Two Knights DefenseC55

Erling Tholfsen
Frank James Marshall


Dimock Theme 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4
Marshall Chess Club, New York, 1924


1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. e5 d5 6. Bb3?

Standard, of course, is 6.Bb5 Ne4 7.Nxd4 Bd7 8.Bxc6 bxc6 when White has good play either on the weakened dark squares on the Queenside with Be3, Nb3, and Qd2-c3 or by attacking on the Kingside with f2-f4-f5. Marshall writes, "The move in the text is bad; in fact, this Bishop is completely out of the game." Once Black commits to blocking up the center with pawns on light squares, White does best to exchange the Bishop for a Knight rather than sideline it at b3.


6....Ne4 7. c3 Bg4

Accepting White's gambit with 7....dxc3 8.Bxd5 cxb2 may allow him chances to equalize after 9.Bxc6+ bxc6 10.Qxd8+ Kxd8 11.Bxb2 due to the doubled pawns on the open c-file. Black's choice retains the initiative and still keeps White from easily recovering the pawn.


8. cxd4 Bb4+ 9. Kf1

C. S. Howell notes that "White's position is not good enough to justify a continuation that forfeits the right to castle." But what is the alternative? If 9.Bd2 Nxd2 10.Nbxd2 Nxd4 wins a pawn.


9....O-O 10. h3 Be6 11. Be3 f6 12. Qd3 fxe5 13. dxe5 Kh8 14. Nc3 Bxc3 15. bxc3 Qd7 16. Ba4 Bf5!

"A powerful move," writes Marshall, that "shows clearly how inadequately White has developed."


17. Kg1

Howell notes that 17....Ng3+ was threatened, and if the Queen tries to escape from the indirect attack by the Bishop at f5 with either 17.Qd1 or 17.Qb5 then 17....Nxc3 is a powerful fork. Also, "17.Bxc6 will not do because of 17....Ng3+ 18.Kg1 (otherwise the Queen goes with a check) 18....bxc6 etc." White will pick up the exchange with a winning game.



Marshall writes, "After this it is all over. Black's position soon takes its toll."


18. Qb5 Nxh1 19. Qxb7 Bxh3 20. Bxc6 Qg4 21. Qb2 Rab8 22. Nh2

Or 22.Qd2 Rxf3 23.Kxh1 Bxg2!+ 24.Qxg2 Rh3+ notes Howell.


22....Qe4 23. Qd2 Ng3 0-1

Howell writes, "As the Bishop cannot be captured, Black must win easily."