Back to the roots - The 150 Attack vs. Modern Defence

Back to the roots - The 150 Attack vs. Modern Defence

Photo by Ravi Kumar on Unsplash


As a chess enthusiast, I recently found myself drawn back to an old favorite: the 150 Attack. Watching the Serbian Women’s Chess Championship, I was captivated by WFM Vera Vujovic’s strategic prowess in employing this often-overlooked opening. So, I thought sharing some insights and opening strategy thinking was worth it.

Exploring the 150 Attack vs Pirc and Modern Defense

The position showcased below, from Vujovic’s game in round 7, epitomizes the essence of the 150 Attack against Black’s Modern Defense:

150 Attack

I would categorize this as the 150 Attack, a powerful system against the Pirc and Modern Defenses, favored by GMs such as Vishy Anand and Michael Adams. As White, you build up with pawns on e4 and d4, knights on c3 and f3, with 5.Be3 and 6.Qd2 to follow, or you move your white square bishop to d3 and then Qd2. You can play the 150 Attack against all Modern and Pirc move orders. This aggressive setup aims to prevent Black from achieving their usual setup with g6, Bg7, and e5 or c5, while giving White a straightforward kingside onslaught with f3, g4, h4, h5, and Bh6.

In response to Black’s hypermodern setup, White has several options at their disposal:

  • Seizing control of the center with early d4, restricting Black’s counterplay.
  • Developing the dark-squared bishop to b5 or c4 to pressure Black’s knight on c6 and dominate the d5 square.
  • Delaying Nc3 to maintain flexibility, possibly opting for the Austrian Attack with f4.
  • Launching a kingside assault with moves like g4 and h4-h5 to exploit Black’s exposed king.
  • Exploiting Black’s early queenside pawn moves with ideas like a4-a5.

Overall, an accurate opening play as white requires understanding key strategic and tactical ideas against the Modern Defense. Control of the center and rapid development are essential to punish Black’s hypermodern setup. The Two Knights Variation lines require precision as the position quickly becomes very sharp.

I played as White the same opening to reach the position Vera Vujovic played in round 7. In case I made you curious about this game, you can find the complete game analysis here, (annotated by Glorias Sergio and Schroeer Egbert).

Heart attack with 150 Attack?

Legend has it that the 150 Attack earned its name from the sheer power it bestows upon players, allowing even those with an ECF rating of around 150 to wield it effectively. But fear not, for you’re in illustrious company alongside super GMs and world champions who have mastered this formidable opening.

Renowned chess author Richard Palliser once remarked that the 150 Attack is so effortlessly playable that even a club player of modest rating could secure a strong position against a grandmaster. This line of play emerged in the 1980s, pioneered by a new wave of English players like John Nunn, Nigel Short, and Mickey Adams.

The moniker “150 Attack” is said to have originated in Argentina, resonating with players seeking a dependable opening system that’s easy to grasp and execute without drowning in the sea of opening theory.

Personal Reflections and Recommendations

As I revisited this opening for the first time since my return from the 25-year hiatus, I was reminded of its complexities and challenges. Despite previous setbacks, I find myself intrigued by the strategic depth offered by the weapon against the Pirc and Modern Defense.

Currently, I’m delving into Viktor Moskalenko’s The Perfect Pirc-Modern - 10 Years Later, a valuable resource for understanding the nuances of this opening. Alongside my own exploration, I encourage fellow enthusiasts to join me in studying and mastering the intricacies of the Pirc and Modern Defense.

Analyzing Games

Let’s take a closer look at two intriguing games featuring the same position for White:

Game 1: Van der Hoeven’s Approach Van der Hoeven opted for a strategic approach, delaying Qd2 in favor of a timely a4, demonstrating the versatility of White’s position.

Game 2: A Dynamic Encounter This game showcases dynamic play from both sides, highlighting the tactical intricacies inherent in the Modern Defense.

Van der Hoeven held back with Qd2 and castled first, then pushed a4, which is quite interesting!

Further Reading

Coincidentally, when I wrote this blog, Chessbase posted a blog on their website. It’s a great read, and I highly recommend it even when I disagree with their assessment, but hey, the GMs are always right!


As I travel back in time to the roots of my chess openings, which I abandoned, let’s embrace the challenges and intricacies offered by such refreshed views. Your repertoire is your signature in chess. It reflects how you play. Whether you’re a seasoned player or a novice enthusiast, there’s always something new to discover in the vast realm of chess.

I welcome your thoughts and encourage other senior players to keep pursuing chess goals!

Amici Sumus

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