Sunday, July 31, 2011

Scotch Four Knights (C47) Bibliography

A solid opening for amateurs is the Scotch Four Knights (C47), which generally arises via the Scotch move order 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 but can also come out of a Four Knights (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4) or Vienna move order (1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.d4).  I personally use the Vienna move order to avoid the annoying Petroff Defense and to meet a Philidor set-up with an f4 advance, though you need to be aware that after 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.d4 Black has the interesting gambit 4...Bb4!? (originated in Paulsen - Morphy, New York 1857) which is not available in the Scotch move order.

The long main line of the Scotch Four Knights goes 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 (in this move order, White has to know various anti-Scotch ideas, including Steinitz's 4...Qh4!?) 5.Nc3 (5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 is the more popular Mieses Variation) 5...Bb4 (5...Bc5!? is also playable) 6.Nxc6 (White also has the strange 6.Bb5!? 6...bxc6 7.Bd3 (7.Qd4!? Qe7 8.f3 can be complicated but seems playable and was a favorite of Paulsen) 7...d5 (Black can also delay this advance and play 7...O-O 8.O-O with perhaps ...Re8 or ...d6) 8.exd5 cxd5 9.O-O O-O 10.Bg5 c6 reaching the standard tabiya, when White usually plays 11.Qf3, 11.Na4, or 11.Ne2, all of which are considered roughly equal.

Though considered equal by theory, the Scotch Four Knights is quite interesting and can be safely played for advantage, especially at the amateur  level.  White gets a wide-open game with lots of piece play, and thanks to his slight initiative can generally get some concession from Black, typically in damaged pawns (following Nxc6) and the two Bishops (if Black plays Bxc3), which makes this a great line for positionally minded players who like to exploit endgame advantages.  It is also possible to play for a kingside attack, as demonstrated by Berg - Sokolov, Malmo 2001 and Rasmussen - Jessen, Denmark 2002.  The line was employed by many strong players, including:
Because the Mieses Variation popularized by Kasparov is all the rage, many books on the Scotch (notably Barsky, Dembo & Palliser, and Wells) skip over the Scotch Four Knights, perhaps on the logic that it is really a variation of the Four Knights Game; meanwhile you will occasionally find good coverage in books on the Four Knights (see especially Pinski's below).  But books have become less necessary these days to learning such a popular system, and most players can probably find all that they need on the web.  The following bibliography, presented in reverse chronological order, features many online sources which are an ideal starting point.


Keep It Simple 1.e4: A Solid and Straightforwrd Chess Opening Repertoire for White by Christof Sielecki (New in Chess 2018): 8-80. 
You can find the table of contents and some sample pages at the publisher's site.  As the title says, the book offers a super-solid repertoire, beginning with the Open Games and featuring the Scotch Four Knights with Kramnik's 10.h3 in the main line.  Sample games include Wang Hao - Anand, Wijk aan Zee 2013; Klein - Wessel, Netherlands 2015/16; and Rublevsky - Najer, EU cup 2012.  Other lines discussed include the Sicilian with Bb5, the Exchange French (including some lines from the Monte Carlo Variation), and the Two Knights Caro-Kann.

Scotch Four Knights (C47)
A great collection on the Scotch Four Knights and related lines (including Belgrade Gambit and 4...Bb4).  I often recommend that those seeking to learn a new opening simply play over as many high-level games as possible with the line. also has a good page to help you develop your pattern recognition.  This is a good place for most players to start, though for more serious students of the game these databases are a bit limited.  

Rocket Repertoire: Four Knights by Simon Williams, ChessBase DVD (2017).  Covers sharper attacking lines of the Scotch Four Knights in a survey of various approaches to the Four Knights.  Also at ChessBaseUSA.

"Interesting Opening Strategy" (2015) by Leonid Kritz.
Covers Howell - Postny, Leiden 2015, with 9.h3.

"Varavin's Vaccine."  New in Chess Yearbook 107 (2013) by Junior Tay, pp. 126-135.  Covers 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 d6.  Free to view online.

Secret Weapon: Four Knights Game by Valeri Lilov, ChessBase (2013). Some of the major lines discussed include the Spanish Four Knights and the Scotch FourKnights, as well as the Belgrade Gambit and the Glek Variation. Also at ChessBaseUSA.

"It's Equal, but..." New in Chess Yearbook 105 (2012)  by Glenn Flear.  Download Zipped PGN.  Covers the flexible White line 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 O-O 8.O-O d5 9.exd5 cxd5 10.h3 in an article focused on Kramnik's success in obtaining an advantage with various "equal" Scotch lines as White.  Games include Kramnik - Aronian, Moscow 2012; Muzychuk - Zhao, Istanbul ol-W 2012; Kontic - Pajkovic, Cetinje 2012; Soors - Zelbel, Antwerp 2012; Chadaev - Adams, Konya 2012; Kramnik - Aronian, Zurich match 2012; Debray - Turov, Lille 2012; Xu - Hajnal, Kecskemet 2012; and Reefat - Hebden, Dhaka 1995.

The Four Knights: Move by Move by Curus Lakdawala (2012)
A useful move-by-move introduction to the Scotch Four Knights by the author of a book by the same title.  A key game in both is Zelcic - Balogh, Baden 1999.

Scotch Four Knights Game: A System for White by "Hogeye" Bill Orton (2011)
An excellent PDF download that is easy to print and covers the whole line for the club player.  Argues that "The Scotch Four Knights generally gives a slight edge and almost no losing chances. If you want to exploit small advantages such as the two bishops and better pawn structure in the endgame with little risk, this opening should be considered."  Another great opening resource from the excellent Fayetteville Chess Club website.

The Openings Explained: The Scotch Four Knights [C47] by Abby Marshall at ChessCafe (2010)
This is an excellent article, with lots of commentary on minor side-lines that usually escape the notice of analysts but which you're likely to see at the amateur level.  Clearly written by a player with lots of scholastic experience playing this line herself. 

Easy Way to the Four Knights Opening,, (May 12, 2010) by Roman Dzindzichashvili.  Requires membership to watch the whole video.  Looks at the main line of the Scotch Four Knights in this third installment.  An excellent series at from the legendary chess coach and teacher.

Four Knights Opening, Illustrative Games. (April 14, 2010) by Roman Dzindzichashvili.   Requires membership to watch the whole video.  Second installment, with lots of interesting tactical and strategic ideas.

Four Knights Opening, Intro. (April 8, 2010) by Roman Dzindzichashvili.  Requires membership to watch the whole video.  

C44-C59: Scotch, Four Knights, Italian by various (2010)
A black repertoire in the open games, with the Scotch Four Knights chapter following Svidler - Malaniuk, St. Petersburg 1993-94, which ended quickly after a shocking Svidler blunder.

The Scotch Game (DVD) by Nigel Davies (ChessBase 2009) Running time: 5 hours.
This DVD provides a surprising amount of coverage of the Scotch Four Knights, which Davies recommends as the easiest variation of the Scotch to learn for beginners and amateurs.

Refuting 5...Nxe4 in the Scotch Four Knights by Michael Goeller
Analyzes the game Sevillano - Tamburro, US Open 2007, which offers a very clean and simple way for White to gain the edge against a potentially messy Knight sacrifice.  While I still like Sevillano's 7.Be2, White might get a little more edge with 7.f3 as advocated by Abby Marshall and John Emms.

