Play The Interesting Modern Defense!

Modern defense

Nowadays, simple systems with a lineal plan and development are getting more and more famous. You can see for example the London system, a very simple opening with a lot of poison. Today we will talk about modern defense.

The modern defense for black is one of the brand new ideas to counter white’s queen’s pawn in the opening.

It has shown to have a lot of potentials, being a defense similar to king’s Indian and Benoni with slight differences.  We could say that black’s modern defense plays with the same idea as these two openings.

But it is more adjusted to the new playstyle that everyone in the chess elite is adopting (initiative before anything else). It’s interesting to see how smartly the modern defense prevents white from getting many ideas that normally help them.

The king’s Indian is an opening with great history, there is a lot of theory about it, and is part of the classics. So pretty much any opponent will know how to fight against the king’s Indian.

However, the modern defense is like the updated version of the King’s Indian. If you want to learn how to play the modern defense like a master keeps reading this post.

Mainlines of the modern defense


First, we can enter the modern defense after either d4 or e4 by white, normally we will end up in the same position: 1.e4 g6 this is considered to be the start of the modern defense, but it could be a Pirc defense still.

The difference is in the following moves, the game follows like this with the mainline:

as you can see there is a clear difference with the Pirc (The knight is not on f6).

This is important because it prevents the annoying e5 ideas that white usually has in the Pirc defense. The knight is still going to go to the f6 square, but just after black is in better conditions to deal with e5.

This is a huge change, even if it looks like a simple move order change. We will analyze the main moves for white, this is not the only way he can play. But for black, it pretty much is the same against anything, which makes the modern defense a very worthy opening to study.

There are many moves here, but we will go with the most common:

  • Nc3
  • c4
  • Nf3

Nc3 is the main move, and it is considered the most active move for white. The game could follow:

Just as an example.

c4 is another interesting option for white, which intends to take space in the queenside. The game could go like this:

And we reach a king’s Indian position.

Nf3 is considered to be the most passive approach by white to this opening. But is not to underestimate, Anatoly Karpov liked this variation a lot against this defense. The game follows:

And we are in a typical position.

You can also delay the development of the f6 knight to avoid the e5 ideas as we say:

And you end up playing a healthy hedgehog structure.

Plans and ideas in the modern defense


The main idea is getting a perfect setup that is good to face any response by white, a universal system. The idea is to have the knights on d7 and f6, bishops on g7 and b7, king castled, and a rook on c8.

The initiative for black will develop mainly in the queenside, where you will find many opportunities to counterplay advancing the c-pawn. However, in some positions you can even attack the kingside, playing with f5 and other moves.

You will have to see, depending on the positions’ characteristics, where you will develop your attack. But the modern defense actually allows you to attack both sides.

You will have to be prepared, there are the regular positional lines, but white can also castle long and attack the kingside.

Sample games of the modern defense

Here we will see a game played by the world champion Magnus Carlsen, where he employees the modern defense.

You don’t have to play the Modern defense as aggressively as Magnus did, but sure is an exciting game to try it out.

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