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Four Knights (C47)
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Nc3 Nf6

Number of games in database: 2360
Years covered: 1857 to 2021
Overall record:
   White wins 28.1%
   Black wins 26.1%
   Draws 45.9%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
PRACTITIONERS
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Moshe Czerniak  31 games
Varlam Vepkhvishvili  23 games
Dina Belenkaya  17 games
Svetozar Gligoric  19 games
Levon Aronian  12 games
Sergey Karjakin  11 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Kramnik vs Aronian, 2012
Tal vs Averbakh, 1954
Nimzowitsch vs Leonhardt, 1907
NN vs V Kahn, 1941
Bondarevsky vs Smyslov, 1945
Bondarevsky vs Bronstein, 1945
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 page 1 of 95; games 1-25 of 2,360  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Paulsen vs W Fuller  0-1541857Blindfold simul, 3bC47 Four Knights
2. Paulsen vs B Raphael ½-½4718571st American Chess CongressC47 Four Knights
3. Paulsen vs Morphy 0-12918571st American Chess CongressC47 Four Knights
4. E Zoltowski vs Zukertort 0-1261869BerlinC47 Four Knights
5. S Rosenthal vs J Wisker  ½-½361871MatchC47 Four Knights
6. J Heral vs Bird ½-½381873ViennaC47 Four Knights
7. J Heral vs K Pitschel  0-1501873ViennaC47 Four Knights
8. F Madan vs J Keynes 0-11618742nd Oxford - Cambridge Varsity mC47 Four Knights
9. Paulsen vs M Weiss 1-0351882ViennaC47 Four Knights
10. W Pollock vs Burn  1-0211885Simpson's Divan gameC47 Four Knights
11. W Pollock vs W H Harsant  1-0171885Bath - Bristol and Clifton club matchC47 Four Knights
12. Tarrasch vs G Simonson 1-0101887BerlinC47 Four Knights
13. Tarrasch vs Von Scheve 1-0221887BerlinC47 Four Knights
14. Tarrasch vs E Schallopp 0-1471887FrankfurtC47 Four Knights
15. Von Scheve vs A Fritz 1-0211887FrankfurtC47 Four Knights
16. Tarrasch vs Alapin 1-0411887FrankfurtC47 Four Knights
17. Harmonist vs Englisch 0-1151887FrankfurtC47 Four Knights
18. Tarrasch vs Von Bardeleben ½-½291887FrankfurtC47 Four Knights
19. Von Scheve vs Taubenhaus  0-1331887FrankfurtC47 Four Knights
20. Richter / Seger / Rosenthal vs Bauer / Barnes / Crespi 0-1231887FrankfurtC47 Four Knights
21. Von Gottschall / Harmonist / Tarra vs Metger / Mieses / Paulsen ½-½2218882-BSB Congress, consultC47 Four Knights
22. W Pollock vs Chigorin 0-12418896th American Chess CongressC47 Four Knights
23. Loman vs J Mortimer  1-0391891Simpson's DivanC47 Four Knights
24. W Pollock vs E Delmar  1-0671891Match Pollock-DelmarC47 Four Knights
25. Allies vs Em. Lasker / L Lasek 0-1221891Consultation gameC47 Four Knights
 page 1 of 95; games 1-25 of 2,360  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Sep-04-06  NakoSonorense: <<What is black's best play here?>> You mean White's best play? I'm interested in this because I've had this same position with White in several games and I usually end up losing it...
Sep-04-06  NateDawg: <Robin01> It is unusual for White to fianchetto in a classical opening such as the King's Pawn Game. Fianchettoeing kingside leaves the Knight at f3 undefended by pawns, and the bishop at g2 is usually locked in by White's pawn at e4.

After 1. e4 e5 2. ♘f3 ♘c6 3. ♘c3 ♗c5 4. d3 ♘f6 5. g3, Black can play 5...♘g4!, to which White must respond 6. d4. Then after 6...exd4 7. ♘a4 ♕e7 8. ♘xc5 ♕xc5 9. ♗g2 d3! Black sets up the threat of ♕xf2#. 10. 0-0 dxc2 11. ♕e2 0-0 and Black is up by two pawns. Fritz 9 evaluates the position as (-1.02).


click for larger view

Sep-05-06  Robin01: I appreciate the answers. Thanks.
Oct-10-06  soughzin: I know the 4 knights isn't quite the ruy for seeking a sizeable advantage but it's a pain for black to know about. It's hard enough to worry about the ruy,the italian,the scotch,the KG,then in the 4 knights there's the glek,scotch 4 knights,belgrade,and 4.Bb5, 4 systems you have to know against just one branch after e5. I was thinking about playing 4...Bb4 to the scotch 4 knights so I never have to memorize belgrade stuff, does anyone know how the theory on this move is lately? *sorry if I bitch a lot I shouldn't play e5 if I don't want all the theory ; )
Dec-12-06  Stevens: has anyone played the Belgrade Gambit much here? Did you get any success? Do yo u still play it?

