h3: Hero or Zero - Part 2

Ryan Velez

h3: Hero or Zero (Part 2)

So how exactly do you take advantage of an h3 or h6 move?

In part 1, we explored 30 examples of when h3 / h6 is a good, acceptable, or bad move. The main point made was h3/h6 are often used to solve immediate problems but cause long term damage. This is why it is difficult for lower level players to analyze if h3 or h6 is a good move or not.

In this post, we explore 30 examples of how to exploit h3 / h6.

Lesson 1: h3 / h6 are not always terrible moves

Every single possible move in chess has its day in the sun. That includes strange moves like 15.Nba1, 10.Kc6, and 72.gxh3#. But by seeing all the different ways something can go wrong, you gain an appreciation for this common error.

Lesson 2: h-pawn moves can be good NOW, but terrible LATER

h-pawn moves are often good in the moment, but disastrous later on. Therefore, focus your energy on seeing when h-pawn moves are good, acceptable, and bad in the moment, and then relate this thought to the gruesome attacks against those pawns later on. Think about what led from playing h6 to losing because of it.

Lesson 3: Sacrifices are often necessary to exploit h3 / h6

Most of the examples shown require a sacrifice (or two, or three) to exploit the h-pawn move. Sacrifices can be scary to play for newer players because it is a high risk. Here are some ideas that are often true when making a good sacrifice:

  • The g- and h-files open up.
  • The opened space gets flooded with attacking pieces.
  • There are usually 2 or 3 more attackers than defenders (sometimes as much as 5 attackers more!)

Lesson 4: h3 / h6 can destroy your winning position

Some interesting cherry picked games showcase this concept. When losing, an opponent's h-pawn move can give you just enough of a hook for an attack to win the game. Even when a Bxh3 or Nxh6 style attack is incorrect to play, you can still win due to the pressure of all the tactics involved. Examples of Carlsen and Fischer losing in such positions are included to show that even the gods have mortal moments.

The Rule of 30 Examples

If you see 30 examples of something chess related, you should get a sense of how it works. Variety is the key because you don't want to

  • Reinforce a bad habit
  • Assume a rare example is the mainstream example
  • Create a heuristic / formula for how to do something that is generally more formless.

Lots of examples with a variety of executions gives you new ideas to work with.

The secondary benefit of The Rule of 30 Examples is if you find 30 examples on your own and / or go through 30 examples on your own you will greatly benefit your improvement.

The study link will be in the comments.

Game Value

At the start of each game, I write a quick comment in the notation that suggests why this game has value to go through. It is just a quick thing I did to prime people for what's to come.

The 30 Examples

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

Example 4

Example 5

Example 6

Example 7

Example 8

Example 9

Example 10

Example 11

Example 12

Example 13

Example 14

Example 15

Example 16

Example 17

Example 18

Example 19

Example 20

Example 21

Example 22

Example 23

Example 24

Example 25

Example 26

Example 27

Example 28

Example 29

Example 30


While sacrifices are what most people think of as "The way to exploit h6 or h3," it is often the weakening of squares around the king that is the real culprit. The examples where g6 is exploited instead of the h6 square are common, and possibly more common, ways to exploit h6 than Bxh6 examples.

Also, I pulled most of the examples from a list of games on written up by Fredthebear. often has lists of games by theme.