Learning about the Fianchetto in Chess

John runs a chess blog and also a youtube channel where he publishes chess videos.He also teaches chess to beginners.For getting coaching from him, please click here . In this article, he explain about the Fianchetto set-up in chess.

The Fianchetto

It is difficult to learn to play black from a truly defensive and slow posture. Black’s task is to respond to the attack from white by blocking, exchanging pieces and eventually attacking. That is a crucial statement, “to respond to the attack from white”.

It means black must play cautiously through the beginning and middle game phases. One way to slow down black’s game is to have a specific play in mind to execute after the initial four or five moves, all moves in response to white’s opening strategy. Our specific plan is to play a fianchetto (pronounced fee-an-ket-toe).

The word fianchetto is an Italian word meaning flank. Fianchetto is the deployment of the bishop, and since there are four bishops, the four possible squares for a fianchetto are white b2 or g2: black b7 or g7. We will look at the movement later. Before we develop this play let us review one of the numbering chess board schemes of the squares in order to move pieces to the correct square, called the alpha numeric system.

Set up your chess board as if to play from white. The square farthest to your left and on the back row is a1 (always a black square). The entire white king row is 1, the pawn row is 2. This numeric sequence continues across the board to where row 7 is black king’s pawn row and very last row, number 8, is the black king row. The numeric values are horizontal. The letter designation is vertical. The white king sits on d1, the black king, d8. The eight vertical rows from left to right are the letters a through.

Now let’s look at the slow set-up strategy of the fianchetto. The example will come from standard openings in order to see the development, but we must always keep in mind variations and sequence changes in the play itself. The variations do not change the intent of black.

White usually opens with a strategy of gaining some control of center board and the castling on king’s side, therefore, move king’s pawn to d4. Instead of mimicking white’s play, black is going to slow the response knowing the plan is to fianchetto on black queen’s side of the board. Black’s response is king’s pawn to d6.

White’s next move is to move king’s bishop to center board to promote the castling and threaten black, therefore, expect white king’s bishop to b5. An alternative might be bishop to c4 but for the purposes of this discussion we will utilize b5. Black’s response to the white bishop move is to move black queen bishop’s pawn to c6. This move blocks the advance of white and will force a temporary retreat of the white bishop, usually to a4. Black must avoid the temptation to move the black queen knight’s pawn to b5. Remember – slow the play.

Move black king’s knight to f6. This move will affect the board attention of white. White will shift attention to white’s king side of the board and move white king’s knight to f3. Black now moves queen’s knight pawn to b6. Do not move the pawn to b5 – this is an attacking position and we are still playing defense. White will now castle to king’s side. Black now moves king’s bishop to e7. White now moves white queen’s knight to c3 in an effort to bring into play the pieces sitting stagnant on queen’s side of the row. Black must castle to king’s rook side. Most likely white will now move queen’s pawn forward to support the center board, and free the white queen for movement. Expect queen’s pawn to d3.

Now, employ the fianchetto – move queen’s black bishop to b7. The fianchetto is disguised behind a pawn. The pawn is pushed forward when the time to attack white’s castle position is determined. As the play continues, black will need to bring into play queen’s knight and rook, but let us examine the board after the fianchetto. The black queen is available to move to c7 to support an attack on white’s castle position. The black pawn residing on b6 can move to b5 top drive the white bishop backwards. Black’s queen pawn can move to d5 to threaten the center position of the white pawns.

The d5 square is supported by two pawns, a knight and the black queen. White’s position is not generally mutually supporting of its pieces. Knowing that black is planning a fianchetto promotes mutual support of black pieces and a full strategy to get to middle game.

There are so many moves involved in the set up; piece movement variations are numerous, based primarily on the placement of white pieces, but this strategy can be implemented almost every time from black. Play the fianchetto from king and queens side: make this seldom-used play an integral part of your slow defensive strategy and you will eventually control the field of battle – the board.

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John Cena is an improving player, with a FIDE rating of c.1700, and one of our contributors.