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nd5

Dec-31-06  belgradegambit: Do I play it? What do you think? I have a 90% winning percentage on the internet with this line. The most popular response of the uninitiated is NxN. Bruce Monson's book on the gambit is excellent. Black has a number of equalizing lines but its a minefield.
Dec-31-06  belgradegambit: <soughzin> White can also play very aggressively against that variation, see Harikrishna vs Mamedyarov, 2006
Oct-30-08  erad1288: does anyone know where to find more on the halloween attack? I'm asking because I disdain the petrov oh so badly, so I usually end up in the four knights and want to play this unsound but spectacular gambit.
Oct-31-08  Justawoodpusher: Hello <erad1288>

try the things you find with google:
e.g.:

http://www.chessville.com/UCO/Hallo...

Oct-31-08  GreenArrow: The halloween gambit is definitely underrated. A number of the alleged 'refutations' are pretty much bogus and not the product of any serious thought. Even when black chooses the best paths to neutralise whites attack, positional compensation remains in the form of the strong centre. I have never played this over the board (my analysis of it is quite recent) and when faced with the petrov defence I have played the cochrane gambit instead. For those who are interested in the Halloween gambit, there is good stuff available online e.g. http://www.xs4all.nl/~timkr/tour/br... , and I can guarantee that existing analyses of Wind, Pinski, Euwe etc can be improved on (having done so myself, with Fritz of course).
Oct-31-08  Amarande: Indeed ... it's a lot more difficult to refute the Halloween than one might think.

For instance, the following game, where Black's defense was by no means terrible, yet White finds a way to - not even a quick blitz, but actually a winning *ending!*

<1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Nxe5 Nxe5 5 d4 Ng6> Relatively best; 5 ... Nc6 allows White to kick back both Knights, and obtain a d6 v. d7 ram, which tends to have a massive deleterious effect on Black's game.

<6 e5 Ng8 7 Bc4 Bb4 8 Qf3 Qe7 9 h4> Intending to force Black to weaken his King's wing with Bg5 or h5. But doesn't this seem to give away a pawn?

<9 ... Nxh4? 10 Rxh4!> The pawn was not a treat but a trick!

<10 ... Qxh4 11 Qxf7+ Kd8 12 Qxg7> And evaluation is already massively .

<12 ... Qh1+ 13 Ke2 Qh5+ 14 f3 Qg6 15 Bg5+ Ke8 16 Qxh8 Qxg5 17 Qxg8+ Qxg8 18 Bxg8> And at this point the commentators of old would label this as 'With two Pawns down, Black has nothing left to salvage but his dignity.' The ending:

<18 ... h6 19 Nd5 Ba5 20 Rh1 d6 21 e6 c6 22 Nf6+ Ke7 23 Ng4 Bxe6 24 Bxe6 Kxe6 25 Rxh6+ Kd5 26 Kd3!> Threatening mate in one in the center of the board, in not one but two ways! Black's reply is forced.

<26 ... c5 27 c4+ Kc6 28 d5+ Kc7 29 Rh7+ Kb6 30 Rd7 Be1 31 Rxd6+ Kc7 32 Re6 Bg3 33 Re7+ Kb6 34 Ne5 Bxe5 35 Rxe5 Rg8 36 g4 Rf8 37 Ke4 Rh8 38 g5 Rh2 39 g6 Rg2 40 Kf4! Rxg6> Of course otherwise 41 Rg5, and White wins outright. But now the Rooks are exchanged, and while Black can stop the e-pawn, a pretty mate ensues in the end.

<41 Re6+ Rxe6 42 dxe6 Kc7 43 Kf5 Kd8 44 Kf6 Ke8> Arrives on time, but ...

<45 e7 b5 46 Ke6 bxc4 47 f4 c3 48 f5 c2 49 f6 c1Q 50 f7 mate!> Happy Halloween with a smile!


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Oct-31-08  GreenArrow: <Amarande> Nice game, though admittedly it is over really after the sequence starting with 9...Nxh4? My main line in the 7...Bb4 variation also has 9.h4 as best with likely play being 9.h4 Bxc3+ (going to happen sooner or later) 10.bxc3 Nh6 11.Bg5! f6 12.Bxh6 gxh6 13.h5 Nf8 14.0-0-0 and black's problems are obvious. Technically he may be better but I would definitely take white here.
Oct-31-08  MaxxLange: 5-7 years ago, I saw site run by a German guy specializing in this opening... He was running ICC engines that played the Halloween, and had a nice theory base going against some ICC GMs....maybe his site is still going, or is at least archived somewhere

This is a hell of an anti-Petroff line, ha...the 4 Knights in General, hell, why not?

