h3 Hero or Zero?

Ryan Velez

h3: Hero or Zero?

h3 and h6 are usually errors, but why?

I created a study that features 30 games or positions:

  • 10 Good examples of h3 or h6
  • 10 Acceptable examples of h3 or h6
  • 10 Bad examples of h3 or h6

I find many newer chess players use these moves as a low level way to solve problems. Those problems might be a pin or a scary Ng4 invasion. But most of the time, playing h3 or h6 is an error. Part of improving as a chess player includes learning how to squeeze at least a fractional advantage out of time-wasting moves, and one of the most commonly played time wasting moves is h3 or h6.

Therefore, go through the games in the study and see what you think. Each game is complete with brief notes focusing only on the purpose and/or consequences of h3. While two-thirds of the examples may give the impression that h3 is fine to play most of the time, it truly isn't. You will notice a trend in the good, acceptable, and bad examples.

I should note that the examples have a large range of possibilities -- and that's the point. There is no specific formula to share that suggests when h3 / h6 is a good move. It always requires judgment. The best way to hone your judgment is to examine multiple instances of a move being played. Because top level players don't usually waste time with these moves, I used lower level player games where the top players were 1500 and the lowest players are unrated.

The study link is in the comments.

Part 2 of this blog is here:

10 Good h3/h6 Examples

Good Example 1

Good Example 2

Good Example 3

Good Example 4

Good Example 5

Good Example 6

Good Example 7

Good Example 8

Good Example 9

Good Example 10

10 Acceptable h3/h6 Examples

Acceptable Example 1

Acceptable Example 2

Acceptable Example 3

Acceptable Example 4

Acceptable Example 5

Acceptable Example 6

Acceptable Example 7

Acceptable Example 8

Acceptable Example 9

Acceptable Example 10

10 Bad h3/h6 Examples

Bad Example 1

Bad Example 2

Bad Example 3

Bad Example 4

Bad Example 5

Bad Example 6

Bad Example 7

Bad Example 8

Bad Example 9

Bad Example 10


Playing either h3 or h6 to solve problems can often create additional problems. For example, doing a pawn storm against f2, g2, and h2 takes about double the amount of pawn moves compared to a pawn storm against f2, g2, and h3. The very act of moving the h-pawn forward creates a hook in your position that your opponent can latch on to as a way to attack you.

I will do a follow up h3 article on how h3 can be exploited as a weakness. But for now, understand that playing h3 and h6 does solve problems, but always try to look for other ways to solve those problems first.