As title above, how to play vs.

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1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 d6 

I see that this move (3...d6) is generally considered inferior in books, or not even mentioned in books about 3.Bc4, but I cannot see a clear way to obtain advantage.

3 Answers 3


The game will get the characteristics of the Philidor Defense rather than the Italian Game. Wikipedia calls it the Semi-Italian Opening.

I. A. Horowitz called the defence "solid", also writing: "It does not seem quite sufficient for equality."

The Wikipedia article notes several possible continuations for White, with 4. d4 probably the best bet for advantage.


1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 d6:

365chess.com database shows:

MOVE   | games | year |  White +  Draw  + Black
4. d4  |  491  | 2018 | 50.3 % | 24.4 % | 25.3 %
4. c3  |  359  | 2018 | 53.5 % | 20.6 % | 25.9 %
4. d3  |  357  | 2018 | 45.4 % | 22.7 % | 31.9 %
4. h3  |  323  | 2016 | 42.7 % | 25.7 % | 31.6 %
4. Nc3 |  289  | 2018 | 50.9 % | 16.3 % | 32.9 %
4. O-O |  249  | 2019 | 50.6 % | 22.1 % | 27.3 %

White will get a space advantage and freer development after d4 (whether delayed or played immediately). Or White can play the pawn to d3 and the fact that his Bishop is outside the pawn chain (and Blacks Bf8 is inside) gives White an easier position.

There is no knock-out blow for White as Black is accepting a slightly passive but solid position.


There is no way to "crush" that move. You just play! Develop your pieces, get space in the center and obtain a small advantage. Your opponent won't be losing a piece or something like that.

I assume 3...d6 may have some ideas related to a pin on g4 (for instance, 4.d4 Bg4) A c3 pawn advance can be useful to prevent some ...Nd4. I think you'll be fine after 4.0-0 Bg4 5.c3, but also 4.Nc3 Bg4 5.h3 or many other sequences

In short, I don't know what the best answer is. I doubt anyone in the world actually does. Analyze your games and find what works best for yourself

  • Then, why only beginners play it? Commented May 25, 2019 at 7:35
  • "Only" beginners play it, because it is not ambitious and White has many different ways of staying "slightly better". In other words, no kind of trouble is created by Black. If there was a way to completely smash it, not even beginners would play it. Also, experienced players who like that type of schemes may prefer 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6
    – David
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 22:14
  • I am not saying that there must be a way to "completely smash it", but of at least obtaining a reasonable advantage out of the opening. If instead the move is unambitious, but perfectly playable, as you seem to suggest (and you may be perfectly right, of course), I was wondering why it is not more popular among strong players, at least to avoid the main theoretical lines. I hope you get my point. Move is playable, yet it is extremely unpopular. Commented May 27, 2019 at 15:15
  • I think players who want to play that type of position will prefer .e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6. Also, it's not really avoiding any theory, since the position that will be reached will be very similar to other well known openings and may even lead to transpositions (with the advantage for White of having more flexibility)
    – David
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 15:31

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