Monday, November 26, 2012

Urusov Gambit Bibliography

I will be giving a lecture at the Kenilworth Chess Club on Thursday, November 29th, beginning at 8:15 pm on "The Tactics of the Urusov Gambit."  Admission is $5 and includes a packet of materials on the Urusov and related lines.  

In preparation for my lecture, I decided to put together a bibliography of sources on the repertoire I recommend, which is different from the one I recommended in The Urusov Gambit System website back in 2003.  The repertoire I now recommend includes the Bishop's Opening and Urusov Gambit, starting 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nf3; the Modern Sveshnikov Variation of the Two Knights Defense, which comes about by 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.e5 or by transposition from the Urusov after 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 (3...Nc6!? 4.Nf3) 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.e5; and the Steinitz-Sveshnikov Variation of the Giuoco Piano, which arises after 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.Nf3 Bc5 (or 2...Bc5 3.Nf3 Nc6) 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.e5.  The bibliography includes books, articles, online resources, and videos for each of the variations covered.  I will probably continue adding to the material here through Thursday.  As always, I invite corrections and additions.

Bishop's Opening and Urusov Gambit 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4

Rapid mobilization of pieces; open lines to utilize White's lead in development; typical mating sacrifices on the kingside -- these factors explain why the Urusov Gambit was one of the most populr openings at the start of the 20th Century. -- Boris Alterman, The Alterman Gambit Guide: White Gambits (47).
The Urusov Gambit arises after 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nf3.  White's idea is to develop the pieces quickly and use his advantage in mobility to create attacking chances.  This is best illustrated by the main line with 4...Nxe4 5.Qxd4 Nf6 6.Bg5 Be7 7.Nc3 Nc6 8.Qh4 d6 9.O-O-O  when White need only play Rhe1 to have completely mobilized his pieces to their ideal squares. 

In this position, 9...O-O? is already a grave error, and White gained a winning attack in Neishtadt - NN, Simultaneous 1950, after 10.Bd3 h6 11.Bxh6! gxh6 12.Qxh6 Nb4 13.Ng5 Nxd3+ 14.Rxd3 Bf5 15.Rg3 Bg6 16.Ne6 1-0.  A better try for Black is 9...Be6, when White completes his development with 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.Rhe1 or 10.Rhe1 Bxc4 11.Qxc4 and, in either case, has excellent compensation for the sacrificed pawn due to his commanding lead in development and control of space.  There are a number of side-lines along the way, of course, and these are all discussed in the sources given below. 

Books, Articles, and Online Resources

C-24 Urusov Gambit at

Stephen Dowd (2012).  The Bxh6 Sacrifice, Part Two.  ChessCafe, Skittles Room.
This two-part article (see also Part One) offers a wonderful discussion of the Bxh6 sacrifice, which is so important in several lines of the Urusov.  In Part Two, he discusses two critical positions from the Urusov in particular.

Michael Goeller (2012).  "Anderssen Counter-Gambit."  Kenilworth Chess Club.  Analyzes the game Goeller - Komunicky, KCC Championship 2012, which featured the unusual line 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 b5!?

Michael Goeller (2010).  "Boris Alterman on the Urusov Gambit."  Kenilworth Chess Club.  As part of a review of The Alterman Gambit Guide: White Gambits, I analyzed some lines, about which I was critical.  But this is truly an excellent book.

Boris Alterman (2010).  The Alterman Gambit Guide: White Gambits.  Quality Chess (see PDF TOC).  45-78.  See my review for details about this excellent book.  The second chapter is devoted to the Urusov Gambit, with special attention to some of the sacrificial lines.  Coverage is broken into a selection of games and a "theoretical overview."  Games include Polzin - Fritzche, Berlin 1996Estrin - Taimanov, Leningrad 1949Tereschenko - Rotlewi, St. Petersburg 1909Neishtadt - NN, Simultaneous 1950Hausner - Szymczak, Prague 1989Jurjevich - Carter, USA 1994Keidanski - Lasker, Berlin Simul 1891; and Avrukh - Skripchenko, Linares 2001

Glenn Flear (2010).  Starting Out, Open Games.  Everyman Chess.  Offers good general coverage of a broad range of 1.e4 e5 openings, including the Urusov Gambit.  Offers up the game Tavakolian - Gebhardt, German League 2008, for evidence of why you should play the Two Knights as Black instead.

David Robert Lonsdale (2010).  Bishop's Opening: The Berlin Defence, The Ponziani Gambit Accepted.  Self-published.  An unstapled pamphlet that attractively organizes -- but without any critical assessment, analysis or annotation -- most available database games played with the line 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 Nxe4. It is 22 pages with 47 diagrams and 51 games. For sale on eBay.  If this book had been published in the 1980s, before the widespread availability of databases, it might have been worthwhile.  But today, any chess player with access to a chess database could produce something better in minutes.  I refuse to give it a link lest I encourage anyone to buy it.  Just as an example of how worthless this is, it gives the line 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d4 Nxe4 4.dxe5 Ng5 and offers two games where White played 5.Qh5?! and 5.f4 respectively, both won by Black.  So you might get the impression that this is a good line for Black, but nothing could be further from the truth.  White's best responses are neither of these, but might be instead 5.Bf4 (to inhibit the d6 advance); 5.Nf3 (developing rapidly); or 5.Bxg5 Qxg5 6.Nf3 developing rapidly and setting the trap 6...Qxg2? 7.Rg1 Qh3 8.Bxf7+ etc.  A halfway useful book might discuss that rather than simply giving you the full score of two badly played games that you could easily track down yourself for free -- or find discussed online at "The Tricky 3...Nxe4" (see below).

