The Four Knights EndGame!

Sep 11, 2013, 9:01 PM |

This was a game that I played last month that lasted 77 moves, and yes, was a FOUR KNIGHTS ENDGAME! I think I played very well, but my opponent could have used his knights better I think. WEll, anyway, here is the game. This opening was the Bishops opening, and here is a little about it.

The Bishop's Opening is a chess opening that begins with the moves:

1. e4 e5
2. Bc4

White attacks Black's f7-square and prevents Black from advancing his d-pawn to d5. By ignoring the beginner's rule, "develop knights before bishops", White leaves his f-pawn unblocked, allowing the possibility of playing f2–f4.

The f2–f4 push gives the Bishop's Opening an affinity with the King's Gambit and the Vienna Game, two openings that share this characteristic. The Bishop's Opening can transpose into either of these openings, and in particular a favorable variation of the King's Gambit, but with care Black can circumvent this. Transpositions into Giuoco Piano and Two Knights Defense and other openings are also possible.

The Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings (ECO) assigns Bishop's Opening the codes C23 and C24

The Bishop's Opening is one of the oldest openings to be analyzed; it was studied by Lucena and Ruy Lopez. Later it was played by Philidor. Larsen was one of the few grandmasters to play it often, after first using it at the 1964 Interzonal Tournament. Although the Bishop's Opening is uncommon today, it has been used occasionally as a surprise by players such as Kasparov. Nunn uses it to avoid Petrov's Defence (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6),[1] and Lékó played it in the 2007 World Championship against Kramnik, known to consistently play the Petrov.

Weaver Adams in his classic work "White to Play and Win" claimed that the Bishop's Opening was a win for White by force from the second move.[2] However, he was unable to prove this by defeating players stronger than himself, and later abandoned the Bishop's Opening for the Vienna Game, making the same claim.[3] Grandmaster Nick de Firmian, in the 14th edition of Modern Chess Openings concludes that the Bishop's Opening leads to equality with best play by both sides,[4] and notes that, "Among modern players only Bent Larsen has played it much, but even Kasparov gave it a whirl (winning against Bareev)."[5]

Berlin Defense: 2...Nf6

Probably Black's most popular second move is 2...Nf6, forcing White to decide how to defend his e-pawn.

After 3.d3 Black must be careful not to drift into an inferior variation of the King's Gambit Declined. One continuation that avoids this pitfall is 2...Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nf3 d5 5.Bb3 Bd6. Also possible is 3...d6 (instead of 3...c6) 4.f4 exf4 5.Bxf4 Be6! neutralizing White's king bishop.

White sometimes chooses the Bishop's Opening move order to transpose into the Giuoco Piano while preventing Black from playing Petrov's Defense. For example, 2...Nf6 3.d3 Nc6 4.Nf3 Bc5 reaches the quiet Giuoco Pianissimo.

The Urusov Gambit is named after Russian Prince Sergey Semyonovich Urusov (August 3, 1827–November 20, 1897). After 2...Nf6 3.d4 exd4 (3...Nxe4 4.dxe5 gives White some advantage) 4.Nf3, Black can transpose to the Two Knights Defense with 4...Nc6, or can decline the gambit with 4...d5 5.exd5 Bb4+ 6.c3 (6.Kf1 is recommended by Michael Goeller, winning a pawn at the expense of castling rights) 6...Qe7+ 7.Be2 dxc3, when 8.bxc3 and 8.Nxc3 both offer approximately equal chances. Instead, Black can accept the gambit with 4...Nxe4 5.Qxd4 Nf6 (5...Nd6? 6.0-0 gives White an overwhelming attack) and White will continue with Nc3, Bg5, Qh4, 0-0-0, and usually intends to meet ...0-0 and ...h6 with the piece sacrifice Bxh6, exposing the black king. Black has no obvious weaknesses, but most authorities consider White's piece activity and attacking chances to provide sufficient compensation for the pawn.

The Boden–Kieseritzky Gambit is named after English player and chess writer Samuel Boden and Lionel Kieseritzky. Boden published the first analysis of it in 1851. Opening theoreticians consider that after 2...Nf6 3.Nf3 Nxe4 4.Nc3 Nxc3 5.dxc3 f6, White's attack is not quite worth a pawn. The game may continue 6.0-0 Nc6 (not 6...Be7? 7.Nxe5! with a tremendous attack, but 6...d6 is also playable) 7.Nh4 g6 8.f4 f5 9.Nf3 (9.Nxf5? d5!) e4 10.Ng5 (10.Ne5 Qe7! threatening Qc5+ is strong) Bc5+. In practice, Black's lack of development and inability to castle kingside can prove very problematic.

Safer for Black are Paul Morphy's solid 5...c6 6.Nxe5 d5, returning the pawn with equality, and 4...Nc6!? (instead of 4...Nxc3) 5.0-0 (5.Nxe4 d5) Nxc3 6.dxc3 Qe7! when, according to Bobby Fischer in My 60 Memorable Games, "White has no compensation for the Pawn."[6]

Black can also decline the pawn with 3...Nc6, transposing into the Two Knights Defense. He must, however, be willing to offer a gambit himself after 4.Ng5. White may invite an offshoot of the Boden–Kieseritzky Gambit with 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.Nc3.

Irregular move orders are 2.Nc3 (Vienna) Nf6 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.Nf3 and 2.Nf3 Nf6 (Russian or Petrov Defence) 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.Nf3.


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