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Robatsch (B06)
1 e4 g6

Number of games in database: 20459
Years covered: 1842 to 2023
Overall record:
   White wins 39.0%
   Black wins 34.2%
   Draws 26.7%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Michele Godena  58 games
Heikki Westerinen  39 games
Evgeny Sveshnikov  37 games
Colin McNab  167 games
Raymond Keene  117 games
Zurab Azmaiparashvili  106 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Steinitz vs A Mongredien, 1862
Tal vs G Tringov, 1964
Polgar vs Shirov, 1995
Tal vs F Olafsson, 1975
E Jimenez Zerquera vs Keene, 1974
J L Burden vs L Christiansen, 1992
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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 8 OF 8 ·  Later Kibitzing>
May-20-10  Archswindler: <A Karpov Fan: This opening is garbage. So why do I keep losing to it?>

And why do I keep winning with it?

Nov-26-10  parisattack: Speaking of the Robatsch (Opening of the Day) - has anyone seen the new book on it, The Sniper?

It was supposed to have been released by now, but no sign of it...

I note the Robatsch continues to get good results per the database -acknowledging that often it is a strong black playing a weaker white and some of them are in fact a Pirc.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Opening of the Day

1.e4 g6

click for larger view

I know this as the modern defense.

Dec-29-11  muwatalli: I am looking for some sacrificial/attacking players who play the pirc and/or robatsch defense to study their games, or perhaps just players with low draw percentage?
Jun-27-12  pajaste: I was going to repeat the question of the difference Pirc/Robatsch/Modern, but won't. Instead I'll call it Robatsch if white loses, Pirc if it's a draw and modern defence if white wins.
Jun-27-12  parisattack: The Robatsch continues to fair well in the CG database with the Fast Tiger/Sniper and Hippo variations getting most of the action.
Dec-02-12  parisattack: Updating the Robatsch Book List:

Tiger’s Modern – Persson

Modern Defence – Speelman/McDonald

The Hippopotamus Rises – Martin

Black to Play and Win with 1. …g6 by Soltis

Winning with the Modern by Norwood

The Modern Defence by Hort

The Modern Defense by Smith/Hall

The Modern Defence by Keene/Botterill

The Modern Defense by Chess Digest

The North Sea Variation by Bickford

Averbakh system by Thomas

Modern Defense Averbakh Lines by Schiller

New Ideas in the Rat by Schiller

Die Robatsch Verteidigung by Warzecha

Die Eidechse 1. …g6 und gewinnt, 3 volumes.

The Sniper - Henley

Crushing White: The Sniper I - Henley

Fly the Pterodactyl - Schiller

The Modern Defense: Move by Move - Lakdawala

Winning with the Krazy Kat and Old Hippo - Gifford

Konigs-Fianchetto - Schwarz

Hippopotamus - Thompson


Dec-02-12  Shams: <parisattack> How is the Soltis book? I know he is notoriously hit-and-miss as an author.
Dec-03-12  parisattack: Its actually not too bad a little book <Shams>. Certainly a couple notches above those awful 24-pagers he wrote for the same publisher - Ken Smith/Chess Digest.

128 pages, three sections: A) How to play against 1. e4 player, B) How to play against 1. d4 player and C) Odds-Ends. He recommends flavors of the Gurgenidze ('3 ...c6!') against 1. e4 which has always been my favorite. Against 1. d4 -> c4 he covers the Averbakh, 4. ...Nc6. Final sections some interesting odds-ends.

Dec-03-12  jackpawn: <parisattack> Rather amazingly I was looking at the Soltis book just a few hours ago. I had it for years, but only recently began looking at it seriously.

I agree with your assessment, it isn't a bad book.

Dec-03-12  Shams: <parisattack> Thanks, I'll keep an eye out for the book. I've been playing Tiger's early ...a6 instead of the Gurgenidze, but that could change anytime.
Dec-04-12  parisattack: The Hippo and the Tiger seem most popular these days. The old Robatsch with ...d6, ...c6 and either ...b5 or the Poison Pawn ...Qb6 still has some life.
Dec-06-12  jackpawn: <parisattack> I've been a French player most of my life, but recently I've been looking at 1 . . g6. Been playing speed games with it against various computers. I find I generally get a favorable early middlegame, but then often let the position spin out of control. How long did it take before you got a feel for typical modern opening positions?
Dec-07-12  parisattack: < jackpawn: <parisattack> I've been a French player most of my life, but recently I've been looking at 1 . . g6. Been playing speed games with it against various computers. I find I generally get a favorable early middlegame, but then often let the position spin out of control. How long did it take before you got a feel for typical modern opening positions?>

I've always wanted to like the French - but have just never been able to get a feel for it.