Michael Goeller (2008).  "Urusov Gambit 2008 Update."  Kenilworth Chess Club.  A collection of mostly recent games with the Urusov with commentary.  I had intended to offer an annual collection of Urusov games, but only recently have I found enough recent games to make that possible.  Stay tuned.

Michael Goeller (2008).  "Patzer Variation or Refutation?" Kenilworth Chess Club.  Discusses the line  1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nf3 Bb4+ 5.c3 dxc3 6.bxc3 Bc5! which is more difficult to refute than you might expect.

Michael Goeller (2008).  "The Tricky 3...Nxe4."  Kenilworth Chess Club.  Discusses the line 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 Nxe4 4.dxe5, which is clearly to White's advantage, though you need to be aware of the tricks involved with 4...Qh4!?

Michael Goeller (2008).  "Refuting 5...Qe7."  Kenilworth Chess Club.  Analyzes the game Barnard - Bishop, Correspondence 1997, which featured the line 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Qxd4 Qe7.

Michael Goeller (2007).  "Urusov Gambit Notes."  Kenilworth Chess Club.  Offers a collection of relatively recent games that feature the Urusov Gambit.

Michael Goeller (2006).  "Anti-Antoshin."  Kenilworth Chess Club.  Analyzes the transposition to the Antoshin Variation of Philidor's Defense that follows 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nf3 d6 5. O-O! Be7 6. Re1 O-O 7. Nxd4 a6! 8. a4 when White's thematic attacking idea involves Nf5 and a kingside pawn advance.

Michael Goeller (2005).  "Urusoff / Urusov Gambit Bibliography." Kenilworth Chess Club.  An earlier effort at listing recent works that covered the Urusov, after Susan Polgar's article came out in Chess Life (see below).

Susan Polgar (2005). "Urusoff Gambit." Chess Life (August 2005): 36-37.

Michael Goeller (2005). Goeller-Mazzillo, Kenilworth Chess Club Championship 2005. Annotated at the Kenilworth Chess Club site and available in various formats.

Gary Lane (2004)The Bishop's Opening Explained. Batsford 2004, especially pp. 28-41.
Offers excellent coverage of the Urusoff gambit and lays out multiple Bishop's Opening repertoires, covering all the major transpositions that can arise after 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4, including paths to the Vienna as well as the Italian Game that I recommend. This is an excellent book, especially for lower-rated players, since it does such a great job of covering a broad range of lines while discussing themes and ideas. Lane also focuses on recent games which have often not been discussed elsewhere, and the games are very well chosen.  Games with the Urusov Gambit in particular include Neishtadt - Gipslis, Riga 1955; Avrukh - Skripchenko-Lautier, Linares 2001; Tereschenko - Rotlewi, St. Petersburg 1909; Laes - Zitterio, Correspondence 1971; Hausner - Szymczak, Warsaw 1989Estrin - Bykhovsky, Moscow 1964Heikinheimo - Crepaux, Dubrovnik 1950Kreiman - Shirazi, New York 1992Barnard - Steadman, Correspondence 1997Schlechter - Allies, Karlsbad 1901Caro - Janowsky, Berlin 1897; and Timoschenko - Karpov, Moscow 1969. 

Le Gambit Urusov (2004) from the Mjae website
This is mostly a French plagiarism of my own writings, but they do a fairly good job of simplifying my lines while offering good general coverage. And at least they give me some acknowledgment. FYI: The picture they have of "Prince Urusov" is actually a distant relation of his and not the man himself.

Karsten Müller and Martin Voigt (2003)Danish Dynamite, Explosive Gambits: the Danish, Goring, Scotch, and Urusov. Millford, CT: Russell Enterprises, 2003. 206-233.
This book is out of print and increasingly rare, so you are likely to see its price climbing.  Müller and Voigt offer the best recent analysis of the Urusov Gambit that you will find in a book. As the book is written in Informant-style notation with limited commentary, it offers some deep analysis of many lines. In some cases, they carry the analysis quite deep but in others they leave it as "unclear" or "with compensation," and I wish they had pushed forward a bit more. But that would be my only criticism of this wonderful effort.  The number of games cited is very large, however, and therefore makes it difficult to list citations here.

