How to Exploit Black’s Premature Counterattack - How to Play the White Pieces - The Complete Chess Course From Beginning To Winning Chess! (2016)

The Complete Chess Course From Beginning To Winning Chess! (2016)

Book Three

How to Play the White Pieces

Chapter Five

How to Exploit Black’s Premature Counterattack

In the previous chapter we saw how White won consistently by taking advantage of Black’s prematurely opening up the position. White, generally being the player with the better development, is generally in position to benefit by the opening of lines.

Premature counterattack presents a much sharper problem. Here Black not only opens up lines - he actually attacks. If White reacts carelessly to a premature opening up of the position, he loses his initiative. If he reacts carelessly to a premature counterattack, he may well lose the game.

The following games show in an impressive way how White can react effectively to such premature counterattacks.

Evans Gambit Declined

White - Black

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bb6 5.a4 a6 6.a5 Ba7 7.b5 axb5 8.Bxb5 Nf6

Black has an excellent development and he is now ready to castle into safety. “This won’t do!” says White, and he plays to confuse Black with complicated possibilities.


This crafty move provokes Black to embark on a counterattack which looks very attractive because it involves a powerful threat. By playing …Nxe4, Black threatens a decisive gain of material with …Nxf2. Yet White is untroubled. He has looked further ahead and has prepared suitable countermeasures. (Black should play 9…d6, shunning the complications.)

9…Nxe4? 10.Qe2! Nxf2 11.Nxe5! Nd4 12.Nxd7+!!

White’s last move seems incomprehensible at first sight. We might even take it for despair, in view of Black’s fourfold threat of …Nxe2 or …Nxh1 or …Nxb5 or …Nxc2+. (Note that 12.Qxf2?? - instead of the move actually played - would not do at all because of 12…Nxc2+ winning White’s queen.) (D)


White gives up his queen … and wins outright!

12…Nxe2 13.Nf6#!

White had to be exceptionally resourceful to refute Black’s plausible and promising counterattack.

Such premature counterattacks are favorites with daring and aggressive players who are aware that bluff is a potent weapon in chess. When the player of the white pieces is equally daring and has superior development in his favor, the counterattack is likely to grind to an abrupt halt. Here is another case in point:

Queen’s Gambit

White - Black

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 c5 4.e3 cxd4 5.exd4 Bg4 6.Bxc4

Threatening 7.Bxf7+ Kxf7 8.Ne5+ coming out a pawn ahead with a winning position.

From this variation you can see that White realizes the early development of Black’s bishop is ill judged. But Black is determined to counterattack. White must hit hard to keep his initiative.

6…e6 7.Qa4+! Nc6 8.Ne5 Qxd4!? 9.Nxc6 Qe4+

The only move, as he obviously cannot play 9…bxc6?.

10.Be3 bxc6

Forced, for if 10…Qxc6?? White pins and wins the queen with 11.Bb5.

11.Nc3! Qxg2 12.Bd5!!

A complete sermon in one move. White forcefully separates Black’s queen from Black’s king. The effect of White’s brilliant bishop move is that Black’s premature counterattack disappears in graceful fireworks. (D)


White’s brilliant 12.Be5!! seizes the initiative.

12…exd5 13.Qxc6+ Kd8 14.Qxa8+ Kd7 15.Qb7+ Ke6 16.Qc6+ Bd6 17.Bf4!! Black resigns.

A spectacular finish. After 17…Qxh1+ 18.Kd2 Qxa1 19.Qxd6+, White mates in two more moves.

White has pitilessly punished Black’s premature counterattack which took his queen hopelessly far afield. In the following game when Black commits the same mistake, White’s punishment is even more forceful.

Vienna Game

White - Black

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Qg4?!

This early development of the queen is wrong on principle. Black’s best reply is doubtless 4…Kf8, protecting his g-pawn and threatening to win a piece with …d5. Black would thereby lose the castling privilege but would gain time by his attacking threat.


Defending and attacking at the same time. Black is so taken with the false economy of this move that he fails to provide for White’s ingenious reply.

5.Nd5!! Qxf2+ 6.Kd1 Kf8

White’s powerful knight move has left Black nothing better against the double threat of 7.Nxc7+ or 7.Qxg7. So Black has had to move his king after all. White has even more formidable threats in store for him.

7.Nh3 Qd4 8.d3 Bb6

White was threatening to trap Black’s queen by 9.c3!!. He has used Black’s premature counterattack to box in Black’s queen, which now offers no help to the black king.

But this is not all: White can now operate on the open f-file, thanks to Black’s premature attack with the queen. This enables White to win quickly by a spectacular, incisive attack.

9.Rf1! Nf6

White’s threat was 10.Nxb6 axb6 11.Rxf7+ and Black can resign. (D)


White is ready to embark on a brilliant sacrificial attack.

10.Rxf6! d6

White’s sacrifice of the exchange is based on the idea that if 10…gxf6 11.Bh6+ Ke8 12.Qg7 the king rook cannot be saved. Black tries a different way, but White’s refutation is sensational:

11.Qxg7+ Kxg7 12.Bh6+ Kg8 13.Rg6+!! hxg6 14.Nf6#!

Rarely do we see such a convincing refutation of a premature counterattack as White has provided here. The next example is much more difficult for White because the counterattack seems to be based on a fairly reasonable idea. Nevertheless, White sees that Black’s counterplay is basically unsound. White follows up that observation with forceful, daring play.

Queen’s Gambit

White - Black

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 c5 5.Bxc4 cxd4 6.exd4 Qc7?

This premature development of the queen is definitely out of place, as White has many ways to defend his attacked bishop.

White deliberately selects a method that will provoke an unsound counterattack by Black.

7.Qb3! Be6??

The very move that White wanted to provoke! Black is under the impression that White cannot capture this bishop because of the reply …Qxc1+, winning at least a piece. (D)


White is about to give Black an unpleasant surprise!

8.Bxe6!! Qxc1+ 9.Ke2 Qxh1 10.Bxf7+ Kd8 11.Qxb7 Qc1 12.Qxa8! Qxb2+ 13.Nbd2 Ne4

Now the full depth of White’s plan is revealed.

Black’s last move is a shamefaced admission that his counterattack has misfired. In reply to 13…Qxa1 there follows 14.Qxb8+ Kd7 15.Ne5#. The move actually chosen is not much of a help, either.

14.Qxe4 Qxa1 15.Qd5+ Kc7 16.Qc5+ Kd8 17.Be6 Black resigns.

For if 17…Nd7 18.Qc6 Nb6 19.Ne5 followed by 20.Nf7#.

From these games we can see that premature counterattack by Black generally takes the form of early queen development. Once this happens, White can generally entice the black queen far afield. If this requires substantial offers of material, don’t shrink from making them - provided you can see genuine compensation to reward your sacrifices.