Timing is the key in the Robatsch, seems to me. Especially in a variation such as the Hippo. White has space a long time so it is easy to try to get too much, too soon.

I played it several months before settling on the Gurgenidze variation - and forty years later I am still working with it. I recently pulled all the articles on it from Shakmatnyi Byulletin and studying those. But objectively I think the Tiger is the most easy to get comfortable in a short time. Lots of good games with it in the database - and of course Persson's book. Play over the White wins first - then if your stomach can still handle it, play over the Black wins. :)

Dec-09-12  jackpawn: <parisattack> Thanks for your input. I tend to agree with your thoughts. One problem I seem to be having is I'm very aware of certain themes and positional 'posts' in the French, but the Modern is much more fluid. It's a big change from typical French positions. I'm gradually becoming more comfortable, especially with the Tiger . . .
Dec-09-12  parisattack: <jackpawn> I would enjoy seeing some of your games as/if you choose to post them.

Gurg most like the French I think - at least Nimzo style with blocked center, restraint on the kingside, play on the queenside.

Premium Chessgames Member
  wwall: Pirc and Modern Defense [B02-05] - Davies & Martin

Developments in the Pirc and Modern Systems, 1984-87 by Davies

Dangerous Weapons - the Pirc and the Modern - Palliser, McNab, and Vigus

Beating the Pirc/Modern with the Fianchetto Variation - Soltis

500 Pirc Miniatures - Wall ( I included the Robatsch)

Dec-20-12  parisattack: Grazie! I've never seen the 'Pirc' 500 and thought I had them all. :(
Nov-20-13  pajaste: Stockfish - Houdini (TCEC round4, 2013)
1.e4 g6 2.d4 c6 ... 1-0 final position:

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: An uncommon trap I found about a few weeks ago:

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.Bc4 (in whatever move order which makes sense)

click for larger view

Okay, roughly 641 positions in the database. A common followup here would be 4...Nf6, but a blunder (yet innocent looking move) would be 4...Bg4. After 5.Bxf7+, white will be up a pawn.

click for larger view

If black declines the bishop, he will remain down a pawn and is unable to castle.

If black goes ahead with 5...Kxf7, 6.Ng5+ is a check, and the bishop on g4 is picked up. Even worse, there are now light square weaknesses (notably e6).

Okay, maybe after 6...Ke8 7.Qxg4 Bxd4 black regains the pawn (and there is no fork due on e6 do the knight being pinned), but black is still uncastled.

click for larger view

Oh wait, there's 8.Nxh7, and the knight is immune due to g6 being unprotected (8...Rxh7 9.Qg6+ Rf7 10.Qxg8+ regains the piece, and white is now up 2 pawns). I can imagine this would make for one crazy game, still.

Dec-30-14  parisattack: < Penguincw:> As a lifelong Robatscher I can attest to falling into a very similar version of that trap long ago... Thanks for the memories! ;)

No one should essay the Robatsch without studying Howson's 200 Traps in the Fianchetto Openings. There have been times when I would have abbreviated that sentence to simply 'No one should essay the Robatsch.' I probably should have spent my time studying the Queen's Gambit but it is too late now.

Jun-26-16  redlance: Parisattack how do you feel today about the Robatsch?
Aug-23-16  parisattack: <redlance: Parisattack how do you feel today about the Robatsch>

I still am in love with it.:) I like the Gurgenidze the best, next would be the old lines with ...d6 and ...c6.

Premium Chessgames Member
  PawnSac: I would be interested in reading..

< The Modern Defence by Keene/Botterill >

Ray has 116 Robatch games in the CG database with a personal score of..

< +41 -18 =41 >

that's a pretty good performance

Feb-02-23  parisattack: Into my winter years I am still fascinated by all things Robatsch.

My conclusion is it (and the Pirc) are all about key squares. Define them early and you're in decent shape. Don't put too much emphasis on the configuration of pieces; some of the best positions for Black are quite ugly!

The Gurgenidze is still my favorite, with the Classical ...d6, ...c6, ....b5(Qb6) a fairly close second. Lakdawala has written some good books on the Robatsch - if you can get through his sometimes flowery cum silly prose.

I've been working on a Gurg book for two decades. Perhaps now is the time to take it seriously enough for a couple of months to complete.

Just my updated thoughts...FWIW.

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