How to use an open file in chess?

Basically, an open file is one with no pawns of either colour on it. And a file with pawns of only one colour (either White or Black) is called as a half-open file.

The strategy behind an open file

Most chess players know that a common strategic objective for a rook or queen on an open file is to reach its seventh or eighth rank. Controlling the seventh rank is generally worth at least a pawn, as most of the opponent’s pawns will usually reside there.
open file chesscBut the question is: how to obtain an open file OR how to use it effectively?

That’s why IM Boroljub Zlatanovic has prepared a video lesson for you. He will teach you with an illustrative example – a game played between Rudlof Maric and Tigran Petrosian in the year 1970.

You can watch the video lesson below:

Let’s summarise what you would have learnt from this lesson:

Key points

  • How to hold an open file?
  • How to dominate that open file?
  • Weak squares
  • Playing with initiative
  • The advantage of active pieces with an open file
  • What is the best piece(s) to occupy an open file?
  • Prophylaxis

Author information
IM Boroljub ZlatanovicIM Boroljub Zlatanovic

Boroljub Zlatanovic is a Serbian International Master and professional chess trainer. He became a FIDE Master, and in 1995 was Youth Champion of Serbia and a member of the national youth team. He was a two-time champion of the University of Belgrade and won 10 Serbian Open Chess Tournaments.

P.S. Have you ever implemented this strategy (open file) in your games? Feel free to write in the comments below and discuss.

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