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Four Knights (C47)
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Nc3 Nf6

Number of games in database: 2091
Years covered: 1857 to 2020
Overall record:
   White wins 27.7%
   Black wins 26.8%
   Draws 45.5%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Igor V Glek  46 games
Moshe Czerniak  30 games
Varlam Vepkhvishvili  23 games
Svetozar Gligoric  24 games
Mark Hebden  13 games
Kateryna Lahno  12 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Astapovich vs Golosov, 1967
Kramnik vs Aronian, 2012
Nimzowitsch vs Leonhardt, 1907
N Kosolapov vs Nezhmetdinov, 1936
Steinitz vs Zukertort, 1886
Bogoljubov vs L Schmid, 1949
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 page 1 of 84; games 1-25 of 2,091  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Paulsen vs W Fuller  0-1541857Blindfold simul, 3bC47 Four Knights
2. Paulsen vs B Raphael ½-½4718571st American Chess CongressC47 Four Knights
3. Paulsen vs Morphy 0-12918571st American Chess CongressC47 Four Knights
4. E Zoltowski vs Zukertort 0-1261869BerlinC47 Four Knights
5. S Rosenthal vs J Wisker  ½-½361871MatchC47 Four Knights
6. J Heral vs Bird ½-½381873ViennaC47 Four Knights
7. J Heral vs K Pitschel  0-1501873ViennaC47 Four Knights
8. Paulsen vs Max Weiss 1-0351882ViennaC47 Four Knights
9. Tarrasch vs G Simonson 1-0101887BerlinC47 Four Knights
10. Tarrasch vs Von Scheve 1-0221887BerlinC47 Four Knights
11. Tarrasch vs E Schallopp 0-1471887FrankfurtC47 Four Knights
12. Tarrasch vs Alapin 1-0411887FrankfurtC47 Four Knights
13. Von Scheve vs A Fritz 1-0211887FrankfurtC47 Four Knights
14. Harmonist vs Englisch 0-1151887FrankfurtC47 Four Knights
15. Tarrasch vs Von Bardeleben ½-½291887FrankfurtC47 Four Knights
16. Von Scheve vs Taubenhaus  0-1331887FrankfurtC47 Four Knights
17. Richter / Seeger / Rosen vs Bauer / Barnes / Crespi 0-1231887FrankfurtC47 Four Knights
18. Von Gottschall / Harmonist / Tarra vs Metger / Mieses / Paulsen ½-½2218882-BSB Congress, consultC47 Four Knights
19. W Pollock vs Chigorin 0-12418896th American Chess CongressC47 Four Knights
20. Loman vs J Mortimer  1-0391891Simpson's DivanC47 Four Knights
21. NN vs Lasker 0-1191891Consultation gameC47 Four Knights
22. J Noa vs G Makovetz  0-1271892DSB-07.KongressC47 Four Knights
23. F J Lee vs Blackburne  ½-½201892North of Ireland CongressC47 Four Knights
24. Blackburne vs J Mason  ½-½221893London ''Black and White''C47 Four Knights
25. Janowski vs Lipke 0-13718949th DSB Kongress, LeipzigC47 Four Knights
 page 1 of 84; games 1-25 of 2,091  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: From <percyblakeney>'s diagram, what about 6. d4? Play will look similar to a reversed Two Knights Opening (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc5 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5). I'm trying to work out concrete variations, but I don't have much time right now. Maybe later, or maybe someone else can figure them out. Just a thought for now.
Sep-04-06  NakoSonorense: <<What is black's best play here?>> You mean White's best play? I'm interested in this because I've had this same position with White in several games and I usually end up losing it...
Sep-04-06  NateDawg: <Robin01> It is unusual for White to fianchetto in a classical opening such as the King's Pawn Game. Fianchettoeing kingside leaves the Knight at f3 undefended by pawns, and the bishop at g2 is usually locked in by White's pawn at e4.

After 1. e4 e5 2. ♘f3 ♘c6 3. ♘c3 ♗c5 4. d3 ♘f6 5. g3, Black can play 5...♘g4!, to which White must respond 6. d4. Then after 6...exd4 7. ♘a4 ♕e7 8. ♘xc5 ♕xc5 9. ♗g2 d3! Black sets up the threat of ♕xf2#. 10. 0-0 dxc2 11. ♕e2 0-0 and Black is up by two pawns. Fritz 9 evaluates the position as (-1.02).

