Marshall Defense

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Marshall Defense
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
f6 black knight
d5 black pawn
c4 white pawn
d4 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
Moves1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nf6
Named afterFrank Marshall
ParentQueen's Gambit

The Marshall Defense is a chess opening that begins with the moves:

1. d4 d5
2. c4 Nf6?!

The Marshall Defense is a fairly dubious variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined. It was played by Frank Marshall in the 1920s, but he gave it up after losing with it to Alekhine at Baden-Baden in 1925.[1] It is no longer used by experienced players (Watson 2007:12–14).

White may choose to ignore Black's provocative second move with 3.Nc3, which will usually transpose into normal lines of the Queen's Gambit Declined (after 3...e6), the Slav Defence (after 3...c6), the Queen's Gambit Accepted (after 3...dxc4) or the Grünfeld Defence (after 3...g6).

3.cxd5 Nxd5 4.e4[edit]

A common continuation, though White may be playing e4 too early. If Black deviates with 3...Qxd5, 4.Nc3 Qa5 5.Bd2 is strong, e.g. 5...Qb6 6.Nf3 Qxb2?? 7.Rb1 Qa3 8.Nb5, winning (Alburt 2009:38).

After Black retreats the knight with 4...Nf6, White can continue 5.e5 attacking the knight, or he can get a clear advantage with 5.f3, or a small advantage with 5.Nc3 e5! 6.Nf3! (6.dxe5 Qxd1+ 7.Kxd1 Ng4![2]) 6...exd4! 7.Qxd4 (Alburt 2009:38).


This is most accurate, threatening 5.e4. After 4...Bf5, White achieves a large advantage with 5.Qb3 e6 (5...Nc6 6.Nbd2! Nb6 7.e4 Bg6 8.d5 is very strong) 6.Nc3 (avoiding the complications of 6.Qxb7 Nd7; 6.Nbd2 is also good) 6...Nc6 7.e4 Nxc3 8.exf5 Nd5 9.a3 (avoiding 9.Qxb7 Bb4+) Qd6 10.Qxb7 Rb8 11.Qa6 Be7 12.Bb5 Rb6 13.Bxc6+ Rxc6 14.Qd3 exf5 15.0-0 0-0 16.Qxf5, as in LipnitskyBondarevsky, USSR championship 1951.[3] White also achieves a "pleasant advantage" with 5.Nbd2 Nf6 6.Qb3 Qc8 7.g3 (Benjamin).

3.cxd5 c6 4.dxc6 Nxc6[edit]

Black can play a gambit line where Black generally follows up with ...e5, causing a pawn exchange in the center and the removal of the queens. White retains a small advantage in the queenless middlegame that follows.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Alekhine–Marshall, Baden-Baden 1925". Retrieved 2010-02-08.
  2. ^ However, opening database gives 8.Nh3! +.48 denying equality for Black.
  3. ^ "Lipnitsky–Bondarevsky, Moscow 1951". Retrieved 13 September 2015.