Caro-Kann defense, 2 Knights Attack- why is it not more popular?

zezpwn44

I've been playing the CK for a few weeks now, and I've gotten used to the classical, the advance, and the exchange (which is what 95% of people play against it).  However, the 2 Knights System has given me trouble the 3 or so times I've faced it.

 

All in all, it seems like a system that gives white a decent chance to play for an advantage, and gets black out of his typical Caro-Kann preparations.  Why has this line never been quite that popular?
zxb995511

seems to me that the move 4...d4 gives white some trouble.

Chess_Enigma

Why would you open the position with dxe? You just gave white the bishop pair. Even the thought of taking, giving up the center for nothing is pretty bad. I think you should understand what is going on before you look at precise moves from theory.

Estragon

5 ...dxe4 is only rarely played.  The normal moves for Black are 5 ...e6 or ...Nf6.

But I think the Two Knights offers White as good a chance at opening advantage as most of the main lines.  The C-K is hard to get much against anyway.  Plus, the 2KA isn't seen very much, so Black may be ill-prepared to meet it.  There are probably many tournament C-K players who haven't faced it since school (it was always popular in scholastic circles, so surprise might not be a factor against a young player).

rooperi

And there is of course "The mother of all CK traps"

orangehonda

Hey, I like this, gonna give it a few tries.  I guess top GMs think it doesn't fight enough?  hmm, I dunno.

jimdavidson2256

Instead of 3...Bg4 putting the pin on white's king's knight, I prefer
3...Nf6.  This refocuses white's attention to a battle for the center of the board where black has a chain in place reinforcing his pawn at d5.  White's best chance here is 4.e5, attacking black's knight.  Black has two candidate responses to the attack on his knight:  4...Ne4 and 4...Nfd7. 

4...Ne4 is more aggressive attacking white's knight at c3 but is not really a good move.  White has a number of good options, the best of which is 5.Nxe4.  Black is left with no other choice than  to accept the exchange with 5...dxe4 threatening white's knight at f3.  Unfortunate, black has left himself a vulnerability on the kingside and with 6.Ng5 threatens f7 and black's pawn at e4!

4...Nfd7 is less aggressive but in the long run is best.  White is left with two candidate moves:   5.d4 and 5.e6.  Neither is a good option.  5.e6 is a desperate suicide attack by a white's e5 pawn on black's weak f7 pawn.  Black responds with 5...fxe6 putting the pawn out of his misery but, in the end, black retains a nice workable pawn structure.  White's other option, 5.d4, is a little better, bolstering the lonely e5 pawn.

But, no matter what the choice, white is left with a few problems.  His knights are prevent advancement of his pawns at c3 and f3 which both limits his ability to develop and leaves his pair of pawns exposed like a pair of picnickers at the Battle of Gettysburg. 

In contrast, black has lots of room to develop and a solid pawn chain and near complete control of the center.

pfren
jimdavidson2256 wrote:

Instead of 3...Bg4 putting the pin on white's king's knight, I prefer
3...Nf6.  This refocuses white's attention to a battle for the center of the board where black has a chain in place reinforcing his pawn at d5.  White's best chance here is 4.e5, attacking black's knight.  Black has two candidate responses to the attack on his knight:  4...Ne4 and 4...Nfd7. 

4...Ne4 is more aggressive attacking white's knight at c3 but is not really a good move.  White has a number of good options, the best of which is 5.Nxe4.  Black is left with no other choice than  to accept the exchange with 5...dxe4 threatening white's knight at f3.  Unfortunate, black has left himself a vulnerability on the kingside and with 6.Ng5 threatens f7 and black's pawn at e4!

4...Nfd7 is less aggressive but in the long run is best.  White is left with two candidate moves:   5.d4 and 5.e6.  Neither is a good option.  5.e6 is a desperate suicide attack by a white's e5 pawn on black's weak f7 pawn.  Black responds with 5...fxe6 putting the pawn out of his misery but, in the end, black retains a nice workable pawn structure.  White's other option, 5.d4, is a little better, bolstering the lonely e5 pawn.