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  Robin01: I appreciate the answers. Thanks.
Oct-10-06  soughzin: I know the 4 knights isn't quite the ruy for seeking a sizeable advantage but it's a pain for black to know about. It's hard enough to worry about the ruy,the italian,the scotch,the KG,then in the 4 knights there's the glek,scotch 4 knights,belgrade,and 4.Bb5, 4 systems you have to know against just one branch after e5. I was thinking about playing 4...Bb4 to the scotch 4 knights so I never have to memorize belgrade stuff, does anyone know how the theory on this move is lately? *sorry if I bitch a lot I shouldn't play e5 if I don't want all the theory ; )
Dec-12-06  Stevens: has anyone played the Belgrade Gambit much here? Did you get any success? Do yo u still play it?

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nd5

Dec-31-06  belgradegambit: Do I play it? What do you think? I have a 90% winning percentage on the internet with this line. The most popular response of the uninitiated is NxN. Bruce Monson's book on the gambit is excellent. Black has a number of equalizing lines but its a minefield.
Dec-31-06  belgradegambit: <soughzin> White can also play very aggressively against that variation, see Harikrishna vs Mamedyarov, 2006
Oct-30-08  erad1288: does anyone know where to find more on the halloween attack? I'm asking because I disdain the petrov oh so badly, so I usually end up in the four knights and want to play this unsound but spectacular gambit.
Oct-31-08  Justawoodpusher: Hello <erad1288>

try the things you find with google:

Oct-31-08  GreenArrow: The halloween gambit is definitely underrated. A number of the alleged 'refutations' are pretty much bogus and not the product of any serious thought. Even when black chooses the best paths to neutralise whites attack, positional compensation remains in the form of the strong centre. I have never played this over the board (my analysis of it is quite recent) and when faced with the petrov defence I have played the cochrane gambit instead. For those who are interested in the Halloween gambit, there is good stuff available online e.g. , and I can guarantee that existing analyses of Wind, Pinski, Euwe etc can be improved on (having done so myself, with Fritz of course).
Oct-31-08  Amarande: Indeed ... it's a lot more difficult to refute the Halloween than one might think.

For instance, the following game, where Black's defense was by no means terrible, yet White finds a way to - not even a quick blitz, but actually a winning *ending!*

<1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Nxe5 Nxe5 5 d4 Ng6> Relatively best; 5 ... Nc6 allows White to kick back both Knights, and obtain a d6 v. d7 ram, which tends to have a massive deleterious effect on Black's game.

<6 e5 Ng8 7 Bc4 Bb4 8 Qf3 Qe7 9 h4> Intending to force Black to weaken his King's wing with Bg5 or h5. But doesn't this seem to give away a pawn?

<9 ... Nxh4? 10 Rxh4!> The pawn was not a treat but a trick!

<10 ... Qxh4 11 Qxf7+ Kd8 12 Qxg7> And evaluation is already massively .

<12 ... Qh1+ 13 Ke2 Qh5+ 14 f3 Qg6 15 Bg5+ Ke8 16 Qxh8 Qxg5 17 Qxg8+ Qxg8 18 Bxg8> And at this point the commentators of old would label this as 'With two Pawns down, Black has nothing left to salvage but his dignity.' The ending:

<18 ... h6 19 Nd5 Ba5 20 Rh1 d6 21 e6 c6 22 Nf6+ Ke7 23 Ng4 Bxe6 24 Bxe6 Kxe6 25 Rxh6+ Kd5 26 Kd3!> Threatening mate in one in the center of the board, in not one but two ways! Black's reply is forced.

<26 ... c5 27 c4+ Kc6 28 d5+ Kc7 29 Rh7+ Kb6 30 Rd7 Be1 31 Rxd6+ Kc7 32 Re6 Bg3 33 Re7+ Kb6 34 Ne5 Bxe5 35 Rxe5 Rg8 36 g4 Rf8 37 Ke4 Rh8 38 g5 Rh2 39 g6 Rg2 40 Kf4! Rxg6> Of course otherwise 41 Rg5, and White wins outright. But now the Rooks are exchanged, and while Black can stop the e-pawn, a pretty mate ensues in the end.

