The Queen's Knight Attack with 1.Nc3 is a complete opening system where White can choose to transpose into variations of well-known openings or just completely avoid them. Many players have tried 1.Nc3 and contributed ideas to the opening. My personal choices of White first moves has been approximately: 1.d4 50% of the time, 1.e4 25%, 1.Nc3 15%, and all other moves 10%. This means I have played 1.Nc3 over 3200 times.
One hundred years ago the chief known proponent of 1.Nc3 was the British player John Herbert White, one of the co-founders (along with R.C. Griffith, who died 1955) in 1911 of Modern Chess Openings (MCO). In the early editions, 1.Nc3 had a whole page or section to itself. After White died in 1920, later editions reduced coverage to one or two columns.
Before J.H. White, there were games by Arved Heinrichsen from the Baltic area. As I recall from my years studying 1.Nc3 (I sold off all those books), MCO cited a game or two by Heinrichsen, whose idea was to play 2.e3 and make the opening a type of reversed French Defence. Sixty years ago Ted Dunst played 1.Nc3 in some notable American events and MCO named the opening the Dunst Opening.
In my lifetime, IM Dirk Daniel Van Geet (Netherlands), correspondence grandmaster Ove Ekebjaerg (Denmark), correspondence expert Anker Aasum (Norway) and FM Harald Keilhack (Germany) have all done a lot to promote 1.Nc3. IM Zvonimir Mestrovic (Slovenia) has played a wide variety of openings; he played 1.Nc3 hundreds of times.
These same players have played the Queens Knight Defence (1...Nc6) as well. What it proves is that specialization in an opening can bring great success. Even if the computer evaluations of the lines are only equal, the experience of playing it over and over will help a player deal with plans and tactics faster as they build on prior understanding.
Below is a third game I played vs Doug Haddaway at a coffee shop in Borders bookstore in Orlando, Florida. Tomorrow I will move on to other opponents.
Sawyer-Haddaway, Orlando,FL, 20.11.2003 begins 1.Nc3 d5 2.e4 [We get a position in the Scandinavian Defence that could be reached via 1.e4 d5 2.Nc3. Aasum liked to play 2.f4 heading for a Bird's Opening hybrid. When I am in a Blackmar-Diemer Gambit mode, I play 2.d4 intending 2...Nf6 3.e4!?] 2...d4 [Van Geet Advance Variation. 2...dxe4 is the major alternative, the Van Geet Exchange Variation. 2...Nf6 is a variation of the Alekhine Defence.] 3.Nce2 [3.Nd5?! is very risky.] 3...e5 4.Ng3 Van Geet prefers to play this knight to g3 immediately. 4...Nc6 5.Bc4 Nf6 6.Nf3 Bd6 7.0-0 0-0 8.d3 [With this solid set-up White intends to eventually expand on the kingside. 8.c3 playing to expand on the queenside is an active and common plan.] 8...h6 9.a3 Creating a retreat square for the Bc4 in case of ...Na5. 9...Be6 10.Nd2!? [White is going after the bishop. 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.c3=] 10...a6 11.Bxe6 fxe6 12.Nc4 b5 13.Nxd6 cxd6 14.f4 d5 [14...exf4 15.Bxf4=] 15.fxe5? Nh7? [15...Nxe5=/+] 16.Rxf8+ [16.Qg4! threatening either Qxe6+ or Bxh6.] 16...Qxf8 [16...Nxf8 17.Bf4+/-] 17.exd5 [17.Qg4!+-] 17...exd5 18.Qg4 Nxe5 19.Qxd4 Qf6?? hangs the rook. 20.Qxd5+ Kh8 21.Qxa8+ Nf8 22.Be3 Ng4 23.Bc5 [23.Rf1! nails the knight on f8.] 23...Kh7 24.Qxf8 Qxb2 25.Qf5+ 1-0
You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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