Fianchettoing Your King’s Bishop May Weaken Your c4-Pawn

I saw a curious position recently in which strangely, White was in a position to lose a c-Pawn placed on c4. I then remembered that it is actually not uncommon for this Pawn on c4 to be undefended when White has fianchettoed the Bishop to g2, because unlike classical development of the Bishop, where the Bishop is on e2 or d3 and therefore protects the Pawn on c4, the Bishop on g2 does nothing to protect the light squares from f1 to a6. Check out this position:

A standard theme for Black counterplay

Many middlegame plans by Black in these kinds of opening development setups in fact target White’s c4 Pawn and the light squares on the Queen side in general, while White tries to make something long-term out of increased central control of e5 and d5 (over classical development of the Bishop) and of course the long diagonal from h1 to a8. These positions can be very subtle for both sides to play. In this article I’m not discussing any of these subtleties, but simply pointing out a common theme for Black.

A variation of the King’s Indian Defense:

A variation of the English Opening:

And of course, the concept behind a popular approach to the Queen’s Indian Defense:

Franklin Chen


Author: Franklin Chen

Franklin Chen is a United States Chess Federation National Master. Outside his work as a software developer, he also teaches chess and is a member of the Pittsburgh Chess Club in Pennsylvania, USA. He began playing in chess tournaments at age 10 when his father started playing in them himself but retired after five years, taking two decades off until returning to chess as an adult at age 35 in order to continue improving where he left off. He won his first adult chess tournaments including the 2006 PA State Game/29 and Action Chess Championships, and finally achieved the US National Master title at age 45. He is dedicated to the process of continual improvement, and is fascinated by the practical psychology and philosophy of human competition and personal self-mastery. Franklin has a blog about software development, The Conscientious Programmer and a personal blog where he writes about everything else, including his recent journey as an adult improver in playing music.