Attack with the Two Knights Defence

by ChessBase
5/27/2010 – Watch out 1.e4 players! How do you continue after 1...e5? IM Lawrence Trent suggests the rediscovered Two Knights Defence with 4.Ng5 instead of the often dull lines of the Ruy Lopez. In nearly five hours he shows you both the general ideas and the latest trends. Lance Martin from checked his recommendations and regards it a "sure-fire alternative". Buy his DVD now or read this review with sampler.

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Lawrence Trent: "Two Knights Defence"

Review by Lance Martin -

The subject of this DVD is the Two Knights Defense with 4.Ng5. The opening begins with 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6, which was analyzed by Polerio as early as 1580. Reportedly, David Bronstein recommended that this opening be called the Chigorin Counter Attack, and Tarrasch even called 4.Ng5 a beginners move (ein stumper zug). However, according to Jan Pinski in The Two Knights Defence, it was revitalized in the 1990s by players such as Morozevich and Short.

There are a total of twenty-six lectures on this DVD:

  • Introduction
  • Asrian-Minasian
  • Anand-Beliavsky
  • Huerta-Ballinas
  • Bahram-Hector
  • Kan-Konstsntinopolsky
  • Vallejo-Pons-Naiditsch
  • Weitsch-Jedynak
  • Dublin-Kuzman
  • Jeric-Rodmanr
  • Rudnick-Pichlern Trent-Parpinel
  • Kursonov-De La Paz Perdomo
  • Demian-Oprisor
  • Zhang Zhong-Gungully
  • Short-Sokolovl
  • Nakamura-Friedel
  • Conquest-Howell
  • Socko-Bacrot
  • Ciocaltea-Nezhmetdinovn
  • L-Ami-Stellwagen
  • Kriventsov-Becerra
  • Sutovsky-Beliavsky
  • Yakovich-Tomashevsky
  • Naititsch-Halikias
  • Outro

As for Lawrence Trent, I had my doubts about him when I discovered that he only played three rated games in the 4.Ng5 line.

Nevertheless, he is young, articulate, and knowledgeable. He sets out to show you that this is an interesting opening that offers chances for a White victory. He links the opening to the middlegame to which it leads, but leaves it for the viewer to explore any endgame themes. He does not waste his lecture time on unnecessary moves in terms of the opening, though one can quibble about his choice of illustrative games.

Click here for replay a sampler from the DVD (reduced quality).

The number of games Trent has played in this line does not reflect the research and erudition that went into this DVD. To start things out, Trent begins with the Traxler Gambit 4.Ng5 Bc5 5.Bxf7+. In the U.S. and U.K. this is known as the Wilkes-Barre variation.

Trent uses the game Asrian-Minasian for two reasons: Asrian made the game look so easy and there have hardly been any games in the Traxler since this game. While this line has only been played 300 times in all of historically rated games, it has been played by the likes of Anand and Shabalov. In fact, Trent's next game in the Traxler is Anand-Beliavsky. It is one of the few games where Trent found it necessary to include the entire game in his lecture.

One thing that I noticed is Trent uses the same transposition of moves that Pinski does in his book. Both show the game went 6…d6 7.d3 Qe8, when the real move-order was 6…Qe8 7.d3 d6. Further similarities between the two works can be found in the commentary to the moves 11…Qxg2 and 15..Ng4, as well as in the game Bahram-Hector.

In that game, which illustrates the Ulvestad variation 5…b5 6.dxc6, Pinski states "After this move White is actually fighting to stay alive. The paradoxical 6.Bf1 is the main move here..." While, according to Trent, "White can play the move 6.Bf1 which I am going to recommend to you." After the move 7.Nc3, Pinski says, "The alternative is 7.Qe2?1 h6!? (also possible is 7…Qd5)..." While, according to Trent, "If white plays 7.Qe2, Black has a very logical move …Qd5." On 8.Nge4, Trent has "Nf3 might be a better move followed by Qd6 and Bd6 9.Qe2 Black castles white castles Re8 is very dangerous for white." While Pinski writes "Also possible is 8.Nf3 Bd6 9.Qe2 0-0 10.0-0 .. After something like 10…Re8 white has a difficult game in front of him." Trent continues, "11.Qxc4 e4 12.Ne1 Bxh2+ this might be winning 13.Kxh2 Ng4+ 14.Kg3 h5!." And here is Pinski's annotation of the position: "11.Qxc4? e4 12.Ne1 Bxh2+ 13.Kxh2 Ng4+ 14.Kg3 h5!."

Of course some of this analysis can also be found in ECO, but it would seem that Trent used Pinski's book as a point of reference.

The next game chosen for Trent's lectures was between Ilia Kan and Alexander Konstantinopolsy and it was also annotated by Pinski: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 b5 6.Bxb5?! Qxd5 7.Bxc6+ Qxc6 8.0-0

Happily, Trent's analysis is far more thorough than Pinski's, even though there were some similarities, which can be expected when two strong players annotate the same game. Other games follow the same course, with occasional similarities between the two works, but also with enough differences to set them apart.

Trent, for his part, is an excellent teacher who knows how to structure a DVD to provide the lectures in an order that is both understandable and useful for learning this opening. He goes through every major variant and does an excellent job in annotating the sample games from each line. This DVD succeeds in meeting every line with a game that best shows the positives and negatives of the moves that are associated with it.

All in all, Trent met the goal that he set at the beginning of the DVD. He showed that the 4.Ng5 variation is playable and leads to enjoyable game. He presents the advantages for White and shows how Black can equalize in this line. Plus, he does so in an interesting and vibrant manner. I recommend this DVD to anyone who is looking for an aggressive variation and is willing to take some chances to gain the point. If you are tired of your current repertoire, then this is a sure-fire alternative that will make your opponents think twice when playing against it.  

My assessment of this DVD: Four out of four stars

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