Introduction to the Hedgehog

The Hedgehog is a versatile system most often employed by Black, but occasionally by White. It is characterized by a defensive 6th-rank (or 3rd rank) a6/b6/d6/e6 pawn structure – the “quills” of the Hedgehog! In this live lesson broadcast on my Twitch page, I present three games and describe the typical plans and ideas in this setup.

Follow me on Twitch:

Follow me on Twitter:

Check out my Scandinavian Repertoire (1.e4 d5) on Chessable:

Support the channel:

127 Comments

  1. Man I like your videos but I really hate your openings. I can't stand the Scandi and the hedgehog (along with the hippo) is just the definition of anti chess.

  2. I've been curious about the hedgehog recently after reading about it in Kasparov's "Modern Chess — Revolution in the 70's" volume. Your video came at just the right time for me — thanks!

  3. Excellent content John. Love this sort of stuff. Thanks for the lesson.

  4. John's channel is a gem mine.. Every time I come here, I get something valuable. Please continue this series of lectures

  5. Great stuff John! Greetings from Poland.

  6. John, you are a great teacher, thank you for making these videos.

  7. Reminds me of Soltis' book Pawn Structure Chess. I'm surprised you didn't start with a Scandi Guide!

  8. Thank you for the introduction i am actually playing the hedgehog structure in my tournaments

  9. This is great! Thanks. More on Hedgehog would be appreciated.

  10. I know I'm a year late, but I was wondering, at 1:19:05 why play 4. … a7 (allowing 5. c4) instead of 4. … Nf6 (forcing 5. Nc3) and then 5. … a7?

  11. I quite like the idea of White-to-open… and staring at the board for 4 and a half hours, trying to figure out the first move, before moving the king's pawn forward 2 spaces.

  12. at 1:08:54 white does not have to play Rxg7+,Qxg7;Rxg7+….He can interpose Rxg7+,Qxg7 the move Nf6+ K moves then Rxg7+ Black's rook is en prise

  13. at 1:08:54 white does not have to play Rxg7+,Qxg7;Rxg7+….He can interpose Rxg7+,Qxg7 the move Nf6+ K moves then Rxg7+ Black's rook is en prise

  14. This is my third view of this video, first one was when I was around 1500s and now I'm almost 1800s, every time I see the ideas more clearly and it helps me keep track of my improvement. Thanks John and missing your videos! Good luck with your Chessable huge project that you're working on too 😉.

  15. Wow, you just got 1 subscriber. I was looking for this opening since I read on of Jon Edwards book as beginner. Not so many & very good vids on this in French. I'm learning a lot from your games. Thank youuuu!!! 😉

  16. This was amazing. Did you ever end up making other twitch instructional videos like this one?

  17. Hey John, in the 3rd game, what do you think black should do different to combat Nb3? Or is it just not really possible to properly defend against Nb3?

  18. "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." — Archilochus. In that sense, it is about survival, defense. But human hedgehogs — the big idea visionary — is now considered great material for entrepreneurship. In intellectual history, the hedgehog brings a big frame (think Plato, Marx, Dostoyevsky) versus the foxes who see the world as messy (Aristotle, Shakespeare, James Joyce.) Was Tarrasch a hedgehog? Nimzovitch? Was Capablanca? Was Tal a fox — seeing the world according to ITS demands and not those of personal worldview? Which modern players are "system" players (look for nails with their hammer) and which come to positions with the fewest rules and the toolkit with greatest variety?

  19. Really great lesson, too bad there isn't a whole youtube playlist of lessons like this one. It just popped up randomly today for me. 🙂

  20. By the way, I forgot to ask in my last comment, can queenside castling be an option for white? I mean, black covers everything from a5 to f5 with his pawns, so maybe castling queenside and kingside attack could be a viable option for white in theory?

  21. Would be interesting to try Igel chess engine in this position (it is in top 10 best engines currently and seem to represent hedgehog according to it's logo).

  22. When John explains the first game, he makes it seem like the guys playing like a total noob, when he asks what I'd do, i'm looking around like f@$% this guy's got everything guarded he's a genius lol

  23. At 41:49, instead of Ne4 I like Bc4, so if N:c3, then Q:g6 and if N:d1 then B :f7+, etc

  24. He said kinetic energy 🤣🤣 *Potential energy @John Bartholomew

  25. Possibly a dumb question: Do you ever castle long in the hedgehog?

  26. Funny. You're going to get "right into it". LOL

  27. Thanks a lot for this amazing masterclass!! Great games and explanations, I feel I understand much better the hedgehog… greetings from Spain!

  28. Yep…I have actually bought the 2-volumes by Shipov!! Good stuff, too!

  29. Since this was put up, has anyone found a reliable reply to the Riester move: 15) Nb3! Can it be prevented perhaps?

  30. oh gosh, this is great, did you ever continue making videos like this?

  31. I want to play the hedgehog formation. However, the problem is your opponent attacks your pawn positions BEFORE you get you essential development complete. I am somewhere at a mediocre intermediate level. So I get enormously frustrated when my hedgehog development is interferred with BEFORE it is completed. For instance, the Knight on F5 gets attacked by a pawn while you are trying to get your other pawns in the hedgehog set up or the other four pawns get taken or attacked screwing up the entire formation losing any cohesion in the midst of your development. You end up moving your knight all around trying to keep from losing it wasting turns or uou lose you pawn structure. So the opponent attacking you during your developmental phase of the hedgehog formation is extremely frustrating. I end up with a chaotic game instead of playing a careful methodical defensive and counterattacking system game I want to play. I want to play a strong defensive chess setup like the hedgehog with counterattacking capability later on. This system is extremely difficult to set up because an opponent interferes with the development of the hedgehog system. The point is an advanced player can deal with the attacks and still get the hedgehog development or something like it accomplished. So nice video for future grandmasters but for us average mortals it doesn't really tell you what to do when you get attacked BEFORE you are able to get your hedgehog system development set up.

  32. @1:40:42 does black have Rxe1+ Rxe1 Qf3+ Kg1 Qg4+ Kf1 with a perpetual check? White can only deviate by interposing with the h2 rook which gets mated on f2 and g2 with the queen depending where white blocks, and the a8 bishop is always covering the h1 square.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *