Bruno Dieu – The Modernized Trojan Knight 1.Nc3

The opening move 1.Nc3, sometimes referred to as the Van Geet or Dunst after the Dutch master Dick Van Geet and the American Theodore Dunst who both played it regularly, can go two ways. It can be used as a transpositional tool that aims to steer into other openings like the Vienna (1.Nc3 e5 2.e4), the Sicilian (1.Nc3 c5 2.e4) or the Veresov, Barry or Jobava if White answers 1…d5 with 2.e4. It can also be an independent opening and that is what the French Fide Master Bruno Dieu advocates for in this book.

The Modernized Trojan Knight 1.Nc3 oftenproposes to play 1.Nc3 combined with an early d4 or e4. For example, after 1.Nc3 e5 with 2.Nf3 Nc6 or 1.Nc3 c5 2.Nf3 d5 White plays 3.d4.  While after 1.Nc3 d5 White answers 2.e4. The latter is arguably the most important variation in the book and is allocated over 200 pages.

While the author’s focus is on creating an independent opening, he is also flexible enough to point out when it is better to transpose into conventional lines. For example after 1.Nc3 d5 2.e4 e6 he comes down strongly on the side of playing 3.d4 with a transposition into the French. He does examine 3.g3 as one of the marginal lines he covers, but doesn’t have much faith in it.

1.Nc3 has not yet found a lot of love at the top level in classical chess but in blitz and rapid it has seen testing, particularly by the Azeri Grandmaster Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. One expects to see more of this opening move as elite players look for opportunities to set new problems for their opponents. The Modernized Trojan Knight 1.Nc3 breaks new ground and is currently the best guide to this unique opening.

IM John Donaldson

The idea of the move 1. Nc3 is to confuse the second player, as White plays a supposedly unambitious move to mislead Black. This is why we found the name “Trojan Horse” very appropriate for the move 1. Nc3, just as the gift from Ulysses to the Trojans appeared to be a tricky and poisoned gift. The appropriate term for chess will, therefore, be the Trojan Knight to refer to the Trojan Horse.

1. Nc3 became popular among professional players, and many grandmasters have added it to their repertoire or played it occasionally in official games: Nakamura, Morozevich, Rapport, Bauer, Vallejo Pons… However, it is especially in rapid games that it has reached the world elite, and the very best players in the world have tried it: Carlsen, Mamedyarov, Andreikin and Firouzja for example. I truly hope that seeing the very best players in the world playing it will convince even the most sceptical critics.