempts. So, in the end I tend to do more defending, waiting for White to overreach.

What are some more aggressive directions I can take from this position?

  • 1
    I assume you mean h3 and h2 rather than h6 and h7?
    – D M
    Commented Jun 2, 2021 at 3:41
  • 1
    Yes. Still getting the hang of this algebraic notation thing after 30 years... Commented Jun 2, 2021 at 6:03

2 Answers 2


To paraphrase Garry Kasparov "An attack truly begins when a pawn attacks a piece". It is often very difficult to conduct an attack with just the minor pieces (Knights & Bishops) and your queen. To really get an attack going you need to get your pawns and especially your rooks involved.

So in the position you provided, after starting with the logical move from white 1.Re1. Black may play 1...0-0-0 getting their king to safety, now Black may start an attack! if black can push their g-pawn from g7-g4 it will attack both the f3-knight and the h3-pawn, which will force open the position around Whites king and allow the Black rooks to join into the attack.

I will continue with a sample line to show how this might go:

[White "Victim"]
[Black "Scandinavian Hero"]
[FEN "r3k2r/ppqn1ppp/2pbpn2/5bB1/2B5/P1NP1N1P/1PP2PP1/R2Q1RK1 w kq - 0 1"]

1. Re1 O-O-O 2. Qd2 h6 3. Be3 g5 4. b4 g4 5. hxg4 Bxg4 *

White has only made normal looking moves and yet Black already has an objectively winning attack. Black can follow up with Rg8 and Bxf3 or even Bh3 depending on what White plays.

  • Seems I'm not the only one who must hit CTRL-C really hard to get the old data out of the clipboard ;-) (2nd dia=1st) Commented Jun 2, 2021 at 8:13

In a position such as this, where White's army is kind of sitting back and you haven't castled kingside, you might try a pawn storm.

For a first step you may play h6 or castle queenside, both of which are moves which are useful for a pawn storm that do not absolutely commit you to it, so you can back off if you don't like White's replies somehow.

Here's one game where I tried that general plan:

[FEN ""] 
[StartPly "21"]

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Bc4 Bf5 6.d3 c6 7.O-O e6 8.Bd2 Qc7 9.Re1 Be7 10.Bg5 Nbd7 11.Qe2 h6 12.Bh4 O-O-O 13.h3 g5 14.Bg3 Bd6 15.Bxd6 Qxd6 16.Qe3 Nb6 17.Bb3 g4 18.hxg4 Nxg4 19.Ne4 Qc7 20.Qe2 h5 21.Ng3 Bg6 22.Ne5 Rdg8 23.Nxg4 hxg4 24.Qe5 Qe7 25.Nf5 Bxf5 26.Qxf5 Qh4 27.Bxe6+ fxe6 28.Qxe6+ Nd7 29.Kf1 Qh1+ 30.Ke2 Qxg2 31.Rg1 Qf3+ 32.Kd2 Qxf2+ 33.Qe2 Qf4+ 34.Kc3 Nb6 35.Rge1 Nd5+ 0-1
  • why does white play 25. Nf5?
    – njzk2
    Commented Jun 2, 2021 at 21:00
  • @njzk2 Probably hoping for something like Bxf5 Qxf5 exf5 Rxe7.
    – D M
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 1:25

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