Fianchetto

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This article is about the chess pattern of development. For the chess variant, see Displacement chess.

In chess the fianchetto (Italian: [fiaŋˈkɛtto] "little flank") is a pattern of development wherein a bishop is developed to the second rank of the adjacent knight file, the knight pawn having been moved one or two squares forward.

The fianchetto is a staple of many "hypermodern" openings, whose philosophy is to delay direct occupation of the center with the plan of undermining and destroying the opponent's central outpost. It also regularly occurs in Indian defences. The fianchetto is less common in open games (1.e4 e5) but the king's bishop is sometimes fianchettoed by Black in the Spanish Game or by White in an uncommon variation of the Vienna Game.

One of the major benefits of the fianchetto is that it often allows the fianchettoed bishop to become more active. Because the bishop is placed on a long diagonal (either h1-a8 or a1-h8), it controls a lot of squares and can become a powerful offensive weapon. However, a fianchettoed position also presents some opportunities for the opposing player: if the fianchettoed bishop can be exchanged, the squares the bishop was formerly protecting will become weak (see hole) and can form the basis of an attack (particularly if the fianchetto was performed on the kingside). Therefore, exchanging the fianchettoed bishop should not be done lightly, especially if the enemy bishop of the same colour is still on the board.

Concept[edit]

a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black bishop
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
b5 black pawn
a3 white bishop
b3 white pawn
g3 white pawn
a2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white bishop
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
d1 white queen
e1 white king
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h

The diagram to the right shows three different sorts of fianchetto (not as part of an actual game, but as separate examples that have been collapsed into a single chessboard). White's king's bishop is in a regular fianchetto, with the knight-pawn advanced one square and the bishop occupying the long diagonal. This is by far the most common type of fianchetto, seen in the Sicilian Dragon, Pirc Defence, Modern Defence, Modern Benoni, Grünfeld Defence and King's Indian Defence, among other openings.

Black's queen's bishop is also fianchettoed, but the knight pawn has moved forward two squares, making this a long fianchetto. The b-pawn also controls the c4 square, which is often advantageous. If White plays the King's Indian Attack 1. Nf3 2. g3, Black may play a long queen's fianchetto to oppose White's bishop and make it more difficult for White to play a c4 pawn break. The long fianchetto on the kingside is more rarely played, because it weakens the pawn shield in front of the castled position, and controls a less important square. Nevertheless, Grob's attack 1.g4?! and the Borg Defense 1. e4 g5?!—as in "reversed Grob"—are sometimes played by players like International Master Michael Basman.

White's queen's bishop has moved out to a3 in what is sometimes called an extended fianchetto. Rather than control the long diagonal, it takes aim at Black's f8 square. If Black moves his e-pawn, White can play Bxf8, after which Black will have to waste time on artificial castling after recapturing with his king. This tactic is often seen in the Evans Gambit, and gives the Benko Gambit much of its bite. Black often plays Ba6 in the French Defence, and the Queen's Indian Defence if White plays g3 in order to fianchetto his own bishop (Aron Nimzowitsch's move against the Classical variation).

Four fianchettoed bishops[edit]

Rubinstein vs. Nimzowitsch, Marienbad 1925 has four fianchettoed bishops; two knights are developed, and two remain on their home square.
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
d8 black queen
f8 black rook
g8 black king
a7 black pawn
b7 black bishop
d7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black bishop
h7 black pawn
f6 black knight
g6 black pawn
c5 black pawn
c4 white pawn
b3 white pawn
f3 white knight
g3 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white bishop
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white bishop
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
d1 white queen
f1 white rook
g1 white king
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Four fianchettoed bishops after 8.Bb2[1]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]