# What's the benefit to attacking f7 or f2 during the opening?

I remember a specific chess.com lesson on common openings, and it seems like one of the most common and safest openings is to take control of the center with the king and queen pawns and the attack the supposedly "weak" f7 (or f2 if it's black's move) squares with the bishops. The lesson implied this is a strong opening attack. But I don't understand why.

What makes those squares in particular weak and good targets for initial attacks? They start out holding the knights after all, and it seems easy for a knight to escape such an attack, given the L shaped movement of knights. Is the point to get the knights away from the king so that's easier to attack? But even then, it seems easy to defend against this by making a pawn chain, such as in this position, where it's White's turn:

Thumbnail of really good video: Attacking f7 by thechesswebsite

The point of attacking Black's f7 (and White's f2 respectively) is that only the king starts off defending that square! Every other square on the 7th rank is defended at least once by some other piece, whether it's a rook, bishop, knight, or queen. (Check for yourself!)

Therefore if you can attack the square, such as twice in Scholar's Mate, you can get a powerful attack against the king. Even attacking it once, such as in the Fried Liver Attack where White's knight grabs f7, forces White to recapture by bringing out his king to a vulnerable square and losing castling rights, otherwise simply give up a pawn. In the Fried Liver, White has a decent advantage out of the opening even though he's a piece down for a pawn because the Black king is so out in the open. In gambits taking f7 may be "objectively bad" for White if the opponent knows opening theory, but it can be dangerous unprepared or in blitz because of the awkward early king moves.

In other openings, pressuring that weak square is a major theme. The Italian Opening and Bishop's Opening put the bishop in a nice spot attacking that square, without an immediate attack but long-term pressure. You can defend this diagonal with e6, but in any opening starting with e4 e5, this option isn't available. The move e6 is more defensive, usually defending on d5 and f5, while e5 attacks d4 and f4 on the opponent's side of the board. In most e4 openings White plays Nf3, and that knight is one hop away with Ng5 in the Two Knights Defense of aggressively attacking f7.

Here are some common ways to attack f7, the queen attacks especially if Black isn't careful:

Some options to defend this square are Nh6 and Be6, but these are awkward moves to play whereas usually you want more controlling squares for your pieces. Having the queen defend is another option, but then this can put the queen at risk. Castling gets a strong rook to defend the square, but the pawn will be pinned on the diagonal to the king. These subtleties are explored in many popular openings including the Italian.

• What about a2? Typo for f2? Commented May 18 at 8:57
• @Allure this is a question for the OP, but I'm sure it's meant to be f2. f7/f2 are always talked about together and no opening talks about a2.
– qwr
Commented May 18 at 16:32
• Dont forget some Qd5 path to f7 in multiple (gambit) openings where d file clears for white. For example Bxf7+ followed by Qd5+ to pick up a B on c5 and win a pawn in process while dislocating black king. Commented May 19 at 2:59