The Tarrasch Defense is considered by some to be one of Black's most powerful defenses in the queen pawn openings. The Tarrasch is a variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined. The normal opening moves are (ECO D32):

   1.  d4  d5
   2.  c4  e6
   3. Nc3  c5

The Tarrasch Defense is dangerous for begining and intermediate players because Black is often left with an isolated d pawn; most positional players avoid this opening. However, tactician grandmasters like Gary Kasparov, Paul Keres, and Boris Spassky have used the Tarrasch with success. Eric Schiller's book A Complete Defense to Queen Pawn Openings recommends and features the Tarrasch as Black's best chance in the Queen's Gambit.

Recently the Tarrasch has become trendy. Varuzhan Akobian defeated grandmaster Alexander Wojtkiewicz, earning his first grandmaster norm with this opening at an elite round-robin invitational in San Francisco in 2002. The game went as follows (White = Wojo, Black = Akobian)

1. Nf3 e6 2. c4 d5 3. d4 c5 4. cd ed 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 Nf6 7. 0-0 Be7 8. Nc3 0-0 9. b3 Ne4 10. Bb2 Bf6 11. Ne4 de 12. Nd2 Bg4 13. h3 Bh5 14. Ne4 Bd4 15. Bd4 cd 16. Rc1 Qe7 17. Re1 Rac8 18. Qd2 Rfd8 19. Nc5 Bg6 20. b4 b6 21. Na6 Ne5 22. Rc8 Rc8 23. f4 Nc4 24. Qd4 Ne3 25. Bf3 f6 26. Qb2 Nc2 27. Rd1 Qe3 28. Kh1 Qf2 29. Qb3 Bf7 30. Qd3 Ne3 31. Qd7 Rf8 32. Rg1 Nf1 33. Qg4 Qh2 #
(This game appears in a column by Robert Byrne in the 20 October 2002 New York Times.)

This defense is named after Grandmaster Siegbert Tarrasch.


I just read in Bruce Pandolfini's book Chess Openings: Traps and Zaps that he attributes a line of play in the Ruy Lopez to Tarrasch. He says the following moves are the Tarrasch defense (ECO C80):

   1.  e4   e5
   2. Nf3  Nc6
   3. Bb5   a6
   4. Ba4  Nf6
   5. O-O Nxe4
I've never heard of the Tarrasch defense being anything other than the aforementioned defense to the Queen's Gambit, but I don't get out much. Further research supports that this opening line, which is also called the Open defense in the Ruy Lopez, was supported by Siegbert Tarrasch.

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