Open file

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a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
e8 black cross
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
e7 black cross
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
e6 black cross
d5 black pawn
e5 black cross
e4 black cross
c3 white pawn
e3 black cross
h3 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
e2 black cross
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
e1 white rook
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7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
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2 2
1 1
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The rook on the e-file (marked with crosses) is on an open file since there are no pawns on it. The rook can move to any square on the file, uninhibited by pawns.

An open file in chess is a file with no pawns of either color on it.[1] In the diagram, the e-file is an open file. An open file can provide a line of attack for a rook or queen. Having rook(s) and/or queen(s) on open files or half-open files is considered advantageous, as it allows a player to attack more easily, since a rook or queen can move down the file to penetrate the opponent's position.


Strategic advantage[edit]

A common strategic objective for a rook or queen on an open file is to reach its seventh or eighth rank (or for Black, its second or first rank). Controlling the seventh rank (or second rank for Black) is generally worth at least a pawn, as most of the opponent's pawns will usually reside there. Aron Nimzowitsch first recognized the power of a major piece on an open file, writing in his famous book My System that the main objective of a rook or queen on an open file is "the eventual occupation of the 7th or 8th rank."[2]

Many games are decided based on this strategy. In the game AnandIvanchuk, Amber 2001,[3] Anand sacrificed a pawn to open the d-file. White then used the open file to deploy his rooks to the seventh and eighth ranks and win the game, by exploiting the weakness of Black's a-pawn. White's dominance on the d-file allowed him to maneuver his rooks to aggressive posts deep within Black's defense.

Creating and Exploiting an Open File
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8
Chessboard480.svg
e8 black knight
e7 black king
f7 black pawn
a6 black pawn
d6 black pawn
e6 black rook
h6 black pawn
a5 white pawn
b5 black rook
c5 black pawn
e5 white pawn
g5 black pawn
b4 black pawn
c4 white knight
b3 white pawn
f3 white pawn
h3 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white rook
f2 white king
g2 white pawn
d1 white rook
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7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
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Anand–Ivanchuk, after 34. e5!
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8
Chessboard480.svg
d8 black cross
e8 black knight
d7 black cross
e7 black king
f7 black pawn
a6 black pawn
d6 black cross
e6 black rook
h6 black pawn
a5 white pawn
b5 black rook
c5 black pawn
d5 black cross
e5 black pawn
g5 black pawn
b4 black pawn
c4 white knight
d4 black cross
b3 white pawn
d3 black cross
f3 white pawn
h3 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white rook
f2 white king
g2 white pawn
d1 white rook
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7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
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After 34... dxe5, White obtained the open d-file (marked with crosses)
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8
Chessboard480.svg
d8 white rook
e8 black knight
a7 white rook
a6 black pawn
e6 black rook
f6 black pawn
g6 black king
h6 black pawn
a5 white pawn
b5 black rook
c5 black pawn
e5 black pawn
g5 black pawn
b4 black pawn
c4 white knight
b3 white pawn
f3 white pawn
h3 white pawn
c2 white pawn
f2 white king
g2 white pawn
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7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
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Position after 38. Rd8 – White's rooks have occupied the 7th and 8th ranks

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ According to Nimzowitsch, "A file is said to be open for the Rook when no pawn of his [own color] is in it." Elsewhere, "From the definition of an open file, it follows that a file will be opened by the disappearance of one of our own pawns." This defines what others call a half open file.
  2. ^ My System, Aron Nimzowitsch
  3. ^ Anand vs Ivanchuk

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]