Michael Goeller (2003). The Urusov Gambit SystemThe Urusov Gambit, and the Dimock Theme Tournament
This is a complete analysis of the gambit, covering all major lines and offering some treatment also of the Two Knights Defense and other Bishop's Opening lines if Black avoids the gambit. I have not updated the analysis since 2003, but it is still quite useful. Beginning players looking for a fun introduction to the gambit might start with the games from the Dimock Theme Tournament, which I have annotated rather deeply.  I chose to focus on the Perreux Variation of the Two Knights Defense (3...exd4 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Ng5!?) only because it seemed little discussed by theory yet frequently played in the Dimock Theme Tournament -- an almost forgotten 1924 tournament at the Marshall Chess Club where all participants had to open 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4.  I had uncovered the games from this tournament and they seemed to add a lot to existing theory on the line, even if they did not address the key variation 5...d5! 6.exd5 Qe7+! which probably favors Black.  So I'm glad to have a chance to improve upon the recommendations I had made at that site.

Tim Harding (2003). "Once more unto the Urusov, dear friends, once more..." The Kibitzer #83 at ChessCafe. April 2003.
This is probably Harding's most thorough review of the gambit to date. It includes several important games with his annotations, plus a useful critique of and addition to my own analysis (some of which I have incorporated or responded to).

Anonymous (2003). Le Gambit Urusov from the Mjae website
This is mostly a French plagiarism of my own writings, but they do a fairly good job of simplifying my lines while offering good general coverage. And at least they give me some acknowledgment. FYI: The picture they have of "Prince Urusov" is actually a relative of his and not the man himself.

Andy Soltis (2002). Frank Marshall, United States Chess Champion: A Biography with 220 Games. Jefferson, NC: McFarland 2002.  Annotates some games from the Dimock Theme Tournament and the game Pillsbury - Marshall, Paris 1900.

A.C. Van der Tak (2001). "A Forgotten Gambit." New In Chess Yearbook. Volume 59. Edited by Genna Sosonko and Paul van der Sterren. Netherlands: Interchess BV 2001. 106-111.  Good discussion of relatively recent games, though most of this analysis is dealt with in my website.  Inspired by the game Avrukh - Skripchenko, this was quite a groundbreaking essay at the time and most welcome for Urusov gambiteers.

Gary Lane (2001). "Five Pawns Attack." Opening Lanes #26 at ChessCafe.  Discusses the celebrated game Avrukh - Skripchenko and an interesting game with 5...Nd6? where Black gets slaughtered.

GM Lukacs (2001). Avrukh-Skripchenko, Linares 2001. Chess Base Magazine #80.

Armin Fingerhut (2001). Das Urusow-Gambit Available online.
Rather dense analysis of the main lines, and based on some older sources. But it is easily available, so I mention it.

John Emms (2001).  Attacking with 1.e4.  Everyman.  This repertoire book covers solid (if often uninspired) lines of the Bishop's Opening, generally transposing to the Vienna Game and King's Gambit Declined.  Very little of the book coincides with my recommended repertoire, but it is worth knowing if you are looking for alternative lines.

Tim Harding (2000). "Interesting Byways in the Classic Open Games." The Kibitzer #46 at ChessCafe. 2000.

Gabriel Velasco (2000). The Life and Games of Carlos Torre. Milford, CT: Russell Enterprises, 2000.

Van Wieringen, C. A. Annotations. Dick Smit Memorial 2000. <> Accessed January 10, 2002.

Tim Harding (1999). "Some Opening Topics Revisited." The Kibitzer #33 at ChessCafe. 1999.

Tim Harding (1998). "Is the Urusov Gambit Sound?" The Kibitzer #29 at ChessCafe. 1998.

Tim Harding (1998). "The Eternal Appeal of the Urusov Gambit." The Kibitzer #28 at ChessCafe. 1998.

Tim Harding (1998). "What Exactly Is the Bishop's Opening?" The Kibitzer #27 at ChessCafe. 1998.

Pitt Archive FTP (1998)Bishop's Opening Zip PGN File via FTP. 1998.Pitt Archive FTP (1997). Various materials on the Urusov Gambit and on Prince Urusov, prepared by Max Burkett. 1997.  These game files were a boon to my analysis and helped greatly to advance the theory of the Urusov. (Update: These files have been taken down).

Bishop's Opening PGN File

Max Euwe and John Nunn (1997). The Development of Chess Style. Seattle: Batsford and International Chess Enterprises, 1997.

Iakov Neishtadt (1996). Winning Quickly as White: Attack from Move One!  Everyman Chess.  Focuses on the game Uschold - Wallinger, Correspondence 1985, which is no longer relevant to theory.

James West (1996). The Dynamic Philidor Counter-Gambit. Revised 2nd Edition. Chess Digest 1996. 98-122.  Offers extensive coverage of the line 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 f5 4.Bc4, which White can reach by transposition via 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 f5 3.Nf3 d6!? 4.d4.

Soren Galberg-Lund (1995)Urusovuv Gambit. Brno: Self published 1995. I own the original pamphlet, which was available from Chess Digest. An English translation of Galber-Lund's pamphlet was available as The Urusoff Gambit and is therefore in the Archive. It is a terrible translation of hopefully better Swedish prose, but it does actually have a couple game references of value. It is mostly supplanted by the materials above. 

James West (1994). The Philidor Countergambit. Chess Enterprises 1994.  See the revised 1996 version for details.

Gary Lane (1993). Winning with the Bishop's Opening. Henry Holt 1993.
I think that anything of value related to the Urusoff in this book has been adapted into either Lane's more recent book or my website.

Joel Benjamin and Patrick Wolf (1993).  "Theoretically Speaking."  Chess Life (December 1993): 30.  In answer to a reader's question, GM Benjamin explains that Estrin's recommendation of 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 Nxe4 4.dxe5 Qh4 5.Qe2?! (which Estrin marked as "!" in Three Double Pawn Openings) is sadly mistaken.  Benjamin notes that 5.Bxf7+!? Kxf7 6.g3 Nxg3 7.Qd5+ Ke8 8.hxg3 "also looks perfectly reasonable."

Tony Kosten (1992). Winning with the Philidor Defense. New York: Henry Holt 1992.

Eric Schiller (1992)White to Play 1.e4 and Win. Chess Digest, 1992.
I recommend this with caveats galore (for which you can see my game and analysis that it inspired), especially as regards the errors in his analysis, but I like some of Schiller's discussion. I also think the overall repertoire he offers fits well with the Urusov in many cases, and the book is therefore worth knowing for that alone.  He also analyzes the Modern Two Knights.

Gyozo Forintos and Ervin Haag (1991)The Petroff Defense. New York: Macmillan 1991.
I mention this because it was once widely available and you may have a copy. I think it is the best book on the Petroff, not least because it is one of the only to offer coverage of the Urusoff Gambit.

Andrew Soltis (1991). Karl Marx Plays Chess and Other Reports on the World's Oldest Game. New York: David McKay 1991. 106-107.  Features a fantasy game submitted by a reader of Soltis's Chess Life column  where White played 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nf3 d5 5.exd5 Bb4+ 6.c3 Qe7+ 7.Kd2? and eventually won. That fantasy game seems to have taken on a life of its own, for people have sometimes mistaken it for real theory. Greg Verville writes that he played this move because he mistakenly thought that it had been recommended in Chess Life. And Soltis himself would later make the same mistake: In annotating the game Pillsbury-Marshall, Paris 1900 in his book Frank Marshall, United States Chess Champion, Soltis remarks "7.Kd2! [sic], threatening 8.Re1, would have tested Black severely" (21).

Colin Leach (1990). Bishop's Opening. Self published 1990. 

Michael Goeller (1985). "The Bishop's Opening: Swashbuckling Returns." The Castled King: The Official Publication of the New Jersey State Chess Federation. Two part article.  9.6-10.1 (November-December 1984 and January-February 1985): 8-12 and 12-17.

Nikolai Minev (1985). "Rare and Forgotten Opening Ideas: The Potter-Marshall Center Gambit." Players Chess News 9.5 (Number 39, August 5, 1985): 4.

Tim Harding (1984). Philidor's Defense: A Re-appraisal. Chess Digest 1984.

Yakov Estrin and Igor Glazkov (1982). Three Double King Pawn Openings. 1982.

Yakov Estrin (1982). Gambits. Chess Enterprises 1982.  15-19.
This book really got me excited about playing gambits and reinforced my enjoyment of the Urusov, with which former Correspondence Chess Champion Estrin played many games.  Fewer than four pages are devoted to the Urusov itself, but it is a fun book to read through for inspiration.

Larsen, Bent. Chapter C24 in Encyclopedia of Chess Openings (ECO). Beograd 1981.

Dr. S. Tartakower and J. Du Mont (1975)100 Master Games of Modern Chess. Dover 1975.
I mention this because it is probably on your shelf or the shelf of your public library. It contains analysis of Heikenheimo-Crepaux, Dubrovnik 1950, which is the focus of the French plagiarists too.

Paul Keres (1974). "Lauferspiel." Dreispringerspiel bis Konigsgambit. Berlin: Sportverlag 1974. 207-213.

Tim Harding (1973). Bishop's Opening. The Chess Player 1973.
This is a bit old now and likely unavailable. If I remember right (I don't have it handy) he calls it the "Ourousoff" here. Harding's subsequent articles at ChessCafe, all available online, offer much better coverage and improved analysis and better spelling of the name.

David Hooper (1966). A Complete Defense to 1.e4.  Offers some discussion of the Urusov.

Emmanuel Lasker (1960 - USA). Lasker's Manual of Chess. Dover.  Analyzes his recommended 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 Nc6!? when White does best to transpose to the Two Knights with 4.Nf3 as alternatives offer no advantage, as Lasker showed.

Fred Reinfeld (1950). "Dubrovnik 1950." Chess Review. December 1950. 365.  Analyzes the game Heikenheimo - Crepaux.

Dr. Savielly Tartakower and J. Du Mont (1952). 500 Master Games of Chess. 1952. New York: Dover 1975.

Dr. Savielly Tartakower and J. Du Mont (1975). 100 Master Games of Modern Chess. New York: Dover 1975.  Analyzes the game Heikenheimo - Crepaux.

Jack Collins (1949). "Postal Games." Chess Review. July 1949. 224.

Frank James Marshall. My Fifty Years of Chess. Middletown, NY: The Whitlock Press, 1942.  Excellent notes on his game against Pillsbury at Paris.

British Chess Magazine XLV (1925): 141-142, 248. Reprints several Dimock games from American Chess Bulletin (without notes).

