I recently came across 1.d4 Nc6 while playing a game and I was immediatly tempted to play 2.d5, and so I did it, then my opponent continued the game with Ne5.

After the game I went to an online database to check some reference on this opening, I saw it is called the Mikenas Defense, and to my surprise 2.Nf3 and 2.e4 are by far the most common responses to it, while 2.d5 occurs only in 5% of the games. I'm a ~1400 player and I'm still learning the basics of openings theory, I can understand that both of these moves help white to develop its pieces, but can't they be naturally developed after 2..Ne5(which seems to be the most played move after 2.d5) with something like 3.e4?

[fen ""]

1. d4 Nc6
2. d5 Ne5
3. e4
  • 9
    2 e4 is misleading. That is your database is taking into account transpositions. 1e4 Nc6 2 d4 happens much more often. as for d5 vs Nf3, it seems that in that position, it is true that Nf3 is played more often. I myself don't know the reason namely because I'm a e4 player. Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 2:48
  • 1
    I don't think it is. looking at my database, it isn't played very often just looking at games played that started with d4 Nc6. Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 3:46
  • 4
    My totally-unsupported theory is that people learn not to push pawns vs. the Alekhine, then switch to 1. d4 and carry over that bias. The positions from 1. d4 Nc6 2. d5 are way more pleasant than the Alekhine equivalents though.
    – Cleveland
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 3:52
  • 1
    Probably the knight on c6 (blocking the c-pawn) is not well placed which is why Nf3 is strong.
    – Ywapom
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 23:18
  • 1
    Is it possible that you are including 1.Nf3 Nc6 2.d4 games by transposition?
    – David
    Commented Sep 4, 2019 at 8:58

3 Answers 3


Just the opinion of a 2000 player.

[fen ""]

1. d4 Nc6 2. d5 Ne5 3. f4 Ng6 4. e4 e6

The idea of this opening, and others like the Alekhine and the Two Knights Tango, is to lure the white pawns forward to make them easier to attack. Black gets a very cramped game, but it is playable.

[fen ""]

1. d4 Nc6 2. Nf3 d5 3. c4

The main purpose of Nf3 is to prevent black's knight from using that square. After normal moves, black will find that blocking the c-pawn advance is considered bad.

One of the general objectives in openings is to control the center. White can attack black's center with the c-pawn, yet black can't support this with his own pawn. This leads to a small increase in white's advantage.

  • 1
    After 1.d4 Nc6 2.d5 Ne5 3.f4 Ng6 4.e4 instead of 4...e6 Black can play 4...e5 which ends up the same after 5.dxe6 but can be fun if White goes for 5.f5?! Qh4+ as in a famous 1938 Weinitschke–Bogoljubow game.
    – bof
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 4:25
  • 1
    1.d4 Nc6 2.Nf3 d5 3.c4 Bg4 is a trasposition to the Tchigorin Defense. Alternatively 3...e5 is a relative of the Albin Countergambit.
    – bof
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 4:28
  • These comments are true, but don't answer the question. Comment #1: This is a consequence of luring the pawns forward. Comment #2: This is the Chigorin Defense. Yet the statement that black can't protect the center with the c-pawn still holds true. Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 20:17

D5 is fine to play, but it is commital and a bit lacking in mobility. I probably wouldn't play it.

Nf3 does a good job preventing a quick e5, and e4 claims the center nicely. Neither are too commital and leave room for all kinds of options.


Your statistics don't seem likely to be accurate.

From 365chess.com, the most common responses are:

        times    win   draw   loss    eval
2. Nf3  1,455   42.9   29.2   27.9   +0.42
2. c4     566   41.7   25.1   33.2   +0.49
2. d5     396   49.7   21.5   28.8   +0.57
2. e4     343   49.6   17.5   32.9   +0.20

As you can see, according to these statistics 2. d5 is actually more common than 2. e4 (although still much less than 2. Nf3), and it scores best both in practice (take that with a pinch of salt as the sample size is so small) and on evaluation. So I doubt there is anything wrong with this move.

Perhaps your statistics are for position rather than exact sequence of moves, as 1. e4 Nc6 2. d4 appears more than 4,000 times in the same database.

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