<41 Re6+ Rxe6 42 dxe6 Kc7 43 Kf5 Kd8 44 Kf6 Ke8> Arrives on time, but ...

<45 e7 b5 46 Ke6 bxc4 47 f4 c3 48 f5 c2 49 f6 c1Q 50 f7 mate!> Happy Halloween with a smile!

click for larger view

Oct-31-08  GreenArrow: <Amarande> Nice game, though admittedly it is over really after the sequence starting with 9...Nxh4? My main line in the 7...Bb4 variation also has 9.h4 as best with likely play being 9.h4 Bxc3+ (going to happen sooner or later) 10.bxc3 Nh6 11.Bg5! f6 12.Bxh6 gxh6 13.h5 Nf8 14.0-0-0 and black's problems are obvious. Technically he may be better but I would definitely take white here.
Oct-31-08  MaxxLange: 5-7 years ago, I saw site run by a German guy specializing in this opening... He was running ICC engines that played the Halloween, and had a nice theory base going against some ICC GMs....maybe his site is still going, or is at least archived somewhere

This is a hell of an anti-Petroff line, ha...the 4 Knights in General, hell, why not?

Oct-31-08  hrvyklly: <erad1288> Have you tried the Cochrane Gambit?
Feb-23-09  SmotheredKing: Scary thought for those of us that think being a piece up in the opening is Opening Explorer
Feb-23-09  chessman95: <erad1288> You might also like to try the Chicago Gambit, which goes 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nxe5!?, and after 3...Nxe5 it intends 4.d4, which not only makes white's development very rapid but also gains another tempo. (This opening is much more risky then even the Cochrane or Halloween)
Mar-06-09  FiveofSwords: I dont think the halloween is unsound at all. Ive worked hard to be prepared for it as black and I must say I was impressed at how not advantageous the best for black was that I could come up with. If I wasnt prepared im sure id be toast. In fact, I find it a little easier to play black in the cochrane and im a little more comfortable saying black has an objective advantage there. Anyway I dont see why you would treat the halloween as an anti-petroff line. You can also have interesting ideas in the petroff...if you are a creative player you can find all sorts of interesting sacrifices in all sorts of main lines- Ive considered and analyzed a lot of fun stuff in many lines which has never been played before...
Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: "The Four Knights Game is a double King Pawn opening (1. e4 e5) where both sides develop their Knights first, following the classic principle Knights Before Bishops. This means Knights typically do best on f3/f6 and c3/c6, while Bishops have several good squares available to develop. The usual move order is 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6, although this may be reached by transposition from the Vienna Game (1. e4 e5 2. Nc3). The Four Knights (4N) is a safe and solid choice for beginners and juniors, aiming for straightforward development, yet it is not common at the GM level since the quiet center and symmetrical piece play give White less of a potential opening advantage compared to more dynamic lines."

"The database has 3,764 Four Knights games, with these statistics for White's fourth move: 4. Bb5 56%, 4. d4 27%, 4. Bc4 13%, and 4. g3 10%. Don't try to memorize these percentages, but it's helpful to consider how often the different main lines are played when studying openings."

Tony Palmer, "Chess Life for Kids" June 2010

Oct-23-11  jbtigerwolf: I've only seen Nc3 after 2...Nf6, never after 2...Nc6, so this requires the Petroff.

I like Black's game as pointed out by Averageguy after 4.Bc4. It is a natural move and I do not think it just applies to beginners or low rated players. Once played, Bc4 opens the way to 9...O-O-O and the preceding moves, then if 10.Qxe4 you've won the Q for a R... if 10.O-O it's still good with that trap.

The Petroff may be worth learning just for this!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Opening of the Day

Four Knights
1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♘c3 ♘f6

click for larger view

Oct-31-13  Kikoman: <Opening of the Day>

The Halloween Attack
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nxe5

click for larger view

Opening Explorer

Oct-31-13  hedgeh0g: Happy Halloween!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Ron: In 2016, Arkadij Naiditsch played the Four Knights as White in 13 games. In those 13 games, he won 7, drew 5, lost 1.

Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: I have started playing the Four Knights in my CC games as White, rather than going down the well-trodden paths of the Ruy Lopez, or the Petroff/Russian opening.
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