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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) C50-C59: Two Knights defense or Italian? (Read 20514 times)
MNb
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Re: C50-C59: Two Knights defense or Italian?
Reply #30 - 01/03/12 at 17:49:40
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SWJediknight wrote on 01/03/12 at 12:33:44:
In Kaissiber Gutman and Bücker recommend interposing (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.0-0 d6) 5.h3, before continuing in "delayed Evans" style with b4 etc (the traditional Scotch Gambit lines that arise after 5.c3 Bg4 6.d4 exd4 are absolutely fine for Black).  They think it is mildly advantageous for White, and I'm yet to see a comeback from Black's perspective.

I think you mean the Delayed Bird. The move h3 is not so useful in the Evans Gambit.
5.h3, 6.c3 and 7.b4 is an option indeed.

SWJediknight wrote on 01/03/12 at 12:33:44:
Re. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Be7 5.c3 dxc3 6.Qd5 Nh6 7.Bxh6 0-0, I'm not convinced that White gets any advantage with 8.Nxc3 gxh6 9.Qh5, but I think the 6.Qd5 line still leads to a nice edge for White after after 8.Bxg7! Kxg7 9.Nxc3, as Black's two bishops are outweighed by the exposed king.

I happily disagree with you (doesn't happen too often, so I have to grab the opportunity  Smiley). The key is that Black gets ...f5 in, White doesn't get his attack going and the Bishops will dominate the board. Therefor I stronly recommend 6.Nxc3.
  

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Re: C50-C59: Two Knights defense or Italian?
Reply #29 - 01/03/12 at 12:33:44
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Some points relating to the analysis of both MNb and Craig Evans:

In Kaissiber Gutman and Bücker recommend interposing (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.0-0 d6) 5.h3, before continuing in "delayed Evans" style with b4 etc (the traditional Scotch Gambit lines that arise after 5.c3 Bg4 6.d4 exd4 are absolutely fine for Black).  They think it is mildly advantageous for White, and I'm yet to see a comeback from Black's perspective.

Re. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Be7 5.c3 dxc3 6.Qd5 Nh6 7.Bxh6 0-0, I'm not convinced that White gets any advantage with 8.Nxc3 gxh6 9.Qh5, but I think the 6.Qd5 line still leads to a nice edge for White after after 8.Bxg7! Kxg7 9.Nxc3, as Black's two bishops are outweighed by the exposed king.  But 6.Nxc3 is indeed a good alternative for White.

I think White has a few improvements over Glek's play in the line 4...d6 5.c3 Ne5 6.Nxe5 dxe5 7.0-0, though Black can avoid ending up in a Göring Gambit type position with 5...Nf6 6.Ng5 (probably best, envisaging transpositions back to a line of the Göring Gambit that arises after 5...dxc3 6.Nxc3 Nf6 7.Ng5!?) 6...d5 7.exd5 Qe7+, which is probably good enough for equality.

Re. the Two Knights with 5.0-0 Nxe4 6.Re1 d5 7.Bxd5 Qxd5 8.Nc3 (which I sometimes play with both colours), I always preferred 8...Qa5 over 8...Qh5 as Black due to the sterility of the 8...Qh5 9.Nxe4 Be6 10.Bg5 Bd6 lines.  But the idea 11.Nxd6+ cxd6 12.Bf4 Qd5 13.c3 Qf5!? looks very interesting- it should be equal, but the equality isn't necessarily any less dynamic than in the line 8...Qa5 9.Nxe4 Be6 10.Neg5 0-0-0 11.Nxe6 fxe6 12.Rxe6 Bd6.  I think in the line 11.c4, John Emms's equalising suggestion 11...h6 gives Black more chances of spicing up the play (e.g. 12.Nxd6+ cxd6 13.Bf4 Qc5 improves on the line 11.Nxd6+ cxd6 12.Bf4 Qc5 as White cannot play c2-c3) than the simple equaliser 11...0-0 12.c5 Be5 13.Nxe5 etc, and of course 11.Bf6 Bxh2+ etc. leads to -/+.

One possible alternative issue is 10.Nxd4 Qxd1 11.Rxd1.  Black appears to get an edge in all lines, but I'm doubtful as to whether it's enough to be able to hope to grind out a win against good opposition.  The main line continues 11...0-0-0 12.Be3 Nxd4 13.Bxd4 Bf5 14.Ng5 Bg6 with Black having the bishop-pair.  14.f3 (which I haven't seen mentioned anywhere) is also possible, when White gets an isolated e-pawn in a rook ending following 14...Bxe4 15.fxe4 Rxd4 16.Rxd4 Bc5 (or Black can consider waiting with 14...b6 15.Bc3 Rxd1+ 16.Rxd1 f6, maintaining the bishop pair).  Black stands better, but again, is it enough to have much hope of grinding out a win?  If the answer here is "yes" in both cases then we have another argument for preferring 8...Qh5 to 8...Qa5.

As White in those lines I am attracted to Stefan Bücker's gambit idea (which works after both 8...Qa5 and 8...Qh5) 9.Nxe4 Be6 10.Neg5 0-0-0 11.Nxe6 fxe6 12.Bg5 with the idea 12...Re8 13.Re4, which appears good enough for dynamic equality regardless of whether Black accepts or declines the pawn offer, though I have yet to get the opportunity to use it in a game.
  
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Re: C50-C59: Two Knights defense or Italian?
Reply #28 - 01/02/12 at 22:03:48
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MNb, as always thank you for your long and detailed replies! I will look through everything bit by bit before I comment further; however, in respect of your first question:

In the Dangerous Weapons book Emms actually goes for  9...f6 10.Bh6!? immediately, and his lines against both 10...Be6 and 10...Bg4 look to give at least unclear positions where white has plenty to play for. He also mentions the Heyken/Fette line (though doesn't credit them), and goes as far as 11.Bh6 Kg6! (also mentioning 11.Ne5+ with a perpetual! - useful to know against stronger players!) 12.Qc1 Qd5 13.c3 d3 14.Nh4+ Kf7 unclear - I am not sure whether your knowledge of the line surpasses this? I haven't run it through Rybka yet but would be interested to see how it evaluates it - I certainly can't other than "a mess". However, 10.Bh6 immediately looks stronger to prevent the lines where black tries to casually gobble the g-pawn with his king, and puts the onus on black to find the best move. It may well be that this is eventually found to be equal, but it seems rare enough that it ought to have some surprise value as well as its natural venom.
  

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Re: C50-C59: Two Knights defense or Italian?
Reply #27 - 01/02/12 at 21:42:21
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CraigEvans wrote on 01/02/12 at 14:14:43:
I think white is doing very well in the 8.fxg7 Rg8 9.Bg5 lines.

Wasn't 9.Re1+ and only after Be7 10.Bg5 more precise? This avoids 9.Bg5 f6 10.Re1+ Kf7. Or is this good after White after 11.Bh6 as indicated by Heyken and Fette 25 years ago?

CraigEvans wrote on 01/02/12 at 14:14:43:
you want to minimise the number of times you face the Max Lange, and maximise the number of times you get into the old lines with 5...Nxe4 6.Re1 d5 7.Bxd5 etc... as black.

When playing a combination of d4 and Bc4 you can't avoid this.

CraigEvans wrote on 01/02/12 at 14:14:43:
I personally want to maximise the number of Max Langes that I get, whilst minimising the number of people who can plunge into the lines with 5...Nxe4.

That's not really possible.

CraigEvans wrote on 01/02/12 at 14:14:43:
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 is an irritation for me, as I guess I really have to plunge for 4.d4 exd4 5.O-O where black has to play for one or the other (I hope? Surely 5...Be7 is not as good here?) - but 5...Nxe4 seems the more likely move to face! I can't think of a better move order for getting into a ML?

There isn't - or you already would have known about it.
5...Be7 is basically a Hungarian with a (too) early ...exd4. In this particular case White can try 6.e5. After 6.O-O Black must transpose as Nxe4?! 7.Nf5 is excellent.
More precise then is 5...d6 and I don't trust 6.Ng5 Ne5 7.Bb3 h6 8.f4 hxg5 9.fxe5 dxe5 10.Bg5 Bc5.

