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Two Knights (C57)
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Nf6 4 Ng5

Number of games in database: 1081
Years covered: 1610 to 2023
Overall record:
   White wins 39.9%
   Black wins 46.1%
   Draws 14.1%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Enrico Paoli  13 games
Robert James Fischer  11 games
Yakov Estrin  7 games
Peter Leisebein  14 games
Igor Nikolayev  12 games
Bernd Knorr  10 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Polerio vs Domenico, 1610
C van de Loo vs M Hesseling, 1983
Greco vs NN, 1620
J Reinisch vs Traxler, 1890
Estrin vs H Berliner, 1965
Edelman vs I Mazel, 1928
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 page 1 of 44; games 1-25 of 1,081  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Polerio vs Domenico 1-0211610RomeC57 Two Knights
2. Greco vs NN 1-0171620Miscellaneous gameC57 Two Knights
3. von der Lasa vs Mayet 1-0221839UnknownC57 Two Knights
4. Cochrane vs Mohishunder 1-0161854CalcuttaC57 Two Knights
5. Cochrane vs Mohishunder 1-0161856CalcuttaC57 Two Knights
6. Cochrane vs Mohishunder 1-0221856CalcuttaC57 Two Knights
7. Cochrane vs Somacarana  1-0381856CalcuttaC57 Two Knights
8. F Burden vs Wilson 1-0201858Casual gameC57 Two Knights
9. NN vs Wilson  0-1251858Casual gameC57 Two Knights
10. S Boden vs NN  1-0401858Casual gameC57 Two Knights
11. F Burden vs R Wormald  0-1331859MatchC57 Two Knights
12. K Brenzinger vs F E Brenzinger 0-1501859Correspondence GameC57 Two Knights
13. S Boden vs H Kennedy  0-1311860Casual gameC57 Two Knights
14. Steinitz vs W J Wilson 1-0261862Casual gameC57 Two Knights
15. H Clemenz vs F Amelung  1-0241862Dorpat Chess ClubC57 Two Knights
16. F Amelung vs General Mikhailov  1-0241871St. PetersburgC57 Two Knights
17. J O Bourne vs C G Heydon 0-1381872New South Wales vs Queensland; Telegraph MatchC57 Two Knights
18. J Henderson vs G M Furby  1-0291873Canadian ChampionshipC57 Two Knights
19. H C Plunkett vs Steinitz 1-0411875Simul, 13bC57 Two Knights
20. A W Gentil vs T M Ault 1-0201876Milwaukee Chess ClubC57 Two Knights
21. Milwaukee Chess Club vs Charles City Chess Club 0-1231876TelegraphC57 Two Knights
22. Anderssen vs E Schallopp 1-0271877OffhandC57 Two Knights
23. Mephisto vs Tinsley 1-0281878Leicester Square ExhibitionC57 Two Knights
24. J D Roberts / C Tuthill vs Steinitz 0-1191881Consultation simul, 3bC57 Two Knights
25. Steinitz vs G Generes 1-0181883Simul, 22bC57 Two Knights
 page 1 of 44; games 1-25 of 1,081  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 7 OF 7 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Aug-04-09  kackhander: my understanding is that this position is a win for black with correct play, but like blacksburg says - why put yourself through it? it's not going to be much fun and this is a game after all.
Aug-04-09  pulsar: <kackhander> I can imagine some people, including myself, having fun from that position if it leads to a win. I must have missed out a lot because I thought Black will have considerable difficulties fighting for a draw, not win, in the diagram above. :(
Aug-04-09  blacksburg: well, if i'm playing that position as black, i'm fighting for a draw, or rather, fighting to avoid blundering horribly. if Rybka is playing that position as black, it will probably win.
Aug-04-09  kackhander: quite, i'll play this all day every day as white.
Aug-04-09  blacksburg:
Sep-02-09  whiteshark: <The Fried Liver Attack> on wiki with some additional good sources:
Apr-15-10  rapidcitychess: <<<< Every Person who is talking about the Fried Liver>>>

<1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5>


Why we do not play 5…Nxd5

The real reason is the Lolli, 6.d4! I do not comprehend it but answers would be helpful. (I do not have MCO)

The Main Topic: Three main lines.

