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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Two Knights or The Italian? (Read 13000 times)
Michael Ayton
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #35 - 02/07/06 at 15:34:02
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Thanks for your replies. I had in fact seen most of the posts you mention, micawber -- they don't actually address 11 ...f5 or (excepting one post smothered in dollar signs!) 6 Bb5 Bd7. As for 11 ...Be7 in the Fritz/Ulvestad, I agree with MNb that the frequently seen "small edge to White" assessment is unreliable, but I wonder if the "dynamism" here mightn't be of the potentially rather drawish kind, hence my interest in 11 ...g6!?. Meanwhile 9 Bb5 Bd7 10 Bc4!? is, I think, very interesting -- I'll take a closer look! Anyone know of any games where this was played?

Michael AYTON
  
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #34 - 02/07/06 at 10:41:07
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Hello,

    I am changing my mind, the only advantage the two knights seems to have is avoiding the highly symettrical line 3... Bc5 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.d3 d6, where can end up with all the bishops staring at each other! Only preparation black needs though, is a large flask of black coffee.  In other slow lines, i.e with d3, and nd2, black does not seem to gain much by avoiding Bc5, and this might even be his best approach.
            In the sharper lines, black seems to be under a lot less pressure than 4. Ng5 d5 lines. For example, in the Evans Gambit 4... B*b4 5. c3 Ba5 6.0.0 Ng-e7 seems to be holding up well. Not sure what Harding says about this, but noticed he has played the black side in several games.

Bye John S
  
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alumbrado
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #33 - 02/07/06 at 09:35:21
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I do still worry about the Ulvestad/Fritz though.  None of it 'feels right' to me.  But then I am not one of life's natural gambiteers (the Catalan aside).
  

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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #32 - 02/07/06 at 01:41:38
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"4 ...d5 5 ed b5 6 Bf1 Nd4 7 c3 Nd5 8 Ne4 Ne6 9 Bb5 Bd7 10 Bd7 Qd7 11 0-0"
Indeed I have argued several times, that 11...Be7 leads to dynamic equality. Markovitch and Alumbrado had to agree, though the first still showed a preference for White.
  

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micawber
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #31 - 02/07/06 at 00:08:34
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REPLY TO ASHTON:

The variations you mention are certainly not under-discussed in this forum.

Look at two old threads from januari 2005:
     
Two Knights 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5 6.Bb5† Bd7!? (alumbrado)
Two Knights Defence : Fritz  or Ulvestad ? (photophore)

And a thread from september 2005:
     
Two Knights Defence : Fritz variation (photophore)

TO PHOTOPHORE
I still hope for a reaction/improvement on my analyses of the mainline 2-Kn with 13.b3
  
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photophore
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #30 - 02/06/06 at 18:00:30
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In the line you gave , after 9 Bxb5+ Bd7 , you are not obliged to play
10 Bxd7+ , that IMHO simplifies too much
Another possibility , hitherto almost unexplored is 10 Bc4
Palkovi recommands 10...Bc6 , but i am not sure it's better than the natural
10...Nb6
Anyway , this line deserves further examination
  
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Michael Ayton
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #29 - 02/06/06 at 17:04:39
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There are two perhaps under-discussed 4 Ng5 lines which I'd be very interested to have some specialist views on:

I   4 ...d5 5 ed Na5 6 Bb5 Bd7!?

II  4 ...d5 5 ed b5 6 Bf1 Nd4 7 c3 Nd5 8 Ne4 Ne6 9 Bb5 Bd7 10 Bd7 Qd7 11 0-0 f5!?

At my level of chess at least, I'm sure these are both fine (and I'd imagine good) choices, and the stuff on ChessPub seems to be quite positive -- are there any nuances or flies in the ointment I should know about?
  
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micawber
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #28 - 02/04/06 at 17:18:40
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No there is nothing wrong with playing 10...Bc5! As you may have deducted by the fact that I have given a clear improvement on Davies/Emms 11.0-0 line.

But there is something wrong with the suggestion by Emms (quoted without critisism by Davies) to follow Harding-Read to the end.
Fortunately there is an alternative to this in Davies repertoire-book.

As to playing 5....Ne4. Sure this is okay (as is Ng4).
But both Mnb and I are still convinced that
4.d4, exd 5.e5, d5 6.Bb5,Ne4 7.Nxd4,Bc5 is okay for black and can lead to interesting play as well.
(Davies in the 1.e4,e5 section prefers 7...,Bd7 which if this should be best, could be a reason
to switch to the alternative fifth moves).

As for Davies spending some pages on examples how NOT TO PlAY as black. I have no
problems with that It may well help to imprint the reasons for comprehending and following the
correct move-order and plan into the mind of the readers. After all it doesnt hurt to be aware of so of the more dangerous plans white has up his sleave. This may serve as a guidance when playing games that don't follow the exact/ideal move-order.

I am more worried that Davies seems to have ignored the older sources and the commented
correspondence databases, relying on contemporary 'book-wisdom'. This can lead to some unpleasant surprises. The example of 10...Bc5 11.0-0 and the line I've given in this thread is one example.

To give another example on a slightly higher level  Wink. Does anyone remember that in the Kasparov-Anand match Kasparov uncorked a novelty that destroyed Anand playing black in a spanish game? And that this novelty had been played two years
earlier in a correspondence game? Also Harding has quoted quite a few amusing TN's (even ones that got prizes) from Chess Informator that had 'parents' in correspondence games. Unfortunately this risk is IMHO greater in 1.e4,e5 openings than in other openings (because the large number of theme-tournaments played in 1.e4,e5 gambits).

  
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #27 - 02/04/06 at 15:58:18
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Quote:
First of all: the exact sequence to the variations is missing. I suppose it is:
1.e4,e5 2.Nf3,Nc6 3.Bc4,Nf6 4.Ng5,d5 5.xd5,Na5 6.Bb5+,c6 7.dxc,bxc 8.Be2,h6 9.Nf3,e4 10.Ne5,Bd6
11.d4,exd 12.Nxd,Qc7 13.b3


Is there anything wrong with Davis' recommendation of 10...Bc5,? Avoiding this 13.b3-line, to me it does seem logical to make white delay d2-d4.


Btw, since I haven't got Emm's book yet, I can't say if Davies just follow it too much. But my impression after a few hours of leafing through Play 1.e4 e5 is that its intended audience might well be players like myself who've relied on the various semi open defences most of their life. For example, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.e5 Ne4 with the idea of Nc5-e6 was a suggestion I find appealing, probably because it feels a bit 'semi open'...

On the downside, I don't like how he spends his alloted space sometimes, e.g: in the chapter on the Keres variation in the Ruy, he spends two whole illustrative games on "17...f5?" Game 2 and "15...b4?" Game 4. Surely a book for black shouldn't emphasise on how not to play?!
  
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micawber
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #26 - 02/04/06 at 14:35:51
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REPLY TO photophore

Photophore, thx for [another] contribution to chess-discussion, and for directing our attention to an interesting variation.

First of all: the exact sequence to the variations is missing. I suppose it is:
1.e4,e5 2.Nf3,Nc6 3.Bc4,Nf6 4.Ng5,d5 5.xd5,Na5 6.Bb5+,c6 7.dxc,bxc 8.Be2,h6 9.Nf3,e4 10.Ne5,Bd6

[the start of this thread took 10....Bc5 as the main move. Note that after 11.c3,Bd6 black has
shed a tempo but effectively prevented white's build-up with b3/Bb2/Nc3; white's extra tempo
11.c3 probably isn't very usefull. But I might be a bit prejudiced, because 10...Bc5 is my
line of choice Wink].

11.d4,exd 12.Nxd,Qc7

On
13.b3,0-0 14.Bb2,Ne4 15.Nc3

I haven't studied this position very deeply, being a member of the '10..Bc5 congregation'.
But having played through the variations I think that black's best answer probably is:

15.Nc3,Nxc3! {in stead of photophore's  16..f5}
16.Bxc3,c5
17.h3,c4
18.Nb2,Be5
19.Qd2
Until here weve been following
Arachmia-Smyslov (Londen 1996)
And now
19....., cxb3!! (smyslov played a weaker move here and finally lost)

With the tactical point
20.Bxa5?,Qxc2! and white is not able to save the knight on b2!

So white will have to continue:
20.Bxe5,Qxe5
21.axb3  (note that the knight on b2 is pinned;20.cxb3 would run into Ba6!)
21......,  Nc6
22.c3      (to break the pin on Nb2, and prevent something like Nd4)
22......,  Be6 (attacking the b3-pawn and completing black's development)

I think black has enough compensation, with his lead in development and the white King
still stuck into the middle.
White's best course may be to return the pawn shortly in order to castle or exchange queens.


Some other points:
[1] Sutovski didn't repeat the d4/b3-line in 2004 against Beljavski
while Beljavski obviously was willing to face it. A pity he avoided it, or we
probably have gotten a fresh impulse for black in this line. Sad
[2] Black has some other move-orders on his 12th and 13th move.
[3] The b3-line is quite dangerous for black. If black doesn't play aggressive
white can consolidate his position, playing 'only natural' moves.
[4] I have the feeling it will still be a long time, before the truth about the multitude of
lines after 11.d4,xd4 is known. In this way it resembles the Kings-gambit where in spite of
a hundred years of analysis by top-players still not all is solved. Smiley


TO MNB

"Keres is full of dubious and unnecessary sacrifices". Well no wonder I love his books. It could be a description of my playing style  Wink
« Last Edit: 02/04/06 at 17:32:07 by micawber »  
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John Simmons(Guest)
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #25 - 02/03/06 at 17:59:45
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Hello,

Thanks for that, in blitz games was playing all kinda of stuff, other than Nf6!, to avoid dropping rook as I thought. At least I have learned something.

Bye John S
  
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photophore
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #24 - 02/03/06 at 17:07:53
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I have a game with the rook sac : it wins for Black
8 h4 h6 is interpolated , what makes very little change :
7 c3 Nxd5
8 h4 h6
9 Nxf7 Kxf7
10 cxd4 exd4
11 Qf3+ Nf6!
12 Qxa8 Bc5
13 Bxb5 Qe7+
14 Kf1 Ba6
15 Qf3 Re8
16 Kg1 Bxb5
17 Qb3+ Kf8
18 Qxb5 d3     0-1 for 19 Qxd3 Qe1+ , and Qf1 leads to mate in 3 by Bxf2+ 21 Kh2 Qe5+ 22 Kh3 Qg3#
  
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John Simmons(Guest)
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #23 - 02/03/06 at 14:06:58
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Hello,

In the computer age, a lot of the lines after 4Ng5 are looking dodgey for black. Was experimenting with the Berliner line, mention earlier, in blitz. Instead of theory
approved 7Ne4, when was going to try out 7...Qh4, opponent played 7.N*f7. Game continued 7... K*f7 8.p*d4 e5*d4 9 Qf3+ when it looks like black must sac rook with Nf6, not very familar with the theory.
           By next idea was going to be going back to the standard Na5 lines, but those games posted dont look too encouraging from black point of view.

Bye John S
  
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #22 - 02/03/06 at 11:38:23
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I just played a thematic on this opening
Here are some of the conclusions I can draw :
All my games , but one , were played with 4 Ng5 as well as White and as Black
In the main line 5..Na5 , Black initiative is just a flash in the pan and I scored 2.5/3 as white with 13 b3
For instance :
CLP/ A. Ward
13 b3 c5
14 Bb2 c4
15 bxc4 Nxc4
16 Bxf6 gxf6
17 O-O Bxh2+
18 Kh1 Be6
19 Nc3 Rd8
20 Qe1 ( as in Sutovski-Aks Tell-Aviv 2001 ) Na3 (an improvement of Pinski )
21 f4! Bg3
22 Qxg3 Qxc3
23 f5! Bxf5
24 Rad1 Be4
25 Bh5        1-0

CLP/ Vincenzo Marrone
13 b3 O-O
14 Bb2 Ne4
15 Nc3 f5
16 h3 Ba6
17 O-O Rad8
18 Qe1 Rfe8
19 Nxe4 Rxe4
20 Qd1 c5
21 Bf3 c4
22 Bxe4 fxe4
23 Ne5 Ba3
24 Bd4 Bb2
25 c3 Bxc3
26 Bxc3 Rxd1
27 Rfxd1 cxb3   1/2-1/2

