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Pirc, Classical (B08)
1 e4 d6 2 d4 Nf6 3 Nc3 g6 4 Nf3

Number of games in database: 6220
Years covered: 1883 to 2022
Overall record:
   White wins 35.0%
   Black wins 28.8%
   Draws 36.3%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Mark Hebden  34 games
Eduardas Rozentalis  31 games
Ulf Andersson  27 games
Zurab Azmaiparashvili  58 games
Valeri Beim  40 games
Vitaly Tseshkovsky  39 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Tal vs Petrosian, 1974
Karpov vs Korchnoi, 1978
Tal vs Speelman, 1988
A Tsvetkov vs Smyslov, 1947
Karpov vs Azmaiparashvili, 1983
M Mukhitdinov vs Botvinnik, 1967
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 page 1 of 249; games 1-25 of 6,220 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. E Schallopp vs Paulsen 1-0351883NurembergB08 Pirc, Classical
2. Gunsberg vs J Bauer  ½-½711889AmsterdamB08 Pirc, Classical
3. G Reichhelm vs Lasker 0-1481892Match seriesB08 Pirc, Classical
4. P S Leonhardt vs Chigorin  ½-½571907KarlsbadB08 Pirc, Classical
5. Schlechter vs Chigorin ½-½311907KarlsbadB08 Pirc, Classical
6. W H Jonas vs B Parker  1-0371908New South Wales ChampionshipB08 Pirc, Classical
7. Rubinstein vs A Selezniev 1-0281921TribergB08 Pirc, Classical
8. W Gibson vs Yates  1-0601923British ChampionshipB08 Pirc, Classical
9. Ed. Lasker vs Maroczy ½-½411924New YorkB08 Pirc, Classical
10. Torre vs G A Thomas 1-0381925Baden-BadenB08 Pirc, Classical
11. Torre vs Yates 1-0281925MarienbadB08 Pirc, Classical
12. Janowski vs Yates ½-½611925MarienbadB08 Pirc, Classical
13. H Wagner vs Lokvenc  1-0531926DSV KongressB08 Pirc, Classical
14. Alekhine vs C H Maderna 1-0241926Simul, 40bB08 Pirc, Classical
15. Colle vs K Kullberg  1-0501927KecskemetB08 Pirc, Classical
16. Tarrasch vs Koltanowski  ½-½531927London OlympiadB08 Pirc, Classical
17. S F Smith vs Menchik  1-0271927Hastings 1927/28 Major AB08 Pirc, Classical
18. L Palau vs C Anfruns  1-04219283rd South American ChampionshipB08 Pirc, Classical
19. L Palau vs M Brody 1-0271928The Hague OlympiadB08 Pirc, Classical
20. N Zubarev vs M Yudovich Sr.  1-0281930Moscow-chB08 Pirc, Classical
21. G A Thomas vs A J Maas  1-0591930NiceB08 Pirc, Classical
22. H Weenink vs S Landau 1-0251930AmsterdamB08 Pirc, Classical
23. M Feigin vs T Halvorsen 1-0151930Hamburg OlympiadB08 Pirc, Classical
24. I Vistaneckis vs V Mikenas  1-0321931Baltic congress Master tournamentB08 Pirc, Classical
25. Maroczy vs J Michlo  1-0611931HUN-ch Szavay MemorialB08 Pirc, Classical
 page 1 of 249; games 1-25 of 6,220 
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Jul-22-05  Knight13: This opening has been played many times. I think White is slightly better. Hypermodernism people would like this opening as Black.

Good opening with sharp tactics.

Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: <Keypusher> Thanks for the game link Karpov vs Smejkal, 1977 and the opening. Very similar to Modern defence A42, and I can see why I was confused in thinking that way.
Dec-09-05  Averageguy: In this opening black has to be careful about not being blown away by white's pawn centre, even after he's castled. Yesterday I played a game at Nairn Chess Club against a 1656 rated player and got a winning position quite quickly after 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.Bc4 Nf6 (Avoiding the trap 4...Nd7 5.Bxf7+ Kxf7 6.Ng5+ Ke8 (6...Kf8 7.Ne6+/6...Kf6 7.Qf3#) 7. Ne6 trapping the black queen.) 5.Nc3 0-0 6.0-0 Nbd7 (A normal looking move that gets crushed.) 7.e5 Ne8 Alternatives are
7...Nh5 8.g4 trapping the knight.
7...Ng4 8.e6 fe 9.Ng5 threatening 10.Qxg4 and 10.Nxe6 Nh5 9.g4 trapping the knight again Ne8 9.e6 as in the game Ng4 9.Ng5 threatening 10.e6 and 10.Qxg4
8.e6 fe 9.Bxe6+ Kh8 10.Ng5 Nb6 11.Nf7+ Rxf7 12.Bxf7 Nf6 13.Bb3 and here up an exchange I managed to win.
Apr-23-06  you vs yourself: Opening Explorer

A game(time: 25/5) played on FICS a few minutes ago. During the game, I thought he was playing some radom moves in the opening to confuse me. I checked with OE after the game and he knew what he was doing until move 7.

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Be2 0-0 6.Bg5 c6 7.Qd2[diagram in the link above] Nbd7 8.Bh6 e5 9.Bxg7 Kxg7 10.h4 exd4 11.Qxd4 Nc5 12.h5 Ne6

click for larger view

Here, I thought of playing 13.h6+ and was hoping I would gain access to the g7 square in the future. But I remembered a puzzle posted by <sneaky> in his forum where he sac'd the h-pawn for a powerful kingside attack. So, I analyzed a similar sac here and it looked good!

13.Qd2 Nxh5 14.g4 Nhf4 15.Nd4(attacking the knight on f4 with my queen) 15...d5 16.Nxe6+ Nxe6 17.exd5 cxd5

click for larger view

Here 18.Qh6+ wouldn't work as the black king can escape via f6, e7, e8. So, I decided to restrict king's escape squares first.

18.Nxd5 Qg5 19.f4 Qd8 20.f5 Ng5 21.f6+ and the knight is gone. But the game went on...

21...Kh8 22.Qxg5 Qa5+ 23.b4 1-0

Premium Chessgames Member
  WTHarvey: Here are 10 traps and zaps in the Classical Pirc (B08): What's the best move?
Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: I don't really know the best place to post this, but as I hope to learn more about the Pirc defense, I figue this is as good a place as any. I noticed a similarity between the Classical Pirc, Philidor Defense (C41) , King's Indian (E92) , and Old Indian, Main line (A55) . Of course, lines can be chosen so that they look less alike, but overall they share similar structures for both sides. The main differences as I see them are that the Philidor Defense and the OI feature a B on e7, while the Pirc and KID have the bishop on g7. Also, the Philidor and Pirc have white's pawn on c2 while the KID and OI have the white pawn on c4.

I have heard that in general, the B on e7 is more solid, yet passive, and the bishop on g7 is riskier, but gives better attacking chances. Also, I've heard that the pawn on c4 gives white better central control, but may prove to be a weakness in the endgame. These generalizations have lead me to 2 conclusions, and I'm wondering how accurate they are: 1) The Pirc is better than the Philidor. This is because without white's pawn on c4, black's attack/counterattack has a better chance of success, and black shouldn't sit and wait for an endgame. 2) The OI is better than the KID. This is because with white's pawn on c4, black's attack/counterattack doesn't have as good a chance of succeeding, and black will be fine holding out for a favorable endgame.

Now, I know that these are likely overgeneralizations, but do they have some degree of truth in them? Also, sometimes white delays development of his QN and the c-pawn, so you don't know for a while how that's going to go. Do you think it's worse to try for a Pirc but transpose into a KID, or to try for an OI but transpose into a Philidor? Finally, do these 4 openings feature similar pawn breaks (like that f-pawn that I love to push)? Or are they much more different than I'm making them out to be?

