In the following position, it seems to make sense to me to recapture white's light squared bishop with Nxd7 which would add a defender to black's hanging central pawn, however according to engines this gives white a +1 advantage, could someone explain to me as to why, I'm really busting my head on this one.

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "?"]
[Round "?"]
[White "?"]
[Black "?"]
[Result "?"]
[Title "2 Knights defence: Polerio Defence"]
[FEN ""]
[StartPly "15"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Na5 6. Bb5+ Bd7 7. Qe2 Be7 8. Bxd7+
  • I personally am willing to give black more of an initiative in these lines as long as I can safely hang on to the extra pawn. I find this to offer better winning chances, and if you're willing to sit back and defend an slightly unpleasant middlegame to enter a superior endgame then I'd recommend 8. Nf3 instead of the much sharper but forced 8. Bxd7 Qxd7 9. c4 c6 10. d4 exd4 11. Bd2 0-0 line with equal material where the black a5 knight is uncomfortable (frankly, trapped), but black has a lead in development and will seize the e-file and with dire consequences if white doesn't castle. Commented Apr 2 at 0:11

1 Answer 1


In these lines of two knight's defence black is pawn down - so he has to gain activity, to compensate for it.

After 8. ... Qxd7, you are pressuring white d5 pawn, so white has to play 9. c4 and then you can finally undermine white center by 9. ... c6, gaining sufficient activity.

After 8. ... Nxd7 white can just reinforce his knight with 9. h4, since you have no pressure on d5 - your own knight is in the way of your queen. So white can just play Nc3 and O-O and enjoy his pawn more.

  • I think you meant to say d5, not d4. Also on an unrelated note, a fun line here is as follows: after 8. ... Nxd7 9. h4 and ...h6 which kicks out the knight, white plays 10. Ne6!! and ...fxe6 11. Qh5+ Kf8 12. dxe6 white is winning with the double threats of 13. exd7 and 13. Qf7#. Commented Apr 2 at 0:01
  • @Stockfischer well spotted - I will edit. Commented Apr 2 at 5:00

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