CLP/ Lars Swahnberg
13 b3 O-O
14 Bb2 Ne4
15 Nc3 f5
16 h3 Ba6
17 O-O Rad8
18 Qe1 c5 ( hereto as Morozevitch-Nenachev Alusta 1994 )
19 Nxe4 fxe4
20 Nf4 Bxe2
21 Nxe2 Rfe8
22 Rd1 Nc6
23 Nc3 Be5
24 Rxd8 Qxd8
25 Bc1 Nd4
26 Nxe4 Nxc2
27 Qe2 Qd4
28 Qc4+ Kh8
29 Nxc5 Bc7
30 Na6 Ne2+
31 Kh1 Bb6
32 Nc5 Nxc1
33 Qxc1 Re2
34 Qc4 Rxa2
35 Ne6 Qd6
36 Rc1 Rd2
37 Qg4 Qe7
38 Rc8+ Bd8
39 f4             1-0
  
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MNb
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #21 - 01/31/06 at 01:55:00
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"On the Fritz/Ulvestad line: Harding gives a lot of analysis on Estrin-Berliner in his book 50 Great Correspondence Games, and concludes that Black is lost."
Only half true. Harding concludes, that Black is lost after 8...Qh4. Regular readers know, that I advocate 8...Ne6, which gives equality in my opinion. I have defended this move in several threads.
3...Nf6 4.d3 d5? imo leads to an advantage for White. More interesting is to keep that option open for a while and continue with 4...Be7/4...Bc5 and 5...o-o. If White plays an early c2-c3, then d7-d5 is considerably stronger.
I simply disagree with Craig, that the resulting positions are uninteresting. Play is slower, sure, but still can become fun.
  

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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #20 - 01/30/06 at 16:10:20
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agree that Emms/Davies are slightly too optimistic in 3... Nf6 4. Ng5 line.. i would prefer 3... Bc5, for the same reason as Kaufman: put the risk on White to try to win!
  
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #19 - 01/30/06 at 14:07:14
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I must confess that I found Pinski's book on the Two Knights to be quite good. Sadly, I can't say this about the chapter on the Wilkes-Barre, which was one of the main reasons I purchased it (there are quite a few errors/questionable lines there), but in general I found the analysis to be fairly good, and the explanations quite useful for someone of my standard. I'm still battling away trying to make 4.d3 d5?! work, but despite Pinski's positive comments, I still believe the move to be premature and, in four OTB attempts, I have ended up in a rotten position every time. If 4...d5 does turn out to be unsound then 4.d3 is indeed a way to avoid seemingly all interesting lines.






  

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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #18 - 01/30/06 at 13:50:15
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On the Fritz/Ulvestad line: Harding gives a lot of analysis on Estrin-Berliner in his book 50 Great Correspondence Games, and concludes that Black is lost.

When I was playing e4 e5 my feeling was that 3...Nf6 4 Ng5 is too much trouble to learn. If White knows what he's doing it certainly isn't easy for Black unless he's done a lot of work in advance. And in my experience White is either going to be playing d3 whatever you do, or he's going to know this stuff well. I tend to agree that Davies and Emms are a little optimistic for Black about this line. The Two Knights could really do with a labour-of-love book on it, which it hasn't had since Estrin as far as I know.
  
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #17 - 01/30/06 at 12:30:59
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Hi everybody,
I am glad that the forum is open again and I hope it will be an occasion to discuss many fantastic lines again!

I am surprised that none of you quoted the recent articles I made on the subject on this site. This would be an occasion for me to be tested by all the specialists of this forum. Please, if you find any mistakes, I would like to be the first to ear about them.

The question on an opening choice is not only a question of the theoretical value but also of the kind of position you like to play. First of all if White plays with d3 than you will get a slow positional game in each case. But if White wants to make it wild than you have to know if you prefer take the material and defend like in the Evans gambit with Black or if you prefer to sack a pawn for the initiative like in the Chigorin lines of the two knights. This is the main question you have to ask yourself.

I intend to make more articles on the two Knights so don't hesitate to debate about this line. Do you think that in the Ng5  main line with (5..Na5 6Bb5 c6 7 dxc6 bxc6 8 Be2 h6 9 Nf3 e4 10 Ne5 ) 10...Bc5 is stronger than 10...Bd6 ?



