Chess Opening Theory/1. e4/1...e5/2. Nf3

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Open Game
a b c d e f g h
8 a8 b8 c8 d8 e8 f8 g8 h8 8
7 a7 b7 c7 d7 e7 f7 g7 h7 7
6 a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 g6 h6 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5 5
4 a4 b4 c4 d4 e4 f4 g4 h4 4
3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 3
2 a2 b2 c2 d2 e2 f2 g2 h2 2
1 a1 b1 c1 d1 e1 f1 g1 h1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position in Forsyth-Edwards Notation (FEN)
Moves: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3
Responses:

2. Nf3 - Open Game[edit | edit source]

Black's valuable center pawn is threatened with capture, but White's pawn remains safe.

The question for Black at this point is whether to challenge the White pawn on e4 or support the Black one on e5.

Supporting the Black pawn[edit | edit source]

a b c d e f g h
8a8 black rookb8 black kingc8 black bishopd8 black queene8 black kingf8 black bishopg8 black knighth8 black rook8
7a7 black pawnb7 black pawnc7 black pawnd7 black pawne7 black kingf7 black pawng7 black pawnh7 black pawn7
6a6 black kingb6 black kingc6 black knightd6 black kinge6 black kingf6 black kingg6 black kingh6 black king6
5a5 black kingb5 black kingc5 black kingd5 black kinge5 black pawnf5 black kingg5 black kingh5 black king5
4a4 black kingb4 black kingc4 black kingd4 black kinge4 white pawnf4 black kingg4 black kingh4 black king4
3a3 black kingb3 black kingc3 black kingd3 black kinge3 black kingf3 white knightg3 black kingh3 black king3
2a2 white pawnb2 white pawnc2 white pawnd2 white pawne2 black kingf2 white pawng2 white pawnh2 white pawn2
1a1 white rookb1 white knightc1 white bishopd1 white queene1 white kingf1 white bishopg1 black kingh1 white rook1
a b c d e f g h
2... Nc6   (King's Knight, main line)

2... Nc6 is the natural move, combining defence of the pawn with control of the d4 square and avoiding committing another pawn for now.

2. Nf3 is 10 times more popular than everything else combined, and in turn the reply 2... Nc6 is about 5 times more popular than everything else combined.

a b c d e f g h
8a8 black rookb8 black knightc8 black bishopd8 black queene8 black kingf8 black bishopg8 black knighth8 black rook8
7a7 black pawnb7 black pawnc7 black pawnd7 black kinge7 black kingf7 black pawng7 black pawnh7 black pawn7
6a6 black kingb6 black kingc6 black kingd6 black pawne6 black kingf6 black kingg6 black kingh6 black king6
5a5 black kingb5 black kingc5 black kingd5 black kinge5 black pawnf5 black kingg5 black kingh5 black king5
4a4 black kingb4 black kingc4 black kingd4 black kinge4 white pawnf4 black kingg4 black kingh4 black king4
3a3 black kingb3 black kingc3 black kingd3 black kinge3 black kingf3 white knightg3 black kingh3 black king3
2a2 white pawnb2 white pawnc2 white pawnd2 white pawne2 black kingf2 white pawng2 white pawnh2 white pawn2
1a1 white rookb1 white knightc1 white bishopd1 white queene1 white kingf1 white bishopg1 black kingh1 white rook1
a b c d e f g h
2... d6   (Philidor)

2... d6, Philidor's Defence, is the other safe option to defend the pawn.

It restricts the f8 bishop to the e7 square, and grants White an advantage in territory, but it builds a fortress that cannot be easily battered down.

An alternative (older) way to play this is to follow up with 3... f5.

a b c d e f g h
8a8 black rookb8 black knightc8 black bishopd8 black queene8 black kingf8 black bishopg8 black knighth8 black rook8
7a7 black pawnb7 black pawnc7 black pawnd7 black pawne7 black kingf7 black kingg7 black pawnh7 black pawn7
6a6 black kingb6 black kingc6 black kingd6 black kinge6 black kingf6 black pawng6 black kingh6 black king6
5a5 black kingb5 black kingc5 black kingd5 black kinge5 black pawnf5 black kingg5 black kingh5 black king5
4a4 black kingb4 black kingc4 black kingd4 black kinge4 white pawnf4 black kingg4 black kingh4 black king4
3a3 black kingb3 black kingc3 black kingd3 black kinge3 black kingf3 white knightg3 black kingh3 black king3
2a2 white pawnb2 white pawnc2 white pawnd2 white pawne2 black kingf2 white pawng2 white pawnh2 white pawn2
1a1 white rookb1 white knightc1 white bishopd1 white queene1 white kingf1 white bishopg1 black kingh1 white rook1
a b c d e f g h
2... f6?   (Damiano)

Note that 2... f6? is a bad move.

It has a name, Damiano's Defence, but poor Damiano never wanted his name associated with it because it doesn't work – White captures the pawn anyway.