Starting Out: The Scotch Game by John Emms (Everyman 2005), pp. 9-57.
With nearly 50 pages devoted to the Scotch Four Knights, all presented at the amateur level and with no obvious bias for either White or Black, this is probably the book to get if you are looking to limit purchases (especially with so much good material freely available online).   Also available as an e-book.  Many of the games analyzed are over a decade old, but that is mainly an indication of how little theory has changed in the Scotch Four Knights since the popularization of the Mieses Variation.  Main games include Bezman - Varavin 1997, Reinderman - Sokolov 1995, Tzermiadianos - Frendzas 1996, Radulov - Pinter 1978, Oppici - Miotto 1990, Ivanov - Liss 1995, Kobalija - Ivanov 1996, Berg - Leko 1995, Ardelean - Vajda 1999 (see NIC), Krutko - Dzhambulatov 2004, Adla - Muniz 2000, and Miles - Sorin 1995

The Scotch Game Explained by Gary Lane (Batsford 2005): 37-64.
Though presented as a repertoire book, this does a great job of covering the whole Scotch from both White's and Black's perspective.  For our purposes, it is especially admirable that the longest chapter in the book is devoted to the Scotch Four Knights Game and offers an excellent overview for amateur players approaching the line from either side -- though games tend to favor White in the end.  Games discussed include Senff - Reeh, German Team Ch 2004; Goldgewicht - Daces, Orange 1994; Berg - Sokolov, Malmo 2001; Frolov - Ibragimov, Elista 2001; Bergez - Fairbairn, Geneva 2005; Magem Badals - Torrecillas Martinez, Andorra 1999; Godena - Iordachescu, New Dehli / Tehran 2000; and Egin - Ibragimov, Seversk 1997.

The Four Knights by Jan Pinski (Everyman 2003), pp. 40-101.
Good coverage of the line for a general reader without Pinski's usual pro-Black bias.  I especially like the quality of the games he chooses, most of which conclude in the endgame stages.  Games featured include Bykhovsky - Howell 1995Kountz - Van den Doel 2000, Nunn - Sulskis 1994Berg - Sokolov 2001, Pavasovic - Beliavsky 1999, Lutz - Yusupov 1992, Christiansen - Gelfand 1992, and Lautier - Sokolov 1992, Malakhov - Pinter 1995, Golubev - Malaniuk 1994, and Pedersen - Khruschiov 2002.

"A Drawing Sacrifice" by A.C Van der Tak New in Chess Yearbook 60 (2001)

Play the Open Games as Black by John Emms (Gambit 2000)
An excellent repertoire book for Black after 1.e4 e5.  Emms covers both 5...Bb4 and 5...Bc5!? from the Black perspective.

An Opening Repertoire for the Positional Player by Eduard Gufeld and Nikolai Kalinichenko (Everyman 1998), pp. 27-40. 
I have to credit this book for getting me to consider the Scotch Four Knights as a practical weapon for White, though its coverage of the opening is not very deep.  I was also influenced by their recommendation of a 2.Nc3 move order to simplify White's preparation. 

4.d4 im Vierspringerspiel by Lev Gutman (Erste Auflage 1993)
This book is out of print but is worth tracking down for correspondence players and other serious students as it offers Gutman's typically exhaustive analysis.  This volume has an introduction by Victor Korchnoi and focuses on the Scotch Four Knights via a Four Knights move order, dealing with 4...Bb4, the Belgrade Gambit with 5.Nd5, and the Scotch Four Knights.

An Old Line with Venom by Juan Rohl (1995)
In Spanish from the defunct Hechiceros site, with PGN download.  Looks at the fascinating Queen sac in the 11.Qf3 line that follows 11... Be7 12. Rae1 Rb8 13. Nd1! Bg4 14.Bxf6!?!  

