Openings for Tactical Players: Chigorin Defense

Openings for Tactical Players: Chigorin Defense

| 21 | Tactics

The Chigorin Defense was never a popular opening, but this situation has been changing in the last decade. A super GM Alexander Morozevich managed to prove that in the good hands (see the picture) it is a very powerful weapon. The idea of the opening is very simple: Black doesn't pay attention to such 'small positional things' as a pair of Bishops, a strong pawn center, etc.  His main and only concern is to finish his development as quickly as possible and hopefully start an attack against the White King whether it is hiding on the King's side, Queen's side or the center. The e7-e5 break is a very common occurrence in this opening (then in many cases the game resembles the Albin Counter Gambit).

In the next game after a modest move 3.e3 such a strategy worked to perfection:


If you are not familiar with the common chess combination called 'The Greek Gift' sacrifice executed in the above mentioned game, then I recommend you to look at my older article devoted to this subject:
Talking about opening combinations, I have to mention that it is surprising how many miniature games were played in the Chigorin Defense.  I don't think that many other openings which start with a solid move 1.d4 have that many games where White loses before move 15!
In the next game White played 3.Nf3 which was supposed to put even more pressure on the key e5 square and yet Black managed to play e7-e5 again and as a result we have another miniature!
In the next game a seasoned GM played a young IM who dared to play the 'dubious' opening. Of course the GM preferred the main line which starts with 3.Nc3. Unfortunately, he didn't last even till move 30.  Was it the opening to blame or the fact that the name of the young IM was Alexander Morozevich?  You decide:
In the last game we are going to analyze today White played the last major subline on move three: 3. cxd5.  The game is sort of remarkable. I don't recall any other game where a strong GM was beaten by a non-GM so brutally. I mean Black didn't hide his aggressive intentions and he clearly indicated the point of the coming attack and yet White couldn't do much about it.  I strongly recommend you to replay the whole Black attack because it is very powerful and instructive!
At the end, let me repeat my usual advice/disclaimer.   In this article I didn't try to prove that the Chigorin Defense is winning for Black in all the variations (which is obviously impossible).  My goal was just to show the ideas and demonstrate typical attacking patterns of the opening. I hope you replayed the whole games and not just the positions shown on the diagrams (Remember that you can always replay a whole game from the first move if you click "Solution" and then "Move list"). If you liked the games we analyzed today, then it is a good starting point for your own investigation of the opening. 
And just like with any opening in the "Openings for Tactical Players" column, there is one thing you can count on.  This opening will lead to a very exciting, tactical game.
Good luck!
More from GM Gserper
Do You Know This Tactical Trick?

Do You Know This Tactical Trick?

Were Carlsen, Fischer, And Capablanca Wrong?

Were Carlsen, Fischer, And Capablanca Wrong?