Chess tournaments Chess strategy Computer chess Chess players FIDE Chess variants Chess rules and history

Hungarian Defense

Hungarian Defense
a b c d e f g h
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Be7
Origin 18th century
Parent Italian 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 1843-45, but was first analyzed by Cozio in the 18th century. 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.

4.d4 exd4

White's best response is 4.d4 when 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.) However, 5...Na5!, recommended by Chigorin, forces White to give up the bishop pair with 6.Qxd4 or sacrifice a pawn.

4.d4 d6

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. White can also 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."

Read more: