The Rat Defense, an Easy & TRICKY Chess Opening
Chess Openings

The Rat Defense, an Easy & TRICKY Chess Opening

The Rat Defense, an Easy & TRICKY Chess Opening

If you are looking for an easy chess opening, search no more, play the Rat Defense!

It’s a great day to talk about rats. In particular, about the Rat Defense, a so-called chess opening which starts off with an easy move, 1…b6.

There are different versions of this easy opening which I’ll share with you. A good thing about this easy opening is that it’s really universal, really simple and, therefore, really practical. You don’t need to study anything.

The Rat Defense Setup

Basically, regardless of what White plays, you will be pursuing the following setup.

The Rat Defense, an easy chess opening: Setup
The Rat Defense Setup

I’m just showing you the setup of the black pieces. Initially, you fianchetto both of your bishops. Then, you develop your knights accordingly. Finally, you castle, usually to the kingside.

This is all your setup! A great thing for you is that you can play a bunch of first moves unthinkingly. Also you have little to no chance to blunder anything because all of your pieces are really compact, they are protecting each other and there is literally nothing you can possibly lose here.

Another advantage of this easy opening, the Rat Defense, is that it’s a really great counterattacking system. It’s a kind of Hedgehog System on the Sicilian Defense. You are ready to start your counterattack at any moment you want because, so far, you keep your central pawn structure really flexible.

At any moment you want, you’re ready to push any of your pawns forward. Specially, you are going to use the four central pawns to start counter-attacking White’s center. Usually, you would really go for the c5-pawn advance.

c5 looks like the safest and the most solid way for you to start the counterattack without weakening your position at all. However, other counterattacking options are still viable and you can still consider them.

Examples of Chess Games with the Rat Defense

Now we are going to see two different examples of this easy chess opening, the Rat Defense.

The first one was a blitz game. After that, we’ll go to another one which is really, really cool; one of the greatest chess games ever saw really.

The Rat Defense in a Blitz Game

Black fianchettoed the queenside bishop and after that the kingside bishop. He played e6 and Ne7, everything according to your ideal setup. After Nd7, White played Qd2 and, at this point, Black played a typical move to avoid trading off your fianchettoed bishop.

The Rat Defense, an easy chess opening: Black plays h6
Black plays h6

It’s not really dangerous for Black to allow this exchange to happen. But you can prevent it to make your position even more solid.

Black played h6 and prevented White from going Bh6, even winning a tempo. After pushing away the bishop, Black played g5 ―which is another common idea in this setup.

With these pawn advancements, you are gaining some extra space. After the bishop goes to g3, Black moves the knight to g6 and you can see that Black has more space on the kingside. In some variations, Black is even ready to push the pawns on the kingside forward, and attack there. This is not required, but it’s an additional option. Sometimes, after castling, you can push the f-pawn forward, which would also help you start your attack there on the kingside.

All in all, this easy opening, the Rat Defense, is a pretty cool thing! You have a lot of ideas, and it’s definitely not as easy for White to face your system as it could seem at first sight.

As an example, in this first game, the white player didn’t know how to react and committed a mistake which forced him to resign immediately.

The Rat Defense in a Crazy Chess Game!

This chess game is super exciting! It was a game played between Paulsen (White) and Blackburne (Black). Both of them were fairly strong chess players at the time. The game started with fairly standard and easy opening moves and Black set up the Rat Defense.

The Rat Defense, an easy chess opening: Black plays Nh6
Black plays Nh6

White grabbed the center and Black played Nh6 instead of Ne7. Black wanted his knight to have the potential to jump to g4 and attack White’s bishop.

Black pushed the pawn to f5. To advance this pawn was not super necessary yet. One of Black’s ideas is to wait for a suitable time for the counterattack, but he decided to begin it right away.

Black pressures and White closes the center. Black delays for a while the castling and keeps it flexible. Blackburne could castle on the kingside or on the queenside. Finally, he castled on the queenside.

Blindfold Chess

A really interesting thing about this chess game, apart from the successful use of the Rat Defense in an easy opening, is that it was actually a simultaneous game played by White being blindfolded!

Paulsen was not looking at any chess board, he was playing 10 chess games simultaneously, and yet managed to play at a really high level!

With opposite castling, both sides started deadly attacks!

The Rat Defense, an easy chess opening: Black plays b5
Black plays b5 in response to White’s a5

After White played a5, Black played a really creative move: b5! It’s definitely very risky to play pawn moves with the pawns that cover your king. I would say that this move is, objectively speaking, a mistake. However, it’s a very creative move!

