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Four Knights (C48)
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bb5

Number of games in database: 2795
Years covered: 1857 to 2023
Overall record:
   White wins 33.3%
   Black wins 24.8%
   Draws 41.9%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Joseph G Gallagher  24 games
Arkadij Naiditsch  19 games
Geza Maroczy  18 games
Akiba Rubinstein  22 games
Vladimir Malaniuk  17 games
Dusko Pavasovic  16 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Ed. Lasker vs F Englund, 1913
Capablanca vs Janowski, 1913
Maroczy vs Marshall, 1907
Paulsen vs Morphy, 1857
Z Belsitzman vs Rubinstein, 1917
Tarrasch vs Rubinstein, 1912
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 page 1 of 112; games 1-25 of 2,795  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Bird vs Falkbeer  0-1551857MatchC48 Four Knights
2. T Lichtenhein vs F Perrin  1-03218571st American Chess Congress, New YorkC48 Four Knights
3. Paulsen vs Morphy 0-12818571st American Chess Congress, New YorkC48 Four Knights
4. S Boden vs NN  1-0551858Casual gameC48 Four Knights
5. J Hannah vs F Burden  1-0431858Casual gameC48 Four Knights
6. B Spoelstra vs A J de Koning  0-1451867NED corrC48 Four Knights
7. E D'Andre vs Steinitz 0-1311867ParisC48 Four Knights
8. Falzmann vs G Neumann 0-1141870BerlinC48 Four Knights
9. Winawer vs J Minckwitz 1-0251870Baden-BadenC48 Four Knights
10. Paulsen vs Winawer ½-½921870Baden-BadenC48 Four Knights
11. M J Judd vs C A Gilberg  0-1271871Offhand GameC48 Four Knights
12. Paulsen vs C T Goering  1-0741871WSB-09.KongressC48 Four Knights
13. C T Goering vs S Mieses  0-1351871MSB-01.KongressC48 Four Knights
14. M Fleissig vs O Gelbfuhs 0-1311873ViennaC48 Four Knights
15. Meitner vs O Gelbfuhs ½-½771873ViennaC48 Four Knights
16. S Rosenthal vs O Gelbfuhs 1-0441873ViennaC48 Four Knights
17. W Berry vs M Rudge 0-1401874BirminghamC48 Four Knights
18. J Hurlburt vs G E Jackson  0-1291874Canadian ChampionshipC48 Four Knights
19. Zukertort vs NN  1-0321875Nottingham exhC48 Four Knights
20. Shumov vs Winawer 1-0341875St. Petersburg National tC48 Four Knights
21. C E Ranken vs B W Fisher  1-0251875corr ttC48 Four Knights
22. F Cassoli Lorenzotti vs A D'Aumiller 0-1561875Italian ChampionshipC48 Four Knights
23. E Arblaster vs C Brook  0-12618753rd Oxford - Cambridge Varsity mC48 Four Knights
24. Blackburne vs Bird  1-0221875C.C.A. Handicap tC48 Four Knights
25. Bird vs J Mason 1-0981875Bird - Mason 1875/76C48 Four Knights
 page 1 of 112; games 1-25 of 2,795  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Feb-17-03  Bears092: Is this the opening with the highest drawing rate in the database?
Feb-17-03  GregorMendel: Not very surprising now, is it?
Feb-18-03  ughaibu: How about the Halloween Attack, 4.Ne5?
Sep-04-03  Sylvester: What opening is this? 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nxe5. Is it 3 Knights or 4 Knights?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sneaky: Sylvester, that's called "the Halloween Attack" (pejoratively called the "Schultz-Muller gambit" by others) mentioned below, and yes it's a Four Knights game. Check out the games of Grigor Minchev if you want to see some wild examples of that piece sacrifice.
Sep-04-03  PVS: Sylvester, it is the Four Knights. I assume Sneaky and ughaibu are correct in the variation. I believe that the database is incorrect in adding 4.Bb5 if it implies a requirement for the Four Knights. I would call that the Spanish Four Knights Game, another variation of the Four Knights.

