Play the Four Knights - Practical Repertoire for White
We are happy to introduce another fascinating opening project by GM Pavel Eljanov - Play the Four Knights - Practical Repertoire for White. When sending the draft version of this product, Eljanov wrote, "I think it's my the most sound and practically valuable database so far".
In this database, Eljanov provides a complete repertoire for White after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3
Unlike Ruy Lopez and Italian, the Four Knights does not require extensive theoretical knowledge. In most lines, White can play for a small advantage in a risk-free position.
Eljanov's idea is to answer 3...Nf6 with 4.d4.
Surprisingly. it turns out that White can pose practical problems in the Four Knight Scotch. Eljanov took inspiration from some online games by GM Paravyan and GM Xiong. After submitting this line to extensive analysis with strong engines, he realized that Black's road to equality is far from simple. As you will see, even in some correspondence games, Black struggled to equalize.
The database consists of 8 theoretical chapters, 10 interactive test positions, a Memory Booster, and a Video Version (1h and 40 min).
We shall now briefly discuss some of the highlights of this course.
In the beginning, Eljanov takes a look at the position arising after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3
Chapter 1 is dedicated to Black's deviations from the move 3...Nf6. The most serious alternative is 3...g6. Nevertheless, Eljanov proves that the position arising after 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Bg7 6.Be3 is very difficult for Black. Surprisingly, this line was tested in a bunch of high-level games.
The topic of Chapter 2 is the line 3...Nf6 4.d4 Bb4
Mamedyarov played this on several occasions but had difficulties in equalizing. White's most ambitious way of dealing with this system is 5.Nxe5 Qe7 6.Qd3
This queen move looks a bit artificial, but it is objectively the only way to obtain the pair of bishops without spoiling the queenside structure. Further analysis shows that Black cannot equalize in this line.
The starting position of Chapter 3 is reached after 3...Nf6 4.d4
In this chapter, the author deals with Black's attempts to play without ...exd4. He analyzes 4 continuations - 4...d5?!, 4...Bd6?, 4...Nxd4?!, and 4...d6.
It's not a surprise that White is better in all these lines.
Chapter 4 examines the following system - 3...Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Bc5
This move is still popular, although it is clearly inferior to the main move 5...Bb4.
The critical position of the chapter is reached after 6.Be3 Bb6 7.Qd2 0-0 8.0-0-0 Re8 9.f3 d5
In this important theoretical position, Eljanov demonstrates a forced sequence which leads to a risk-free advantage for White in a rook endgame.
The topic of Chapter 5 is the position arising after 3...Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Nxe4
This drastic approach has lately become popular even at the highest level. At this point, Eljanov's suggestion is 6.Nxe4 Qe7 7.Bd3
This gambit idea is the most principled and stylish reaction. Further analysis shows that Black faces huge difficulties in this line.
The last three chapters deal with the main line of the Scotch Four Knights - 3...Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Bb4 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 d5 8.exd5
Chapter 6 features Black's attempts to play without 8...exd5. The most challenging try is 8...0-0 9.0-0 Bg4
A fashionable line in the recent tournament practice, in which Black is trying to force matters. Eljanov provides an in-depth analysis of this position, proving that it's not simple for Black to equalize. White has the resources to create a lot of practical problems.
The last two chapters are dedicated to the most important tabiya of the Four Knights Scotch - 3...Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Bb4 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 d5 8.exd5 cxd5 9.0-0 0-0 10.h3
With his last move, White is taking control of the important g4-square. He is ready to proceed with Qf3 on the next move. Black has a wide range of possibilities in this position. In Chapter 7, Eljanov deals with the plans without the advance ...c7-c6. Even though all these attempts look reasonable, it's not easy for Black to achieve full equality.
Chapter 8 examines the main move 10...c6. In this case, White plays 11.Qf3.
This is the most important theoretical tabiya of the entire database. Black has many possibilities here. White's main advantage is based on his slightly better pawn structure. Very often, Black's centre is under pressure in this line. White has two main ideas - undermining Black's centre by means of c2-c4 and provoking exchanges in order to reach an endgame where his static advantage will tell.
If Black plays precisely, he is very close to equality. Strong engines, however, demonstrate that White can create practical problems in all the lines. Therefore, GM Pavel Eljanov is convinced that there will be new developments in this classical line.
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