The Modern Defense

  • GM arunabi
  • | Dec 23, 2010

by GM Magesh and GM Arun


The Modern Defense is not one of the mainstream opening choices for elite chess players. However, it still surfaces at the top as an occasional surprise weapon. It is quite natural that several side lines that were deemed bad back in the days are revived with the help of computers in modern days. Even though the Modern Defense was never a bad choice, it still remains low on the priority given that white is allowed to take complete control of the center and at times even gain a huge amount of space.


Interestingly enough I find it confusing to play against such openings. Sometimes you just feel you have to have a big advantage because of black's passivity, but in reality he does not have a glaring weakness in the position which means any amount of good moves will not help you breakthrough.


Our first game today is between Veselin Topalov and Alexey Shirov. In this game Shirov was lucky to snatch a full point from a seamingly difficult position. Let us take a look at the game now.





Our second game is to show a clear plan for black in this position. Bologan plays the opening with very good understanding. Let us take a look at our second game now:




It is easy to see the resemblance between the Modern Defense and the Pirc Defense. The piece placement and the idea of giving central control to white and fighting back for it at a later time is the same in both openings. However, there is some difference in the move order. In the Modern Defense black delays the development of the king knight thereby allowing white to play c4 and transpose the game into the King's Indian Defense in the queen pawn opening. We hope our readers gained a good insight into the Modern Defense.


  • 4 years ago


    I first noticed the possibility of the Modern by way of the DzindziIndian. Modern can morph to the CaroKann (B15) as well as KID. Especially I like that Black has a choice to play c6...d5, or simply d6 with the idea of c5 or e5 depending on white's setup, and he can also try the the "crazy" DzindziIndian. Very scary stuff for White to confront. 

  • 6 years ago


    I find the Modern Defense most useful where I can transpose into a King's Indian-type position, but with advantages of tempo, such as accelerated advance of f5. For example:

    1.d4 g6 2. c4 Bg7  3. Nc3 d6  4. e4 Nc6  5. Be3 e5  6. d5 Nce7  7. Nf3 f5. 


    As others have noted, these are double edged positions, requiring both tactical and position finess--never boring!  At the club level one often finds White losing patience and trying to punish what they view as weak positions.  It is perfect for those tempermentally suited to counter-attack.

  • 6 years ago


    My openings book thinks the first game transposes to the Caro-Kann, B15,

    3. Nc3: 3...g6 and 3...dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nxf6+ exf6

  • 6 years ago


    I love the idea of the Modern defence. Even against strong players it can be confusing pplaying against it. The great thing is to decide whether you go for a Pirc or a Modern at the outset, either will give you an interesting game and there are always transpositions tot the KID which is a little destabilising for white at times.

    Thanks for the ideas.

  • 6 years ago


    This is a very instructive article. I plan to study this defense even more now. This is a wonderful chess site!!!!

  • 6 years ago



  • 6 years ago



  • 6 years ago


    can't find its advantages.

  • 6 years ago


    What a paradoxical name for an opening! It was "Modern" in the 1960's, but is it still really modern.  The Modern Opening reminds me of New Wave Rock in the late 1970's.  At the time, we commented when would it would become "Old Wave".  Of course, nowadays Talking Heads, Elvis Costello is just another part of Classic Rock.

    I played the Modern and found that I got some decent positions when I avoided losing in 15 or 20 moves.  It is a high wire act for Black, but it can be frustrating for white.

  • 6 years ago


    très instructif, merci

  • 6 years ago


    I like the Modern Defense. Even when it ends up hurting me, it makes for an interesting game, at least.

  • 6 years ago


    pretty good article and instructive!!!!

  • 6 years ago


    Both games are from 1994, it says so underneath their names in the chess board window.

  • 6 years ago


    @ mituur:

    Quite a long time ago, that game was played in 1994, mate:) Also; excellent article, thank you!

  • 6 years ago


    Is there a mistake in Topalov's rating, or was this a LOOOONNNNNNNGGGGGGG time ago?

  • 6 years ago


    I tend to disagree with you about top plays or players at any level not liking maneuvering Hypermondern defensive plans as Black or White from time to time because most of todays player are maneuvering for a permanent advantage to convert (static) not a temporary advantage to convert (dynamic). Yes, in old day before defence became an art. Also, some plays maneuvered to create and convert temporary advantage, which they then live or die by. I don't think most plays practice recognizing temporary advances and chances to convert them or how to create them successfully because not much is shared about this lost chess art. I still don't understand it completely, or am I alway successful with it. 

  • 6 years ago


    I know I play this opening to let my opponent transpose into the King's Indain Defence, like you said at the end, and I have liked using this opening for that one reason.

  • 6 years ago


    Thanx for the instruction

  • 6 years ago


    Nice. But I think It will be better if I buy a book instead.

  • 6 years ago



Back to Top

Post your reply: