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The Polish Defense is the name commonly given to one of several sequences of chess opening moves characterized by an early ...b5 by Black. The name "Polish Defense" is given by analogy to the Polish Opening (ECO A40), 1.b4. The original line was

Polish Defense
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
b5 black pawn
d4 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 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 b5
OriginKuhn–Wagner A., Swiss corr. ch. 1913
Named afterPolish Opening
ParentQueen's Pawn Game
1. d4 b5

as played by Alexander Wagner, a Polish player and openings analyst, against Kuhn in the 1913 Swiss Correspondence Championship. Wagner published an analysis of the opening in Deutsches Wochenschach in 1914, when he was living in Stanislau, Galicia, Austria-Hungary (now Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine).[1] Later the name was also applied to

1.d4 Nf6
2.Nf3 b5

and other variants where Black delays playing ...b5 until the second or third move, which are sometimes called the Polish Defense Deferred.



With ...b5, Black tries to take control of c4, but 1.d4 b5 is generally considered dubious after 2.e4, threatening 3.Bxb5. Modern Chess Openings (MCO-14, 1999) allots two columns to the Polish, commenting that the variants where Black waits and plays 2...b5 instead of 1...b5 are much safer.[2] Earlier editions of MCO give only a single column of analysis and consider only the 2...b5 lines. MCO-9 (1957), states that the Polish "fails because it neglects the centre".[3] That negative verdict was softened in the next edition, MCO-10 (1965), to say that the Polish "neglects the centre, but is not refuted".[4] MCO-12 (1982) retains the "not refuted" assessment and notes that the Polish can result by transposition from the Réti system.[5] Other judgments have been more harsh. The 1...b5 Polish was deemed "entirely valueless" by I. A. Horowitz in 1964.[6]

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 b5

The Polish is closely related to the St. George Defence (1.e4 a6, usually followed by 2.d4 b5) into which it often transposes. Boris Spassky played 1.d4 b5 against Tigran Petrosian in the decisive 22nd game of their world championship match in 1966. Spassky equalized,[7] but rejected an opportunity to draw, as he was behind by a point in the match and with at most three games remaining, he was practically forced to play for a win. Petrosian won the game, thus ensuring retention of his title.[8]

The Polish can be used to combat certain variations of the Réti Opening or King's Indian Attack.[9] In particular, 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 b5 is a fully respectable opening that has been successfully played by former World Champion Anatoly Karpov, among others.[10][11][12] It prepares to fianchetto Black's queen bishop and prevents White from playing the otherwise desirable c4. Note that here 3.e4 would allow 3...Nxe4. White's second move commits him to fianchettoing his king bishop rather than developing it along the f1–a6 diagonal, due to the weakness which would result on the long diagonal.

1...b5 against the English Opening is known as the Halibut Gambit (or Jaenisch gambit).[13][14][15]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Hooper, David and Kenneth Whyld (1996). "Polish Defence". The Oxford Companion To Chess. Oxford University. p. 313. ISBN 0-19-280049-3.
  2. ^ De Firmian, Nick (1999). Modern Chess Openings: MCO-14. Random House Puzzles & Games. p. 497. ISBN 0-8129-3084-3.
  3. ^ Korn, Walter (1957). Modern Chess Openings: Ninth Edition. Pitman Publishing. p. 225.
  4. ^ Korn, Walter; Larry Evans (1965). Modern Chess Openings: Tenth Edition. Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons. p. 332.
  5. ^ Korn, Walter (1982). Modern Chess Openings: Twelfth Edition. David McKay. p. 310. ISBN 0-679-13500-6.
  6. ^ Horowitz, I. A. (1964). Chess Openings: Theory and Practice. Simon & Schuster. p. 780. ISBN 0-671-20553-6.
  7. ^ MCO-14, p.503 note (j)
  8. ^ Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian vs Boris Spassky game score. (
  9. ^ "Chess Opening Explorer: 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 b5". Retrieved 2007-05-02.
  10. ^ Mednis, Edmar (1994). How Karpov Wins (2nd ed.). Dover. p. 128. ISBN 0-486-27881-6.
  11. ^ "Saidy v. Karpov, San Antonio 1972". Retrieved 2007-05-02.
  12. ^ "Korchnoi v. Karpov, Moscow 1973". Retrieved 2007-05-02.
  13. ^ Chess Opening Explorer
  14. ^ English Opening: Halibut Gambit (A10) – Openings – Archived 2012-02-24 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ English Opening Halibut Gambit – Chess Opening