How to Fight the Hippopotamus Defense

The Hippopotamus Defense, or Hippo Defence, is a chess opening involving a series of 10 passive looking moves that can, surprisingly enough, pack a strong bite if not handled well. The Hippopotamus Defense looks to negate any attempt at opening the position by closing it, and then striking quickly on the flanks. What is shown first in this video is a poor setup against the Hippopotamus Defense so as to illustrate the failed attempts one can experience at trying to open the position. After this, we’ll see how you can develop, and a plan you can implement that will, by force, open the position and have your better positioned pieces benefit. With so many moves needed before the hippo defense is set up, it may be tough to know for sure that it’ll be the defense chosen by your opponent, unless you have an opponent you’ve played previously who you know uses the hippo. Feel free to give this setup a try for that “next encounter” and beyond. While there was an emphasis in the video regarding move order to highlight an issue that “could” arise, do know that there are of course several different move combinations to obtain the desired setup. For example: moving first with e4, c4 and then Nc3 with d4 to follow is just yet another one of many combinations you can begin with as you deploy your pieces and pawns. It’s worth noting that this setup is developmentally sound. Being fully developed with a strong presence in the center after only 9 moves is hard to argue with! 🙂 The pawn structure that is seen in this video is reminiscent to the one from the famous King’s Indian Defense, Mar del Plata variation. At the end of the day, there is an inherent “general” lesson (ideas/plans) to be learned from these similar pawn structures, despite the “specific” focus on the Hippopotamus Defense.


Internet Chess Club (ICC)

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