1.e4 e5 2.d4- Black doesn’t take on d4


Black’s most common and best response to 2.d4 is to capture the pawn- indeed, it turns out that Black generally cannot hold onto a strong-point in the centre if White plays 2.d4, without having to make significant concessions.  However, some of the alternatives may appeal to players of the black pieces who don’t want to leave themselves open to the various gambits that White can try, as well as the Centre Game where the queen comes out to d4.

Of Black’s alternatives, 2...d6 and 2...Nc6 are the most important.  2...d6 can lead to a Philidor Defence after 3.Nf3, whereupon Black’s best is probably 3...exd4, since 3...Nc6 is strongly met by either 4.Bb5 or 4.dxe5, while 3...Nf6 is well met by the aggressive continuation 4.dxe5 Nxe4 5.Qd5 (which is the main reason why many Philidor Defence exponents prefer the move-order 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5, which prevents White from getting into that line.).  I don’t trust Philidor’s original idea, 3...f5, due to 4.Bc4 which has been strongly advocated by Mark Morss at the Chesspublishing.com forum.  Alternatively White can head for a slightly superior queenless middlegame with 3.dxe5 dxe5 4.Qxd8+ Kxd8, though Black’s king ends up relatively secure after playing ...c6 and ...Kc7.

2...Nc6 transposes to a line of the Nimzowitsch Defence (1.e4 Nc6 2.d4 e5), which was often played by the late Tony Miles.  White can get a small advantage with either 3.dxe5 or 3.d5, both of which are covered, while 3.Nf3 transposes to the Scotch Opening. 

Black’s other second-move options are not challenging.  2...Nf6 3.dxe5 Nxe4 4.Bc4 is a strong line for White, 2...f6 3.dxe5 leaves Black with nothing better than 3...Nc6, which after 4.Nf3 and 5.Bc4 leads to positions that can arise from the Soller Gambit (1.d4 e5 2.dxe5 Nc6 3.Nf3 f6) and Rousseau Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 f5), both of which are dubious openings for Black.  2...Qh4 leaves Black wide-open to an assault after 3.Bd3 followed by Nf3, or 3.Nf3!? immediately which offers a very dangerous two-pawn sacrifice.

1.e4 e5 2.d4


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