You’ve got to see the whole game in the video lesson below. Both players were playing a crazy chess game by doing quirky moves.

The Rat Defense, an easy chess opening: Black captures on e5 with the knight
Black plays Nxe5, taking advantage of the pin on the d-file

Black captures the pawn on e5, taking advantage of the pin along the d-file. White traded off the knights onto e5 and, after that, he played Qc3 to escape from the pin.

Black played Ng4, attacking the bishop. The bishop went to f4, taking aim also at Black’s king. Black played e5 and, after the exchange, there is a really intense situation on the chess board!

White played Nd4, which is really cool because, at the moment, Black was preparing some sort of discovered attack towards the white queen and, instead of just defending, White kept adding fuel to the fire.

White goes forward trying to keep attacking and, at this point, Black played a really fantastic move, a move which is really hard to make in a practical game: he played c5!

The Rat Defense, an easy chess opening: Black plays c5
Black plays c5 and leaves his king without any cover

This is actually a great move. Even though it’s super dangerous to play a pawn move like this, which makes your king so vulnerable, it keeps attacking ―which is the main motif of chess.

If you keep attacking, that is usually the best thing you could do to win a chess game.

Chess Geniuses

There is an interesting point to think about chess here. At first, it may seem like all these chess players are just so brilliant geniuses that could play 10 games simultaneously without looking at the chess boards and still keep finding great moves. But, on the other hand, you know they’re human beings just like you and I.

Of course, it’s not that somehow the great chess players have a bunch of brains instead of one. It’s just that they know the right way of thinking! That is why they can find the right moves easily, even being in an intense situation where they have to play a lot of games simultaneously.

If you want to find out how you can do it yourself, how you can find the right moves in any position easily, you can attend my free masterclass The Best Way to Improve at Chess Instantly! In this Masterclass, I summarized the training methods that help my students progress the most and also the quickest. It’s FREE!

Continuing with This Marvelous Game

Continuing with the game, both players initiate a large sequence of blows and counter-blows. Paulsen pins a piece and Blackburne pins another one. Paulsen sacrifices a piece and Blackburne sacrifices his own. For the last moments of this game, all pieces are attacking each other.

The Rat Defense, an easy chess opening: Black plays Nxf3+
Black checks the white king and all the pieces are attacking each other

The position on the board is absolutely crazy! It’s a really unique situation when all the pieces are hanging! At the same time, both kings are weak and both players keep attacking each other. None of them wanted to be the defender.

Captures and checks came, consistent attacks to the queens too.

The Rat Defense, an easy chess opening: Black plays Qg4
Black avoids the simplification and entering into an endgame

In this position, Black decided to keep playing for an attack, and he played Qg4, which was not the best move. Black could have simplified the position and win the Exchange. The endgame would be favorable for him, with a significant material advantage. However, in the actual game, Black didn’t go for the endgame. He was thinking into finishing the game with a checkmate.

The Rat Defense, an easy chess opening: White plays Bc4 and threats to play Be6+
White plays Bc4 and is threatening to play Be6+. Both sides want to check mate their opponent.

With the queens on the board, deadly attacks and counterattacks still exist. This time, Black attacks the king with the bishop and the queen, and pins the bishop. On the other hand, White is going to check on e6.

It’s really cool how these players were so creative in finding ways to keep attacking, to keep coming no matter what.

Finally, there had to be a winner. Paulsen found a very unusual move which paved the way for invading the last rank with his own rook. The final chase to the king came.

Look at the full video lesson below how this crazy chess game ended. There are many moves you should study carefully. You will be learning the ins and outs of this easy opening, the Rat Defense, and at the same time, you will be enjoying a high level chess battle.

Final Quiz

chess puzzle

This is a position from this crazy chess game some moves before the end. White had an impressive way to finish the game more quickly. Please, think about this position, and find the winning shot for White. Write it down in the comments below. It’s not that easy, I gotta say, you gotta think about this seriously. But if you can find how to win now, I’ll be really proud of you.

The Rat Defense, an Easy & TRICKY Chess Opening (Video Lesson)

Below you can go through all the moves on the chessboard, and also download the PGN file with the chess games that we used in this lesson to learn the Rat Defense, an Easy & TRICKY chess opening.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want GM Igor Smirnov to help you get better at chess, watch this Masterclass.

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