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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
Named afterParis Chess Club vs. City of Budapest, corr. 1843[1]
ParentItalian Game
The Hungarian Defense on a chessboard
The Hungarian Defense on a chessboard

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. 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. According to Harding and Botterill, "The Hungarian Defence can only be played for a draw. White should have an edge in most lines."[2]

The opening is seldom seen in modern play. It has been played on occasion by some grandmasters with strong defensive-positional styles, including Reshevsky, Hort, and former world champions Petrosian and Smyslov.

The variation takes its name from a correspondence game between Paris and Pest, Hungary, played from 1842 to 1845, but was first analyzed by Cozio in the 18th century.[3][1]

Main line: 4.d4[edit]

White's best response is 4.d4 (4.d3 Nf6 transposes to the Two Knights Defense), 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.[3] 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[3]). Instead of 5...dxc3, however, Black can play 5...Na5 (recommended by Chigorin[4]), forcing 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[5]) 7.Bd5 Nc5 8.cxd4 Ne6 (Evans),[6] but after 9.Bb3 White has the upper hand (Unzicker).[7]


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 7...f6. 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Paris Chess Club vs. City of Budapest, postal correspondence (1843)". Chessgames.com. Retrieved 2022-09-02.
  2. ^ Harding & Botterill (1977), p. 134.
  3. ^ a b c Harding & Botterill (1977), p. 130.
  4. ^ Harding & Botterill (1977), pp. 130–31.
  5. ^ Hooper & Whyld (1996), p. 414. Tartakower Variation.
  6. ^ Harding & Botterill (1977), p. 131.
  7. ^ Matanović (1981), p. 243, n. 24.