CraigEvans wrote on 01/02/12 at 14:14:43:
After 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5, 4.O-O seems to be most consistent, given that I also intend to play the Max Lange Gambit with 4...Nf6 5.d4!? - but then I have to have something against 4...d6. Do any players of this as white have something particular up their sleeves against this "duller" move?

There is the Evans Gambit Delayed. but a) it isn't in your repertoire and b) 5...Bxb4 6.c3 Ba5 is considered the weaker version these days.
Another option is 5.c3 and 6.b4 with a Bird Variation Delayed.

CraigEvans wrote on 01/02/12 at 14:14:43:
Finally, is there something sharp against the Hungarian (3...Be7)? I know quite a few local players who use this move... and since I have avoided these sorts of openings for most of my career, I don't really know much about this line. Since I also have the Belgrade in my arsenal, if I know my opponent I can aim for this instead... however you know you are likely to be surprised at times, so it pays to be prepared.

The only way to counter this point is to include some stuff you might not like. But there is the Scotch Gambit:
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4
a) 4...Nf6 5.O-O and you are happy.
b1) 4...Bc5 5.O-O Bg4!
b2) 5.c3 Nf6 6.O-O and you regret having played c2-c3 iso e4-e5.
b3) 5.b4!? has been played by Capablanca (informal game), Marshall and Minic and might be worth a try.

Another advantage is that you avoid the Closed Hungarian (3.Bc4 Be7 not ...exd4). 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 d6/Be7 5.Nxd4 or 5.O-O and 6.Nxd4.
There is some gambit stuff here, but it's not clear if it's playable:
a) 4...d6 5.c3 Ne5 (dxc3 6.Nxc3 is the Göring Gambit) 6.Nxe5 dxe5 7.O-O;
b) 4...Nf6 5.O-O see above;
c) 4...Be7 5.c3 dxc3 6.Qd5 Nh6 7.Bxh6 O-O! and Black is quite OK with the Pair of Bishops. But 6.Nxc3 d6 transposes to a line of the Göring Gambit that is thought fine for White.

CraigEvans wrote on 01/02/12 at 14:14:43:
I have always played the Qxd4 lines of the Philidor - I assume these still are a completely valid way to play (and I am not scared of 3...f5, having played it myself!).

That's somewhat a pity. Now the smart transposition 2.d4 exd4 3.Nf3 is not available because of Bb4+. And 3.Bc4 d6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 (but there won't be a Larsen as ...g6 is met with Ng5) 6.Re1 is not the Qxd4 line.
Reason why I bring this up is of course 2.d4 exd4 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Nf3 when Nf6 just transposes and Nxe4 is the interesting Urussov Gambit. 4.Nf3 Bc5 5.O-O Nf6 6.e5 and you are happy, but 5...d6 6.c3 is like the Scotch Gambit Declined (Bg4!?). At the other hand 5.e5 d5 is similar to your beloved ML.
So perhaps this is still worth considering.
  

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CraigEvans
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Re: C50-C59: Two Knights defense or Italian?
Reply #26 - 01/02/12 at 14:14:43
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To agree further with SW, for the first time in my chess-playing life I have started to look at the Max Lange seriously, with a view to taking it up myself (though I am in a horrible tangle trying to work out what variations I need to play to get there the largest number of times), and I think white is doing very well in the 8.fxg7 Rg8 9.Bg5 lines - the Dangerous Weapons 1.e4 e5 book's article on this, along with a bit of work on Rybka, convinces me that white can play for a win in almost every line.

So I would say that your question is a similar dilemma to one that I'm currently facing - you want to minimise the number of times you face the Max Lange, and maximise the number of times you get into the old lines with 5...Nxe4 6.Re1 d5 7.Bxd5 etc... as black.

I personally want to maximise the number of Max Langes that I get, whilst minimising the number of people who can plunge into the lines with 5...Nxe4.

I would appreciate advice from those who play these with either colour as to what sort of repertoire I need to put together.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 is an irritation for me, as I guess I really have to plunge for 4.d4 exd4 5.O-O where black has to play for one or the other (I hope? Surely 5...Be7 is not as good here?) - but 5...Nxe4 seems the more likely move to face! I can't think of a better move order for getting into a ML?

