Two Knight’s Defense: Modern Attack

If you play 1.e4 and wish to avoid the Spanish, than the Italian game with 3.Bc4 is the best option. Black’s logical responses are basically the Two Knights Defense, 3…Bc5(Italian game), or the Hungarian (3…Be7.) Naturally, against 3…Bc5 the Evans gambit is a fun option, but against the two knights defense I think the modern attack 4.d4 is actually easier and more straightforward than the mainline 4.Ng5. Here are three games from a big proponent of the variation, Asa Hoffmann.

I myself have had a lot of luck with this line in blitz games as of late. Some common themes for white are using his e and f pawns as battering rams to attack black’s kingside or in the alternative threaten to create a passed pawn. Black’s queenside dark square weaknesses are a key thematic idea as well, such that after the opening, if you remove all of the pieces from the board, the simple king and pawn ending would be winning for white, so white has that as an insurance policy in the middle game should he need it. Another idea worth mentioning comes from GM Dzindzichashvili, who advocates white develop his queenside knight to c3, allowing his pawns to be doubled. This is a theme we see in the following games as well.

When I asked Asa Hoffmann why he plays this line his answer answer was pretty simple: “It gives great practical attacking chances!”