It seems like the Fried Liver Attack is too much for black to handle, so it seems it is best to avoid the Two Knights Defense as Black. An example of the Fried Liver Attack is below and Black just seems lost. Is there something Black can do?

[FEN ""]
1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 Nf6
4. Ng5 d5
5. exd5 Nxd5
6. Nxf7 Kxf7
7. Qf3+ Ke6
8. Nc3  Ncb4
9. a3   Nc2+
10. Kd1  Nxa1
11. Nxd5 Kd7
12. Re1  c6
13. Qf5+ Kd6
14. Qxe5+ Kc5
15. Nc7 Kb6
16. Nxa8#
  • 7
    You don't have to allow Fried Liver attack as Black 5...Na5 is the main line. Black sacrifices a pawn, but get active play in compensation.
    – Akavall
    Jan 17, 2013 at 17:12
  • Good idea with 5...Na5. Interestly, not one person I have played has played 5...Na5.
    – xaisoft
    Jan 17, 2013 at 17:27
  • @Akavall - Why don't you make your comment into an answer? Maybe with a bit replayer with some moves after 5...Na5
    – xaisoft
    Jan 17, 2013 at 17:42
  • Check out my answer. Hopefully it helps! Have fun! :)
    – user2001
    Jan 24, 2014 at 17:19
  • You did not answer the above question: What if black plays 11..Qh4 (which is not considered by the theory) instead of 11...Kd7 ?
    – user8742
    Nov 14, 2015 at 17:18

4 Answers 4


In Two Knights defense black doesn't have to play 5...Nxd5?! The main line is 5...Na5, where black sacrifices a pawn, but gets active play for compensation. The game could continue like this:

[FEN ""]
1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 Nf6
4. Ng5 d5
5. exd5 Na5
6. Bb5+ c6
7. dxc6 bxc6
8. Be2 h6
9. Nf3 e4
10. Ne5 Bd6
11. d4 exd3
12. Nxd3

Besides 5...Na5, Black also has 5...Nd4 and 5...b5.

A very interesting continuation is the Traxler attack (4...Bc5!?):

[FEN "r1bqk2r/pppp1ppp/2n2n2/2b1p1N1/2B1P3/8/PPPP1PPP/RNBQK2R w KQkq - 6 5"]

Black does not defend the f7-square, and it first might look like a blunder, since 5.Nxf7 leads to a fork. However black has plenty of attacking resources after 5...Bxf2. Therefore, white usually plays 5.Bxf7, black is down a pawn, and loses castling ability, but has some compensation due to semi-opened file and piece activity.

  • Nice, thanks for the Traxler Counter Attack pointer.
    – xaisoft
    Jan 17, 2013 at 18:54
  • I once asked a question about the Traxler which got some interesting discussion.
    – Daniel
    Jan 17, 2013 at 19:53
  • Just learning Chess: what do you mean by the "main line"
    – masfenix
    Jan 11, 2014 at 3:17
  • @masfenix, "main line" is the most popular or most commonly played line.
    – Akavall
    Jan 11, 2014 at 3:29

I recently showed an interesting variation for black to a few friends at a tournament. There were the good old times when me and my chess club buddies spent hours on end analyzing these sorts of positions. Well, it goes like this:

[FEN ""]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Nd4 6.c3 b5

Yes, it looks totally crazy! And it is, too! As far as I remember, the evaluation is that black is equal or slightly better. The variations are ultra sharp. In several paths, the white (!) king will be in trouble! That is opposed to the accepted variation (Nxd5) where the black king has to take a walk. The variation above can continue like this:

[FEN ""]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Nd4 6.c3 b5 7.Bf1 Nxd5 8.cxd4 Qxg5 9.Bxb5+ Kd8

You should definitely check this out with the latest games and with an engine! It should be equal or unclear! An unprepared white player will quickly collapse at your feet! Happy hunting!


There is a very interesting counter to the fried liver attack that i came across.


[FEN ""]
    1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 Bc5 5. Nxf7 Bxf2 

There are lots of variations covered by matoJelic, please have a look.

  • This is the Traxler Counter Attack. The name Fried Liver is usually reserved for 4... d5 5. exd5 Nxd5 6. Nxf7. Jan 24, 2014 at 18:19
  1. There are better lines for black than the Fried Liver.

  2. Even if you do choose it, black is probably equal albeit after a long theoretical battle.

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