A good second move for black, 2...Nc6 keeps most options open for black including the possibility of transposition into the English four knights variation after 3.Nf3. Black must choose how to develop after this move; for instance more often than not white will fianchetto his light-squared bishop and pursue a q-side attack; in those cases it may be desirable to play f5, since the pawn duo on f5 and e5 along with a knight on f6 more often than not will present a formidable front with good counterplay possibilities vs a q-side attack by white. However as in most k-side pawn attacks black should be careful not to overextend these pawns as doing so might get them restrained and then destroyed by white, effectively putting black on the defensive.
Aside from the English four knights the main option for white is to prepare a q-side attack by playing the bishop to g2, the king´s knight to e2 and the rook to b1; different move orders are possible but the idea is the same: to achieve a beneficial pawn break on d4 (ideally exchanging black's e pawn, for example: e3, Ne2, d4 and after black takes the d pawn white recaptures with his e pawn effectively increasing his power on the center and q-side while at the same time weakening black's counterplay) and/or to support a pawn advance to b4 (a3 and Rb1 are good moves for this purpose). Using the subsequent spatial advantage on the q-side while neutralizing black's counterplay on the opposite wing does require some skill however and white is best advised not to neglect his k-side in favor of an all out q-side attack and to seek the restraint and destruction of black's f and e pawns, for example after 3.g3 f5 4.e3 Nf6 5.Nge2 Bb4 6.Bg2 0-0 7.0-0 d6 8.d4 +/=, and should black push his e pawn to e4 white can undermine it with f3 and get an open file for the rook on f1 in the process.
1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6
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- Batsford Chess Openings 2 (1989, 1994). Garry Kasparov, Raymond Keene. ISBN 0-8050-3409-9.
- Nunn's Chess Openings. 1999. John Nunn (Editor), Graham Burgess, John Emms, Joe Gallagher. ISBN 1-8574-4221-0.