These three short articles, appearing weekly, gives us 21 days to master the King plus Bishop and Knight vs. lone King checkmate. Plenty of time; indeed we should clock ourselves at, say, 5 minutes against anybody. We can do that because we’re not thinking about chess openings. Of course we like to play chess games and there sits the start position every time, so let’s learn a chess opening that’s safe and sound, allows for rapid piece development, keeps our pawn structure solid and provides opportunity to transition into standard openings when ready. Finally, our “universal system” has to work for both the White and Black pieces while avoiding chess opening theory where possible.
Keeping these points in mind, consider the virtues of 1.Nc3 as White and 1…Nc6 as Black:
We develop our Queen’s Knight to its most natural post, attack two central squares and preserve all options for our pawns. This first move is early without objection, including the fact that very little is known about this “Queen’s Knight Attack”. Let’s look at what can happen when we bring out the Queen’s Knight immediately.
After 1.Nc3 as White we’re playing the “Dunst” or “Van Geet” opening, called the “Sleipner” in Germany. Here we can enjoy free form chess, making up our own chess opening as Black reacts. The common 1…e5 isn’t a very good answer because of 2.Nf3 and then 3.d4 next. If 1…d5 by Black we go 2.Nf3 or 2.d3 or 2.e3 – and even 2.f4 is also good. The same ideas hold for 1…c5 and 1…Nf6, and White can never be forced to play a mainstream opening. But note that we can easily add traditional chess openings; the Veresov following 1.Nc3 d5 2.d4, the Closed Sicilian after 1.Nc3 c5 2.e4 and the Vienna after 1.Nc3 e5 2.e4 are just three examples. So 1.Nc3 offers much to the chess beginner and the novice chess player too.
What about Black after 1…Nc6 then? Now everything depends on White’s first move, but our Queen’s Knight is ready for any case. If 1.e4 Nc6 we have the Nimzovich Defense, an underrated and little known chess opening. Next 2.d4 by White meets with 2…d5 (and 2…e5 is fine, but not until we know 3.Nf3 the Scotch Game), and 2.Nf3 on White’s second move is answered 2…d6, 2…e6, 2…Nf6 or later the “normal” 2…e5 when we add the Ruy Lopez to our opening arsenal. Should White go 2.Nc3 we have 2…e6 and 3…Bb4 afterward, and we can always add the Vienna Game later on with 2…e5 instead.
Nothing else White can do is very fearsome after 1.e4 Nc6, but that leaves 1.d4 Nc6 to examine. Once again Black is well placed to defend unexplored ground or add main line chess openings as we please. For example, 1.d4 Nc6 2.Nf3 d5 can enter variations of Chigorin’s Defense to the Queen’s Gambit, or Black may steer the game his way with 2…e6 or 2…d6 here. If 1.d4 Nc6 2.e4 we’re back in the Nimzovich Defense where 2…d5 was our answer. That leaves only the sequence 1.d4 Nc6 2.d5, pushing around our Queen’s Knight in an opening we’ve dubbed the “Bozo-Indian Defense“. And if White avoids 1.e4 or 1.d4 on his first move, then there is no stress for Black at all with our 1…Nc6 answer.
In summary, we can do quite well with our “Queen’s Knight Attack”, provided we follow up with rapid development of each piece and keep our pawns in good order. Make one or two pawn moves, bring our men out efficiently, then castle. After a few moves we’ll cash in on that time spent learning middlegame chess strategy, tactical combinations and chess endings. By the way, did you know that a King plus two Knights can checkmate a King if he has one pawn? Study that fun checkmate instead of chess openings – bring out the Queen’s Knight on move one!