In the video "ugly defense", GM Grigoyan called the move Knight g3-h1 an "ugly move", though objectively speaking, Nh1 may be the best move for white in this position.

[fen "r1b2rk1/b1p4p/p1pp1qp1/P7/4P1n1/3N2N1/1PP2PPP/R1BQ1RK1 w - - 1 1"]

May I know if there is a definition of an "ugly move"? In my humble opinion, if a move is objectively the best in a particular position, it should be called a "good move", or sometimes a "brilliant move", or sometimes a "forced move", or sometimes a "book move". In this position, I would call Nh1 a "forced move".

  • Not quite forced. The queen could also come to the defense. Oct 1, 2021 at 18:57
  • 3
    @JohnColeman How does the queen come to the defense? E.g. 1. Qf3 Qh4 threatens mate and discovers attack on the queen; or 1. Qe1 Qh4 2. h3 Qxg3.
    – bof
    Oct 2, 2021 at 6:27
  • 1
    @bof I didn't say that it was a good defense, I just wouldn't describe the knight move as outright forced. Oct 2, 2021 at 11:28

1 Answer 1


An "ugly move" is one which violates positional principles. Here the knight on g3 attacks / defends 6 squares - h5, f5, e4, e2, f1 and h1. On h1 it only attacks/ defends 2 squares - g3 and f2. Positionally it is much better on g3 than h1. However tactically f2 is key because it is attacked 4 times, pinned against the king and only defended 3 times. It is a far more important square than all the 6 squares the knight can reach from g3. Although Nh1 is an ugly move it is also a necessary and good move. These terms are not mutually exclusive.

  • Unrelated to the main question, but I wonder why Be3 won't be a good move here?
    – justhalf
    Oct 2, 2021 at 3:44
  • @justhalf: I'm terrible at calculating these things but I suspect that the line after ... Nxe3 fxe3 Bxe3+ is bad for White.
    – Kevin
    Oct 2, 2021 at 4:30
  • 5
    @Kevin: not according to Stockfish. But ... Qh4 is a devastating reply to Be3. It forces h3; and then you play ... Nxe3, and after fxe3, the Knight on g3 is hanging.
    – TonyK
    Oct 2, 2021 at 12:38

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