Refutation of the Tarrasch Defence

Before I present my analysis, a short round-up of my Llucmajor tournament. After not playing for some time I was wary that my head-to-hand coordination might suffer. The blitz tournament before the main event served me a very good purpose to get some practice. I made a conscious decision to trust my feelings more and, crucially, not always try to validate those feelings with calculations. This was necessary because I knew that my calculations wouldn’t be on the level of some time ago.

And things went so well! I was playing quickly and confidently. Topalov’s words that it is not always necessary to play the best move resonated well – I knew that my understanding is good enough and that I will never make a bad positional move. As for the verification by calculation, I tried to go for width over depth – check many more moves in the starting position but only calculate them 2-3 moves deep. This is a very good method that insures against blunders.

I had a great run and had 6/8 before the last round (and had I won a completely winning queen endgame against IM Kohlweyer in Round 6 it would have possibly been more). The game I won in Round 8 actually served as an inspiration for this post. My opponent played the Schara-Hennig Gambit and I quickly got a position that was close to winning. I didn’t win quickly, but my technique to convert the advantage of the bishop pair in an open position wasn’t bad at all. You can see this and the other games in the game analysis below and you can download them here.

The games in Llucmajor started at 8.30pm and finished well after midnight. That was OK, but the last round started at 9.30am and that turned out to be a big problem for me. After I finished my game in Round 8 I waited for the pairings until 2am when I discovered that I was to play 4th seed Daniel Fridman, rated 2605. He plays 1 d4, 1 c4 and 1 Nf3, so my preparations lasted until 4am (and I had to limit them!) Then I couldn’t fall asleep for the remaining of the night and got up at around 8am. I was feeling horrible and even though I managed to get my preparation in and obtain an easily-drawn endgame, I couldn’t calculate the simplest lines. Soon enough I blundered a pawn and that was it. It was certainly a disappointment, a good tournament spoilt at the end. But there are positives as well, the newly-found playing algorithm looks very promising.

Now onto the refutation. I would like to repeat here what I said when I talked about the refutation of the Budapest Gambit – by refutation I don’t mean a forced win, not at all. What I have in mind is that “White obtains a stable and safe advantage out of the opening in all the lines and at the same time Black’s position lacks perspective and has no way to evolve.” In the case of the Tarrasch Defence the positions that arise after best play lead to an endgame where White has the advantage of the bishop pair and Black’s only prospect is of a long and arduous defence. If in addition to the objective evaluation as “very unpleasant for Black” we add the psychological factor that Tarrasch players like active play and thrive in the IQP positions, then we can safely conclude that the variation with 6 dc is really a “refutation.”



You can download the analysis plus three of the games I mentioned in the comments here.


Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
You may also like
Two Ideas Against the KIA
Short and Sweet
  • Onno
    Jan 22,2019 at 5:22 pm

    Hello Alex, Nice suggestioins in this analysis, but what does White play when black goes 5…Nf6 instead of 5…Nc6? Regards, Onno

    • Feb 2,2019 at 10:02 pm

      5…Nf6 is considered inferior because of 6 Bg5 and Black is having problems holding his centre together.

  • Marc Sicina
    Aug 24,2018 at 8:03 am

    Thank you for your interesting analysis on the Tarrasch defence. If one is under 2200 and they are attacking/tactical players; what do you recommend for them to play as white and as Black (vs 1.e4 and 1.d4)? I don’t want to play bad openings like Budapest, but I think I could spend my time in better places then say really sharp 1.e4 repertoire, Najdorf and Grunfeld vs 1.d4. I may spend all my time learning openings and not how to play better chess. Please Help! Thanks, Marc

    • Aug 29,2018 at 11:12 pm

      A tricky question Marc! What you’re looking for is the “golden mean” of learning enough theory to obtain good play and suitable character of the position but at the same time without too much time consumed!
      I could say in short that such a player should play 1 e4, while with Black a Sicilian would be a good choice, as there are Sicilians like 2…Nc6 and 4…Qb6 that immediately cut off a lot of theory yet provide sharp play. Against 1 d4, there are several options, like the Grunfeld (it is possible to cut down the amount of theory needed), the Benoni, the Benko Gambit, even the Tarrasch (if you accept the risk of the endgame I analysed). Perhaps even a KID, depending on your preferences of the type of position you’d like to obtain.
      I hope this helps, even though it’s rather general.

  • […] second game was my best effort in Llucmajor. I think my opponent improvised with the (probably) refuted Schara-Hennig Gambit and I quickly got a winning position. Then I wasn’t very precise in my […]

Leave Your Comment

Your Comment*

Your Name*
Your Website

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.