The Alekhine Defence is a provocative opening. Instead of doing the same as White and establishing a pawn in the centre, Black invites his opponent to chase his knight around the board and set up a broad pawn centre as he wins tempi. This is seen at its clearest in the principled Four Pawns Variation, in which 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.f4 dxe5 6.fxe5 is played. White can point to three central pawns, Black on the other hand has moved his king’s knight from g8 to the apparently unpromising b6.
This opening was not taken seriously until the future world champion Alexander Alekhine (1892–1946) began to play it from 1921 on. It was developed at a time when the old dogmas were being questioned and people were looking for something new. The basic idea, to provoke the creation of a pawn centre which will later be the target of attacks, was very influential and that influence can be seen on many other modern openings.