An open file in chess is a with no pawns of either color on it. 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 rooks or queens 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.
|This article uses algebraic notation to describe chess moves.|
A common strategic objective for a rook or queen on an open file is to reach its seventh or eighth (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 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."
Many games are decided based on this strategy. In the game Anand–Ivanchuk, Amber 2001, 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.
- 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.
- My System, Aron Nimzowitsch
- "Anand vs. Ivanchuk, 2001". Chessgames.com.
- Hooper, David; Whyld, Kenneth (1992), The Oxford Companion to Chess (2nd ed.), Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-866164-9