Black Knights' Tango

The Black Knights' Tango, also known as the Mexican Defense or Kevitz-Trajkovic Defense, is a chess opening that begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 Nc6. This position can also be reached by transposition by 1.d4 Nc6. It originated in the 1920s, when it was played by both the Mexican grandmaster Carlos Torre (hence the name "Mexican Defense"), and the American master Alexander Kevitz (the "Kevitz" in "Kevitz-Trajkovic Defense"). After decades of disuse, it was revitalized by International Master Georgi Orlov, who has written two successful books on it, and rechristened it the "Black Knights' Tango." Thereafter, the opening was employed by a number of strong grandmasters, including Joel Benjamin, Larry Christiansen, and Alex Yermolinsky. Indeed, Yermolinsky has ventured it against the likes of Garry Kasparov. Although fairly uncommon, the "Tango" has a sounder positional basis than most other offbeat openings: Black develops quickly, has a flexible pawn structure, and is prepared to strike back in the center with 3...e5, or with ...e6 and ...d5. The opening has some distinct variations but it is highly transpositional, and may transpose to the King's Indian Defense, Nimzo-Indian Defense, Bogo-Indian Defense, Chigorin Defense, Ragozin System, and English Opening.

Possible continuations


Perhaps the most common move, preventing 3...e5. Black usually responds with 3...e6. Then White can play 4.Nc3 Bb4 (transposing to a Nimzo-Indian Defense); 4.a3, when Black can either play 4...d5 (reaching a kind of Queen's Gambit Declined or Ragozin System), or 4...d6, preparing ...e5; or 4.g3, when after 4...Bb4+, play will transpose to a Nimzo-Indian after 5.Nc3, or to a Bogo-Indian Defense after 5.Bd2 or 5.Nbd2.


This is also often seen. After the thematic 3...e5, White usually responds with 4.d5 (4.Nf3, transposing to an English Opening, is also possible) Ne7. Now play can continue in "Tango" fashion, for example with 5.Nf3 Ng6, or transpose to the King's Indian Defense with, for example, 5.Nf3 d6 6.e4 (6.Bg5!?) g6 7.Be2 Bg7 8.0-0 0-0, reaching the main line of the King's Indian by transposition. Another interesting but relatively unexplored idea is 3...e6, allowing White to play 4.e4 (other moves such as 4.d5, 4.Bg5, 4.a3, and 4.Nf3 are also possible), whereupon Black follows up with 4...d5. From that position, the main possibilities are 5.e5 (the main line), 5.exd5, 5.cxd5, and 5.Bg5. These possibilities can also be reached via transposition from the Flohr-Mikenas Variation of the English Opening (1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4), although if Black wishes to play this way, the optimal move order is 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nc6.


This ambitious move is playable but rarely seen. Black normally responds with 3...Ne5. Then after 4.e4 (inviting 4...Nxe4?? 5.Qd4 winning a knight), Black struck back in the center with 4...Ng6 5.f4 e5 in the seminal game Sämisch-Torre, Moscow 1925.



  1. Georgi Orlov (1992), Black Knights' Tango, Batsford, ISBN 1879479036
  2. Georgi Orlov (1998),The Black Knights' Tango: Outwit Your Opponents from Move 2!, Batsford, ISBN 0713483490

Search another word or see Black_Knights'_Tangoon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature