Two Knights: a tricky repertoire for White

by Albert Silver
3/27/2015 – Players who play the Italian Game must obligatorily be ready to answer the most important deviation: the Two Knights, since it is a common reply from players with black who want to narrow down the theory they need to learn. While White chooses the line, the question is really which. Andrew Martin proposes to answer that question in just 60 minutes.

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Whether hatched by the ChessBase marketing department, or chosen by the author himself, the title “A tricky repertoire for White” has had me rubbing my chin wondering how accurate that claim is. In all honesty, if I cannot come to a clear answer myself, I am forced to conclude it is a valid one.

Perhaps my pensiveness is related to my expectations. When I think of “tricky” I somehow picture the chess equivalent of an expansive minefield in which any misstep can and will lead to pyrotechnics and a humiliating mate for the opponent. Does it fit that profile? Yes, and no.

Andrew Martin presents a repertoire divided into eight videos preparing the player for the
modern line of the Two Knights defense.

Above is the main line, with the principle off-shoots examined and explained

The first videos describe the modern line, exemplified by the game Pirrot-Graf, followed by others, including the important game between Magnus Carlsen and Harikrishna. Although that specific game was theoretically a Ponziani, Martin makes a solid case showing that for instructive purposes, it differs by a single move, and does not change the plans and ideas espoused by the World Champion.

The first half of the videos cover these lines, but more notably the plans and ideas behind them. The most important aspect behind the games chosen and presented by the author is that he goes into great detail explaining the themes and plans the player is likely to encounter, so that a deviation by a move should not lead to confusion or distress. His experience as an educator comes across in the spades, and the viewer comes away confident he has something he can use almost immediately.

Andrew Martin is a veteran educator and his smooth delivery and balanced presentation highlighted this

The second half covers theory in which Black tries to avoid the mainline, hoping to trap the hunter, and here is where the description ‘tricky’ seems the most appropriate. While Black may wish to drive his opponent into unfamiliar waters, Martin has not one, but two vitriolic solutions to fight back, involving queenside castling and forceful aggression. One of the instructive games is by Hikaru Nakamura, which should be pedigree enough.

The 60 minutes flew by, and at the end, there is a Conclusion video that shows the intent to teach and impart value. Instead of thank yous and well-wishes (which he does for about five seconds), he summarizes all the theory, what-to-dos and not-to-dos, reminding the student of the themes and ways to deepen his study of the lines.

If you are looking for a good reply against the Two Knights, with a mix of plans and attacking, then this is for you.

Andrew Martin:
The Two Knights - A tricky repertoire for White


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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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