I am new to chess and am confused on what to do with the following opening

[fen ""]

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nf6
3. Nc3 Bb4

I have been playing 4. a3, but the Bishop then proceeds to take c3 so I end up with a doubled pawn.

If someone could offer some guidance or tell me what this opening is called so I can do some research, it would be very much appreciated.


  • 2
    So you end up with a doubled pawn. Life goes on. You can't play chess without allowing your pawns to get doubled sometimes.
    – dfan
    Dec 10, 2013 at 16:31
  • 1
    ^Exactly. Plus, doubled pawns aren't always as bad as they're made out to be. The only time they can be called bad is when they're doubled and isolated, or stops a pawn majority's ability to create a passed pawn in an endgame (if it could've otherwise)
    – Sunny
    Dec 10, 2013 at 17:40
  • 1
    A doubled pawn means you have an expressway for your rooks. The art is arranging it so the opponent is weak on that file.
    – Tony Ennis
    Dec 23, 2013 at 15:15

5 Answers 5


Edit: Using the chessgames Opening Explorer, I confirmed the move is playable, here is the list of possible replays:

Move     #games
4.Nxe5   175
4.Bc4    151
4.d3     52
4.a3     14
4.Nd5    12 <- my option
4.Be2    2
4.d4     2
4.Bd3    1
4.g3     1

4.Nd5 looks viable and easily prevents that double pawn.

It also pushes the game into an aggressive one, which can be good or bad depending on your play-style.

Final position after 4.Nd5:

rnbqk2r/pppp1ppp/5n2/3Np3/1b2P3/5N2/PPPP1PPP/R1BQKB1R b KQkq - 5 4

He will most likely do NxN, I don't see many other choices here as both the Bishop and the e Pawn are attacked:

  • 4...Nxd5
  • 4...Bd6 (weak move)
  • 4...a5 (weak move)
  • But after 4.Nd5 Nxd5 5.exd5 White stills ends up with a doubled pawn, right? (Not that this is terrible, just that the OP wants to avoid it.)
    – TKR
    Dec 11, 2013 at 20:54

This opening is known as the Petrov three knights game. You can use this link to do a bit more research (http://www.365chess.com/eco/C42_Petrov_three_knights_game). I usually grab directly on e5 instead of protecting on e4. For example, here is a possible line:

[FEN ""]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.dxc3

White will follow up with Bc1-f4, Qd1-d2 and O-O-O. Then launch a pawn storm on the kingside (with the g and h pawns) in case black castles O-O. If black castles O-O-O, then the game will be a bit less sharp. Definitely worth a try!


I will be brief with the answer, ask for further clarifications/advices if you need them:

The opening is called Petroff's defense, but you have played a sideline in your game.

The ECO code of the opening is C42.

It usually goes like one of these two:

  1. e4 e5
  2. Nf3 Nf6

And now first line is: 3. Nxe5
Second one is : 3. d4

Your move is a sideline, I have never played it before, but you can look it up, it is not necessarily bad.

Hopefully this helps.

Good luck.

Best regards.


4. a3 should be a good move. It's like a reverse Ruy Lopez with an extra tempo.

You can look it up in any opening database. Here's one (free): http://www.shredderchess.com/online-chess/online-databases/opening-database.html


Best line is 3. Nxe5.

If you insist on 3. Nf3 Nf6, best is 4. Bb5 (Four Knights: Spanish Variation).

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