Alekhine Defense

How to Play the Alekhine Defense Opening

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

  1. 1. e4: White advances their king’s pawn two squares forward, aiming to control the center and prepare the development of their pieces, especially the bishop and queen.
  2. 1… Nf6: Black responds by moving their knight to square f6, attacking the e4 pawn and seeking to disrupt White’s central control. This move characterizes the Alekhine Defense.

Variants of the Alekhine Defense Opening

Advance Variation

In this variation, White advances their e5 pawn in response to Black’s Nf6, aiming to gain space and limit the options of the black knight.

Exchange Variation

A less aggressive option for White is to exchange their e4 pawn for Black’s f6 knight. This leads to a more balanced and positional game.

Four Pawns Variation

This is a more aggressive variation where White rapidly develops their central pawns (d4 and c4), aiming for spatial dominance and preparing a midgame attack.

Chess Opening: The Alekhine Defense

Initial Moves: 1. e4 Nf6

The Alekhine Defense, named in honor of World Champion Alexander Alekhine, begins with the moves 1. e4 Nf6. This opening is known for its provocative and dynamic nature, leading the game into asymmetrical and challenging pawn structures.

Strategies and Tactics

For White:

  • Pawn Advance to e5: This is the most common move, aiming to gain space and displace the black knight. The pawn advance immediately puts pressure on the knight on f6, forcing its movement. This can lead to open positions where White can capitalize on their spatial advantage.
  • Knight Development to c3: This move is less aggressive but establishes solid central control. White seeks harmonious piece development, preparing for castling and possibly expanding their influence in the center with d4 in the future.
  • Pawn Advance to d3: This is a more conservative move, protecting the e4 pawn without committing too much in the center. It allows for slower development and possibly a more positional game.

For Black:

  • Against e5: The black knight typically retreats to d5 or moves to g8, followed by d6, aiming to undermine White’s center. Black’s play focuses on challenging White’s central control and seeking counterplay on the wings.
  • Against Nc3: Black can continue with their own development, such as e5 or d5, challenging the center. This variation can lead to a more balanced game with opportunities for both sides.
  • Against d3: Here, Black has more freedom to occupy the center, for example, with e5 or d5. Black’s strategy may revolve around exploiting White’s less aggressive nature to seize the initiative.

Next Best Moves

For White: After e5, the black knight moves, White should focus on rapid development of their pieces, especially knights and bishops, preparing castling and maintaining pressure in the center. If White plays Nc3 or d3, they should look for opportunities to expand their position in the center and develop their pieces effectively.

For Black: After retreating the knight or playing d6 against e5, Black should focus on counterplay, seeking opportunities to attack White’s center and develop their pieces for eventual activity in the middlegame. In the other variations, Black should aim to equalize in the center and look for tactical opportunities using the mobility of their pieces.


The Alekhine Defense is a bold choice for Black players, offering a game rich in tactical and strategic possibilities. For White, the choice between e5, Nc3, and d3 sets the tone of the game, whether opting for aggressive spatial warfare or a more measured, positional approach. In any case, this opening invites a fascinating tactical and strategic battle from the very beginning.