  
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #16 - 01/30/06 at 09:42:42
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TalJechin wrote on 01/28/06 at 12:16:55:
So 3 of 3 favour the 2Knights!  Shocked

I think I still have an old Harding book where he recommends the Evans Gambit and a system against the TK. Might be worth digging it up I suppose.

How's the current trend on GM level, which sides have been coming up with new ideas?

I've noticed Short-Heine Nielsen 2003 with a big new idea i the Ba5 Evans which forces black to find a long forced sequence to draw. And in the 2K someone told me that the patzer line Ng5 d5 exd5 Nxd5 was 'hot' again??, according to one of the NiC YBs I presume. But does people really still play 4.Ng5 ? - only beginners used it when I was a kid...

Hold it, I favour Bc5 Cheesy
Anyway I suspect at your level that for around 50% of your games starting with 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 the choice is a bit of a moot point as many will go 4 d3 regardless. This featured in one of the Karpov-Korchnoi matches for example. I also dont see much of a problem with the Evans if you like sharp play (I am guessing you would also accept the King's gambit, due to your book), especially since you have Harding's book where there is a lot of material on it (especially much on Be7 accepted). If you pick 3..Bc5 just be aware of the right move-orders in the bishop's opening and the likes. In general the rule is to accept any d4-pawn and follow-up with Bc5 and pick something decent against the Vienna and bishop's opening.
  

If nothing else works, a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through.
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #15 - 01/30/06 at 02:03:26
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Don't buy the Keres book. His analysis is full of unnecessary and highly dubious sacrifices.
Heyke/Fette is good indeed; it is part XI/1.
The main objection of Emms' book is that he is a bit limited in his choice: eg only 3...Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5 is treated, while 5...b5 is at least as interesting.
  

The book had the effect good books usually have: it made the stupids more stupid, the intelligent more intelligent and the other thousands of readers remained unchanged.
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #14 - 01/29/06 at 23:59:27
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Thanks for suggestions!

I've seen the Euwe books at 2nd hand dealer a few years ago (I think they were even translated into Swedish), but one had to buy the complete series...

But Keres on the open games would definitely be worth picking up should I see it! - I suppose I'll start with the database, picking some strong player who's played the 2Ks for a few decades and see what kind of positions and results he gets.  Smiley
  
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #13 - 01/29/06 at 17:13:48
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Taljechin,

One final note. Emms book is really quite good. Unfortunately the chapter on the 2-knights was it's weakest part.
The book by Euwe/Heike/Fette has an additional bonus that it contains a reasonable good analysis of the italian defense, the traditonal lines of the scottish (pre-Kasparov  Sad ). and the four-knights as well.
  
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #12 - 01/29/06 at 17:01:52
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Taljechin,

I do speak from years of experience (meaning I'm getting old en grumpy  Undecided).
I am not a strict follower of theoretical paths and like to experiment.
If youre interested you can find an interesting sample 2-knights-defence
I posted in september 2005 under the
heading (Anti-Maxlange strange variation) and the subsequent analysis with thx
to a very helpfull suggestion from Mnb.

My preference of the Two-Knights over the Italian has mainly to do with style.
I'd rather be on the attacking side than on the receiving end of the Evans-gambit  Smiley
  
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #11 - 01/29/06 at 16:49:16
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I dont know how good your command of the German Language is. But the last edition of
the Euwe opening=series in the late eighties (edited by Heike/Fette) is quite good and thourough.
I'm afraid youll have to snatch it from e-bay cause I doubt it's sold anymore. The volume number is i think XI or XII.
According to Timothy Harding Pavlovski's book on the two-knights defence is also quite good.
(although Harding detected quite a few small errors, he also conseded it contained a number of original and fresh ideas).

I occasionaly consult elder sources, now defenitely out of print i.e.
Keres (1954)
Euwe (1966)
But I agree that quite a few lines have been overturned with the coming of computer analysis
and the progress of correspondence chess.  Wink







  
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #10 - 01/29/06 at 11:56:42
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Since no one seems to have a good word for the Italian, I guess I'll go with the 2Knights (or Prussian as we call it up here).

