It's time to look at another opening.

The PETROFF (or Russian) DEFENSE.

Named after Alexander PETROFF, a nineteenth century Russian player.

It's a safe, solid, but not very exciting choice for Black.

But there are a few traps you have to avoid.

We start with these moves: 1. e2-e4 e7-e5
2. Ng1-f3 Ng8-f6

Instead of DEFENDING the Pawn on e5 Black ATTACKS White's e4 Pawn.

Now White has several choices.

He could play Nb1-c3, when Black can copy White again - Nb8-c6 is the FOUR KNIGTS GAME, or play Bf8-b4.

A good move for White is d2-d4 (when Black can play either e5xd4 or Nf6xe4) but the move we recommend is Nf3xe5.

Here's the position.

I'll tell you now that Black has only one good move here, and that's d7-d6.

But kids who don't know this are often tempted by alternatives.

A lot of beginners - you've probably played them - like to copy their opponents' moves if they're Black. So they play Nf3xe4.

Well, then, Buster! Which of these moves would you choose for White?

Qd1-e2 Qd1-f3
Qd1-g4 Qd1-h5

Well, you might think they all look quite tempting.

Yes, Qd1-f3 is a FORK, but can be met comfortably by Ne4-f6.

Qd1-h5 also threatens MATE, but Black's unlikely to fall for it - Qd8-f6 is fine.

Qd1-g4 is no good after d7-d5, DEFENDING the Knight and AMBUSHING the Queen.

Although it breaks two of our opening rules (it develops the Queen early and blocks in the Bishop on f1) Qd1-e2 is the correct move, leading to a clear advantage for White.


Let's suppose first of all that, after Qd1-e2, Black moves his Knight back to f6, giving this position.

You've probably seen positions like this several times before so you should know what White should do next.

Yes, it's an AMBUSH. The Knight move DISCOVERS CHECK by the White Queen and at the same time THREATENS the Black Queen.

Black is going to end up a queen for a knight behind.

That's what happens to copycats. And it serves them right, as well, doesn't it?

Now let's suppose that, instead of moving the Knight, Black defends it with d7-d5.

Here's your position - what now for White?

Nb1-c3 d2-d3
f2-f3 Qe2-b5+

The best move is d2-d3 - congratulations if you found it!

Qe2-b5+ is a totally useless check.

Nb1-c3 is the right idea, but not as good. Black has time to defend with Qd8-e7.

f2-f3 again is the right idea but Black can complicate things with Qd8-h4+.

We've now reached this position.

Again, if Black moves the Knight on e4 you know what happens - Ne5-c6 DISCOVERED CHECK wins the Black Queen.

But if he leaves the Knight there White will take it.

His best move is Qd8-e7 (which was also possible the previous move) but White will still end up a pawn ahead in a good position.


Don't be tempted by Qd8-e7, either. Yes, White MIGHT fall for a similar trap and lose his Queen. He MIGHT also jummp off the top of a cliff. But more likely he'll stop all the traps and later gain time by attacking your Queen.

There's only one move worth playing for Black here and that's d7-d6.

White now has to do something about his Knight.

He COULD try sacrificing it to drive the Black King out (Ne5xf7). This is called the COCHRANE GAMBIT - perhaps worth a try if you don't mind taking a few risks.

But otherwise there's no reason not to play the Knight hack to f3. Black then has no choice - he regains the pawn with Nf6xe4.

White has several choices in this position.

A natural move is d2-d3, but it just leads to a symmetrical and pretty boring position.

Another obvious try is Qd1-e2, going for the same idea as in the COPYCAT TRAP.

Let's take a look at that now.

Tell me something. You've probably noticed that the Black Knight is THREATENED.

What should be do about it?

d6-d5 Bc8-f5
Qd8-e7 f7-f5

There's only ONE move Black should even THINK about playing here - Qd8-e7!

He MUST block the e-file before something really nasty happens to him. If you chose ANY of the other moves, you'll lose a Knight.

Let's find out why.

We'll give Black the move d6-d5 (the other alternatives would have been met the same way.

It's over to you to tell me White's next move.

Chess can be very simple sometimes, can't it?

White THREATENS the PINNED KNIGHT. There's nothing Black can do to save it.

But if Black had played Qd8-e7 instead he'd have BROKEN THE PIN and would have been able to retreat safely.

So Qd1-e2 only gives White an extremely boring - and extremely equal - position if Black avoids the traps.

