Opening Study 2.Nf3 Qf6

Oct 25, 2015, 6:48 AM |

A Decision in the Opening


1.e4 e5


There are 400 possible positions after both players have completed the first move. The position after 1.e4 e5 is the second most popular.* White played the most popular first move, and Black opted for the second most popular response. Prior to the twentieth century, the position after 1.e4 e5 was the most popular.


2.Nf3 is White's most popular response in the position after the first move, and many masters have said that it is the best move.


It is Black's second move, and already there is a problem to solve. White is attacking the pawn on e5. What should Black do about this threat? Black must either defend the pawn or attack White's pawn on e4. Nothing else makes sense. Black has at least six ways to defend the attacked pawn. In addition, there are several ways to launch a counter-attack against White's pawn.


We will be looking at several ideas for Black, and we will be looking at several ways that White continues after Black has made this important first choice.


The Lesson: An Instructive Game


This week's lesson concerns a choice by Black that is not recommended. We will see why Black's choice is not best through examination of a game played by one of the strongest players in New Orleans in the 1840s and a young boy. The boy was twelve. His opponent, James McConnell went on to play several of the top players in the world in the nineteenth century. In 1886, he won a game against World Champion Wilhelm Steinitz. McConnell gained a lesson from the boy in this game. Our illustrative game was played in 1849.



The boy in this game was Paul Morphy. As a child he defeated all the top players in his city, and a few visitors who were even stronger. He completed his schooling and passed the test to become an attorney. However, he could not work as an attorney until he was 21 years old. He played a lot of chess as he waited. He won the first American Chess Congress in 1856. Then, he went to Europe where he played several of the strongest players in the world in a series of matches. He defeated all of them.





Do not bring out your queen too early.

When your opponent violates this principle, drive it back as you bring your pieces into battle.

Be careful.



*1.e4 c5 is the beginning of the Sicilian Defense, and it is the most frequently occurring position after the first move.


I offer lessons in the opening, middle game, and ending through correspondence games (three days per move). See This blog post was created as a resource to supplement these lessons.