Questions about the Two Knights Defense (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6) and games featuring the Two Knights Defense. ECO codes C55-C59

Two Knights Defense

The Two Knights Defense a defense to the Italian Game. It is characterized by the following moves:

1.e4 e5
2.Nf3 Nc6
3.Bc4 Nf6

3...Nf6 immediately strikes in the center, in contrast to 3...Bc5 as in the Giuoco Piano. The Two Knights Defense usually leads to sharper play than the "quiet game". With Nf6, black puts pressure on white's e4 pawn. White has several options in reply:

  • 4.Ng5 is the most aggressive, and black usually sacrifices a pawn with 4...d5 in order to gain a lead in development.

  • 4.d4 is another aggressive try, when 4...exd4 5.O-O Bc5 6.e5 leads to the Max Lange attack. Black can also play 5...Nxe4 and white's center has been demolished, but white has a lead in development in exchange.

  • 4.d3 is a solid option, frequently transposing back to the Giuoco Piano after 4...Bc5.

  • 4.Nc3 is the last common move, attempting to defend the e4 pawn, but black can play 4...Nxe4! anyways, since 5.Nxe4 d5! regains the piece with a good game for black.


ECO Codes

  • C55: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6
  • C56: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.O-O Nxe4
  • C57: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5
  • C58: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5
  • C59: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5 6.Bb5+ c6 7.dxc6 bxc6 8.Be2 h6