Oct-31-08  hrvyklly: <erad1288> Have you tried the Cochrane Gambit?
Feb-23-09  SmotheredKing: Scary thought for those of us that think being a piece up in the opening is Opening Explorer
Feb-23-09  chessman95: <erad1288> You might also like to try the Chicago Gambit, which goes 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nxe5!?, and after 3...Nxe5 it intends 4.d4, which not only makes white's development very rapid but also gains another tempo. (This opening is much more risky then even the Cochrane or Halloween)
Mar-06-09  FiveofSwords: I dont think the halloween is unsound at all. Ive worked hard to be prepared for it as black and I must say I was impressed at how not advantageous the best for black was that I could come up with. If I wasnt prepared im sure id be toast. In fact, I find it a little easier to play black in the cochrane and im a little more comfortable saying black has an objective advantage there. Anyway I dont see why you would treat the halloween as an anti-petroff line. You can also have interesting ideas in the petroff...if you are a creative player you can find all sorts of interesting sacrifices in all sorts of main lines- Ive considered and analyzed a lot of fun stuff in many lines which has never been played before...
Jun-05-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: "The Four Knights Game is a double King Pawn opening (1. e4 e5) where both sides develop their Knights first, following the classic principle Knights Before Bishops. This means Knights typically do best on f3/f6 and c3/c6, while Bishops have several good squares available to develop. The usual move order is 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6, although this may be reached by transposition from the Vienna Game (1. e4 e5 2. Nc3). The Four Knights (4N) is a safe and solid choice for beginners and juniors, aiming for straightforward development, yet it is not common at the GM level since the quiet center and symmetrical piece play give White less of a potential opening advantage compared to more dynamic lines."

"The chessgames.com database has 3,764 Four Knights games, with these statistics for White's fourth move: 4. Bb5 56%, 4. d4 27%, 4. Bc4 13%, and 4. g3 10%. Don't try to memorize these percentages, but it's helpful to consider how often the different main lines are played when studying openings."

Tony Palmer, "Chess Life for Kids" June 2010

http://www.westmichiganchess.com/au...

Oct-23-11  jbtigerwolf: I've only seen Nc3 after 2...Nf6, never after 2...Nc6, so this requires the Petroff.

I like Black's game as pointed out by Averageguy after 4.Bc4. It is a natural move and I do not think it just applies to beginners or low rated players. Once played, Bc4 opens the way to 9...O-O-O and the preceding moves, then if 10.Qxe4 you've won the Q for a R... if 10.O-O it's still good with that trap.

The Petroff may be worth learning just for this!

Feb-25-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Opening of the Day

Four Knights
1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♘c3 ♘f6


click for larger view

Oct-31-13  Kikoman: <Opening of the Day>

The Halloween Attack
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nxe5


click for larger view

Opening Explorer

Oct-31-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  hedgeh0g: Happy Halloween!
Jan-13-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Ron: In 2016, Arkadij Naiditsch played the Four Knights as White in 13 games. In those 13 games, he won 7, drew 5, lost 1.

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/ches...

Dec-05-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: I have started playing the Four Knights in my CC games as White, rather than going down the well-trodden paths of the Ruy Lopez, or the Petroff/Russian opening.
Aug-26-21  Bartleby: <GreenArrow: The halloween gambit is definitely underrated. A number of the alleged 'refutations' are pretty much bogus and not the product of any serious thought.>

I do love that old Tim Krabbe article, and I play the Four Knights in the open games myself (with an opportunistic eye towards the Belgrade Gambit). The heart loves the flamboyant bravado of the Halloween Gambit, but my head has to admit it's pretty unsound.

Jan Pinski's antidote line of counterpunching in the center and returning the knight with: 4…Nxe5 5.d4 Nc6 6.d5 Bb4! 7.dxc6 Nxe4 8.Qd4 Qe7 is pretty convincing. And playing 9.Be3 0-0 10.Bd3 Nxc3 11.bxc3 Ba5 12.0-0 dxc6 is probably not what any self-respecting gambiteer had in mind when he essayed 4. Nxe5?! in the first place, hoping to drive back the black knights and throttle black with lightning-fast development and initiative. I see the big bright orange jack-o-lantern balloon sadly deflating with this refutation. White isn't lost, but all the wind in his sails is gone. Even Hiarcs 14 prefers the "main line" of 6. ...Ne5 only very slightly over 6. ...Bb4, and this line is far easier to remember and humanlike to play.

Eric Schiller has his own antidote in the superficially similar 5. ...Ng6 line after 6. e5 Bb4 7. exf6 Qxf6 but in my opinion it's not quite as dynamic.

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