# Prophylactic Thinking

What is the prophylactic thinking? In his recent course on this subject, GM Artur Yusupov gives a highly concise definition. According to him, by making a prophylactic move, we not only prevent our opponent from realising his ideas but at the same time we improve our position. That's why the prophylactic move is not a defensive one. Let's try to apply this principle in practice.

The diagram position was reached in one of my games ( I play with White ). What should White do?

Actually, White is winning :)

I want to play Rb1, to contest the open file. But probably too obvious.

I will give a hint. When you try to find a move, you should make three general considerations

1) Build a long-term plan

2) Find opponent's ideas

3) Find a move that not only prevents your opponent from executing his ideas but at the same time improves your position ( prophylactic move )

In general, you should try to play on the side where you have a spatial advantage. In the concrete position, White should play in the center. That's why we should try to realize the central break e4-e5. Nevertheless, first of all, the prophylactic approach to the position requires to fight against our opponents ideas.

How can we do that?

My first idea was Nb3 since c4 might be weak eventually and annoying.

What about Nf4, followed by Nd3. Stops Black playing e5 to lock the centre and prepares f4?

I'm having a hard time finding blacks idea. I feel it has to be related to the B file. Perhaps doubling rooks in order to play Rb2 provoking the a pawn to move and generate some kind of queenside counter play is blacks idea? If that's the idea then I would play Nc1, if black tries to double rooks then Nd3 protects b2 while adding another attacker to the e5 square. Am I even close?

I think the b file is the best way to go, maybe R-b1, or better knight b3, forcing the exchange, leading to a threat at rook a1

I think I'm going to try and deviate from the main line of thought with members in this thread (that is playing h3 or Nc1 for Nd3 or Nf4 for Nd3). I'm going to say....... Bf3?!?! Why? Because I feel that knight on e2 would be more powerful on e3 than d3. On e3 it prevents Nf5 from black once white has eventually pushed his e4 pawn. For the knight to get to e3 the bishop on g2 needs to move. it can either move to h1 or f3, but the latter is better because it stops Ng4 to Ne5 ideas. Notice that in response to Bf3 black can play bh3 but he can't really take the rook because: Bf3, Bh3, Nf4, Bxf1, Ne6+ forking king and Queen. and if black decides to capture the night once it has moved to g2 then that will be a massive bonus for white because black is suffering in the light squares and they just got rid of the light squared bishop. TL;DR - Bf3.

GrigorGrigorov wrote:

I will give a hint. When you try to find a move, you should make three general considerations

1) Build a long-term plan

2) Find opponent's ideas

3) Find a move that not only prevents your opponent from executing his ideas but at the same time improves your position ( prophylactic move )

In general, you should try to play on the side where you have a spatial advantage. In the concrete position, White should play in the center. That's why we should try to realize the central break e4-e5. Nevertheless, first of all, the prophylactic approach to the position requires to fight against our opponents ideas.

How can we do that?

______________________

The first factor to consider in the position is that the center is blocked (White pawns at c4, d5 are blockading Black pawns at c5, and d6).  White's Flank attack along the f.g.and h files is much more likely to succeed with a pawn storm along those files against the Black King's weakened castled position.  The black pawn at d6 is an obstacle dividing the battlefield for Black.  Black's defense is to counterattack in the center by breaking up the pawn blockade.

Given these considerations what is Black threatening to do? Black is threatening to break up the center and counterattack there.  Taking all of Black's options for counterattacking in the center White's best prophylactic move against all of these plans is 1. f4

1.f4 Bg4 2.e5 Bxe2 3.Rxe2 fxe5 4.fxe5 Nf55.e6+ Kf8 6.Qh8#

f4 doesn't seem very prophylactic, more getting on with it.  Think it more likely to be Nf4 preventing e5, and preparing h4, kh2 and Bh3 if black does nothing.