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  1. Forum
  2. General Chess Discussion
  3. Fianchettoes as First Moves

As a Zukertort-Phoenix player, I don't like to play knight pawns in first moves. They seem passive. As black, I play Gruenfeld against d4, a fianchetto defense. The difference between white and black fianchettos is: if white fianchettoes on move 1, he can't know his opponent's response and his opponent can do something to pacifise (probably misspelled or wrong word) that fianchetto. As black, it is different. White has already played his first move and black did the fianchetto in response to that. I do my fianchetto against 1.d4, but I play the French Winawer against 1.e4.
As white, I fianchetto my Queen bishop on move 5-7, to a) prepare Ne5. b) dxc5 and double bishop sac.
So I fianchetto with both sides and I do NOT recommend fianchettoing on the first move.

A fianchetto bishop is very strong, as it controls more central squares and it cannot cannot be chased by pawns. A bishop on g2 controls both e4 and d5. On f1 or h3 or e2 it controls no central squares. On d3 it controls e4 only. On c4 it controls d5 only and can be chased by ...d5 or ...b5. On b5 it controls no central squares, but exerts pressure on central squares d4 and e5 if it pins ...Nc6. It can be chased by ...a6.
The weakening of the pawn structure is a disadvantage, especially if the opponent can trade off the fianchettoed bishop. The opponent can also storm the weakened structure e.g. against ...g6 and ...Bg7 with h2-h4-h5 or f2-f4-f5.
Fianchetto openings 1 g3, 1 b3 by white and 1...g6 or 1...b6 by black are absolutely playable, also in long time controls and against strong opponents. Carlsen played 1...b6 recently. Fischer player 1 b3 4 times in 1970 against the Grandmasters Tukmakov, Filip, Mecking, and Andersson and won all 4 games.

@tpr #12
Very interesting. I knew the game against Ulf Andersson since a long time (Ulf Andersson actually was very impressed by the Hedgehog setup after this game and started playing it himself, with fairly good results, including a win over Karpov).
I didn't know about the other games, and looked them up.
Fischer-Tukmakov, 26 moves, 0/0/0, 10 acpl
lichess.org/mqFKcLKX#1
Fischer-Filip, 1970, 40 moves, 0/0/0, 12 acpl.
lichess.org/D8bTcKIw#1
Fischer-Mecking, 1970, 42 moves, 1/0/0, 9 acpl.
lichess.org/1QgXSHL7/white#1
Fischer-Andersson, 1970, 43 moves, 2/0/0, 16 acpl.
lichess.org/LAKWl4ym#1

@Sarg0n (#7)

If a fianchettoed bishop is stronger then one developed behind a knight or behind the center, is it really all that strong if there are many pawns in the center and it becomes a closed game?

You don't want a bishop fianchettoed if it is on the same-colored squares as your pawn chain (if you have one).

@Wolfram_EP (#8)

Many pawns in the center and a closed position can greatly weaken the fianchettoed bishop. If you were to use it as a first move, you would definitely try to keep the position open.

I think trying to fianchetto the bishop in the first few moves isn't a great idea, because later developing your knights can weaken the bishop. Closed positions force you to trade the bishops (note that if in Crazyhouse a bishop is less valuable then knights and sometimes pawns).

@tpr (#12)

Very interesting, it does have some influence. Two pawns in the center, however, may slightly block the bishop. Oftentimes when I fianchetto a bishop I do it behind the knight, and move the knight away. Fianchettoing a bishop on the first few moves means that you should usually keep the bishop and make sure the game is open or semi-open.

"You don't want a bishop fianchettoed if it is on the same-colored squares as your pawn chain (if you have one)."
That is not necessarily true. A bad bishop on the colour of its own pawns is often a strong piece. For example in the King's Indian Defence 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 e4 d6 5 Nf3 o-o 6 Be2 e5 7 o-o Nc6 8 d5 Ne7 the fianchetto bishop is a bad bishop on the colour of its own pawns, but it is often useful and sometimes it deals the final blow in an attack after Bg7-f8-e7-h4-g3.
On the other hand a bishop staring at an ennemy pawn chain is often a weak piece, although nominally a good bishop. Very instructive is the 6th match game Petrosian-Fischer 1971, where Petrosian developed his knight first and fianchettoed after that. 1 Nf3 c5 2 b3 d6 3 Bb2 f6! 4 c4 d4 5 d3 e5

@tpr (#17)

The bad bishop doesn't really have any good squares when blocked in, and players might as well focus on other pieces.

Maneuvering out can be dangerous as there are many pawn kick dangers.

> Many pawns in the center and a closed position can greatly weaken the fianchettoed bishop. If you were to use it as a first move, you would definitely try to keep the position open.
Well, I mean the moves like 1. c4, 1. d4, 1. e4 make it possible to create a strong pawn center for white and grab more space or go into some schemes where white have a dynamic advantage thanks to a tempo (however, it is often up to black to decide which kind of advantage white will get), while immediate fianchettoeing doesn't.

> I think trying to fianchetto the bishop in the first few moves isn't a great idea, because later developing your knights can weaken the bishop.
If that was really the reason, fianchetto would be bad under any circumstances, but luckily the knights are pretty bouncy and in the right moment the bishop can be opened to create threats.

@Wolfram_EP (#19)

>
> I think trying to fianchetto the bishop in the first few moves isn't a great idea, because later developing your knights can weaken the bishop.
If that was really the reason, fianchetto would be bad under any circumstances, but luckily the knights are pretty bouncy and in the right moment the bishop can be opened to create threats.

Fianchettoing a bishop behind a knight is a great idea if the position asks for it, but you should definitely make sure it is controlling something from there - perhaps helping the knight attack the center?