Typical Patterns Everyone Should Know : That vulnerable f7 pawn...

  • GM Gserper
  • | Jun 27, 2009

If you ask a chess player what opening is the most dangerous one in the sense that you can lose quickly if you don't know exact moves you are supposed to play, then most probably you'll hear the King's Gambit, the Sicilian Defense or some other notoriously sharp opening.  My personal choice would be the Hanham variation of the Philidor defense (1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nd7).  If you read 'My system' by Nimzowitch then you might be surprised by my choice, since the Hanham variation was Nimzowitch's favorite weapon to reach the positions where a long positional struggle ensued.  Yet, this variation is a real minefield.  We all learn pretty quickly that the f7 pawn is Black's weakest spot in the initial position.  I don't know any chess player who hasn't succumbed to the Fool's Mate (Bc4, Qh5 and Qxf7 checkmate) or the Fried Liver Attack.  But if you really want to see how the attacks against the f7 square go in the open games, look no further then the Hanham variation! So, today's typical pattern we are going to learn is "combinations and traps on the f7 square".

The first combination/trap happens as early as move four!


So, the natural looking 4...Ngf6 move was a mistake.  Let's try 4...Be7 instead, defending against possible Ng5 threats.
OK, it turns out that 4...Be7 is not good either.  So how about 4...h6 then, preparing Ngf6 development?
Even if Black plays the best theoretical move 4...c6, he is not completely out of the woods yet as the next game demonstrates.
Now you can see why in the modern tournaments Black frequently uses a different move order to reach the Hanham and also to set up a nasty trap.
In the next position you should decide if you want to start an attack by 6.Bxf7 followed by 7.Ng5+
But even this modern, sophisticated move order doesn't guarantee against surprises.
As you could see, the fight in the games that we have analysed today revolved around the 'magical' f7 square.  We witnessed different methods White can use to assault this weakest spot in the Black position.  Even if you don't play the Philidor defense but answer 1.e4 with 1...e5 you must know these typical ideas in order to avoid potential disaster in your own games!
Good luck!


  • 6 days ago


    great article. learned much from it thank you Cool

  • 4 months ago


    On Thursday July 16, 2015 I read this article and enjoyed it. Thank you!

  • 8 months ago


    I'd like to see more about this. I'd like to study it deeper. Good stuff.

  • 14 months ago


    This remarkable presentation draws heavily (even the mistypings, to say the least) from a book written (1979) by the russian master Jakov Neistadt which is available to the English speaking audience as Catastrophe in the Opening.

    Neistadt himself mistakenly gives the Tylor vs Koltanowski game as played in 1930: as far as I know, looking here and there among various databases, it was played in Hastings (1929).

    Sources should always be quoted.

  • 15 months ago


    Those were amazing! Thank you

  • 16 months ago


    It is great F7 Introduction :) Thanks alot.

  • 19 months ago


    i havnt ever lost to fools mate.

  • 23 months ago


    When you were discussing 4...Be7?, I went through the line 5...dxe7? 6.Qd5! and when you got to the end you said "Black has no way to defend f7". Now, that's true, but can't black play 6...Nb6 (or something similar) and get out of the jam? I mean, obviously black is in trouble at that point, but black isn't helpless at move 6, right?

  • 2 years ago


    Nice article!

  • 2 years ago


    Article 18! :) thx!

  • 3 years ago


    Ow, I cannot understand some of the moves shown. I cannot decipher what they are for. Despite of that, I at least got an idea how to play aggressively on f7 square, Thanks a lot.

  • 3 years ago



  • 3 years ago


    @Bollweg: Even without analyzing the move 15. Qxh8, one can see that taking the Rook would be too risky, because it moves the Queen to the corner behind a row of enemy Pawns, where it will be out of play and unable to help defend. Allowing the Queen to be out of play for even one move while Black's Queen is rampaging for the White King would result in disaster. In the actual game, White declined the capture in order to maintain some scope for the Queen, and Black still checkmated White. One can imagine, without analyzing, how much faster checkmate would have come if the Rook had been taken. Analysis should confirm that White would fare no better after taking the Rook (15. Qxh8).

  • 3 years ago


    on the fifth game on move 14, why not Qxh8? Is this a blunder?

  • 3 years ago


    thank you for so many examples.  if i cant learn this one it's my own fault

  • 4 years ago


    l like this article is very helpful!

  • 4 years ago


    Nice material. And now to the members: We all see some things, like that what horvathliviu says,but those supose to be a beginners patterns and some    beginners mistakes...and thats good for us to see where they (mistakes) are and to sure our selfs that something like that not hapennig when we are playing! 

  • 4 years ago


    Interesting.. Thank you

  • 4 years ago


    great stuff, but it also cuts out an opening i had hoped might give me something to surprise an opponent with. well, back to the drawing board.

  • 4 years ago


    Great tutorial. Thanks a bunch.

    Now I have to play these on a regulation board so my eyes do not play tricks on me.

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