Hermann Helms, ed. "Marshall C. C. Special Tournament." American Chess Bulletin 21 (1924): 194-197. Several games from the Dimock Theme Tournament with notes by C. S. Howell, Frank Marshall, and Carlos Torre.

_______, ed. "Marshall Winner of Tournament." American Chess Bulletin 21 (1924): 212. Results of the Dimock Theme Tournament plus the game Marshall-Forsberg.

Hermann Helms. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. October-December 1924. Many games from the Dimock Theme Tournament were reprinted in Helms's chess column, which appeared on Thursdays in the Sports section of the paper for many years.  Since I did my initial library research, the paper has appeared online and I have located most of the columns related to the Dimock tournament:
The New York Times, October-November 1924. Several small unsigned articles appear in the Sports section of the paper regarding the Dimock Theme Tournament of 1924.

Paul Rudolph von Bilguer and updated by Carl Schlechter (1922).  Handbuch des Schachspiels.  This is the edition to get ahold of.  Some interesting analysis of unusual lines.  I have a copy of the parts on the Bishop's Opening and have not had time to digest it.

Paul Rudolph von Bilguer (1852).  Handbuch des Schachspiels.  

Bishop's Opening and Urusov Gambit on Video

FM Dennis Monokroussos, Openings from A-ZUrusov Gambit, Part One and Part Two, available at's video store for $2.50 each.  FM Monokroussos does a good presentation, but based exclusively on a critical assessment of NCO's take on the line, with which he finds quite a bit of fault (naturally).  Not bad for $5 total, if you are looking for a video introduction to the Urusov Gambit and its themes -- and if you want to see how easy it is to refute published opening analysis with just a little computer analysis.  

Two Knights Defense, Modern Variation 

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.e5 or 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.e5

It is vital to remember that instead of 4...Nxe4, Black has the option of 4...Nc6 transposing to the Two Knights Defense.  In fact, the database shows that this is Black's most common choice.  So the real problem with the Urusov Gambit is that Black may not let you play it! -- Boris Alterman, The Alterman Gambit Guide: White Gambits 
Don't even think about going down that road.  Play the Two Knights!                     --- Glenn Flear on the Urusov Gambit in Starting Out: Open Games 
This formidable pressure system for White has caused many players to abandon the Two Knights Defense. --Jude Acers, The Italian Gambit System 
Against the Two Knights Defense, I recommend the Modern Sveshnikov Variation with 5.e5, which leads to the most strategically interesting play and the best chances for White to gain an advantage.  The chief alternatives 5.O-O Nxe4! (often called the Anti-Lange) and 5.Ng5!? d5! 6.exd5 Qe7+! (The Perreux Variation) give Black easy equality, though they are certainly playable at the amateur level and offer Black many ways to go wrong if he does not know his theory.  But the Modern Variation with 5.e5 not only allows Black many ways to go wrong but also promises White the chance to pursue an advantage even if Black plays it right!  The use of this line by the top finishers at the 2011 Commonwealth Open (see Short-GuptaJones - GuptaSmerdon - KobeseSmerdon - Simutowe, and Smerdon-Takawira) suggests that it is still viable even at a high level.

There are many resources on the Modern Sveshnikov Variation of the Two Knights, but the most useful is Chess Openings for White, Explained, which features GM Roman Dzindzichashvili's excellent analysis of this line along with a complete White repertoire following 1.e4.  However, for those looking to save their money, there is plenty of information to be had online for free.

Ian Simpson.  "Scotch Gambit, 4...Nf6 5.e5."  Personal website and analysis.

Lev Alburt, Roman Dzindzichashvili, and Eugene Perelshtyn (2010). Chess Openings for White, Explained - Second, Revised ed.  Chess Information and Research Center.

Two Knights Defense, Modern Sveshnikov System (2007).  Fayetteville Chess Club.
A useful reference, which correctly attributes a lot of the success of this system to its adoption by Evgeny Sveshnikov.  Also titled "System for White vs. the Two Knights Defense."

Lev Alburt, Roman Dzindzichashvili, and Eugene Perelshtyn (2006). Chess Openings for White, Explained.  Chess Information and Research Center.

Reinhold Ripperger (2006).  Two Knights Defense / Das Zweispringerspiel.  Chess Coach CD.

Michael Goeller (2005).  "Notes on the Two Knights with d4."  The Kenilworthian Blog.

Michael Goeller (2005).  "Two Knights Modern."  The Kenilworthian Blog.

Tim Harding (2005).  "The Two Knights Defence Revisited: the d4 lines."  Chess Cafe.  Offers a useful overview of the d4 lines, including the Modern Attack.

Nigel Davies (2005). Play 1.e4 e5!  Everyman Chess.
I like Davies's work generally, but over half this book is devoted to the intricate Keres Variation of the Ruy Lopez (with 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 O-O 9.h3 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Nd7) which bores me to tears. But the coverage of the Two Knights Modern with 5.e5 Ne4!? is interesting and the overall repertoire is solid.  Games discussed include Castany Pampalona - Narciso Dublan, Spain 1999Hector - Nunn, Vejle 1994; and Gurevich - Romanishin, Herson 1989

Gary Lane (2004)The Bishop's Opening Explained. Batsford, especially pp. 28-41.
Offers excellent coverage not only of the Urusoff gambit but of the Modern Variation of the Two Knights Defense (1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.e5), which is the best method of meeting 4...Nc6.  Games with the Two Knights include 

Jan Pinski (2003). The Two Knights Defense. London: Everyman Chess. Probably the most generally useful current book available, though analysis could be deeper.