If you've done the previous lesson it should come as no surprise to you that the most popular - and strongest - move in this position is d2-d4. And Black - who wants his fair share of the center, plays d6-d5.

The position's almost symmetrical.

The only difference is that Black has a Knight on e4, while White's Knight is on f3.

Is Black's Knight strong or weak? White's plan is to try to undermine it.

His next move is Bf1-d3, he'll then play 0-0 and probably c2-c4.

An alternative to d2-d4 is Nb1-c3 (see diagram). This move sets a trap that numbers a World Champion among its victims.

Black can reach an equal position by playing Ne4xc3, but instead see what happens after Bc8-f5.

Vishy Anand of India is now one of the world's strongest players. In 1988, when he was World Junior Champion he fell for this trap.

Here's the position - can you find the move to beat a world champion?

The simple winning move is, indeed, Qd1-e2. Black's Knight is THREATENED.

You already know what happens if Black defends it with, for instance, d6-d5. White wins the Knight by playing d2-d3.

But, I hear you asking, what if Black, as we've seen before, blocks the e-file with Qd8-e7?

Well, here's the position after Qd8-e7.

Can you find White's killer move here?

Nc3-d5 leaves Black dead!

If he moves his Queen to d8 or d7, d2-d3 again wins the PINNED Knight. And if he tries Qe7-e6 White can play Nd5-c7+ - a FAMILY FORK winning the Queen.

Black cannot avoid losing either his Knight on e4 or his Queen.

Before we leave the PETROFF DEFENSE, one more question.

In this game Black wasted time with his Queen, moving to e7 (DON'T DO THIS UNLESS WHITE PLAYS Qd1-e2) and then back to d8.

How can White take advantage?

Be2-b5 is CHEKCMATE.

It's DOUBLE CHECK - the Bishop and the Rook are BOTH checking the Black King.

A player in DOUBLE CHECK can ONLY move his King - and here the King has no squares.

If you found the move, bravo!!

Well, that's the PETROFF (Russian) DEFENSE for you.

It's solid, safe (provided you avoid the traps), but not very exciting.

And White can play for a draw by choosing the Qd1-e2 variation.

If you're happy with that it might just be a good opening for you to play when you're Black.

But if you don't fancy playing either Ng8-f6 or Nb8-c6 on move 2 after 1. e2-e4 e7-e5 2. Ng1-f3 there's one more move you might consider.


André Philidor was a Frenchman who was the strongest chess player of the 18th century.

He was also a composer of operas and other works - some of which are still performed today.

This is another solid defense. It's a little bit passive because it blocks in Black's Queen's Bishop.

What should White do here?

From what you've learned about the importance of PAWNS IN THE CENTER it should come as no surprise to you to know that the best move here is d2-d4.

Another good move, and one which sets a few traps, is Bf1-c4.

A move you SHOULDN'T play, though, is Bf1-b5+.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE avoid playing these Bishop checks which can be blocked by a pawn. I'm sorry but it's a complete waste of time. Black just plays c7-c6 and the unfortunate Bish has to move again!

Only play a check if you have a GOOD REASON for doing so!

Here's the position after 3. d2-d4

Black has several choices here:

1. He can give up the center with e5xd4. White has more space in the center but Black has a solid position and can develop easily.

2. He can try to hold the center by playing moves like Ng8-f6, Nb8-d7 and Bf8-e7.

3. He can do what Philidor did and strike out with f7-f5. Very dangerous but if you know what you're doing you might just get away with it.

And here's the position if White chooses Bf1-c4 on move 3.

Black has to be a little bit careful here.

We recommend that he should play first Bf8-e7, then Ng8-f6 and 0-0.

The immediate Ng8-f6 seems natural and obvious, but there's a slight problem, as you'll see.

If Black plays the immediate Ng8-f6, White has a very strong move - Nf3-g5.

You've seen this sort of idea before - in the TWO KNIGHTS' DEFENSE. If you don't remember, go back to Class 6 to repeat the lesson.

Now if d6-d5, White's a move ahead of the TWO KNIGHTS' DEFENSE. And anything else (Bc8-e6 is probably best) will lose at least a pawn.

So, if you want to play the PHILIDOR DEFENSE with Black, be careful!!

Oh, just before you go, two more question.

What should Black play in this position?

And finally, what should White play in this position?

You've now reached the end of your assignment.

Click on the FINISH button to find out how you got on!

Watch out for a movie accompanying this lesson: coming to a movie theater near you shortly!