Alekhine Defense Four Pawns Attack Ilyin-Zhenevsky Variation

How to Play the Alekhine Defense Four Pawns Attack Ilyin-Zhenevsky Variation

  • 1. e4: White advances the pawn in front of the king two squares, controlling the center and preparing for piece development.
  • 1… Nf6: Black responds by developing the knight to attack the e4 pawn, initiating the Alekhine Defense.
  • 2. e5: White advances another pawn, displacing the black knight.
  • 2… Nd5: The black knight retreats to d5, maintaining pressure in the center.
  • 3. d4: White reinforces central control with another pawn move.
  • 3… d6: Black seeks to undermine the center of white pawns.
  • 4. c4: White advances the c pawn, attacking the black knight and gaining space.
  • 4… Nc6: The knight retreats to a safer position.
  • 5. f4: White continues with a central control strategy and prepares for a kingside attack.
  • 5… exf4: Black captures the pawn, initiating hostilities in the center.
  • 6. exf4: White recaptures, maintaining a strong pawn center.
  • 6… Nc6: Black develops another knight, challenging the white center.
  • 7. Nf3: Knight development, protecting the e5 pawn and preparing for kingside castling.
  • 7… Bg4: Black pins the knight to the queen, creating tension on the white kingside.
  • 8. e6: A bold advance, aiming to destabilize the black pawn structure.
  • 8… fxe6: Black captures the pawn, opening the f-file.
  • 9. c5: White advances the pawn, aiming to displace the black knight and gain space on the queenside.

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Variations of the Alekhine Defense Four Pawns Attack Ilyin-Zhenevsky Variation

1… d6

An alternative for Black is to play 1… d6, aiming to delay knight development and prepare a counterattack in the center later on.

4… g6

Instead of 4… Nc6, Black may opt for 4… g6, preparing fianchetto of the bishop and aiming for a more positional game.

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Analysis of the Ilyin-Zhenevsky Variation in the Alekhine Defense Four Pawns Attack

Current Position

The game has followed the Alekhine Defense, specifically the Ilyin-Zhenevsky Variation, characterized by White’s bold advance of four pawns. The current position, after 9.c5, presents a tense and dynamic board.

FEN of the Current Position: r1bqkb1r/ppp1p1pp/1nn1p3/2P1P3/3P4/5N2/PP4PP/RNBQKB1R b KQkq – 0 9

Strategy and Tactics for Both Sides


  • Space and Center: Whites have gained significant space in the center and aim to leverage it for a kingside attack.
  • Development and Attack: Despite their spatial advantage, Whites must complete their development, especially mobilizing their light-squared bishop and queen’s rook.
  • Exploiting Space Advantage: The c5 advance puts pressure on the knight on b6, attempting to weaken Black’s control over the center.


  • Counterplay: Blacks should seek active counterplay. Pressure on the e5 pawn is a key point.
  • Development and Restructuring: Developing minor pieces, especially bishops, is crucial. Restructuring the knight position may be necessary to deal with central pressure.
  • Attacking the e5 Pawn: The advanced e5 pawn of Whites is a tactical target.

Next Best Moves

Blacks – Nc5: Relocates the attacked knight and applies pressure on e5. This move helps Blacks regroup their forces and prepare a counterstrike in the center.

Blacks – Bxf3: Removes the knight defending e5 and creates weaknesses in Whites’ pawn structure. This exchange can open lines for a later attack.

Blacks – Nc7: A more defensive move that reinforces pressure on the e5 pawn and prepares the development of the dark-squared bishop.