Jude Acers and George S. Laven (2003). The Italian Gambit System. Trafford Publishing, 2003. Gives relatively recent though generally rather shallow coverage of practically every line in the Open Two Knights (with White d4), and offers some useful insights on the Modern Variation. The additional repertoire material is worthwhile for beginning and developing players.

Jacek Ilczuk and Krzysztof Panczyk (2003). "Fighting for the Centre with f7-f6." NIC Yearbook 69. 120-124.  After reading this three-part article, you might be convinced that Black has very good chances for equality even against 6.Qe2.  However, you should notice that Black has some ways to go wrong.  And, fortunately, very few players know about 5...Ng4, which is not frequently played nor well documented in the literature.

Jacek Ilczuk and Krzysztof Panczyk (2003). "Fighting for the Centre with d7-d6." NIC Yearbook 67. 136-140.

Jacek Ilczuk and Krzysztof Panczyk (2002). "Rare Moves Against 5...Ng4."  NIC Yearbook 64. 139-143.  A very thorough if Black-biased treatment of all methods besides 6.Qe2 for meeting the Lvov.  

Jozsef Palkovi (2001).  Two Knights' Defence and Traxler Counter-Gambit.  Caissa.

Vladimir Gurevich and Igor Glek (2000). "The Scotch Gambit." NIC Yearbook 57.  138-144.  This is an excellent overview of the Modern Attack in the Two Knights, based on Gurevich's own repertoire (as he includes several of his games) and dealing with all Black responses (including 5...d5, 5...Ne4 6.Qe2, and 5...Ng4 6.Qe2).  Definitely a worthwhile article, written from the White perspective.

John Emms (2000). Play the Open Games as Black: What to Do When White Avoids the Ruy Lopez. London: Gambit, 2000. Excellent coverage of all Two Knights lines from the Black perspective.  Very worthwhile.

Alexander Beliavsky and Adrian Mikhalchishin (1999). The Two Knights Defense. London: Batsford, 1999. This book seems to have been rushed to the publisher, despite occasionally strong moments.  It is not especially useful on the Modern Attack, as that line seems to have been left out of the theory section, though it is represented in the games section. 

Sunil Weeramantry (1999). "Opening Preparation." Chess Cafe's The Chess Coach #13. Download a zip file. Weeramantry uses his last colum to discuss the Two Knights Modern.

Mark Morss (1999). "Maxfield - Morss [C55]."  The Campbell Report - Hard Chess.
Analysis of a postal game of the author's from the Black perspective.

Mark Morss (1999).  "Danzanvilliers - Morss [C55]."  The Campbell Report - Hard Chess.

Mark Morss (1999). "Lost Variations."  The Campbell Report - Hard Chess.
Analysis showing why White should not try to grab a pawn with Nxc6 in a critical line of the Modern Variation of the Two Knights.

John Nunn (1997). Secrets of Grandmaster Chess. 1997. pp.77-87. Discusses the game Corden-Nunn, Birmingham 1975 in great depth, which is a good warning.

Tim Harding (1996).  Evans Gambit and a System versus Two Knights' Defense, Revised 2nd Edition.  Chess Digest.  Covers many sidelines of the Two Knights, Modern Attack, in detail.

Adrian Mikhalchishin  (1994).  "Theory of the Lvov Variation." NIC Yearbook 32.  180-197. A very thorough treatment of both 5...Ne4 and 5...Ng4 responses to 5.e5.

George S. Botteril (1986).  Open Gambits.  Batsford.

Yakov Estrin (1983). The Two Knights Defense. Trans. K. P. Neat. London: Batsford 1983. There are various versions in multiple languages and editions of Estrin's work. Estrin's analysis became widely circulated in multiple editions and languages through the 70s and 80s. It is still vital and valuable, especially since some lines he discusses receive scant treatment later.

Vladimir Zagorovsky (1982). Romantic Chess Openings. London: Batsford 1982. A classic, if now generally out of date and shallow.

Paul Keres (1974). Dreispringerspiel bis Konigsgambit. Berlin: Sportverlag 1974. 

Tigran Petrosian and Yakov Estrin (1966). Zweispringerspiel im Nachzuge. Hamburg 1966.

