Against 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 I usually play the Two Knights Defense, but I don't really know what to play after 4.d3. I'm bored to death in the Giuoco Pianissimo (4...Bc5) and 4...Be7 is a bit dull.

So what would you recommend for Black to play to spice it up, for a player who enjoys asymmetrical positions? Even if it's a bit inferior from a theoretical point of view to the aforementioned lines.

  • well, what about d5? I can't see what's wrong with that. Apr 18 '17 at 14:56
  • I would venture into the Sicilian defense ... e5 variation, Kalashnikov. Fun stuff. Most White players try to play the Kalashnikov like the shveshnikov and find themselves is trouble with a misplaced minor piece or two.
    – Priyome
    Apr 18 '17 at 17:40
  • @Priyome, maybe, but it supposes to play ...c5 on move one...
    – loukios
    Apr 18 '17 at 18:09
  • well, he is playing black, it appears.
    – Priyome
    Apr 18 '17 at 18:24

If you really want an unsymmetrical position, don't play 1...e5. White has many move order options to steer the game into a relatively quiet position in double king pawn openings.

There are a few things that you can consider in order to keep the game interesting. First and foremost, if you must win at all costs, I would recommend playing 4...Be7 in order to keep all of the pieces on the board. Black will be cramped for some period of time, but since all of the pieces remain on the board there is plenty of play left in the position.

If you just want open lines, then consider playing an early d5. For example:

[FEN ""]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.c3 O-O 6.O-O d5

The downside is that lots of pieces can get traded, but black has easy development plans with Bg4, Nb6, and f7-f5 once the white bishop moves off of the diagonal.

With all that said, although black can have a hard time creating immediate imbalances, white has a very hard time getting an advantage with the Italian game, so generally keeping the pieces on the board and accepting equality will let the better player outplay his or her opponent and win.

  • 6...d5 is a bit iffy after 7exd Nxd5 8. Re1. and how to defend the e-pawn? It doesnt look hard but White has many irritating possibilities like Qb3, Qe2, b2-b4-b5. to increase the pressure.
    – Philip Roe
    Apr 18 '17 at 17:09
  • I agree, objectively I think d5 is sub-optimal, but the OP wanted something to open the game even at the cost of a slight theoretical edge for white.
    – Andrew
    Apr 18 '17 at 17:27
  • Yes, it depends on the level of play. I think that strong players who play 4.d3 are rather hoping for a ..d5 reaction, but at lower levels Black can fish in troubled waters
    – Philip Roe
    Apr 18 '17 at 18:24
  • @RemcoGerlich: My impressions of that line are from experience long ago, and Im not up to date, nor have I seen Lokanders book. However, I dont think that White should weaken himself with g4 to make an immediate pawn grab. I would just play Nbd2 (perhaps after h3) and that weak e-pawn wont go away.
    – Philip Roe
    Apr 18 '17 at 18:56
  • Eek. I missed that this answer has the bishop on c5, not on e7. Big difference! Apr 18 '17 at 19:13

While I wouldn't really recommend this to one of my students in a serious tournament, if you wanted to spice things up you could go for the h6 - g5 plan. The idea is simple: pawnstorm White's Kingside.

Usually this idea is very dubious, since White can counter your side attack with a timely d4 push (the attack in the center makes the pawn storm look bad). However, in your example if White has already played d3, playing d4 would waste a move, something White may not have time for.

An example of the line:

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3 Be7 5. 0-0 d6 6. c3 h6 7. Rel g5!? most likely followed by ...g4, pushing your Kingside pawns and gaining some control over the d4 square.

Though to be honest, 1...e5 isn't really the best opening for getting double-edged, "non-boring" positions. Most lines in 1...e5 (Italian, Ruy Lopez, etc) lead to pretty dull games. If you want more exciting positions, I'd recommend studying the Pirc or Sicilian, though these do of course require a bit of dedicated work to play well.

  • This kind of line remind me some bliiz games I've seen, this is quite interesting indeed...
    – loukios
    Apr 19 '17 at 11:48

With the caveat that I've only played it twice, and that was because it was an on line themed tournament (I don't normally play 1 ... e5), but I have had fun with 4 ... h6 to stop Ng5 tricks followed by a king side fianchetto. Yes it's an attempt to turn a Two Knights into what I normally play (Pirc or Modern) but it in my limited experience it seems more interesting than either of the bishop moves. The one completed game so far:

[Event "Italian Game Themed Tournament"]
[White "Somebody"]
[Black "Ian"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C55"]
[FEN ""]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 h6 5.O-O d6 6.c3 g6 7.Re1 Bg7 8.h3 O-O 9.Nbd2 Na5 10.Bb5 a6 11.Ba4 b5 12.Bc2 c5 13.Nf1 Bb7 14.Ng3 Qc7 15.Nh2 d5 16.Ng4 Nxg4 17.hxg4 Rad8 18.Qe2 d4 19.cxd4 exd4 20.f4 c4 21.Kh2 Qe7 22.g5 hxg5 23.f5 Be5 24.Qg4 f6 25.fxg6 Bc8 26.Qf3 Qc7 27.b4 cxb3 28.Bxb3+ Nxb3 29.axb3 Kg7  0-1
  • It's played in the spirit of some variations of the Ruy Lopez, like the Breyer, interesting.
    – loukios
    Apr 19 '17 at 11:53
  • I rather like it. But I think the OP was looking to get into a tactical brawl
    – Philip Roe
    Apr 19 '17 at 15:30

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