Richter Veresov Attack

Richter Veresov Attack is one of the most prominent sidelines in the Queen’s Pawn Opening, and the opening is characterized by the moves d4-Nc3-Bg5 in white’s first three moves. The most popular move order to reach the typical starting position of the Richter Veresov Attack would be 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bg5.

Richter Veresov Attack

During the 1930s, International Master Kurt Richter, and during the 1950s and 1960s, the Soviet Master Gavriil Veresov, were the ones who contributed most to the opening’s reputation. Many Soviet masters, including former World Champions such as Spassky, Tal, Smyslov, Karpov have occasionally resorted to this opening in their games. While in the contemporary scene of top level chess, the opening is not the first choice of any top player, nevertheless prominent figures like Mamedyarov and Nakamura use the Richter Veresov Attack from time to time.

Winning percentages on both sides

Results Rate
Win for white 28%
Draw 36%
Win for black 36%

Key ideas

While at the highest level, most players know how to punish white’s suboptimal opening play, below that level, the Richter Veresov Attack still offers high practical chances, as many of the players are unlikely to be deeply prepared against it. The opening is not highly theoretical, but rather it aims to achieve a particularly playable position as a system opening. In some cases, it can transpose to positions from Pirc Defense, Modern Defense, French Defense, Caro-Kann Defense and even Jobava-London System. Therefore it is highly recommended that the players intending to play the Richter Veresov Attack familiarize themselves with the pawn structures and opening ideas of these openings as well.

White has two major strategic objectives in the opening: the first strategy is to build up a strong kingside attack starting with Qd3 and queenside castling. This becomes possible, because white has developed two pieces from the kingside in the first three moves already. The second approach would be to aim to cause structural damage to black’s position with Bxf6 and doubling black’s pawns. In both of the strategies, the e4 pawn break remains as one of the main themes to focus on, since the knight on c3 stands in the way of c-pawn, disrupting the possibility of challenging the center with c4. To reinforce the e4-break, white may play f3 or Qd3, or sometimes Bd3.

Richter Veresov Attack’s Theory

The move order of Richter Veresov Attack is interchangeable between 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bg5, 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 (Trompowsky Attack) d5 3.Nc3 and 1.Nc3 (Van Geet Opening) Nf6 2.d4 d5 3.Bg5. Black has a wide range of replies for the third move and the variations can be grouped into two categories: the lines that allow Bxf6 and the lines that prevent it. 3…e6 and 3…Nbd7 would belong to the latter category, while 3…Bf5 would be an example of allowing white to capture the knight on f6. Against 3…Nbd7 and 3…Bf5 white can also reinforce with 4.f3, while in the case of 3…e6, white has the option to transpose into French Defense straight away with 4.e4.


Richter Veresov Attack - 3…Nbd7

Black’s most preferred move, 3…Nbd7 is also the move that causes white the most issues, because white lacks an optimal move that obtains some sort of advantage. The idea behind 3…Nbd7 is to recapture on f6 with knight in case of Bxf6 and therefore keeping the structure unruined. White may choose between 4.Nf3 and 4.f3 and 4.Qd3, whereas the latter option would be the best try for white.


Richter Veresov Attack - 3…Nbd7 4.Nf3

Even though 4.Nf3 is the most common continuation for white, it can be argued that this move is not truly in the spirit of Richter Veresov Attack, because it does not reinforce the e4-break in the standard way. The best white can do is then to transpose into French Defense structure with ..h6 included after 4…h6 5.Bh4 e6 6.e4 dxe4 (6…g5 7.Bg3 Nxe4 also reasonable) 7.Nxe4 Be7, which could also be reached from the Rubinstein Variation of the French Defense after 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 Be7.


Richter Veresov Attack - 3…Nbd7 4.f3

The idea behind 4.f3 is to reinforce the e4-break and recapture it with fxe4 to have a broad pawn center. However, this option is risky due to concrete reasons. Black can choose between 4…c6, 4…c5 and 4…h6. In each option, black activates the queen on b6 or a5, causing white some problems: E.g. 4…h6 5.Bh4 c5 6.e4 dxe4 7.fxe4 Qb6 is not ideal for white due to the simultaneous pressure on d4 and b2

or 4…c5 5.e4 dxe4 6.fxe4 Qa5! 7.Bxf6 exf6 8.Nf3 cxd4 9.Qxd4 Bc5 and black’s forces get decent activity.

