Chigorin Defense Guide

Chigorin Defense Guide

The Chigorin Defense is a chess opening for black that starts with the moves 1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6. It is an unusual way to play with black against the Queens Gambit. It is technically part of the Queens Gambit Declined, although the gambit is accepted later in some variations. The Chigorin Defense is one of the few queen pawn openings to place the queen knight in front of the c pawn. The biggest advantage of the Chigorin is probably its surprise factor, since it is significantly less played than the other options black has.

Chigorin Defense moves

Main Ideas in the Chigorin Defense

In the Chigorin Defense, black exerts a lot of pressure on the center, while focusing on rapid development of their pieces, usually with bishops that quickly pin the knights on f3 and/or c3, and a queen with many available options.

Black tries to strike at the center early and continues pushing from there.

In some variations, black exchanges their bishops for knights, which allows white to play with the bishop pair.

Most Played Moves in the Chigorin Defense

1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6

Chigorin Defense moves

The move 2Nc6 is the one that defines the Chigorin Defense.

3.Nc3 dxc4

Chigorin Defense moves

Even though the Chigorin Defense is part of the Queens Gambit Declined, black didnt wait too much to actually take the pawn offered by white.

4.Nf3 Nf6

Chigorin Defense moves

Natural piece development by both sides.

5.e4 Bg4

Chigorin Defense moves

White expands in the center, black pins the knight and threatens to take the pawn on d4.

6.Be3 e6

Chigorin Defense moves

White defends the d4 pawn, black prepares to move their dark-squared bishop.

7.Bxc4 Bb4

Chigorin Defense moves

White gets their pawn back, and black now pins the other knight.

8.Qc2 O-O

Chigorin Defense moves

White defends the e4 pawn, black completes their development.

9.Rd1 Qe7

Chigorin Defense moves

3.Nc3 Variation

We just saw what happens after 3.Nc3 dxc4, but black can play more passively with 3Nf6.

Chigorin Defense moves

A more aggressive choice for black after 3.Nc3 is 3e5, although this is recommended for blitz rather than classical play.

Chigorin Defense moves

3.Nf3 Variation

White can choose 3.Nf3

Chigorin Defense moves

Play can continue with 3Bg4 4.Nc3 e6 5.cxd5 exd5

3.cxd5 Variation

Here, white goes for the exchange variation, immediately taking on d5.

Chigorin Defense moves

Play usually continues with 3Qxd5 4.e3 e5 5.Nc3 Bb4.

Chigorin Defense moves

Model Games

Related Chess Courses

Chigorin Defense with IM Milovan Ratkovic

Other Chess Articles

Colle System Guide

Queen's Indian Defense Guide

Budapest Gambit Guide

D07 Sub-variants:


Games on Database: 5910
Last Played: May 2024
Overall score:
43.5% 28.8% 27.7%

Played frequently by:

Vladimir Epishin 11 games
Glenn C Flear 10 games
Felix Levin 9 games
Igor Miladinovic 104 games
Gergely Antal 43 games
Ilja Zaragatski 43 games

Possible continuations:

3. Nf3  1928
42.3 % 27.4 % 30.2 %
3. Nc3  1915
48.1 % 26.9 % 24.9 %
3. cxd5  1414
41.7 % 32.5 % 25.7 %
3. e3  583
38.6 % 29.5 % 31.9 %
3. Bf4  48
25 % 29.2 % 45.8 %
3. Bg5  9
44.4 % 44.4 %
3. g3  4
25 % 50 % 25 %
3. e4  3
33.3 % 33.3 % 33.3 %
3. Qa4  3
33.3 % 33.3 % 33.3 %
3. c5  2
50 % 50 %