Ask Coach Jessica: The Petrov

The Petrov is also known as the Russian Defense. It is important for Black to play correctly, or really super awful things can happen!

For example, you could be the former World Champion, Vishy Anand, and resign in six moves because of a simple blunder! You can also play the whole thing wrong and lose your queen. Surprised To answer your question, ThickFang, White can play like Sergey Karjakin against the Petrov. He makes it look easy! By, Mrs Jessica E Prescott (aka BoundingOwl).

1. What not to do! Do NOT copy.

You HAVE to play 3...d6 to kick White's knight away!!


2. Do not get pinned like Vishy in 1988. The story is that he was not paying attention to the game; instead he "prepared" (pretty much copied) a line previously played, but without actually analyzing it. The big uh-oh was the normal-looking 5. Bf5. Do not do this!

Do you see why he gave up here? GMs often won't continue a game when they feel they are significantly behind. (You should probably keep going, though.) What would you play next if Vishy had chosen to guard the knight again with 6...d5?

That's right! PP on the PP! (Put pressure on the pinned piece, silly Smile.)

3. As White, DO develop and castle quickly. Try castling queenside like Karjakin here. He plays 4. Nf3 and 5. Nc3, just developing like normal.

This game was a lot of fun for Karjakin. He just went for the jugular!

Here's the rest of the game.

See the mate after the bishop blocks?


You might notice Qh2+ also leads to mate, but it is a touch slower since Black can also block with his queen.

Karjakin at the Candidates Match

4. Of course Anand has won against the Petrov, too. Here he is with White. He plays 4. Nf3 then 5. d4 which is also fine. He castles kingside and attacks the center.


So now you try! Retreat back to f3 with your knight on move four. Then, play 5.Nc3 and remember to take back with your d-pawn, make a battery and castle long, or play 5.d4 and castle kingside with an attack in the middle of the board.