Openings for Tactical Players: the Two Knights Defense. (Black is OK!)

Openings for Tactical Players: the Two Knights Defense. (Black is OK!)

| 36 | Tactics

It is difficult to imagine a chess player who never fell into a well-known trap in the so-called Fried Liver Attack in the Two Knights Defense. It happened to me in my very first tournament. I played all the logical moves (1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6), then my opponent jumped 4.Ng5 and I played 4...d5. He captured and so did I (5.exd5 Nxd5), then out of the blue came a thunderbolt (6.Nxf7!). I don't remember the rest of the game, but my King got checkmated very quickly.

For those of you who are still blissfuly unaware what I am talking about, here is the classical game by Morphy where a slight modification of the classical Fried Liver Attack was played.



Even though my opponent in the above mentioned game didn't play as brilliantly as Morphy, still my King got checkmated somewhere around the b4-b6-d6-d4 square.  My coach told me after the game that Black shouldn't take the pawn and play 5... Na5 instead.  Of course, this is the main line and thousands of games were played there... yet I always thought that it is strange that Black voluntarily places his Knight on the edge of the board and hopes to get enough compensation for the sacrificed pawn.
In the next recent game played by two strong GMs, Black's Na5 never had a chance to get back into the game.
I have no doubt that Black's play in the previous game can be improved. Yet, since we are looking for a variation that would promise an attack we might try to better use a poor horsie and put it on the best available square in the center.
Let's talk about the 5...Nd4!? move. White should be careful since the centralized Nd4 can be a dangerous attacking piece as seen in the next game.
If the Nd4 is so dangerous, why not kick it out right away with 6.c3? Well, in the following game one of the trickiest players in the history of chess, GM Bronstein, fell into a devilish trap after he played 6.c3.
Even if White doesn't try to refute the 5...Nd4 move and simply tries to finish his development by 6.Nc3 he is not out of danger:
Due to spatial constraints I cannot possibly analyse all the variations after 5...Nd4, but this wasn't my intention anyway.  These articles are not a substitute for opening books.  My goal is to give you some interesting ideas, traps and tactics in the openings. And if you like some particular variation, then I hope my articles will be a starting point for your own research.
Good luck!
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