I fritzed the line micawber ends with, and F9 thinks black is more than 2 pawns up at ply 14 - and it really looks pretty crushing too, e.g: 19.Qg1 gxf2 20.Kxf2 Rh2+ 21.Ke1 Qf4! -+

Micawber, are there any better books on the 2Ks than Emms/Davis - or are you speaking from the experience of many years of faithful 2 knighting?

And Willempie & MNb - did you reach any consensus on the Fritz / Ulvestad line? (5...b5 6.Bf1 Nd4) - If one should trust one's first impression, that would certainly be the one I'd go for! Having the knight on d4 instead of a5, and making white take back a developing move  Shocked - so what's the catch?
« Last Edit: 01/29/06 at 13:52:26 by TalJechin »  
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #9 - 01/28/06 at 21:06:49
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I to favour the Two-Knights. However I dont think that the repetoire-books of both Nigel Davies and John Emms did a very good job. Particularly Nigel Davies seems to have followed John Emms without to much research of his own.
They advocate basically the same line:
1.e4,e5 2.Nf3,Nc6 3.Bc4,Nf6 4.Ng5,d5 5.xd5,Na5 6.Bb5+,c6 7.dxc,bxc 8.Be2,h6 9.Nf3,e4 10.Ne5,Bc5

Now on 11.c3 they both cite a postal game Harding-Read. However neither seemed to be aware of the comments of Harding and Read on this game. The player were convinced white was probably better, but both Emms and Davies judge the game as equal. Neither of them seem to have consulted a good base of correspondence games!

Even more curious is the judgement of the line
11.0-0,Qd6 12.Ng4,Bxg4 13.Bxg4,h5 14.Be2,Ng4 15.g3 And now Davies quotes Emms! that black has still to judge his pawn-sac. But they haven't analyzed this position thouroughly.  Both are unaware that this position had already been studied some 50 years back by Keres, Euwe and Pachman (also Zagarovsky in romantic chess openings). Also note that Davies has no books of the above authors as his sources, and has no correspondence database listed either.

The critical continuation the 'new' masters missed is:
15...Nxh2 16.Kxh2,h4!! 17.Kg2,Bxf2! 18.Rxf2, hx Exclaimg3! and black has an attack that guarantees him at least a draw and probably more if white commitss the slightest inaccuracy.


  
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #8 - 01/28/06 at 19:32:00
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Speaking of 4.Ng5, if you do choose the 2 knights, its really not a move to be taken lightly, even though its not very popular these days. I would guess that the main reason that not too many people play it, is that it gives black too many interesting options that put white on the defensive, which most e4 players don't really prefer. Not only is there the main line 4...d5 5...Na5 gambit, but there's also the wilkesbarre, 4...Bc5, which ranks right up with openings like the BDG and the marshall in terms of complexity, and even 4...Nxe4 requires very accurate tactical play on white's part. Just like above for black, white can do just fine against any of this stuff, but its really a matter of practicality.
  
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #7 - 01/28/06 at 19:21:54
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I have always played 3...Bc5 (but maybe I'm not qualified to answer since I'm not really a "1. e4 e5 player").  This has to do with the fact that, when it comes to unclear pawn sacrifices, I usually prefer to be on the side with the extra pawn (thinking of the 4. Ng5 Two Knights and the Evans).  As for claims like "3...Nf6 is far stronger," well, I am speechless ...
  
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #6 - 01/28/06 at 18:48:49
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TJ, I have played both sides of these positions for quite some time, and I'd also have to say that 3...Nc6 is the way to go, but for a different reason. Everything people have said about the positions are true, but one important note that no one has mentioned is that unless you enjoy playing the black side of the Urusov and the Boden-Keizeritsky, you're probably going to want to learn the 2 knights anyway if you want to play 1...e5. Of course, you can always meet the bishop's with the immediate 2...Bc5, but that also leaves the door open for white to play a lot of tricky systems. Not that black is bad against any of this stuff, but while you're still in the process of learning new material, I would stay away from Bc5 systems. They might be more solid in the long run, but in the meantime you're just going to get creamed by people that are veterans to Bc4 positions.
  
