The Pirc Defense is one of those openings you can easily fall in love with. It is one of the most charming ways of meeting 1.e4 and there are many fans of the Pirc among the players of any level. The reason is that Black often tries to play for something more than just equality. In the beginning, we calmly develop the kingside and provoke White to occupy the center with pawns…
But later strike back in the center and often take over the initiative!
This is why White players often decide to develop more humbly, but then Black develops their pieces more or less comfortably and gets a good play. Read below if you want to know what makes this opening so special.
The Pirc is one of those openings that allows you to play for a win with Black. Complicated positions with no early simplifications or forced draws make it one of the best bets if you want to outplay your opponent.
The Pirc Defense is a frequent choice of such top GMs as Carlsen, Kramnik, Svidler, Grischuk, Mamedyarov, Nepomniachtchi, Ivanchuk to name a few. In 1972, Bobby Fischer even used the Pirc in the World Championship match against Boris Spassky!
The game in the Pirc is often more maneuvering and slow. But Black is always ready to unleash the hidden dynamic potential of their pieces and sharpen the game. This can give you the experience of playing different positions which is very important for chess improvement.
In most of the cases, Black develops the pieces to the same positions no matter what White does. Of course, sometimes we need to be more subtle, but overall it is easy to find places for the pieces and choose a plan.
Even though this is a popular guest in practice at any level, White players pay much more attention to the Sicilian, the Ruy Lopez, the Caro-Kann, or other mainstream openings. It gives the Pirc players a good practical advantage from the very beginning.
Black can choose between different setups, for example, to push e7-e5, b7-b5, or c7-c5; sometimes the knight goes to d7, c6, or even a6; the bishop can be developed to g4 or b7. It gives you more freedom and makes your opponent’s life harder.
Actually, the Pirc is the King’s Indian Defense without White’s pawn on c4. So the plans and ideas are very similar, and it is easier for you to learn one defense if you already know the other one.
Also, the Modern defense, the Philidor, the King’s Indian Attack, and the Reti are like brothers of the Pirc.
Some players would like to meet 1.d4 with tricky lines that start with 1…d6 or 1…g6 but after 2.e4 it could transpose to the Pirc. So if you play the Pirc, you have those additional possibilities at your disposal. Also, after 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 White’s idea is to go 3.e4 transposing into the 1.e4 positions. If you play the Pirc, it is not any scary for you.
White has a lot of different ways of meeting the Pirc and sometimes even tries to attack you directly. But even there you can choose lines where you can rely on ideas rather than precise theoretical moves. In most cases, you can develop your pieces according to a scheme and use your knowledge of plans and maneuvers to outplay your opponent.
The above-mentioned flexibility and a variety of plans often lead to unexplored positions.
Overall it makes the Pirc more interesting and fun to play.
In his new course, IM Milovan Ratkovic shares his knowledge of this fascinating opening. In “Pirc Defense Mastermind”, he covered all of White’s systems and gave clear explanations of what to do in every case.