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <I have heard that in general, the B on e7 is more solid, yet passive, and the bishop on g7 is riskier, but gives better attacking chances.> Most would agree. A bishop at g7 aiming at White's center has more dynamic potential than a bishop sitting at e7. On the other hand the pawn at g6 is a convenient target for a White pawn-storm. On the other, other hand it cuts out all those annoying Bxh7+ sacrifices.

<Also, I've heard that the pawn on c4 gives white better central control, but may prove to be a weakness in the endgame.> This seems groundless to me. The pawn seems just as likely (or unlikely) to wind up an endgame weakness at c2 or c3. It all depends on how the rest of the game goes. In many lines of the KID the pawn goes to c5 and then is exchanged for black's pawn on d6, thus not surviving to the endgame at all.

As for the relative strength of these defenses, I think it's impossible to say (besides you are getting advice from Ray Keene on his page, which is of much greater value than my opinion anyway). The KID and the Pirc are more popular than the Old Indian and Philidor's today. Partly that might just reflect changes in chess fashion, which can be as irrational as changes in any other kinds of fashion. But partly it is that the KID and Pirc are generally more dynamic that their Old Indian and Philidorean antecedents. In the OI and the Philidor (overgeneralizing again) Black places his center pawns first, and tends to his other pawns and pieces later; in the KID and Pirc, Black develops his flank first and figures out what to do with his center pawns later. Since it is the placement of the center pawns that does so much to determine the strategic contours of the game, Black has a little more freedom in the KID and Pirc. (But not too much -- Black can't take all day to decide what to do about a strong pawn center!)

<Also, sometimes white delays development of his QN and the c-pawn, so you don't know for a while how that's going to go.> Black can cut down on White's freedom depending on how he plays. 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6. Now white has to make a decision about how to defend the e-pawn. Usually he plays 3. Nc3 g6, and you've reached the main line of the Pirc. But 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 gives White more choices. (It gives Black more choices too, which is why a lot of people like it.)

The King's Indian usually starts 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7. But the King's Indian setup can be used against pretty much anything White plays after 1. d4 Nf6. (Or for that matter, pretty much anything White plays after 1. c4 or 1. Nf3.) The Pirc and KID are complimentary: the first can be used against 1. e4 and the second against almost anything else.

<1) The Pirc is better than the Philidor. ... 2) The OI is better than the KID.>

I don't think these kinds of generalizations are worth making. I have no idea if either one is true or false, and it doesn't matter anyway. As a GM said, below the master level all openings are playable. The key is to find something you like.

F-pawn breaks are very common in the KID, pretty common in the Pirc, and (I would guess) less common in the other two. But that's another overgeneralization.

Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: <keypusher> Thanks, I appreciate all comments and discussion. I feel I was generalizing too much, and in some places incorrectly. I like the look and feel of these openings, so I'm trying to gain a better understanding of them. It's hard to play the Pirc or Philidor without allowing possible transpositions to the KID or OI (maybe white defends the e-pawn with Bd3), so figuring out what makes them different would help.

I realize that any opening I play will be fine enough, but I want to avoid major traps and getting into bad positions everytime. Hopefully I'll play all 4 of these openings, choosing the one that best fits the situation or my mood at the time.

Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: Well, the Pirc can be scary to play as black. Watch me almost get crushed. It was live, friendly, G/8 (I flagged first, but we kept playing anyway).

1. e4 Nf6 2. Nc3 d6 (<If I can't get a normal Alekhine, I go for the Pirc.>) 3. d4 g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Be3 O-O 6. Bc4 c6 7. O-O (<Maybe 7...Nxe4 8. Nxe4 d5 is good for me, but I didn't notice it until now.>) b5 8.Bb3 a5 9. a3 Qc7 10. e5 (<Hey, I wanted to put my pawn there!>) dxe5 11. dxe5 Ne8 (<I didn't want to block in my bishop with Nfd7. Perhaps I should have.>) 12. Ne4 (<Yay, I win a pawn!, Boo, I lose my dark square protector.>) Bxe5 13. Nxe5 Qxe5 14.Bh6 (<Uh, what are you trying to do?>) Qxe4 15. Re1 Qg4 (<Please trade queens.>) 16. Qd8 Qd7 (<Pretty please?>) 17. Qb6 Ng7 18. Rad1 Qb7 (<With sugar on top?>) 19. Qd4

click for larger view

(<Okay, just take a look at this. First, you see that white has his rooks and queen on the central open files, and the bishops and queen aimed diagonally at black's kingside. White's king is happy and safe. Black apparently forgot how the pieces move -- fianchettoed knight, nearly imprisoned queen, and 3 untouched queenside pieces. Then you see that black is up a knight. Next you see that white will win back the knight with mate on g7. Finally, you notice that you don't need to protect the knight, you need to protect the square the knight is on, and so...>)

19...Nf5 20.Qh4 Nxh6 21. Qxh6 e6 (<Gotta block white's bishop, right?>) 22. h4 (<Hmmm, can he win this with the immediate 22. Re4?>) Na6 (<And 22...Nc6 loses to 23. Rxe6, right?>) 23. h5 Nc5 24. hxg6 fxg6 25. Re3 Nxb3 26.cxb3 Qg7 27. Qh4 Qf6 28. Qg3 (<Still won't trade queens...>)

Anyway, he had to go at this point, and was down a piece still without the nice attack. I survived and won!

Dec-06-06  Where is my mind: <WTHarvey> I think the FEN to the game Brian Wood vs Luis Batres Bianchi, Internet, 2001 is for the previous game.
Dec-07-06  Eyal: <ganstaman> Did you notice that your opponent could have won - rather easily - twice, with 16.Rxe7 or 19.Qxb7 Bxb7 20.Rxe7?
Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: <Eyal> Well, I would have been more shocked if white didn't have a win with all that positional advantage. Thanks for pointing those out though. I don't know if I just tend to play the Pirc wrong, or something, but this game certainly went worse than they normally do for me. Maybe I just need to get in ...e5 sooner, I think.
Nov-10-08  freeman8201: I don't play Parma's line as black when white plays the Classical. It is very drawish and I think it's boring. I've been playing e6 the hippo or c6 the czech variation
Nov-10-08  popski: I believe that people who claim that are some lines drawish usually lose with it...
Nov-12-08  freeman8201: popski: Would you be able to explain your comment? Or elborate, please
Nov-13-08  popski: Try to play Pirc against Rybka on example and prove that I'm wrong.. :P
Apr-03-12  optimal play: I'm a long-time adherent of the Pirc defence as Black, and despite Korchnoi's implosion in the final game of the 1978 World Championship, I've always preferred to play 6...c5 in the classical variation. Whether or not White takes the c-pawn I've usually had good results playing that line. For example:-

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Be2 Bg7 5.Nf3 O-O 6.O-O c5 7.dxc5 dxc5 8.Qxd8 Rxd8 9.Be3 b6 10.Rfd1 Nc6 11.Rxd8+ Nxd8 12.Rd1 Bb7 13.Bg5 Ne6 14.Bxf6 Bxf6 15.e5 Bg7 16.Nd5 Bxd5 17.Rxd5 Rd8 18.Rxd8+ Nxd8 19.Bb5 f6 20.Bc4+ Kh8 21.e6 f5 22.c3 Bf6 23.Bd5 Kg7 24.Kf1 h5 25.Ke2 g5 26.Kd3 g4 27.Nd2 Bg5 28.Nf1 Kf6 29.Ng3 h4 30.Ne2 Nxe6 31.g3 hxg3 32.hxg3 Ke5 33.Bb7 Nd8 34.Ba6 e6 35.Bb5 Kd5 36.Bc4+ Kd6 37.Bb5 e5 38.Ba6 e4+ 39.Kc2 Ke5 40.Bc8 Nf7 41.b3 Nh6 42.c4 f4 43.gxf4+ Bxf4 44.Nc3 e3 45.fxe3 Bxe3 46.Kd3 Bf2 47.Nb5 a5 48.Nc7 Nf5 49.Bxf5 Kxf5 50.Nd5 g3 51.Ke2 Kg4 52.Nf6+ Kh3 53.Nh5 g2 54.Nf4+ Kg3 0-1

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