First: The Classical

The Classical begins 5…Na5(!) 6.Bb5+( The only way to try and punish black)6…c6(!)(6…Bd7 doesn’t hurt white at all, and is far too tame.) 7 dxc6 bxc6(!) (7…Nxc6? Is better for white, quite obviously.) 8.Be2 h6 9.Nf3 e4 10.Ng1 With complicated play. Black has ample compensation, possibly an advantage.


5…b5!? What is Black thinking?! He leaves his knight en prise! Ah but, he will quickly recover the pawn with the two bishops. The main line runs 6.Bxb5 Qxd5 7.Ba4 (Not 7.Bf1? h6! 8. Nf3 e4! 9. Ng1 With a large advantage to black.) 7…Qxg2 8.Qf3! Qxf3 9.Nxf3 with a likely draw. Hans Berliner is an expert on this, and going to Estrin vs Berliner, 1965

Last: 5...Nd4

I know nothing about this.

Thanks all for listening to me, hope to see you later. Critics and answers are welcome


May-21-10  rapidcitychess: As you can see they're is a problem.
I tend to use the Max Lange as the solution.
Here is a great 500 point upset of mine in this variation. White:RCC
(Time Control:45 45)
(May 21,2010)
Black ELO: 1976
White ELO: 1425
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d4(!) exd4 5.O-O Nxe4!? 6.Re1 d5 7.Bxd5 Qxd5 8.Nc3 Qc5? 9.Nxe4! The idea, not the move. 9...Qh5? Easily losing but 9...Qb6! is still losing because of White's initiative 10.Ng3+ 1-0 Cute, eh?
May-21-10  Marmot PFL: <1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d4(!) exd4 5.O-O Nxe4!? 6.Re1 d5 7.Bxd5>

This is a tricky line, and even if black knows it white can vary with 7 Nc3!?. Either way black can lose quickly if he isn't prepared. At top level they are, so 4 d3 is more popular.

May-24-10  rapidcitychess: I know that. The reason behind <4.d4(!)> is that you don't play the Italian without looking for a fight. My previous post explained why I think 4.Ng5 is dubious. I'm not one for 4.d3. But could you please, while you are here, tell me what do you think of my essay?
Jun-10-10  rapidcitychess: Oops, ...Qb6 fails to Nf6+ followed Re8 mate!
Aug-19-10  rapidcitychess: In my quest to find a sharp line to everything, I might even go back to 1...e5 just to play the Traxler gambit. If I remember correctly, <An Englishman> said there was a refutation. But I don't know of that line. What is it?
Aug-19-10  rapidcitychess: Aha!

<The Wilkes-Barre Variation 4...Bc5!? looks crazy--Black ignores White's threat to f7--yet there is no known refutation of it. In Europe, it is known as the Traxler Variation.>

---Nick DeFirmian

So there is no refutation. Hmm, study time.

Aug-22-10  rapidcitychess: So, now I'm on the Traxler case, though I have proved that 4...d5 is an effective antidote. In the OE, my lines on 5.Nxf7 have led me to a game

[Event "Rijeka IM-2"]
[Site "Rijeka"]
[Date "2001.??.??"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "4"]
[Result "0-1"]
[White "Vinko Malada"]
[Black "Nenad Doric"]
[ECO "C57"]
[WhiteElo "2249"]
[BlackElo "2363"]
[PlyCount "54"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 Bc5 5. Nxf7 Bxf2+ 6. Kf1 Qe7 7. Nxh8 d5 8. exd5 Nd4 9. c3 Bg4 10. Qa4+ Nd7 11. Kxf2 Qh4+ 12. g3 Qf6+ 13. Ke1 Qf3 14. Rf1 Qe4+ 15. Kf2 O-O-O 16. cxd4 Rf8+ 17. Kg1 Qxd4+ 18. Kg2 Qe4+ 19. Kg1 Rxf1+ 20. Bxf1 Qxa4 21. Nc3 Qd4+ 22. Kg2 e4 23. Be2 Bxe2 24. Nxe2 Qd3 25. Nf4 Qf3+ 26. Kh3 g5 27. Ne6 h5 0-1

It would seem that 5.Nxf7 loses. Does anyone have a take on this?

