Pirc Defense: Main Line, Austrian Attack

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4

The Austrian Attack is White's most aggressive choice against the Pirc Defense. Being former world champion GM Bobby Fischer's weapon of choice, this variation of the Pirc can quickly sharpen the game.

Starting Position

The Austrian Attack is a variation of the Pirc Defense that starts after the moves 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4. White takes up central space and builds a massive pawn center, which Black will try to undermine.

The starting position of the Austrian Attack variation of the Pirc Defense
The starting position of the Austrian Attack.

The immediate 4.f4 allows White to develop their kingside knight behind the pawn chain, giving White's central pawns more mobility. With this, White can later strike in the center more effectively.


  • White can get a dangerous attack against Black
  • White often manages to shut out the fianchettoed bishop by playing e4-e5.


  • White weakens his king position slightly by playing f4
  • The Austrian Attack allows Black the kind of sharp game that Pirc players prefer

Main Variations Of The Austrian Attack

After White enters the Austrian Attack, there are a few ways the game can continue. However, players must know the two critical variations below if they're willing to play this opening.

Austrian Attack With 5...O-O

The main line of the Austrian Attack happens after the moves 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4 Bg7 5.Nf3 O-O 6.Bd3. Black fianchettoes their dark-squared bishop and castles, letting White build a strong center and develop their kingside pieces.

Black will usually develop their knight to either c6 or a6. If Black plays 6...Nc6, one of the players usually strikes quickly in the center with a pawn push. After 6...Na6, Black will usually play for ...c5 and then reroute the knight to c7, possibly expanding on the queenside.

Austrian Attack, Dragon Formation

The other critical line of the Austrian Attack is the Dragon Formation, which starts after 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4 Bg7 5.Nf3 c5. Black strikes on the center before any of the players can castle. While 6.dxc5 is possible, most games continue with 6.Bb5+ Bd7 7.e5, which leads to a sharp game.


Learn The Pirc Defense And The Modern Defense

Learn the main lines, tactics, and strategies in the Pirc and Modern Defenses.
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