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Analyzing my latest game on chess.com, Stockfish says that h4 is the best move here:

I followed the line, but I failed to understand the reasoning of this move. Is it for some long-term advantage? Also, should the enemy bishop be left to stay there?

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  • 1
    Which line is that?
    – David
    Oct 17, 2021 at 22:39
  • FEN for anyone who needs it: rn1qkb1r/pp3ppp/2p1p3/4P3/2BP2P1/5N1P/PPbBQ3/R3K2R w KQkq - 0 1
    – Allure
    Oct 17, 2021 at 23:27

2 Answers 2

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The main idea is to try to trap the c2-bishop. After h4 White is threatening to play Rc1 and black can't save the bishop. That's why black should play ...h5 giving their bishop a retreat square. Note that if h4 h6, then there is Bxh6 and c2 is hanging.

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  • 3
    When you ask "should the enemy bishop be left to stay there? you seem to be thinking of that Bishop as a danger. In fact, an enemy piece that is stranded in your half of the board and has no colleagues to combine with is usually not a danger to you but an opportunity for you. As @nymi points out. it is in danger of getting trapped. That thought, depriving the Bishop of its retreats, is what would lead you to consider h4.
    – Philip Roe
    Oct 17, 2021 at 20:07
  • 9
    This doesn't justify h4 beyond the shallow tactical threat. Stockfish sees the threat and the response h5, of course. The question is, is the position after h4-h5 a positional improvement for white, and how? Oct 18, 2021 at 11:56
  • 1
    @PhilipRoe thanks for the insight, that makes a lot of sense
    – DatBoi
    Oct 18, 2021 at 13:04
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    I also agree with @MateenUlhaq. If the opponent in fact plays h5 noticing the bishop being trapped, what would that lead to?
    – DatBoi
    Oct 18, 2021 at 13:05
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    Yes, that's what I imagine. So only winning a pawn at the end. Initially I thought "can't save the bishop" means white will up a piece. It's a trade with another bishop.
    – justhalf
    Oct 19, 2021 at 13:59
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Trapping the bishop on c2 is a possibility, but it helps you develop your pieces for a general attack, depending on your opponent's moves. It adds threats that tie up enemy pieces defending and moves the attack to the enemy.

[FEN "rn1qkb1r/pp3ppp/2p1p3/4P3/2BP2P1/5N1P/PPbBQ3/R3K2R w KQkq - 0 1"]

1. h4 h5 2. Ng5 Be7 3. Qf2 Bg6

Following the engine line (which you can see in analysis on chess.com), black moves the pawn to h5 to give the bishop on c2 a retreat. That gives an outpost for your knight on g5. It's always nice to have a knight on a protected square in enemy territory. Your queen can slide over to f3. This forces the bishop on c2 back to g6 to protect the pawn on f7 which is being attacked by your queen and knight (or the rook over from h8 to f8 to protect it).

If it didn't get some extra protection, there are two possible attacks which the king couldn't protect. You could move the queen there to deliver check and force the king to d7. Then the queen could take the pawn on g7 and threaten the rook. You'd be up two pawns and have the queen deep in enemy territory. The other attack is even better though. You could take the pawn with your knight which would fork the black queen and rook. Black would have to move the queen and you could take the rook. Then you could bring the queen in if you want.

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  • Thats definitely a nice thought
    – DatBoi
    Oct 18, 2021 at 13:03

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