Sep-30-10  GamerMan: I don't like the <1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 Bc5 5. Nxf7 Bxf2+ 6. Kf1 Qe7 7. Nxh8 d5 8. exd5 Nd4> line, seems to give black back all his material with a much better position for the attacks ahead. i think <6. Kxf2 Ne4+ 7. Kg1 Qh4 8. g3 Nxg3 10. hxg3 Qxg3+ 11. Kf1 Rf8 12. Nc3 Qf4 13. Kg2 Qxc4 14. Ng5> appears much better as white gets to keep some of the extra material to help make up for the lack of king safety.

however, i agree that 5. Bxf7 Ke7 6. Bd5 is the superior line for white.

Oct-19-10  rapidcitychess: <GamerMan>

If you have an ICC account, look at Boris Alterman's Traxler videos. He maybe a bit leaning towards the Traxler, but he shows most the lines to destroy 5.Nxf7

I do agree that 5.Bxf7 is better than 5.Nxf7, but certainly not better for white. The Traxler still kills in that line, less beautifully, but a win is a win.

Feb-25-11  Amarande: Any Black tricks against 5 d3 in the Traxler?

It seems like this is peaceful and more than good enough, and still leaves White with real chances, e.g. -

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Nf6 4 Ng5 Bc5 5 d3 O-O 6 O-O Na5 7 Bb3 Nxb3 8 axb3 d6 9 Nc3 Bg4 10 Qd2 h6 11 Nf3 Bxf3 12 gxf3 Qd7 13 Kh1 Nh5 14 Rg1 Nf4 15 Nd5! Nxd5 16 Qxh6! g6 17 exd5 Bxf2 18 Rg2 Bb6 19 Bg5! reaching the position

click for larger view

where things seem quite won for White; if 19 ... f5 20 Qxg6+ Kh8 21 Qh6+! Kg8 <If Qh7, White mates in 3> 22 Bd8+! Kf7 23 Rg7+ ; if 19 ... f6 20 Qxg6+ Kh8 21 Qh6+ Kg8 22 Bxf6+ etc.; if 19 ... Qf5 <the only other good way to prevent Bf6> 20 Rg3 and there is no good defense against the h-file attack.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <Amarande> The problem with 5.d3 against the Traxler is that it stamps 4.Ng5 as a wasted move. The whole point of that move is the threat to f7. Once Black castles, the threat to f7 is gone and the knight on g5 serves no purpose.

Look at it another way. After <1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5> would you play <5.Ng5>? That's essentially what you're doing with 5.d3 against the Traxler.

This assumes, of course, that you're not going to trade N+B for R+P on f7. That sort of transactions is generally considered good for Black, but it's probably best if you convince yourself of that fact.

Of course, playing 5.d3 will definitely take your opponent out of the comfort zone. People who play the Traxler are generally booked to the gills, so it can't be bad to force them to think on their own. But it's important to realize that your opening moves have to work together instead of being a mishmash of "playable" but inconsistent moves.

Feb-25-11  Akavall: <Amarande> If you are asking what black should do against 5. d3, then => Black should just play chess! Their position is certainly good, it is almost a dream to get that as black out of the opening.

From the white player's point of view I don't get 5. d3, for reasons that <Phony Benoni> pointed out.