But, no matter what the choice, white is left with a few problems.  His knights are prevent advancement of his pawns at c3 and f3 which both limits his ability to develop and leaves his pair of pawns exposed like a pair of picnickers at the Battle of Gettysburg. 

In contrast, black has lots of room to develop and a solid pawn chain and near complete control of the center.

Really?

I have shown the 2 knights variation at a couple of my students as white, and we mainly concentrated on 3...Nf6 4.e5 Ne4, which is almost the only move serious players use.

4...Nd7 seems to land Black in trouble after 5.d4 (5.e6 fxe6 7.d4 isn't bad, either) 5...e6 6.Ng5! when we could not find something satisfactory for Black- in all lines (which I will not give here) his position varies from "depressive" to "resignable". You may analyse this, and come to your own conclusions, but I would rather not be Black here in an OTB game.

3...Bg4 looks like a better move, by a long shot.

SmyslovFan

Wow, this is an old thread. I'll take a look at the analysis later, but the reason the 2N isn't more popular is that 2.d4 is simpler to learn and gives White an advantage. The edge is small, but clear.

There are GMs who play the 2N occasionally, but 2.d4 will probably always be more popular.

yureesystem

Black will have much easier time against The Two Knights Attack in Caro-Kann. I was black in one club game against a strong 2100 uscf who love the Two Knights Attack against Caro-Kann, I outplay him in the opening and achieve a solid advantage and won. White needs something more aggressive against Caro-Kann, Fischer give up on the Two Knights Attack and could not achieve an advantege, that is why its not play in the top GMs. It is true in chess club and below master level you see this opening system played, it is a way to avoid main line.

ih8sens

Schandorff gives 3...Bg4 in his GM repertoire and black equalizes easily.  

Of course, if we're assuming black is equal in all major CK lines as well, your best bet is to be well prepared and try to test your opponent's prep.  Personally, I still think there are ideas to be explored in the Classical mainline.

If you just want an out-of-book game... then The 2KA is a good way to avoid getting hurt by black, but don't expect the bishop pair to be worth much.  In practice the stats show black doing well when the opponents are evenly matched.

pfren

Black certainly has no "easy equality" in the two knights. True, the bishop pair is not worth much: Not a penny more than a bishop pair... Tongue Out

Won't give any analysis here, you can do your own homework. Just a little "patzer game"- as a warning:


Personally, I play as white the variation of the "patzer" who had Black in the above game, but the two knights is just fine, and has way less to learn than 3.e5.

strikingtan
pfren wrote:

Black certainly has no "easy equality" in the two knights. True, the bishop pair is not worth much: Not a penny more than a bishop pair...

Won't give any analysis here, you can do your own homework. Just a little "patzer game"- as a warning:


Personally, I play as white the variation of the "patzer" who had Black in the above game, but the two knights is just fine, and has way less to learn than 3.e5.

Did Nigel Short seriously not see that mate-in-one?

pfren
strikingtan έγραψε:
 

Did Nigel Short seriously not see that mate-in-one?

 

Of course he saw it, but he made this gesture since he was totally losing.

MickinMD

For what it's worth, Cyrus Lakdawala, The Caro-Kann Move-by-Move, says (with heavy abbreviating so as not to infringe on copyright):

 

pfren

Actually 3...dxe4 4.Nxe4 is quite OK for Black as long as he/she avoids 4...Nd7?! as well as 4...Bf5?! and opts for the 4...Nf6 5.Nxf6+ exf6 line, where the knight is commited to f3 a wee bit too early.

Jenium

So at the rist of asking something silly, is there something wrong with 3...e4?

sammy_boi
Jenium wrote:

So at the rist of asking something silly, is there something wrong with 3...e4?

At the risk of giving a silly answer... what's wrong with 3...e4 is that it's illegal tongue.png

Jenium

errm... I meant ...d4 of course

pfren

3...d4 would be fine if Black cound escort it with ...e5, which is not the case here. So, he has to play 3...d4 4.Ne2 c5, and now white can play 4.Ng3, or 4.c3, or finally 4.b4. All of them look good to me.