So I am currently working through Chess Fundamentals by Capablanca and he said something I find opaque: following 1.e4, e5 2.Nf3, Nc6 3.Nc3, Nf6 4.Bb5, Bb4 "5.0-0 an indirect way of preventing 5...Bxc3, which more experience or more study will show to be bad."

I have been trying to figure out why, if for whatever reason white does not castle (lets say 5.d3), then why is taking better for black? I looked all over for ways to exploit the king in the center, or ways to take away the white king's castling rights, but I have found nothing.

2 Answers 2


One hundred years ago grandmasters, even the great Capablanca, were given to making sweeping judgments about opening positions without supporting evidence, often condemning moves that have been shown to be quite playable. In fact 5...Bxc3 is now considered a "book" move, though 5...O-O is probably slightly better. And as to 5.d3 making the exchange good, after 5.d3 5...Bxc3 is now considered roughly equal to other reasonable moves like 5...O-O or 5...d6.

BTW the Four Knights Game is often casually dismissed as a "drawish" opening, again without supporting evidence. If you study it and try it you'll find that many opponents who expect the more usual 3.Bb5 or 3.Bc4 are unprepared for it.


I think there is no simple answer to this question and you will develop understanding day by day.

In chess basically, the bishop is more valuable than the knight in an open position. When the black exchange the bishop with the knight, it would be a bad exchange. Furthermore, you can not take the e4 pawn. Example variant is

5 .. Bxc3 6.dxc3 Nxe4 7. Re1 d5 8. Nxe5

I am not an expert of 4 knights, but without taking a pawn, and giving a bishop for a knight would probably bad.

  • 2
    I follow what you mean, and I agree that, on its face, trading a bishop for a knight is inadvisable, but my main difficulty comes from Capablanca implicitly advising black to make the exchange-- the bishop for the knight-- if white does anything but 5.0-0 ... Essentially, why does not castling make the exchange good?
    – Valuska
    Commented Feb 11, 2021 at 21:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.