An opponent I have heretofore easily beaten has started playing Alekhine's defense against me. I am no longer easily beating my opponent, and indeed would be repeatedly losing to him, if only he had more skill and blundered less.
[Title "Alekhine's defense"] [StartPly "2"] [FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1. e4 Nf6
Like any chess player who enjoys sharp competition, I am most pleased that my opponent is somehow fighting better than he used! Apparently however, I do not understand Alekhine's defense. Alekhine's defense is perplexing me.
One reads that the usual continuation is 2. e5; but, admittedly, the idea of overextending the king's pawn as soon as White's second move does not appeal to me. On the other hand, alternatives like 2. Nc3 or 2. d3 seem too passive, whereas 2. Nf3 Nxe4 does not look promising. Maybe the weird-looking 2. f3 is the answer? But then Black just replies 2... e5, transposing to a kingside open game while sidestepping the Ruy Lopez, the Italian game, Evans' gambit, the king's gambit, etc.; so, no, 2. f3 looks even worse than the other options as far as I can see.
Wikipedia's entry on the topic is pretty good, but does not persuade me. What does persuade me is that Alekhine's defense is repeatedly giving an otherwise weak Black opponent good chances to beat me. Of course, I could cravenly avoid the whole problem by opening 1. d4; but still, eventually, one would like to confront the problem rather than avoid it, if one could.
What am I misunderstanding, please? Is the distasteful 2. e5 really White's only good, active response to Alekhine's defense?