Challenging the White pawn[edit | edit source]

a b c d e f g h
8a8 black rookb8 black knightc8 black bishopd8 black queene8 black kingf8 black bishopg8 black kingh8 black rook8
7a7 black pawnb7 black pawnc7 black pawnd7 black pawne7 black kingf7 black pawng7 black pawnh7 black pawn7
6a6 black kingb6 black kingc6 black kingd6 black kinge6 black kingf6 black knightg6 black kingh6 black king6
5a5 black kingb5 black kingc5 black kingd5 black kinge5 black pawnf5 black kingg5 black kingh5 black king5
4a4 black kingb4 black kingc4 black kingd4 black kinge4 white pawnf4 black kingg4 black kingh4 black king4
3a3 black kingb3 black kingc3 black kingd3 black kinge3 black kingf3 white knightg3 black kingh3 black king3
2a2 white pawnb2 white pawnc2 white pawnd2 white pawne2 black kingf2 white pawng2 white pawnh2 white pawn2
1a1 white rookb1 white knightc1 white bishopd1 white queene1 white kingf1 white bishopg1 black kingh1 white rook1
a b c d e f g h
2... Nf6   (Petrov)

2... Nf6 is the Petrov Defence.

Black wants the same things that White wants, but once again White will be back in a symmetrical position with the advantage of moving first.

a b c d e f g h
8a8 black rookb8 black knightc8 black bishopd8 black queene8 black kingf8 black bishopg8 black knighth8 black rook8
7a7 black pawnb7 black pawnc7 black pawnd7 black pawne7 black kingf7 black kingg7 black pawnh7 black pawn7
6a6 black kingb6 black kingc6 black kingd6 black kinge6 black kingf6 black kingg6 black kingh6 black king6
5a5 black kingb5 black kingc5 black kingd5 black kinge5 black pawnf5 black pawng5 black kingh5 black king5
4a4 black kingb4 black kingc4 black kingd4 black kinge4 white pawnf4 black kingg4 black kingh4 black king4
3a3 black kingb3 black kingc3 black kingd3 black kinge3 black kingf3 white knightg3 black kingh3 black king3
2a2 white pawnb2 white pawnc2 white pawnd2 white pawne2 black kingf2 white pawng2 white pawnh2 white pawn2
1a1 white rookb1 white knightc1 white bishopd1 white queene1 white kingf1 white bishopg1 black kingh1 white rook1
a b c d e f g h
2... f5   (Latvian Gambit)

2... f5 is the Latvian Gambit.

This iconic counter-thrust divides opinion like very few other openings.

Has Black lured White into a minefield of tricks and traps leading to an inevitable violent death?

Or has Black given away a pawn for nothing?

a b c d e f g h
8a8 black rookb8 black knightc8 black bishopd8 black queene8 black kingf8 black bishopg8 black knighth8 black rook8
7a7 black pawnb7 black pawnc7 black pawnd7 black kinge7 black kingf7 black pawng7 black pawnh7 black pawn7
6a6 black kingb6 black kingc6 black kingd6 black kinge6 black kingf6 black kingg6 black kingh6 black king6
5a5 black kingb5 black kingc5 black kingd5 black pawne5 black pawnf5 black kingg5 black kingh5 black king5
4a4 black kingb4 black kingc4 black kingd4 black kinge4 white pawnf4 black kingg4 black kingh4 black king4
3a3 black kingb3 black kingc3 black kingd3 black kinge3 black kingf3 white knightg3 black kingh3 black king3
2a2 white pawnb2 white pawnc2 white pawnd2 white pawne2 black kingf2 white pawng2 white pawnh2 white pawn2
1a1 white rookb1 white knightc1 white bishopd1 white queene1 white kingf1 white bishopg1 black kingh1 white rook1
a b c d e f g h
2... d5   (Elephant Gambit)

2... d5 is the Elephant Gambit.

It's along the same lines as the Latvian, but less complex – White needs to do less memorising to reach a good position.

Statistics[edit | edit source]

Estimated next move popularity

Nc6 83.5%, Nf6 11%, d6 4%, f5 0.5%, other less than 0.5%.

Theory table[edit | edit source]

For explanation of theory tables, see theory table and for notation, see algebraic notation.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3

2 3 4 5
Ruy Lopez ...
Nc6
Bb5
a6
Ba4
Nf6
O-O
Be7
=
Petrov's Defence ...
Nf6
Nxe5
d6
Nf3
Nxe4
d4
d5
=
Philidor Defence ...
d6
d4
exd4
Nxd4
Nf6
Nc3
Be7
=
Latvian Gambit ...
f5
Nxe5
Qf6
d4
d6
Nc4
fxe4
+=
Elephant Gambit ...
d5
exd5
Bd6
d4
e4
Ne5
Nf6
+=
Câmara Defence ...
Qe7
Bc4
d6
O-O
g6
d4
Bg7
+=
Greco Defence ...
Qf6
Bc4
Qg6
Nc3 +/-
Damiano Defence ...
f6
Nxe5
Qe7
Nf3
Qxe4
Be2 +/-

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References[edit | edit source]

  • Nunn's Chess Openings. 1999. John Nunn (Editor), Graham Burgess, John Emms, Joe Gallagher. ISBN 1-8574-4221-0.