After 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5, 4.O-O seems to be most consistent, given that I also intend to play the Max Lange Gambit with 4...Nf6 5.d4!? - but then I have to have something against 4...d6. Do any players of this as white have something particular up their sleeves against this "duller" move?

Finally, is there something sharp against the Hungarian (3...Be7)? I know quite a few local players who use this move... and since I have avoided these sorts of openings for most of my career, I don't really know much about this line. Since I also have the Belgrade in my arsenal, if I know my opponent I can aim for this instead... however you know you are likely to be surprised at times, so it pays to be prepared.

I have always played the Qxd4 lines of the Philidor - I assume these still are a completely valid way to play (and I am not scared of 3...f5, having played it myself!).
  

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Re: C50-C59: Two Knights defense or Italian?
Reply #25 - 01/02/12 at 13:41:11
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SWJediknight wrote on 10/23/11 at 10:24:01:
The line 5...Nxe4 6.Re1 d5 7.Bxd5 Qxd5 8.Nc3 Qh5 9.Nxe4 Be6 10.Bg5 (Stefan Buecker's ideas following 10.Neg5 0-0-0 11.Nxe6 fxe6 12.Bg5!? are discussed in a few other threads) 10...h6 is probably unsound.  For instance after 11.Bf6 Qg6 12.Nh4 Qg4 13.Qd3 improves on Emms's 13.Qxg4 and 12...Qh7 had a similar objection (though I don't recall specifically what it was).  Thus Black's best option at move 10 is 10...Bd6 (10...Bb4 11.Nxd4 might give White a small niggle in the resulting ending) when Black is fully equal, though the resulting positions are often quite sterile, e.g. 11.c4 0-0 12.c5 Be5 13.Nxe5 Qxd1 14.Raxd1 Nxe5 15.Rxd4 Nc6 =, or 11.Nxd6+ cxd6 12.Bf4 Qd5 13.c3 Rc8 14.b3 0-0 15.Nxd4 Nxd4 16.Qxd4 Qxd4 17.cxd4 =. 


Just two points here - 1) Avoid Pinski's recommendation of (10.Bg5) Bd6 11.Nxd6+ cxd6 12.Bf4 Qc5?! 13.c3 dxc3 14.Bxd6 Qa5? due to the improvement 15.b4! which he misses entirely. White is clearly better here.

Secondly, after 12...Qd5 13.c3, the move to really surprise your opponent is 13...Qf5!? - I've done quite a bit of home analysis on this and I think it is black's best chance of mixing things up. White tends to opt between 14.cxd4 Qxf4 15.d5 and 14.Bxd6!?! O-O-O, both giving sharper endgames than the sterile positions after 13...Rc8, where white might get a niggling edge. If you really want to play for a win as black, some work here might be fruitful (but I won't give away my secrets... at any rate, with correct play white is equal here too).

I also agree that 10...Bb4 gives white a chance of a small niggle in the endgame... though again it is probably nothing.
  

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Re: C50-C59: Two Knights defense or Italian?
Reply #24 - 11/18/11 at 20:33:31
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There is no Max Lange if Black doesn't wish so after 3...Nf6
IMO the real test of 3...Nf6 is the Polerio. The Traxler is definitely unsound, and I have my doubts also about the Ulvestad/Fritz which I have used in the past and scored heavily (mainly with the refuted Berliner Attack). The main problem is the 4.Ng5 d5 5.ed5 b5 6.Bf1 Nd4 7.c3 Nxd5 8.cd4 Qxd5 9.Bxb5+ Kd8 10.Qf3 variation, which is not easy for Black.
Itr seems Black is fine with 5...Na5 6.Bb5+ Bd7 7.Qe2 (Mamedjarov's 7.Be2 isn't dangerous, unless you play against Mamedjarov, that is) Be7 (7...Bd6 is probably underestimated, and entirely playable- the Morozevich nicety with 8.Nc3 0-0 9.Bxd7 Qxd7 10.a3 isn't dangerous at all) 8.Nc3 Bxb5!? (Yandemirov's pet line) which is scoring fairly well for Black.
  
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Re: C50-C59: Two Knights defense or Italian?
Reply #23 - 11/11/11 at 09:05:43
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Downward,
      Marin put out an update that covered the 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 move order. it can be found on the download section of the Quality Chess website I think.
  
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Re: C50-C59: Two Knights defense or Italian?
Reply #22 - 10/28/11 at 16:52:29
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World champions have been known to play the TN.
In the romantic area Steinitz and Lasker certainly played both sides.
Strangely I cant remember any game by Aljechin.
Botwinnik has played the TN as black.
Smyslov also played ...Nf6 on ocasion as Black.
Fischer-Bisguier springs to mind where Fischer re-introduced Steinitz move 9.Nh3.
Spassky certainly practiced the TN as black
Karpov played 4.Ng5 on occasion although 4.d3 was more his style. (I remember a game Karpov-Beliavsky where Karpov was surprised with 4.Ng5,Bc5). I dont think he ever tried it as black 3...Bc5 fitting in better with his solid black repertoire. Still his trainers will have made him study it.
Kasparov has played Ng5 several times I think, I dont remember if anyone was bold enough to play Ng5 against him.
Kramnik never played this I think with white or black.
It is simply not his style.
Anand hardly ever played it. But curiously I also remember a game Anand-Beliavsky also with the Traxler, that didnt go well for him.

A database search will probably turn up better/more evidence.
However it is clear that in this day and age, the TN only plays a minor role in Gm repertoires, given the dominance of sicilian and spanish games.
That doesnt take away that playing romantic gambits will sharpen the tactical mind and attacking skills of youth players.
  
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Re: C50-C59: Two Knights defense or Italian?
Reply #21 - 10/27/11 at 09:10:24
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Markovich wrote on 10/23/11 at 13:42:54:
downward wrote on 10/22/11 at 18:35:08:
I have a question regarding the difference between 3.- Bc5 and 3.-Nf6 after White plays the Bishop Opening.
Marin in his Beating the Open Games doesn't propose anything against the Bishop Opening 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 as his repertoire choices against other openings (KG, Italian, Vienna) will directly transpose after 2.Bc4 Nc6 anyway.
But I want to play Two Knights, not Italian. Is there a way I can force White to transpose, or can he play something different and/or dangerous?


I don't understand your problem.  White certainly cannot finagle a Giuoco after 2.Bc4, if you wish to avoid it.  Play 2...Nf6.  Then 3.Nc3 Nc6 becomes a Vienna (unless White goes in for 4.Nf3 Nxe4), while 3.d3 allows you to play into a Two Knights or Giuoco with 3...Nc6, or try something even more ambitious with 3...c6. 

You can't force a Two Knights, but his only alternative is a Vienna, against which you must play anyway if you play 1...e5.



Your advice is quite sound. However white can also go for the Urusov gambit 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nf3.

See further discussion of these issues:
http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~goeller/urusov/bishops/index.html
and
http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~goeller/urusov/gambit/index.html

Edit: But I suppose, as Mnb pointed out earlier, that of course the solution here is to play 4...Nc6 and tranpose to Two Knights Defence  Grin
  
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Re: C50-C59: Two Knights defense or Italian?
Reply #20 - 10/26/11 at 22:11:15
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There's always Bobby Fischer. I dont think he ever played the TKD unless at a simul. Wink
I also remember the foreword of Petrosian to an Estrin book on the TKD. I think I detected a certain irony in it.
  

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Re: C50-C59: Two Knights defense or Italian?
Reply #19 - 10/26/11 at 21:49:41
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Markovich wrote on 10/23/11 at 02:05:32:
Smyslov_Fan wrote on 10/22/11 at 23:15:08:
Markovich wrote on 10/22/11 at 20:34:07:
...
I would add, for young players, that playing the Two Knights is an essential part of any good chess education.

There have been plenty of World Champions and World Champion candidates who never played the Two Knights in their repertoire.


Really? Even as juniors? I find I must yield to your extensive knowledge of the youthful repertoires of all the world champions, and candidates.

