The Improved Hanham Variation typically occurs via the 1… d6 2. d4 Nf6 move order and is considered the preferable way to play the Philidor Defense in recent years, since after 1… e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. dxe5 (which is covered in our Line 349) White can obtain a longterm initiative.
After both sides complete the castling, White has several different plans, but Re1 & a4 is the most common. So, after 7. Re1 c6 8. a4 Black has a number of possibilities, like 8… exd4 followed by 9… Ne5, somewhat passive options like 8… b6, 8… Qc7 or 8…h6, or, in our opinion, the most promising 8… a5.
Either way, though White is the more active side, it’s Black’s flexibility that gives him decent chances.
[Diagram: White to Move] It seems like Black has sufficient compensation, but it’s White’s turn to move and he can use the f6-f7 fork as an important resource. Can you secure the advantage for White?
Click here to see the line in our viewer…