I got this game today (Me white):

[fen "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]

1. e4 d5 2. Nc3 e6 3. exd5 exd5 4. d4 h6 5. Be2 Nf6 6. Nf3 Bd7 7. O-O Qc8 8. Bf4 Bd6 9. Bxd6 cxd6 10. b3 Bh3 11. Re1 O-O 12. Nh4 g5 13. Nf3 Qg4 14. g3 h5 15. Nd2 Qf5 16. Bxh5 Re8 17. Rxe8+ Nxe8 18. Qe2 Nc6 19. Bf3 Nxd4 20. Qd1 g4 21. Bxd5 Rc8 22. Ndb1 Nf3+ 23. Bxf3 gxf3 24. Nd5 Qe6 25. Qxf3 Rxc2 26. Ne3 Rc1+ 27. Nd1 Qe1# 0-1

The question is, how should I have gone about removing that pesky black light squared bishop without losing any material or weakening the king? As you will notice on move 11, Ng3 is stopped, and I don’t really have any ideas because Queen on c8 protects it heavily.

EDIT: I got a similar (almost identical) position just now! The difference was that gxh3 isn’t allowed. I played White.

[FEN ""]

1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 { C25 Vienna Game } d6 3. Nf3 Bg4 4. Be2 Nf6 5. O-O d5 6. Nxd5 Nxd5 7. exd5 Qxd5 8. c4 Qe6 9. Re1 c5 10. Rb1 Bd6 11. d3 O-O 12. b4 Qg6 13. b5 Bh3 14. Bf1 Re8 15. Ng5 e4 16. Nxh3 Nd7 17. Bf4 Bxf4 18. Nxf4 Qg5 19. Nd5 Re6 20. Nc7 Rg6 21. Nxa8 e3 22. Rxe3 Ne5 23. Qe1 f6 24. Qa5 Nf7 25. Qxa7 f5 26. Re8# { White wins by checkmate. } 1-0 

4 Answers 4


I had a suspicion (which stockfish confirmed) that weakening the kingside pawn structure is actually the best way to go about this, because black has no real attack here. After 10...Bh3, Stockfish recommends 11.Nb5, and gives white a +4 or so score. This fixes your hanging night on c3. It also puts Black on the defensive, threatening a devastating King Queen fork on g6. Black's best response is to castle. From there, black's pieces aren't developed enough to put together a strong attack, especially if white moves the queen onto the third row, pushing the black queen back.

 [Variant "From Position"]
 [FEN "rnq1k2r/pp3pp1/3p1n1p/3p4/3P4/1PN2N1b/P1P1BPPP/R2Q1RK1 w kq - 0 1"]

 1. Nb5 O-O 2. gxh3 a6 3. Na3 Qxh3 4. Qd3 Nc6 5. c3 Ng4 6. Rfe1 Rae8 7. Bf1 Qh5 8. Nc2 Re6

As a note, Stockfish finds Nb5 to be far and away the best move in this position. All other moves put black about even with white.

  • 1
    I think I’ll accept this answer as it combines both the other answers: how to avert the knight blunder as well as the bishop problem. Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 16:14
  • 2
    This answer missed that the knight was simply hanging and that's the reason why you shouldn't take the bishop immediately.
    – xehpuk
    Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 15:08
  • @xehpuk the first recommended move is moving the knoght in this answer, so I don’t get you. Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 15:15
  • 4
    @insipidintegrator Because the engine said so. The main reason for moving the knight is not to threaten the fork, but because it's hanging. That the knight is then pointing to c7 and d6 is a nice tactical side-effect.
    – xehpuk
    Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 16:11

You should have taken the bishop at the first sensible opportunity which was after you played Re1 and your opponent played O-O. The Re1 move is important because after Qxh3 it allows you to play Bf1 driving the queen away. If Qg4+ then you play Bg2 and your king is relatively safe and you are a piece up.

[fen "rnq2rk1/pp3pp1/3p1n1p/3p4/3P4/1PN2N1b/P1P1BPPP/R2QR1K1 w - - 1 1"]

1. gxh3 Qxh3 2. Bf1 Qg4+ 3. Bg2

It's worth also noting that your move 10. b3 blunders your knight on c3. The move serves absolutely no purpose. You no longer have a dark squared bishop to fianchetto and, moreover, you have just made your backward c pawn weak. Positionally it is your c pawn which belongs on c3 and not your b pawn on b3.

  • Thank you! Actually I’m just a 1200 beginner (as is evident from the knight blunder) so have no clue what belongs to what square 😅 for eg. I have heard that the queenside knight has a choice between c3 and d2 but the kingside knight belongs to f3, but never understood it. I guess I don’t play positionally rn. +1 btw Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 16:10
  • 1
    The rule of thumb for a beginner is "Don't give away material". More to your question, one plays b3 in order to finachetto one's dark-square bishop, but a) you already traded it away, and b) even if you still had it on its starting square, Black's queen would have taken your knight before the bishop could get in place to defend it. Timing is everything in this game. Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 14:20

That's simply a free bishop. gxh3 is how you remove the bishop because now you're up a piece. If you're worried about your king being opened up, notice that you have a sturdy knight on f3, bishop on e2 (that can immediately bounce around via f1 to g2, defending the g file), and possibly even a queen defending your kingside. There's no issues there.

The real problem is that this entire game you were hanging your c3 knight. Qxc3 from your opponent was a much scarier threat than the bishop sitting on h3.

  • Yes, I noticed the hanging knight, that’s why I had to go Nb1 which actually impeded the possibility of the a1 rook hindering mate. +1 Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 16:03

The last moment I see where you had a good chance was when you took the pawn with your queen. It did keep your forward knight protected, but that was too far into enemy territory and wasn't doing much good and that move left your back row undefended for the coming attack. You could have instead moved the knight to F4 where it forks the queen and bishop and is protected by one of your pawns. That also leaves your queen defending the back row and hopefully lets you move your other knight out soon so your rook on a1 can join in the fun.

edit - I just checked the analysis on chess.com and that is the turning point. Black could actually have just moved their queen down to checkmate you on the next move. Chess.com's analysis prefers moving your knight on b1 out to c3 to protect your forward knight and open up your rook which also defends the c file from the black rook since the knights are protecting each other. It also prefers pawn to c4 which accomplishes those last two goals as well, then proceeds with knight to f4 on the following move.

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