PS: I did say, for young players. I'll stand by "essential" as to open, gambit-style positions. It was hyperbole to say that the Two Knights itself is essential, though it's close to that. It simply is a crying shame to miss the chance to play into such positions when one also gets good chances, as one does in the Two Knights. I certainly wouldn't have a student who didn't play it.  (Bold added by SF)

I was going to leave this alone, but it just kept gnawing at me.

In this day of database information and complete game scores from U12 tournaments around the world, yes. I can say quite confidently that not every +2700 player today played the Two Knights as juniors. You don't need to yield to my extensive knowledge, you could look up the juvenalia of today's young players yourself.

From about 1950-1975(ish), your advice would have seemed orthodox. Today's juniors study with computers and come up with their own lines. There's actually quite a wide literature on how computers have revolutionised learning for students.

Again, I agree with Markovich that the Two Knights is probably preferable to the Italian game. MNb's, Willempie's,  and others' comments have pretty much reified that position.
  
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Re: C50-C59: Two Knights defense or Italian?
Reply #18 - 10/25/11 at 00:28:52
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Willempie wrote on 10/24/11 at 22:08:32:
Studying that line will do nothing but good for your tactical sight.

I fully agree with this. What's more, when I get fed up with chess I often follow this advise. It never fails to cheer me up again, even if I never will play it.
  

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Re: C50-C59: Two Knights defense or Italian?
Reply #17 - 10/24/11 at 22:08:32
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Markovich wrote on 10/22/11 at 20:34:07:
I agree with what MNb said.  The Two Knights is more ambitious; avoids the Evans, which is a respectable gambit; and offers Black the option of playing either 4...Be7 or 4...Bc5 in case White answers with the quiet 4.d3. 

I would add, for young players, that playing the Two Knights is an essential part of any good chess education.

I dont disagree, but this also goes for the Giuoco. I would even go as far as stating that you can't play the TKD properly without having some schooling in the Giuoco and vice versa. Any schooling should include both openings as white and black imo.

My personal opinion is that the Giouco is a better choice theorywise, but also has less chance for the full point.

In the Giuoco I could suggest the following lines (I've played them myself and on occasion still do):
-Evans Gambit. Just accept it with Ba5 and keep in mind the Lasker defense ideas.
-d3 and Nc3 (Canal), Play Na5 at an appropriate time and you're better than equal
-d3 and c3, get a double espresso and imagine you're playing a closed (Moller) Ruy. The main plus you have is that that bishop is on d4 so if you can push d5 you gain a tempo.
-4.c3 systems. This is the real meat. The lines with Bd2 are equal, but you need to know how to  play these positions. The lines with Nc3 are amongst the most fun in chess, play the Lasker defense. Few moves to remember and it annoys white to no end.

In the TKD I agree with what others wrote, though my personeal preference is the Traxler (it is never too late to correct a mistake Wink) . Studying that line will do nothing but good for your tactical sight.
  

If nothing else works, a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through.
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Markovich
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Re: C50-C59: Two Knights defense or Italian?
Reply #16 - 10/23/11 at 13:42:54
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downward wrote on 10/22/11 at 18:35:08:
I have a question regarding the difference between 3.- Bc5 and 3.-Nf6 after White plays the Bishop Opening.
Marin in his Beating the Open Games doesn't propose anything against the Bishop Opening 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 as his repertoire choices against other openings (KG, Italian, Vienna) will directly transpose after 2.Bc4 Nc6 anyway.
But I want to play Two Knights, not Italian. Is there a way I can force White to transpose, or can he play something different and/or dangerous?


I don't understand your problem.  White certainly cannot finagle a Giuoco after 2.Bc4, if you wish to avoid it.  Play 2...Nf6.  Then 3.Nc3 Nc6 becomes a Vienna (unless White goes in for 4.Nf3 Nxe4), while 3.d3 allows you to play into a Two Knights or Giuoco with 3...Nc6, or try something even more ambitious with 3...c6. 

You can't force a Two Knights, but his only alternative is a Vienna, against which you must play anyway if you play 1...e5.

  

The Great Oz has spoken!
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