Chess Opening Theory/1. e4/1...e5/2. Nf3/2...Nc6

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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 Nc6
Responses:

2... Nc6 - King's Knight Opening[edit | edit source]

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

White's responses[edit | edit source]

White has multiple choices here which can lead to very different games.

  • 3. Bb5 is the most played. White puts pressure on the knight defending the pawn.
  • 3. Bc4 is quieter. Instead of attacking the knight, White chooses to target the weak f7 pawn.
  • 3. d4 is aggressive. Subsequent play may result in a very open game.
  • 3. Nc3 is the quietest common continuation.
  • 3. c3, the Ponziani opening, opens the white diagonal for the queen, allows for an eventual d4 pawn push, and controls d4 and b4 (possible plants by the black knight) at the expense of hemming in the knight.

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 white bishopc5 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 black kingg1 black kingh1 white rook1
a b c d e f g h
3. Bb5   (Ruy Lopez)
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 white bishopd4 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 black kingg1 black kingh1 white rook1
a b c d e f g h
3. Bc4   (Italian)

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 white pawne4 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 black kinge2 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
3. d4   (Scotch)
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 white knightd3 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 black kingc1 white bishopd1 white queene1 white kingf1 white bishopg1 black kingh1 white rook1
a b c d e f g h
3. Nc3   (Three Knights)

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 white pawnd3 black kinge3 black kingf3 white knightg3 black kingh3 black king3
2a2 white pawnb2 white pawnc2 black kingd2 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
3. c3   (Ponziani)

Some more uncommon moves:

  • 3. Nxe5, the Irish Gambit, sacrificing a knight for a pawn.
  • 3. g3, the rarely seen Konstantinopolsky Opening
  • 3. Be2, a passive reply called the Inverted Hungarian Opening or Tayler Opening.

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 white knightf5 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 black kingg3 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
3. Nxe5   (Irish Gambit)

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 white pawnh3 black king3
2a2 white pawnb2 white pawnc2 white pawnd2 white pawne2 black kingf2 white pawng2 black kingh2 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
3. g3   (Konstantinopolsky)

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 white bishopf2 white pawng2 white pawnh2 white pawn2
1a1 white rookb1 white knightc1 white bishopd1 white queene1 white kingf1 black kingg1 black kingh1 white rook1
a b c d e f g h
3. Be2   (Inverted Hungarian)

Statistics[edit | edit source]

Estimated next move popularity
Bb5 48%, Bc4 26%, d4 14%, Nc3 9%, c3 1%. All other moves less than 1%.

Theory table[edit | edit source]

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

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6

3 4 5
Ruy Lopez Bb5
a6
Ba4
Nf6
O-O
Be7
=
Italian Game Bc4
Bc5
c3
Nf6
d4
exd4
=
Scotch Game d4
exd4
Nxd4
Bc5
Nb3
Bb4+
=
Four Knights Game Nc3
Nf6
d4
exd4
Nxd4
Bb4
=
Ponziani Opening c3
d5
Bb5
dxe4
Nxe5
Qg5
=

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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.