First five moves:

[FEN ""]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. f4

Why did white play f4?

My guesses:

  • To defend e5 in case if d4 falls.
  • Pawn pointing theory seems to indicate that white wants to launch kingside attack because black more often castles kingside.
  • To control more squares in center.

But doesn't f4 weaken white king?

  • 2
    The simple answer to why white played f4 in the game you linked is that white wasn't a very strong player. 5.f4 is kind of slow, and gives black the option of developing their knight via h6 to f5 without having to worry about potential Bxh6 ideas. It also weakens the diagonal g1-a7 which, as you mentioned, does make it more difficult for white's king to find safety in the long term. The main line is 5.Nf3 instead, and that line requires more precision from black.
    – Scounged
    Commented Nov 18, 2021 at 10:00
  • 3
    @Scounged this is a appropriate answer and you should post it as such
    – d4zed
    Commented Nov 18, 2021 at 10:07
  • @d4zed: Whereas Scounged is correct, so were all of your hunches, including f4 weakening the king. (More than one black knight was sacrificed on e5 against the f pawn for shock and awe on the f line after Black castling short nonetheless and opening with f6.) It's just that chess is the art of knowing which conflicting aims are more urgent in a concrete position... Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 9:45
  • @HaukeReddmann subba's hunches
    – d4zed
    Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 10:55

1 Answer 1


As suggested, I'll convert my comment to an answer. Given this format however, I reckon a list makes more sense. So let's see how the move 5.f4 changes the position:

  • 5.f4 is a slow move that wastes time for white in a line where White already invested a tempo on 3.e5.
  • 5.f4 makes it easier for Black to develop their knight on g8 via h6, from where it lands on a great square on f5.
  • 5.f4 weakens the diagonal g1-a7, making it more difficult for White's king to find safety.

So, to answer your question: White played 5.f4 in the game you linked because White wasn't a very strong player, not because 5.f4 was a good move. While it doesn't lose the game for White, it makes Black's game far easier, and White will be the one who has to solve some serious opening problems if Black knows how to turn the screws.

The best move in the position is the main line, 5.Nf3. This move defends d4 and develops White's knight. It also lets White retain control of the e3 square, which means that White's dark-squared bishop has a safe square on e3 to develop to.

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