Two Knights Defense, Modern Variation on Video

Roman's Forum #33 -- Mastering The Opening Forum Series, Crushing Lines for White: Scotch Gambit - Giuoco Piano: Win Either Way (2005) 
If you want to learn the Modern Variation of the Two Knights Defense, there is no better instructor than GM Roman Dzindzichashvili, who has done a number of video lectures over the years, some of which are available online.  This video seems to be the most widely available version of his lectures, and it also includes interesting material on the Grand Prix Attack vs the Sicilian, Panov Attack vs. the Caro-Kann, the Two-Pawn Attack with Nc3 vs the Alekhine, French Winawer with Bd2, Scotch Gambit, Giuoco Piano, and -- most importantly for our purposes -- the Two Knights Modern (55 minutes).  Though only about an hour of this four-hour DVD is devoted to lines that can arise via the Urusov, it is still a nice video for those looking for something in this format.  The video adapts and shortens materials that appeared in earlier videos and DVDs -- including "Scotch gambit, Giuoco Piano: Win Either Way," which first appeared as a VHS video in 1995 from Multi-Media Engineering, and it makes a good video supplement to material that appeared in Chess Openings for White, Explained (Chess Information and Research Center 2006).  One of the videos given below, available on YouTube, covers much of the same material but is not identical to this presentation (nor guaranteed to be there for long!)  Excellent.

"Underrated Openings" (2009). Part OnePart Two, and Part Three at
GM roman Dzindzichashvili returns, this time online from  This video series covers much of the same ground that was covered in Roman's other video presentations, focusing on the Two Knights Modern as it arises out of the Scotch Gambit.  Non-members can watch a 5-minute preview of each video, the full version of which is only available to members.  Excellent.

Giuoco Piano, Steinitz-Sveshnikov Attack 

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.Nf3 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.e5 
or 2...Bc5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.e5 

If you are a professional person (with very little time for chess), you could even select this one line, rather than the intricate 6.cxd4 or 6.O-O lines, learn it from A to Z, with the assurance of a playable Morphy system, [and] many wins versus the unprepared throughout your career. --Jude Acers, The Italian Gambit System (117).
To meet 2...Nc6 3.Nf3 Bc5 (2...Bc5 3.Nf3 Nc6 simply transposes moves), I recommend the Steinitz-Sveshnikov Attack with 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.e5.  This line is very easy to learn and absolutely deadly at the amateur level.  It also fits well thematically with the Modern Variation of the Two Knights recommended above, as both feature a pawn advance to e5 and play against doubled pawns on the queenside after Bb5xc6.  Those interested in exploring Giuoco Piano alternatives can consult my 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 White Repertoire webliography for guidance.

Igor Lysyj and Roman Ovetchkin (2012).  The Open Games for Black: A Complete Black Repertoire with 1.e4 e5 against Everything Except the Ruy Lopez.  Chess Stars. 199-208.  (TOC PDF).  This solid repertoire book is intended to supplement the same authors' book on The Berlin Defense to the Spanish and recommends following the main line Giuoco Piano for Black.  This is a very thorough treatment and the material on the Steinitz-Sveshnikov Attack alone is nearly 10 pages and addresses all White alternatives.  Their main game is Merrow - Kamanel Zamora, ICCF 2010.

Michael Goeller (2011).  The Steinitz-Sveshnikov Attack Revisited.  Kenilworth Chess Club.
Focuses on Black's best defense, 6...d5 7.Bb5 Ne4 8.cxd4 Bb6! 9.Nc3 O-O 10.Be3, which has been seen in several recent games.

Glenn Flear (2010).  Starting Out, Open Games.  Everyman Chess. 85-88. Offers good general coverage of a broad range of 1.e4 e5 openings, including the Giuoco Piano, including the games Ninov - Rizouk, San Sebastian 2008; Ninov - Flear, Gien 2004; Ninov - Zawadzka, Kalamaria 2006; Ninov - Schlosser, French Team 2008; Macieja - Aronian, Antalya 2004; and Macieja - Vescovi, Bermuda 2004.

Giuoco Steinitz-Sveshnikov Variation from the Fayetteville Chess ClubA very useful two-page "quick-start guide" which will introduce players to the line.

"Jones Crushes Howell" at
Useful notes on Gawain Jones's great game with the Steinitz-Sveshnikov -- though this reference has been absorbed into my own notes above.

Mihail Marin & Yuri Garrett (2009). Reggio Emilia 2007-2008. Quality Chess.

Michael Goeller (2008).  The Steinitz - Sveshnikov Attack in the Giuoco Piano.  Kenilworth Chess Club.  An introduction to the opening for amateur players, focusing on the many ways that Black can and will go wrong after 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.e5, ending with coverage of the most commonly seen response, 6...d5 7.Bb5 Ne4 8.cxd4 Bb4+, which favors White.

Chess Zone Magazine #2 (2008).  Ni Hua - Marin, Reggio 2007-2008.  Also available at Scribd.

John Emms, Glenn Flear, and Andrew Greet (2008). Dangerous Weapons: 1.e4 e5 -- Dazzle Your Opponents in the Open Games! Everyman.  Covers the Giuoco Piano from the Black perspective.  The book was reviewed here in April 2008.

Mihail Marin (2007). Beating the Open Games.  Quality Chess.  Marin's analysis was called into question by his game with Ni Hua at Reggio Emilia.

Jonathan Rowson (2005). Chess for Zebras. Gambit.  Analyzes the game Rowson - Sokolov 2003.