The alternative approach would be …e5 break in the case of 4…c6, which might be even more effective than …c5 ideas. For example, 4…c6 5.e4 dxe4 6.fxe4 e5 7.dxe5 Qa5 8.exf6 (8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.e6 fxe6 and black is slightly better) 8…Qxg5 and black has significant edge and bishop pair in the open position, while white’s king is exposed in the center.


4.Qd3 is likely to be white’s best try.

Richter Veresov Attack - 3…Nbd7 4.Qd3

E.g. 4…h6 Bh4 c6 6.Nf3 Qa5 and here is it important for white to include 7.Nd2 (7.e3 Ne4 8.Be2 Nxc3 9.Qxc3 Qxc3+ 10.bxc3 and white has inferior structure) to avoid …Ne4-…Nxc3 ideas.

Now white is doing fine after both 7…Qb6 8.0-0-0 e5 9.dxe5 Nxe5 10.Qg3

and 7…e5 8.Bxf6 Nxf6 9.dxe5 Ng4 10.h3 Nxe5 11.Qe3


Richter Veresov Attack - 3…Bf5

The main idea behind 3…Bf5 is to get the bishop out, so that playing …Nbd7 becomes possible without interrupting bishop’s development. For example if white continues with 4.f3 or 4.e3, then black defends f6-Knight with 4…Nbd7 and gets a comfortable position, since the bishop on f5 is hindering white’s e4 break. White should therefore consider trying 4.Bxf6 first, causing black to double their pawns, as a price for controlling the e4 square with 4…Bf5.


Richter Veresov Attack - 3…Bf5 4.Bxf6

Both 4…gxf6 and 4…exf6 are viable options, while the latter one has been played twice as much as the former one. White wants to challenge black’s light square bishop with 5.e3 c6 6.Bd3 and black usually captures on d3, 6…Bxd3 as 6…Qd7 puts b8-Knight into an awkward spot. The game might continue 7.Qxd3 Bb4 8.Ne2 0-0 9.0-0 Re8. Playing for c4 or e4 breaks is thematic for white here. An example of such a strategy of switching to a queenside plan would be 10.Nb1 Nd7 11.b3 g6 12.c4 dxc4 13.bxc4 Bf8 14.Qb3 and white has a broad center. Following ideas for white would be Nc3, R-any to b1-, a4-a5, applying pressure on the b-file and targeting b7-pawn, while black’s counterplay on the kingside seems slower.


Richter Veresov Attack - 3…e6

Alternative way for black to avoid doubling on f6 is to play 3…e6, so that in the case of 4.Bxf6, black can recapture 4…Qxf6. Therefore, it does not make much sense for white to give up the bishop pair now. The downside of 3…e6 is the French-bishop black has on c8, which remains now behind the pawn chain. The most prudent continuation for white therefore is to transpose into the Burn Variation of the French Defense with 4.e4


Richter Veresov Attack - 3…e6 4.e4

After 4.e4, we are no longer in the territory of Richter Veresov Attack but we reach a highly thematic and theoretical position in the French Defense, where 4…dxe4, 4…Bb4 and 4…Be7 are among black’s most popular choices and each have their own deep theory. Therefore, it is advised for Richter Veresov Attack players to make some research for the ideas in any of these lines.

Classical Defense: 4.Nf3

Richter Veresov Attack - 3…e6 4.Nf3

If white does not wish to enter a mainline French Defense territory, 4.Nf3 would be a viable alternative. However, black gets a slightly better position after 4…Be7 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 c5 with the ideas of …b6/…Bb7 and …e5 at some point.

In this case, white can try capturing on f6 after 4…Be7, e.g. 5.Bxf6 Bxf6 and strike at the center with 6.e4 straight away.

Pros and Cons of Richter Veresov Attack

Pros Cons
Ability to deploy queenside pieces swiftly makes white ready to launch a kingside attack quickly after queenside castling. The mainline 3…Nbd7 puts white into a tough spot, as white’s responses allow black an active play after …c5 or …e5 breaks.
Direct and indirect control over the e4 square. It becomes harder to challenge the center with the usual c4 due to Nc3.


Richter Veresov Attack provides practical chances for players of almost all levels, who wish to avoid the enormous theory of Queen’s Gambit with a sideline. As a system opening, the learning curve is relatively convenient since the opening is based on simple, straightforward ideas. If Black does not play the most accurate moves, it is highly possible that white finds themselves in a comfortable attacking position in an opposite side castling scenario.

Written by
Deniz Tasdelen, National Master
National Master with over 20 years of experience. He has participated in many prestigious tournaments, including the European and World Youth Chess Championships.
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