Classical Variation of the Pirc Defense | Chess Openings

The Classical Pirc setup is the epitome of classical chess, and it’s the opposite of black’s hyper modern approach.

For the basics of the Pirc Defense, watch this introductory video:

For a more aggressive alternative to the Classical Variation, learn the Austrian Attack (f4!):

In the Classical Pirc (also known as two knights), white follows the basic chess rules and develops according to classical chess principles; take the center with your pawns, develop your minor pieces (knights before bishops), and castle. Black, on the other hand, follows a completely different chess philosophy – the hyper-modernists! With the Pirc, black neglects the rules classical chess teaches and fianchettoes his kingside bishop and castles in the opening, without ever contesting the central squares.

The idea behind the opening is to strike at white’s broad center later, when all the forces have been mobilized and when the king is tucked away. The Pirc is similar to the KID and it has a similar pawn structure and attacking ideas for black and for white.

The Classical variation is white’s most principled response to the hyper-modern monster. Developing, expanding and slowly building a kingside assault, while, in the meantime, black has to play dynamically and try to pen things up in the center in order to activate his pieces.

After the opening moves 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6, the Classical starts after white plays 4. Nf3
Black continues with 4…Bg7, and here white gets to choose a variation. There are five common moves for white (several other of white’s options are playable but not as precise):

Pirc Defense
B07, Classical Variation

5. Be2 Quiet System
6…c6 Czech Defense
6…Bg4 Parma Defense
5. h3 Schlechter Variation
5. Be3
5. Bc4
5. Bf4

#chess #pircdefense #chessopenings


  1. In the Be3 line which i love playing, after Bg4 instead of taking on g7 you can immediately go h4! and black has to be VERY careful. Bxf3 is the best move and after gxf3 you have a a rook coming to g1 after O-O-O, h5 is coming and you didn’t waste time with h3 and then h4. I feel h4 is a much better try for practical advantage than capturing on g7 right away because you force the king to remain uncomfortable on g8 while you hammer away with the h pawn and the bishop on h6 prevents black from playing h5 himself

  2. Really appreciate the deep theory here, this is much farther than I would ever need to know but it beats other videos which only go a couple moves in by far

  3. if you take your eye off the board to look at your explorer for even a second at 19:34 you will NEVER KNOW what happened! in the blink of an eye "just a couple of exchanges" ivicerates the whole board…..i've watched it over 10 times now with the explorer open, these three seconds between 19:40 and 19:43 are not obvious moves at all. it's like World War II in there.

  4. Take a drink every time Stephen says "____is the main move"🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾🍾

  5. Thank you very much !
    I was playing 5.Be3 without having studied the Pirc before. I'm really happy to learn my intuition was good (I'm not good at chess yet).
    I really love your videos and I'm looking forward to the future ones !!

  6. you are doing a great job….please keep it up….i love the way u explain

  7. الشطرنج للجميع Chess For All says:


  8. Your videos are helping me look outside the C5 and E5 as a response to E4. Thank you :)!

  9. thank you so much for this informative video

  10. Noob here. With 6…c6, I don't understand why 7.a4 is necessary. I get that it's trying to stop the b pawn attacking the c3 knight, but why not just play a3 if blacks pawn ever plays b5?

  11. As a Pirc player, I would play both of the lines in Be3 and Bf4 you gave with black. I don't really fear whites attack, yes you have to be careful but it's much easier than other aggressive lines and if white fails in the attack black is going to be better in the end in most cases IMO.

    Also, after Bf4!? black can play c5! right away which is what I play as it's simpler if you know what you are doing you can easily trick white into a bad position, and with the best play, black gets close to equal. White is best to try and show it's a waste of time for black to play c5 and to try and cramp black, but I think this is hard for white to do if you know the position as black. and getting rid of White's center and having the open bishop gives more play for black. I would avoid Bf4 because of this reason.

    As for Be3! it's much better for white than Bf4 first c5?? is not possible right away, so 6.dxc5 Qa4 7. Qd2!+-, witch simply wins a pawn, if 7… dxc5 8.e4! simply crushes, but Qd2 would be hard to find over the board IMO. The best move to black after 7.Qd2 is O-O and be down a pawn for literally nothing if not worse than nothing. The only trap is if white plays 7. cxd6? Which I love as black even though it's equal after, 7…Nxe4!= and if you know not to play exd6, as in almost every case it's better to push past it and get a good center, as that pawn is no threat and is rather weak and to trade the dark square bishop to damage the pawns. The only other move for White is Bd7+ which is also good for white and you can argue easier to play and easier to find as c5 is a surprise move but it's less precise IMO.

    So after the move Be3, I just play O-O and c6 but most of the time it's usually a lower rated player that makes this move and I had many games where they trade bishop but then castle short and the fact you traded my bishop means little, or I play Ng4 and take the bishop on e3 because they let me. I have not really had a higher rated player play this line, as they would go for the 150 attacks instead which is much better if you want to play this way IMO. To me, Be3 is a great move for white, and as black, I just hope they don't play in the spirited of the move, but I know that if I defend correctly I will always be better in the endgame, or if they go to slow I can get a crushing attack and regardless I prefer these lines with this setup than with other openings with this plain.

  12. I will play
    Be2 with the idea after o-o from black then bg5

  13. Hi Stjepan, I have been playing pirc for years and suffering, why dont you make a video with a blacks look on pirc? Tks

  14. You should (i.o.w. I would have loved it if) have also shown the 6…Nc6 variation for black. That's it strongest continuation according to stockfish 11 @14500 Kn/sec running for 14 hours! It's also the number 3 move in Fritz 17 opening book! So it's a common move.

  15. Schlechter means “worse” in German. What a weird name for a variation.

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