Sneaky, why does "Schultz-Muller gambit" have a pejorative connotation?

Sep-05-03  Sylvester: Thanks for the help. I am calling it "Four Knights" in my scorebook, but adding Halloween Attack in the notes after 4. Nxe5. Someone played it against me a couple of weeks ago: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nxe5 Nxe5 5. d4 Nc6 6. d5 Ne5.
Sep-21-05  TheGreatNN: I used to like to play 4. ..Nd4 after the above position, but can somebody please explain to me why this does not fail against 5.Bc4 Bc5 6.Nxe5 Qe7 7.Nxf7? There are no examples of this in the database: in the nine games that followed this line, white played 7.Nd3 or Nf3, yet after Nxf7 it seems black's development lead will amount to nothing. Playing on yahoo I lost four games in a row with this line, and am starting to wonder about it.
Sep-21-05  RookFile: Well, that Nxf7 has been played in correspondence chess, with mixed results. Black gets a huge development lead, but if he is careless, white can consolidate his material advantage. Here are a couple of games. Of course, I don't have the slightest idea what is going on, this is correspondence chess, very complex.

[Event "SEMI B009 email"]
[Site "SEMI Email"]
[Date "2000.04.05"]
[Round "0"]
[White "Donati,Davide"]
[Black "Ottaviani,Mauro"]
[Result "0-1"]
[Eco "C48"]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Nd4 5.Bc4 Bc5 6.Nxe5 Qe7 7.Nxf7 d5 8.Nxh8 dxc4 9.d3 Bd7 10.Bg5 0-0-0 11.Nd5 Qe6 12.0-0 Rxh8 13.Bxf6 gxf6 14.c3 Nc6 15.dxc4 Rg8 16.g3 Ne5 17.b4 Qh3 18.Nf4 Qh6 19.bxc5 Qxf4 20.Qd5 Rg5 21.Rfd1 Qg4 22.Rd3 Nf3+ 23.Rxf3 Rxd5 24.Rxf6 Rd1+ 25.Rxd1 Qxd1+ 0-1

[Event "ICCF Jubilee Email P179"]
[Site "ICCF Email"]
[Date "2001.??.??"]
[Round "0"]
[White "Scheschuk,Curtis T"]
[Black "Tweddell,Tom"]
[Result "0-1"]
[Eco "C48"]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Nd4 5.Bc4 Bc5 6.Nxe5 Qe7 7.Nxf7 Nxe4 8.Nd5 Qh4 9.Nxc7+ Kf8 10.0-0 d6 11.Nxh8 Bg4 12.g3 Qh5 13.Bf7 Qf5 14.Be6 Nxe6 15.Nxe6+ Qxe6 16.Qe1 Bh3 17.d3 Bxf1 18.Qxe4 Qxe4 19.dxe4 Bh3 20.Rb1 Re8 21.b4 Rxe4 22.Bd2 Re2 23.bxc5 Rxd2 24.cxd6 Rxd6 25.f4 b6 26.c4 Kg8 27.c5 Rf6 28.cxb6 axb6 29.Rd1 Rf8 0-1

Sep-21-05  Pawn Ambush: Also experiment with the obvious 7...Rf8 ~

8.d3,d5 9.Nd5,Qf7

8.Nd5 Qe4+

Pawn Ambush~Slow Blitz 8.O-O, Rf7, 9.Bf7, kf7, 10.d3, kg8, 11.Bg5, Qe5, 12.f4, Qe6, 13.kh1 b6! 14.Bf6, Qf6, 15.Qh5, Bb7 Black is definitely o.k.

