Marshall Defense Guide

Marshall Defense Guide

The Marshall Defense is a chess opening for black that arises after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nf6. A lot has been said about the Marshall Defense not being good enough for elite play, although it has been used by Grandmasters like Ivanchuk, Bareev, Van Wely, and more. Currently, it is mostly used at club level.

Marshall Defense moves

Main Ideas in the Marshall Defense

Probably the main idea of the Marshall Defense is to offer white extra space in the center to force them to overextend and inadvertently create weaknesses.

In a great number of games in which the Marshall Defense is involved, play usually transposes to other openings such as the Grunfeld, Slav, or Orthodox.

Most Played Moves in the Marshall Defense

1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nf6

Marshall Defense moves

After 2…Nf6, we are in the Marshall Defense.

3.Nc3 g6

Marshall Defense moves

After 3…g6, the opening has already transposed into the Grunfeld Defense.

4.cxd5 Nxd5

Marshall Defense moves

White exchanges pawn in the center.

5.e4 Nxc3

Marshall Defense moves

White decides to consolidate in the center, while black exchanges knights.

6.bxc3 Bg7

Marshall Defense moves

Black’s bishop on g7 will be key to exert pressure on the d4 pawn and the whole a1-h8 diagonal.

7.Bc4 c5

Marshall Defense moves

Typical Grunfeld play, in which white develops their light-squared bishop to c4 and black strikes in the center with c5.

8.Ne2 Nc6

Marshall Defense moves

Black keeps targeting the d4 pawn.

9.Be3 O-O

Marshall Defense moves

Black completes their development.

3.Nc3 Variation

As we just saw, the 3.Nc3 variation is the most played third move by white.

An alternative to the line reviewed in the previous section would be 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 dxc4 6.Qxc4 0-0, which is the Russian Variation of the Grunfeld Defense.

Marshall Defense moves

3.cxd5 Variation

This is the exchange variation of the Marshall Defense.

3.cxd5 Nxd5 4.e4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6

Marshall Defense moves

3.Nf3 Variation

The 3.Nf3 variation usually leads to some form of Queen’s Gambit Declined.

Play usually continues with 3.Nf3 e6 4.Nc3 Be7.

Marshall Defense moves

Model Games

More Chess Articles

Chigorin Defense Guide Colle System Guide

Queen's Indian Defense Guide


Games on Database: 5354
Last Played: Jun 2024
Overall score:
62.9% 16.7% 20.4%

Played frequently by:

Alexander Alekhine 30 games
Inge Krueger 9 games
Garry Kasparov 8 games
Rene Letelier Martner 11 games
Hugo Scholtus 11 games
Kalevi Lehtosaari 10 games

Possible continuations:

3. Nc3  2596
58.2 % 17.2 % 24.6 %
3. cxd5  1879
73.2 % 14.5 %
3. Nf3  511
56.2 % 20.4 % 23.5 %
3. e3  191
49.2 % 21.5 % 29.3 %
3. Bg5  94
55.3 % 18.1 % 26.6 %
3. g3  40
65 % 25 %
3. Bf4  21
52.4 % 19 % 28.6 %
3. c5  16
50 % 25 % 25 %
3. b3  2
50 % 50 %
3. h3  2
100 %