rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/4P3/8/PPPP1PPP/RNBQKBNR b KQkq - 0 1
    [Date "2021.08.14"]
    [Result "0-1"]
    [UTCDate "2021.08.14"]
    [UTCTime "22:01:55"]
    [ECO "C42"]
    [Opening "Russian Game: Nimzowitsch Attack"]
[StartPly "22"]

    1... e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Nc3 { C42 Russian Game: Nimzowitsch Attack } Nxc3 6. dxc3 Be7 7. Bd3 O-O 8. Be3 c6 9. Qd2 d5 10. O-O-O a5 11. h4 a4

I played the Petroff as black and my opponent answered with the Nimzowitsch attack. We continued with a pawn run on the a- and h-file. The situation is quite complex and I did not know how to evaluate it. The engine was about +0.9. Are there good ways to think about comparable attacking situations? It is clear to see that the white's bishops are better placed than the black ones. What else is important to consider?

  • 1
    I'll leave it to better players to reply properly, but IMO black has just picked the wrong plan with a5-4 - white is going to win any race to attack the king due to having more space and development. So at move 10 I'd look at something like Nd7 to start waking up my dormant Q side pieces.
    – Ian Bush
    Aug 15, 2021 at 8:38
  • 2
    Worse, even if Black wins the race, all he gets is a booby prize (due to the additional wPc3 which keeps off pawn storms; ...a3 b3 is pathetic either. White can play Ng5 forcing a hook and then zerg-rush it, even if that costs two tempi. (Woe that Nd7-f6 comes too late!) Aug 15, 2021 at 16:11
  • 1
    The queenside counterplay looks slow to me, but I'm not a GM!
    – SmallChess
    Aug 15, 2021 at 17:32
  • 2
    There are no material imbalances, so we can simply compare every piece to its counterpart to get a sense for who is doing better. You will see that all White pieces at the moment stand equal or better (just ask what the pieces are doing), furthermore they have more mobility (they can change their jobs faster). The position is complicated... but only if you are Black. Which means something went wrong before this position. Most players go for the plan of Nd7-c5 to harass White's bishop (which is the best minor piece on the board) on move 10.
    – B.Swan
    Aug 15, 2021 at 21:12
  • I would assume that this position was objectively winning for white: White has a solid bishop pair, an active knight that can jump to g5, a dangerous h5 pawn and a pair of rooks that can come to the g and h files easily. Black, on the other hand, has only 3 defenders: a rook and both bishops. The reason I don't consider the queen a defender is because the queen must commit to a counterattack on white's queenside. The black knight isn't developed, the a pawn cannot do much by itself, and the doubled c pawns nicely guard against the pushing of any other queenside pawn. May 21, 2022 at 18:24

2 Answers 2


I would say White has the initiative and easier play.

Let's try something like this

[FEN ""]
1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Nc3 Nxc3 6. dxc3 Be7 7. Bd3 O-O 8. Be3 c6 9. Qd2 d5 10. O-O-O a5 11. h4 a4 12.Ng5 h6 13.g4

It looks dangerous for Black.

Rd1-g1 is coming. Ng5-h7 is an idea. If hxg5 hxg5, h-file opens, White can transfer the Queen with f2-f3 and Qd2-h2.

In general, when castling opposite sides, the player who attacks first will have the initiative and thereby advantage.

White's g-pawn is more dangerous than Black's a-pawn. White's c3-pawn controls d4 and b4 squares and the a1-h8 diagonal, which delays Black's attack.


The position is roughly equal.

White has a lead in development but black has a better center and slightly safer king. I don't see any immediate threats from white and at some point white will play c4 and equalize in the center leaving both sides with roughly the same position.

I do think Black's position would be easier to play though because it's just simple development. Black will play Bg4, Bf6, Nd7, and maybe Qb6 ( in varying orders) If white plays h5 answer with h6 and I'm not really worried about the sac on h6. The Ng5 ideas are garbage. I'll eventually take the knight and white will be down a piece with no compensation.

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