Tuesday, 29 March 2011

How strong is the Four Knights?

The Four Knights is one of those openings that was popular until the 1920's , when the Hyper-Moderns began to change the way we looked at openings. Players liked Capablanca, Rubenstein and even Nimzowitch debated the merits of it, without it being declared definitively bad. At worse one could say that as an opening, White found better things to do on move 3.
It does turn up from time to time (eg Short v L'Ami 2009) but every appearance seems to have an element of surprise attached to it. The latest high level outing was at the current European Championship where Ivan Popov used it to draw with Peter Svidler. A lot of the game looked like home prep, and although it only earned Popov half a point, this might be considered a success given the rating difference between the two players. However, before you decide that the Four Knights is good for an easy draw against any 2700+ GM, it is worth noting that Svidler probably let Popov escape a little easily, as 17. ... Kd8! 18.exd6 Bd7 still offers Black good winning chances.

Popov,Ivan RUS (2613) - Svidler,Peter (2730) [C48]
12th ch-EUR Aix-les-Bains FRA (6), 27.03.2011

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Nd4 5.Nxe5 Qe7 6.f4 Nxb5 7.Nxb5 d6 8.Nf3 Qxe4+ 9.Kf2 Ng4+ 10.Kg3 Qg6 11.Nh4 Qf6 12.h3 g5 13.Qe2+ Ne5 14.d4 gxf4+ 15.Kh2 Qxh4 16.dxe5 Qg3+ 17.Kg1 f3 18.Qxf3 Qxf3 19.gxf3 Kd7 20.exd6 Bxd6 21.Nxd6 Kxd6 ½-½

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If White wanted a quick draw then 5.Nxd4 exd4 6.e5 was a simpler way of going about it.