Fabulous Hedgehog: A Must-Have System for Every Chess Player

Fabulous Hedgehog: A Must-Have System for Every Chess Player

Hedgehog is a Fabulous and Must-Have System for Every Chess Player. The black pawns resemble the spikes of a hedgehog, not letting white cross the 5th rank without getting hurt! The so-called Hedgehog System is one of those mysterious ways to play that captivate every chess player. There is a certain beauty in how one side can concede so much space and then strike with all his power destroying the enemy’s pretensions. It’s a universal system that can be obtained from several openings, for example, the English Opening, the Nimzo-Indian, but also in the Sicilian and from several other transformations in the middlegame.

Generally speaking, it is a system that comes in handy in several situations and one that is easy to learn. No matter what your usual opening repertoire is, the fabulous Hedgehog System should be among your resources, ready to be tried when the situation comes.

Employed by legendary players like Portisch, Suba, Adorjan, Ljubojevic, Kasparov, and Karpov, the three rank system is one excellent way to fight with black for the full point. It allows you to keep the battle tense and avoid simplifications.

Hedgehog System

In my career, the Hedgehog has served me quite well and we will have a look at some positions from my own practice. It is true that I have no doubt that the side with more space has better prospects in the long run.

However, at a medium-lower level it is not easy to be on the better side; with great space also comes great responsibility and inexperienced players tend to over-expand, which is just falling into the black’s trap.

Let’s have a look at the following Hedgehog examples:


Guerrero,A – Castellanos,R
Position after black’s 14…Nfd7

I have just played Nfd7, trying to confuse my opponent a little with the move order. The idea is to delay the development of the b8 knight and then decide if it will be developed via c6 or d7 (after removing the d7 knight).

My opponent seems to have felt the need for a quick attack on the queenside due to the optical passivity of my position and continued with 15.b4?

See the next diagram:

Hedgehog System

A horrible move that allows black to take over the initiative in just two moves. It is a weak move. But, don’t let your eyes trick you. You can see these kinds of mistakes every day in these types of positions and my opponent was a fairly good player. I replied with 15…Ne5! Attacking c4 and after 16.Nd1 a5!

Black obtained a very nice game.

See the rest of the Hedgehog game here:

The spikes get bristly!

It is well known that the main ideas in the Hedgehog System are to free black’s position by means of d6-d5, b6-b5, or f7-f5. These ruptures are black’s main sources of counterplay.

One of the main practical problems white has is that at every turn he will need to check for black’s d5 or b5 and it is not easy to be aware of this all the time.

See the next position:


Vega, S – Castellanos, R
Position after 17.Qf2

White just played 17.Qf2, putting pressure on b6. Perhaps, also with some aspirations on the kingside with Qh4-Ng5. But, totally missed black’s counter here.

I replied with the move 17…b5! And suddenly white is in trouble; all the x-rays along with the C file and the a1-h8 diagonal are starting to show. And, white is very vulnerable.

See the rest of the Hedgehog game here:

There is no doubt that this system is a great practical weapon for the tournament player. To learn more about it we recommend you go straight to the specialists of the system such as Suba, Ljubojevic, Adorjan, Kasparov, and Karpov.

The latter was a great Hedgehog player; perhaps his static style helped with this, as he mastered the art of making moves without changing your position. He also didn’t miss the opportunity to counter-attack.

We also recommend reviewing 10 Strongest Free Chess Engines [all above 3000 ELO] and 10 Must-do Things After Winning a Chess Game.

Thank you for reading; feel free to share this article and leave your feedback.

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Updated 12.21.2023


i fully agree, hedgehog is a great system, i am real happy, to join the Chessworld com, i really like this article, yet, i was employing Hedgehog only with g3, and, Bf4 for white this far i am playing with Chessmaster x, its a very strong program, i found, that Chessmaster x, gives very strong games, and sometimes unconventional, B20 Sicilian, Steinitz variation C46 Three knights, Steinitz variation C62 Ruy Lopez, old Steinitz defence but, i didnt know that Chess in spain and other latin america countries are so inspiring, i really think, that italy and spain is great countries in world chess, i think many players could learn alot, from spanish chess