Jan Pinski (2005).  Italian Game and Evans Gambit.  Everyman Chess.  This book is especially useful for its coverage of Black alternative systems, including the strong point variation with Qe7, Hungarian, and others.  Discussion of the Steinitz-Sveshnikov variation is confined to a couple of Sveshnikov games: Sveshnikov - Dautov, Pinsk 1986 and Sveshnikov - Stefansson, Liepaya 2004.  Also: Alekhine - Tarrasch, Mannheim 1914

Reinhold Ripperger (2004).  Giuoco Piano, C50-C54. ChessBase CD.

Jude Acers and George S. Laven (2003). The Italian Gambit System. Trafford Publishing, 2003. This was the most encouraging book regarding the Steinitz-Sveshnikov Attack, though I have to say that all of these ideas have likely been absorbed into my own analysis.

Jozsef Palkovi (1998).  Italienische Partie und Evans Gambit. Caissa.

Eduard Gufeld, Oleg Stetsko and Murray Chandler (1996).  The Giuoco Piano.  Trans. Sarah J. Young.  Henry Holt, New York. 108-111.  This is a very solid and balanced effort on the Italian Game, with a section by Chandler on the Evans Gambit.  It offers one main game (Sveshnikov-Balashov, Volgograd 1985) covering the Steinitz-Sveshnikov Variation.  Sideline games include Sonnenburg - Livitsky, Berlin 1991Steinitz - Lasker, World Championship (4) 1894Kontic - Lazic, Podgorica 1993Steinitz - Schiffers, Vienna 1894; and Steinitz - Lasker, World Championship (6) 1894.

Andrew Soltis (1996). Winning with the Giuoco Piano and the Max Lange Attack. 2nd Revised Edition. Chess Digest, 1996 (1st edition 1992). Mostly focuses on the Max Lange, Anti-Max Lange, and Moeller Attack, but does offer some useful analysis of the strong-point variation with Qe7.  Spielmann - Shoosmith, Ostend 1907Speelman - Durao, London 1978Estrin - Zhivtsov, Moscow 1945; and Corte - Luckis, Mar del Plata 1949.

George S. Botteril (1986).  Open Gambits.  Batsford.


Anonymous said...

This is an incredible resource, I am definitely interested in trying these lines out. Now you just need to tell us what to play when black doesn't do 1...e5. :)

Michael Goeller said...

Thanks for the note. I'm thinking about a complete "Caveman Repertoire" that includes the Urusov, Caveman Caro-Kann Advance (or maybe the Panov Attack), and some other lines I've analyzed or collected bibliographies toward. I will work on that for a future post.

Anonymous said...

I am getting connection problems when trying to access some of your links - specially the ones going to your older site.

For example:

Michael Goeller said...

Thanks for the note on your link trouble. I checked the links you mention, though, and found no problem. I hope others will let me know if they have trouble also. One thing it could be: with these long posts (and this might be my longest ever), you can experience slow loading of links and video, which might cause you problems.

MNb said...

I don't like the Steinitz-Sveshnikov Variation. Compared to the modern approach to the Two Knights Black's ...Bc5 (a move played in the main lines anyway) is more useful than White's c3. I'd rather replace it with the Evans Gambit.
As an addition I'd like to mention 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Bc5 3.Nf3 d6 4.c3 arguin that 3...d6 may be a loss of tempo.

Michael Goeller said...

Two additions I know about to the Two Knights Modern (Sveshnikov) line:

1) Eugene A. Salome, The Two Knights Defense with 5.e5 (J. L. Bickford 1977). A 36-page pamphlet offers a useful summary of available games and sources up to 1977 with some good comments. Against 5...Ng4 it examines the games Sax - Gorchakov, Groningen 1972, and Ochotnik- Chelidze, USSR 1973.

2) My article on the 5...Ng4 line, The Two Knights Anti-Modern:

Michael Goeller said...

Those who like this bibliography should probably pick up The Scotch Gambit by Alex Fishbein, which offers great analysis on the Modern line and an interesting addition to the Steinitz-Sveshnikov line, focused on Be2 rather than Bb5, which he appropriately calls the Jobava Variation. Some links:

Michael Goeller said...

Some blogs worth mentioning:
Ian Simpson's:


Michael Goeller said...

The Rutgers RCI server was recently shut down, and so my Urusov Gambit website has finally disappeared from the web. However, those interested in seeing my analysis can find it on the Wayback Machine:

OR see all of the Wayback captures of the site here:*/

I may eventually resurrect the site at the Kenilworth Chess Club's website, but so long as the Wayback machine links work I feel little pressure to do so.

Michael Goeller said...

I have resurrected the old Urusov site here, though the Wayback link given above is actually better in some ways:

Anonymous said...

The Fayetteville Chess Club's coverage of the Steinitz-Sveshnikov Variation of the Giuoco Piano has moved here:

Anonymous said...

Nakamura made a nice video about the game Awonder Liang - Hikaru Nakamura, US Championship St. Louis, Round 4, 2019:
He concludes that White has continued pressure on the queenside if both had played on.

This game is featured in the Fayetteville site.

Anonymous said...

Krzysztof Panczyk and Jacek Ilczuk wrote an excellent two-part article on the Steinitz-Sveshnikov line in New in Chess Yearbooks 130 and 131.