Openings for Tactical Players: Petroff Defense

Openings for Tactical Players: Petroff Defense‎

GM Gserper
36 | Tactics

The Petroff defense is loved by super GMs and hated by the average chess players! Why so? Here is what the Wikipedia says about this opening: "The Petrov has a reputation of being dull and uninspired."  Indeed, this is a weapon of choice for many 2700+ GMs to reach a bloodless draw with Black. And this drawish tendency is exactly why the average folks just hate to see this symmetrical opening.  But is this reputation justified? In my opinion, if one of the opponents wants to see blood, then there will be blood on the board!

The next beautiful game returns us back to the romantic 19th century and yet, it was played just last year. White employed the old Cochrane gambit to nip the symmetry in the bud.



If you don't want to sacrifice material that early, still there are many ways for White to start an attack in the early stages, as the next game shows. You may want to re-read my previous article "Typical Patterns Everyone Should Know. The dangerous 'h' file" to better understand the mechanism of White's attack.
Of course when Black plays the Petroff Defense it doesn't automatically mean that he is playing for a draw.  Such a fantastic tactical player as GM Frank Marshall employed this opening very frequently.  Strangely enough, he always was able to find a way to sacrifice some material to start an attack.  Just like he did in the following game, where he sacrificed a pawn as early as move 6 just to avoid a boring position!
The attacking idea that Black used in the next game played more than 100 years ago is very dangerous even today. The Ne4 supported by pawns d5 and f5 creates many tactical threats and White has to be careful since one mistake can be decisive...
As you could see, even such a quiet opening can lead to complicated games full of combinations.  If you did your home work, and found a particular variation you like, then don't be afraid to play the Petroff Defense out of fear that it would lead to a boring draw.  If this opening worked very well for such famous tacticians as GM Frank Marshall and World Champion Vishi Anand (who both employed it on a regular basis), it should work for you as well!
Good luck!
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