It appears that white side is willing to make great concessions to avoid complications, not even going for safer 5.Bxf7. This bags a question, why to play 4. Ng5 at all? After 4. Ng5 in all standard continuations black sacrifices material, and has the initiative, positions are complex and white has to do some careful defending, which it seems is exactly what white is trying to avoid with 5. d3. Why not just play 4. d3, this leads to less complicated game and white has a better position, since no time is wasted on Ng5.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Opening of the Day
Two Knights Defense, Traxler Variation
1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗c4 ♘f6 4.♘g5 ♗c5

click for larger view

Seems a little unusual to me.

Dec-09-11  kackhander: White needs to be careful in this line. I believe Nxf7 is losing with correct play and Bxf7 (retreating to d5) is still hairy but retains some advantage.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Opening of the Day

The Fried Liver Attack
1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗c4 ♘f6 4.♘g5 d5 5. exd5 ♘xd5 6.♘xf7

click for larger view

Jul-21-12  Amarande: As we just had a Trax yesterday in which White got slaughtered, and it is very easy for White to end up in traps in it, there is perhaps more to be said for revisiting 5 d3 than <Phony Benoni> and <Akavall> dismiss it as.

True, as <Phony Benoni> says, 5 Ng5 *seems* largely a wasted move then. However, is it entirely without benefit to play 5 d3? Not really. There's indeed concrete benefits to it. I would certainly label it sound. Let us see -

* Subjectively, Black is thrown off his rocker. He expected a wild tactical contest, and now there is no chance of that, not for the immediate future, and not really for Black, either. It produces discomfort. If Black is an attacking style player (and he probably is if he's playing the Two Knights at all these days, let alone the Traxler!), he's probably going to end up very unhappy indeed. This psychological matter can be a huge advantage (consider Rashid Nezhmetdinov's career, where his attacking style led to sparkling victories against even World Champions, whereas against the solid defensive Yuri Averbakh he was lucky to get draws because he would keep spoiling his position trying to get an attack).

* Objectively, let's see. 4 Ng5 now produces no immediate benefit, so it could be seen as semi-wasted, but what of its more long-term behaviour? Unless Black goes in for 5 ... d5 (which is likely to simply lead into a more mainstream Two Knights, and while I have not gone into full analysis of yet I am guessing that 6 exd5 Nxd5 is more dangerous than the normal Fegatello due to White's DSB being able to get into the action more quickly now; indeed, most of the "Fegatello-like" variations where additional developing moves intervene before the sacrifice seem to be even tougher for Black than the Fried Liver already is), he doesn't really have any reasonable option right now besides O-O, as now he has no choice but to protect f7.

While after O-O it's generally a bad trade to exchange N+B for R+P on f7, what is more significant is the latent threat. As long as White has Bc4 and Ng5 posted where they are, Black suffers from some uncomfortable pressure. The f7 pawn is pinned, so the aggressive ... f5 (another incidence of the Traxler player's natural inclination to aggression being frustrated!) is forbidden. Double pressure on f7 means Black can't move his KR, nor can he play Kh8 to unpin the pawn. This will take time for Black to unravel (it will be simple, of course, either Na5xc4 to do away with the Bishop or h6 to push away the Knight, but in either case, it comes out good for White: in the former case, White has perhaps wasted a single tempo - that with the Knight - while Black will have moved his Knight three times to exchange a Bishop that only moved once; in the latter case, White has provoked a weakness in Black's castled position, and if Black does it early enough - i.e. while White still has the choice of O-O-O - it can really bite him hard).

Oct-01-13  Kikoman: <Opening of the Day>

The Fried Liver Attack
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Nxd5 6. Nxf7

click for larger view

Opening Explorer

Nov-10-17  Joshka: Any Two Knights experts here? Someone played a move that I was not prepared for, any help appreciated. I'm white. 1.) e4 e5 2.) Nf3 Nf6 3.) Bc4 Nf6

4.) Ng5 d5 5.) ed5 Nd5 6.) Nf7 Kf7 7.) Qf3+ Ke6 8.) Nc3 Nd4 9.) Bd5+ my opponent played then 9...Kd6!? Is this a computer move? Have never had it played against me. Any help appreciated. Thanks

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