Hungarian Defense

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Hungarian Defense
a8 black rook
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
e7 black bishop
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
c6 black knight
e5 black pawn
c4 white bishop
e4 white pawn
f3 white knight
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
h1 white rook
Moves1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Be7
Origin18th century
ParentItalian Game

The Hungarian Defense is a chess opening that begins with the moves:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 Be7

The Hungarian Defense is a line in the Italian Game typically chosen as a quiet response to the aggressive 3.Bc4. The opening is seldom seen in modern play.

The variation takes its name from a correspondence game between Paris and Pest, Hungary played from 1842–1845, but was first analyzed by Cozio in the 18th century.[1] It has been played on occasion by some grandmasters with strong defensive-positional styles, including Reshevsky, Hort, and former world champions Petrosian and Smyslov.

With the move 3...Be7, Black avoids the complexities of the Giuoco Piano (3...Bc5), Evans Gambit (3...Bc5 4.b4), and Two Knights Defense (3...Nf6). White has an advantage in space and freer development, so Black must be prepared to defend a cramped position.

Main line: 4.d4[edit]

White's best response is 4.d4, seeking advantage in the center. Other moves pose fewer problems for Black: 4.c3 Nf6 (Steinitz), or 4.0-0 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.d4 Bg4.[1] After 4.d4, Black continues either 4...exd4 or 4...d6.


After 4...exd4, 5.Nxd4 would transpose into a variation of the Scotch Game that gives White a spatial advantage. Weaker is 5.c3, hoping for 5...dxc3?! 6.Qd5!, after which Black resigned in the game Midjord–Scharf, Nice Olympiad 1974 (though Black could have tried 6...Nh6 7.Bxh6 0-0 when 8.Bc1? Nb4 9.Qd1 c2 wins back the piece, so White should play 8.Bxg7 Kxg7 9.Nxc3 with advantage[1]). However, 5...Na5, recommended by Chigorin,[2] forces White to give up the bishop pair with 6.Qxd4 or sacrifice a pawn. Also playable is 5...Nf6 6.e5 Ne4 (the Tartakower Variation[3]) 7.Bd5 Nc5 8.cxd4 Ne6 (Evans).[4]


Alternatively, Black generally tries to hold the center with 4...d6, when White has a choice of plans, each of which should be enough to secure a slight advantage. White can simplify to a slightly better queenless middlegame with 5.dxe5 dxe5 (5...Nxe5? 6.Nxe5 dxe5 7.Qh5! and White's double attack on e5 and f7 wins a pawn) 6.Qxd8+ (6.Bd5!? is also possible) Bxd8 7.Nc3 Nf6. Or White can close the center with 5.d5 Nb8, followed by Bd3 and expansion on the queenside with c4, resulting in positions resembling those from the Old Indian Defense. Finally, with 5.Nc3 White can retain tension in the center and obtain active piece play.

Harding and Botterill, in their 1977 book on the Italian Game, conclude that, "The Hungarian Defence can only be played for a draw. White should have an edge in most lines."[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Harding & Botterill (1977), p. 130.
  2. ^ Harding & Botterill (1977), pp. 130–31.
  3. ^ Hooper & Whyld (1996), p. 414. Tartakower Variation.
  4. ^ Harding & Botterill (1977), p. 131
  5. ^ Harding & Botterill (1977), p. 134.


  • Harding, Tim; Botterill, G. S. (1977). The Italian Game. B.T. Batsford Ltd. ISBN 0-7134-3261-6.
  • Hooper, David; Whyld, Kenneth (1996) [First pub. 1992]. The Oxford Companion to Chess (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280049-3.
  • de Firmian, Nick (1999). Modern Chess Openings (14th ed.). Random House Puzzles & Games. ISBN 0-8129-3084-3.