Thoughts on the Hungarian Defense?

KnuppelBerry

In a recent game I stumbled upon the Hungarian Defense (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Be7).

3...Be7 was played on a whim and only later did I find out it was a well-explored line.  Anyway, I liked the way the game developed, though, admittedly, my opponent wasn't very strong.

Does anyone play this opening regularly?  When I looked it up, it seemed it's not played much, and I wonder if it is just out of fashion or whether there are some strong lines for white that I haven't figure out yet.  

Thanks!  And the game is below, just for fun....

simaginfan

One of England's strongest correspondence players - back before computers took over the game - used to play it regularly. so it is fair to assume that from that standpoint it is analytically correct. Also it avoids a whole mass of theory.

I think that the main reason that it is quite rare is that White is getting a space advantage in pretty much all lines.

For anyone who plays the Old Benoni with ...c5 and ...e5 against 1.d4 it leads - after the main idea for White of d2-d4-d5 and Bc4-d3 - to a kind of position that they would be used to. Also there are favourable transpositions to a line of the Philidor where Black captures on d4.

So, for those who play 1...e5 with a repertoire against the Lopez, Kings gambit, etc, but are uncomfortable in the Italian/two knights complex, it is a line worth looking at, partiularly as there is not a lot of theory to 'learn'.

KnuppelBerry

Thanks, @simaginfan !  I knew I could count on you for an interesting take.

Obviously, I'm not playing at a very high level (and certainly not in rapid chess, where despite the parameters I set I keep getting opponents ~1000).  But I've tried the Hungarian Defense in three games now and find it quite playable.  I've been looking for an alternative to the Sicilian, which I like in correspondence chess but requires too much memory for me in live games, and this isn't bad so far, even if a bit quieter than I'd like....

simaginfan

Well, it's not the Sicilian!!😂. 

ghost_of_pushwood

It's a bit stodgy.  But if you like the Philidor, you'll love this. happy.png

kamalakanta

I have always liked the Hungarian Defense (3...Be7) against the Italian Game....true, it gives some space, but so does the King's Indian Defense!

For me, the virtues of this defense are:

1) It is very solid. Black does not create any weak points of attack or tactical contact in the first few moves (as is the case with the 3...Bc5 variations!).

2) It is easy to play for Black.

The equivalent of this in the queen pawn openings would be the Old Indian Defense, where Black ALSO develops his bishop to e7. There are some possible transpositions between the two openings, and both can lead to King's Indian-type formations if Black plays ....Re8, ....Bf8, ....g6 and .....Bg7.

Here is a model game by Bronstein, a masterpiece, with the Old Indian Defense. Comments by Bronstein!

 

 

 

kamalakanta

The first game in chessgames.com database is from 1843, a correspondence game between Paris and Budapest (hence the name, the Hungarian Defense!)

 

ghost_of_pushwood

Wow, who knew Mickey Mouse's middle name?

KnuppelBerry

Thanks @kamalakanta !  I enjoyed Bronstein's comments.  And I very much enjoyed the 1843 history lesson.  It was actually a pretty interesting game!

Optimissed

The natural move looks like 4. d4 because the one thing wrong with 3. Be7 is that it doesn't give any central control. White needs to react immediately to make the best out of it. The comments by Bronstein are irrelevant since white should know to play d4.

KnuppelBerry

4. d4 doesn't appear obviously superior to a few other moves (O-O among them).  Then again, I'm a patzer....

Optimissed

There are many such positions where, to gain the maximum advantage, the aggressive move must be made at once.

Actually it depends on a knowledge of transpositions far superior to mine. I'm a humble 1. d4 player but I do remember some KP theory too.

Optimissed

Logically, there is no way to punish 3. ...Be7 other than 4. d4. If it doesn't gain an advantage then nothing else will.

Note Bronstein's move order too. 1. d4.

LM_player
It’s a pretty decent defense! I used to play it to avoid the Fried Liver Attack, for it seems to be a better alternative than 3...h3 (Anti Fried Liver Defense).
ghost_of_pushwood

Wait a minute, are you talking about 3... h6?  That's the Mr Young Defense (our high school chess club sponsor used to play it all the time).

Preusseagro

it annoys white player who want to play an open tactical game. In my opinion i would never play it with black or recommendent it for beginners and kids to learn

kamalakanta
Optimissed wrote:

Logically, there is no way to punish 3. ...Be7 other than 4. d4. If it doesn't gain an advantage then nothing else will.

Note Bronstein's move order too. 1. d4.

 

Two things:

First of all,  nowadays some elite players play a slow game with the white pieces, to take the opponent out of the book. Carlsen is a good example.

 

Second of all, Bronstein’s example, although from a different move order or opening, was used to illustrate similar ideas in different systems.

darwinwasright

I dont think the Hungarian Defense has been anything but trivia in a 140 years and i have been alive for more than a third of that time.

kamalakanta
darwinwasright wrote:

I dont think the Hungarian Defense has been anything but trivia in a 140 years and i have been alive for more than a third of that time.

Maybe so, maybe so, but even Carlsen has used it.....

 

 

Optimissed
kamalakanta wrote:
Optimissed wrote:

Logically, there is no way to punish 3. ...Be7 other than 4. d4. If it doesn't gain an advantage then nothing else will.

Note Bronstein's move order too. 1. d4.

 

Two things:

First of all,  nowadays some elite players play a slow game with the white pieces, to take the opponent out of the book. Carlsen is a good example.

 

Second of all, Bronstein’s example, although from a different move order or opening, was used to illustrate similar ideas in different systems.>>

But if the Hungarian Defence didn't give black a passive position then it would be far more popular at a higher level and the idea of playing a slower game doesn't in the slightest attempt to take advantage. Bronstein's game isn't an efficient way to try to take advantage. I'm pretty sure that 4. d4 would also be correct against Mr Young's Defence because that's the standard approach for such situations. Then you can play c3, Qb3 or whatever. Sometimes maybe Qd5.