Dec-14-06  Stevens: can anybody shed any light on why ...Qxb2 is bad on this position?

click for larger view

black to move

Dec-14-06  Eyal: <Stevens> Well, on general principles Qxb2 looks terrible - black's pieces being so underdeveloped and his king exposed in the center. Specifically, the reply Re1+ is probably good, forcing Kd8 (...Be7 Rb1 with Bb4); but Qh5 might be even stronger, again forcing black to moves like Kd8 or Bd6. In the diagram position, Black's first priority is castling, and therefore the natural - almost automatic - move is Be7 (note that the black queen on f6 is doing a very important job of protecting the e7 square). BTW, how did you reach that position?
Dec-14-06  Surrealist: <Stevens> Qxb2 seems to get refuted quite directly after Qh5. Threat is Re1+ followed by Bg5 (f7 is pinned now).
Dec-14-06  micartouse: <BTW, how did you reach that position?> I've played this from both sides, so I recognize it. 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bb5 Nd4 5. Nxd4 exd4 6. e5 dxc3 7. exf6 cxd2+? 8. Bxd2 Qxf6.

Black is a pawn up but can't defend against the attack in any variation. The best move is 7 ... Qxf6! It's a tricky and fun attack to study.

Dec-14-06  Eyal: <Black is a pawn up but can't defend against the attack in any variation> Yes, looks like after, e.g., 9.0-0 Be7 10.Bc3 Qg5 11.Re1 0-0 12.Re5 black's position is miserable indeed. Nice example that winning material by check (7... cxd2+?) isn't always a good idea.
Dec-15-06  Stevens: thanks everyone for the analysis! when i got home i looked at the position with a board and came to the same conclusions. both Qh5 and Re1+ look good. There are real chances to hound the black queen as well with the rook, and both bishops.

<micartouse> yes, you have the exact variation i was looking at! of course 9.0-0 had also been played in the diagram.

yes, 7...Qxf6 does look best, but i think a few people would get lured into playing cxd2 and maybe even going after the extra pawn with ...Qxb2?

thanks again <surrealist>, <eyal> and <micartouse>

Dec-15-06  micartouse: Actually I have a true story about the position. A kid in my club who's much stronger than me (~400 points higher) but barely studies openings at all naively played 7 ... cxd2+ against me and won. I lost the thread of the attack after batting his king around a bit.

The next day in casual play, we reached the same position and he shook his head and played 7 ... Qxf6 and beat me in the main line endgame.

So it's nice to know some tricks, but in the end strength and talent usually find a way.

Dec-15-06  Stevens: < micartouse> couldn't agree more. i have realised that looking at opening theory is more interesting to me than actually useful. the amount of times i have played a game desperate to try a new line, and i don't think i have ever had the chance to. by the time the opportunity comes i have forgotten the line!

looking at lines and ideas is a hobby within a hobby really, it's actual practical use is far outweighed by playing actual games and studying tactics for example. of course, for the pros, opening theory is paramount, for not for me!

Jun-13-07  Bob726: After the moves move 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bb5 Nd4 5. Nxd4 exd4 6. e5 dxc3 7. exf6 Qxf6 8. dxc3 Qe5 9. Qe2 Qxe2 10. Bxe2 sOpening Explorer shows that 98% the games is a draw. IS there an varation with more than 50 games that has that high a draw percentage?
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <micarthouse> Look who played ...cxd2+ here!

P Lewin vs Adams, 1999

Jun-14-07  micartouse: Okay, strength and talent and opponents who play moves like 8. Qxd2?? :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <TheGReatNN>, here is a game I won in about 1979 in a school teams champs against 7.♘xf7, which is not to be recommended:

1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♘c3 ♘f6 4.♗b5 ♘d4 5.♗c4 ♗c5 6.♘xe5 ♕e7 7.♘xf7 d5 8.♘xd5 ♕xf7 9.♘b6 ♕e7 10.♘xa8 ♕xe4+ 11.♔f1 ♗g4 12.f3 ♘xf3 13.gxf3 ♗h3#

Sep-15-11  Robert Hill: <Bears092> D14 is the biggest draw 69% And C37 at 9% for the least.

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