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #5 - 01/28/06 at 13:18:26
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TJ,
I too favour the 2-Kts against 3.Bc4 - more interesting play & greater chances for a win. Of course 3.Bc5 is playable but play tends to be less interesting,slower & less action- hence the name giuoco pianissimo. Of course white also has the option of spicing things up with the Evans or Moller which are no doubt quite interesting, but as willempie says lead to eaqual positions.

But since that you are a KGer , I would definitely feel that choosing the 2kts would be most consistant given that the KG & 2kts strive for active play.
  

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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #4 - 01/28/06 at 12:16:55
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So 3 of 3 favour the 2Knights!  Shocked

I think I still have an old Harding book where he recommends the Evans Gambit and a system against the TK. Might be worth digging it up I suppose.

How's the current trend on GM level, which sides have been coming up with new ideas?

I've noticed Short-Heine Nielsen 2003 with a big new idea i the Ba5 Evans which forces black to find a long forced sequence to draw. And in the 2K someone told me that the patzer line Ng5 d5 exd5 Nxd5 was 'hot' again??, according to one of the NiC YBs I presume. But does people really still play 4.Ng5 ? - only beginners used it when I was a kid...
  
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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #3 - 01/27/06 at 20:57:21
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If Black wants to win, then 3...Nf6 is the move. Tim Harding has spend some columns on this; one on 4.d4 recently.
3...Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5 is OK of course and 5...b5 6.Bf1 Nd4 is interesting.
3...Bc5 indeed is more solid.
It seems, that Willempie finally have come to an agreement. Pity, our debates were really fun.
  

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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #2 - 01/27/06 at 13:15:34
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Mnb and I have an ongoing debate about exactly this subject in many threads in this forum. I think a choice between the two also depends on other choices. Eg how to approach various d4-lines like the Scotch gambit.
But just comparing the Giuoco and TKD I'd say the Italian is safer, but it is also more difficult to generate activity (more "Caro"-like). Also note that many players (I did this often) will go 4 d3 and 5 c3 (if they are annoying players they'll go 5 Nc3) regardless. This is usually particularly effective against TKD players, since they dont get to show any of there Ng5 lines.

-The line you mention, Mnb has posted quite some analysis on it in the past, his favoured line is Ne4 followed by d5 and Bc5 (there are some very tricky lines in which black sacs material). From my own experience from the white side this is the toughest line in the d4 TKD, but you still have decent play.
-The Ng5 lines I cant give any real insight, since I never played them as white and only played the Traxler as black when I didnt play the Italian (well at least I played Bc5).
-In the Giuoco the Evans can be a nasty one for black if unprepared, but either the accepted with Be7 or Ba5 (more complex) is sufficient for an equal game.
-The Giuco main line with Bd2 is also an equal game, which is why I gave up the Italian as white.
-The Möller has many equal lines for black as well as almost forced drawing lines. I am not 100% sure, but I think the h6 defense in the main line is still causing white major headaches for proving equality.
  

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Re: Two Knights or The Italian?
Reply #1 - 01/27/06 at 13:11:55
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In the last two years I have also taken up the open games as black, and was posed with this dilemma. Thankfully it didn't last too long, I just think that 3...Nf6 is far stronger.

After 4.d4 exd4 5.e5, black can play 5...Ng4 or 5...Ne4 straight away, and Palkovi/Pinski do a decent job in their books making this look equal for black. On a recent Tim Harding "Kibitzer" column on chesscafe.com he looks at the 5...Ne4 and 5...d5 lines, and his conclusion is that white doesn't get a great deal.

5...Ng4 is only really looked at by Pinski, and he seems to rate it quite highly. Black's position looks a little ugly to me in some of the lines, but I have no doubt it should be playable. 5...Ne4 seems to be the best way to go though if you want a position which hasn't been analysed to death, where black seems to be more than holding his own.

Don't forget, there's always 3...f5, too  Grin
  

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Two Knights or The Italian?
01/27/06 at 12:20:39
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As I'm considering to take up the open games as black, I'm still a bit confused about whether I should play 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 or Nf6. The Italian seems similar to the Ruy, in its slower pace and eventual c3+d4. While the Two Knights is more concrete, but isn't white just += after e5 d5 Bb5 Ne4/Ng4 ?

So, it would be nice to hear some opinions by 1...e5 players on the merits and shortcomings of these defences. Which is better and why?
  
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