Winning with the Scotch by Gary Lane (Batsford / Henry Holt 1993), pp. 64-81.
A bit dated but widely available for free download in PDF (not that I advocate that sort of thing).  Lane completely redid and vastly improved his presentation for The Scotch Game Explained (see above), greatly expanding his coverage.  One advantage of older books like this one, though, is they cover lines that drop out of future discussions, including the crazy 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. d4 exd4 5. Nxd4 Bb4 6. Nxc6 bxc6 7. Bd3 d5 8. e5 Ng4 9. Bf4 d4 10. Qf3 dxc3 11. O-O-O as in Popelyshev - Grischuk, Moscow Open 1995.  Games include Salgado Allaria - Nunez, Correspondence 1986-1988 (see below); Salov - Nunn, Wijk aan Zee 1991; Rigo - Zysk, Budapest 1985; Jakovic - Ernst, Gausdal 1991; Lautier - Sokolov, Correze 1992; and Estevez - Rivera, Sagua la Grande 1988.
[Event "?"]
[Site "Correspondence"]
[Date "1986.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Salgado Allaria"]
[Black "Nunez"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C47"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Nxc6 bxc6 7. Bd3 d5 8. e5 Ng4 9. Bf4 d4 10. Qf3 dxc3 11. O-O-O cxb2+ 12. Kb1 Nxf2 13. Be4 Nxd1 14. Bxc6+ Bd7 15. Rxd1 O-O 16. Rxd7 Qc8 17. Qg4 Rd8 18. e6 Rxd7 19. exd7 Qd8 20. Bxa8 Qxa8 21. Bxc7 Be7 22. Qd4 Bd8 23. Qe5 1-0
New Ideas in the Four Knights by John Nunn (Batsford / Henry Holt 1993), pp. 37-47.
This book is a bit dated and, surprisingly, does not cover the Scotch Four Knights, though it does offer ten pages of analysis on the 4...Bb4 gambit.

Gewinnen mit Schottisch by Lev Gutman (Erste Auflage 1992)
This book is out of print but is worth tracking down for correspondence players and other serious students of the Scotch as it offers Gutman's typically exhaustive analysis.  This volume has an introduction by Garry Kasparov and is focused on the Mieses Variation but includes good coverage of early move alternatives, including 4...Qh4, 4...Qf6 and 4...Bc5, important for those using a Scotch move order.

Scotch Four Knights by Alexei Shirov NIC Yearbook 27 (1992)

Scotch Four Knights by René Olthof NIC Yearbook 25 (1992)

An Unbeatable White Repertoire after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 by Larry Evans and Ken Smith (Chess Digest 1988)
This book has held up remarkably well despite its age, mostly thanks to the smart recommendations of the late GM Evans.  It also offers a good and basic Four Knights repertoire for White.  However, while it covers the Belgrade Gambit and 4...Bb4 line, it does not cover the Scotch Four Knights.


ed g. said...

I had a huge score (against largely Expert-level opponents) with the Scotch Four Knights back in the late 80s/early 90s. The only book I used was Vladimir Zagorovsky's _Romantic Chess Openings_. Very worthwhile little book, if you can find a copy--I wish I still had mine.

MNb said...

Alas the Vienna doesn't avoid the Philidor because of 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 (not d6) 3.Nf3 and only now 3...d6.

MNb said...

As 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 is exactly the same as 3.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 the only defences White avoids with the Vienna are the Latvian and the Elephant.
At the other hand White has to find something against 2.Nc3 Bc5, so it is highly doubtful if 2.Nc3 is more practical than 2.Nf3 to reach the Four Knights.

Michael Goeller said...

You make a good point about how 2.Nc3 does not make a big difference vs the Petroff, since White reaches the same position after either 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 or 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3. And my point about the Philidor is also questionable: 2.Nc3 does allow White to play an early f4 vs a Philidor set-up with 2...d6 -- but Black can foil that plan with 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 d6! and we have the Philidor again. Avoiding the Latvian and Elephant, though, is not such a bad thing. In the end, it might just be I like to lead with my left Knight in south-paw fashion. :-)

For repertoire suggestions with a 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 move order, see my piece on a 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 White Repertoire.

Anonymous said...

Beating the Open Games
Mihail Marin
pp 179-204
Quality Chess 2007
Marin has some useful ideas as usual.

Anonymous said...

There was a good article at Chess Cafe:

Anonymous said...

Better link:

Michael Goeller said...

Better link now:

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