The Italian Game for beginners

Table of Contents 
  1. Introduction
    1. The trouble with the Giuoco Piano (is the Giuoco Pianissimo)
  2. Basic ideas in the Italian Game
      1. All the basic ideas: White,R - Al Marif,S [C51 Evans' Gambit] (London LB), 1990
  3. Ideas mainly for White
    1. Develop rapidly and take over the centre
      1. The raid with central pawns: Boleslavsky - Scitov [C54 Giuoco Piano] (Moscow) 1933
      2. The raid with central pawns: Morphy,Paul - Laroche,H [Evans' Gambit, C52] Paris, 1859
      3. The raid with central pawns: Morphy,Paul(bl_sim) - Cunningham [Giuoco Piano, C54] London, 1859
      4. Central advantage: Bastian,Herbert - Eng,Holger (10) [Giuoco Piano, C54] Bad Neuenahr ch-DE, 1984
    2. Catch the Black King in the middle
      1. The King caught in the middle (and Central advantage): Morphy - Hampton, H [Evans' Gambit, C52] (London) 1858
      2. King caught in the middle: Fischer - Fine RH [Evans' Gambit, C52] (New York) 1963
      3. King caught in the middle: Anderssen,Adolf - Dufresne,J [Evans' Gambit, C52] Berlin 'Evergreen', 1852
      4. King caught in the middle: Romero Holmes,Alfonse - Estremera Panos,Serg [Giuoco Piano, C54] Leon, 1989
    3. The King's-side attack.
      1. King's-side attack: Morphy,Paul - Amateur [Giuoco Piano, C51] London, 1858
      2. Littlewood - Paish (Blindfold)1993
      3. King's-side attack: Euwe,Max - O'Hanlon,John [Giuoco Piano, C54] Hastings, 1919
      4. The Fried Liver raid: Morphy,Paul(bl_sim) - Forde,A [Evans' Gambit, C52] New Orleans, 1858
    4. The Queen's-side attack.
      1. Move to the Queen's-side: Szecsi - Szarka [Giuoco Piano, C54] cr, 1987
  4. Ideas for Black
    1. Hit back with ...d5
      1. Black hits back with ...d5: Marache,N - Morphy,Paul [Evans' Gambit, C52] New York, 1857
      2. Black hits back with ...d5: Treiber,Timo - Kurz,Ralf (07) [Giuoco Piano, C54] Baden Baden, 1990
    2. Catch the White King in the middle
      1. Black catches the King in the middle: Noa,Josef - Kopylov [Evans' Gambit, C52] Leningrad, 1937
    3. Counterattack on the White King's-side
      1. Black's King's-side counterattack: Mongredien,A - Morphy,Paul (07) [Evans' Gambit, C52] Paris m, 1859
      2. Black's King's-side counterattack: Saint Amant - Morphy,Paul [Giuoco Piano, C54] Paris, 1858
    4. Black's chances in the endgame
      1. Black's endgame chances: Hammond,G - Morphy,Paul [Giuoco Piano, C54] New York, 1857
    5. Some traps in the Italian Game
      1. A poor line for White in the Closed Variation of the Giuoco Piano
      2. Another trap in the Closed Variation of the Giuoco Piano
      3. Trap in the Main Line of the Giuoco Piano with 6. O-O
      4. Trap in the Main Line of the Giuoco Piano with 6. O-O
      5. Trap in the Main Line of the Giuoco Piano with 6. O-O
      6. Trap in the Main Line of the Giuoco Piano with 6. cxd4
      7. Trap in the Moller Attack
      8. Bernstein's Trap in the Moller Attack
  5. Some Variations in the Italian Game
    1. A. Main line Guioco Piano 4. c3
      1. Risky main line 7. Nc3
        1. Black avoids the Moller
          1. Bernstein's line: greedy 9...Bxc3
          2. Bernstein: the safer 9... d5
        2. Moller attack
      2. Safe main line 7. Bd2
      3. The closed variation 4...Bb6
    2. Evans' Gambit 4. b4
      1. Evans' Gambit Declined (4...Bb6)
      2. Evans' Gambit Accepted (4...Bxb4)
        1. Evans' Gambit with 5... Bc5
        2. Evans' Gambit with 5..Be7
      3. Kasparov, Gary-Anand, Viswanathan, Riga 1993
        1. Evans' Gambit with 5... Ba5
          1. Lasker's Defence with 7... Qe7
          2. Lasker's Defence with 7... Nxd4
          3. Lasker's Defence with 7... Qd7
  6. Appendix 1. Why is it called "Italian"?
  7. Appendix 2. Oh, if you must... some ideas for playing the Giuoco Pianissimo
      1. Regis (Exeter) - Orpwood (Salford), 1987.
      2. A trap in the Giuoco Pianissimo
      3. Another trap in the Giuoco Pianissimo
      4. One more trap in the Giuoco Pianissimo
      5. Example Game in the Giuoco Pianissimo: Chambers-Vorhees (Dayton, Ohio) 1972
UPDATE 15th May 2011: ChessBase version [zipped] generously provided by Robert Jannink. Thanks a million!

  The Giuoco Piano and Evans' Gambit

An Exeter Junior Chess Club booklet

  Edition 3.18, April, 96

  Bibliography:

 

  Kasparov/Keene, Batsford Chess Openings

  Levy/Keene, An Opening Repertoire for the Attacking Club Player

  Walker, Chess Openings for Juniors

Various magazines and other books

 


Introduction

This is an updated and expanded version of a booklet first written in 1994. The major change is the conversion of the `example games' section to a much larger `ideas and traps' section.

The trouble with the Giuoco Piano (is the Giuoco Pianissimo)

The name Giuoco Piano means 'quiet game', but it is not really quiet. When it got its name, people were still playing the bloodthirsty variations of the King's Gambit like the Muzio Gambit (1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 g5 4. Bc4 g4 5. O-O gxf3 6. Qxf3). Compared to that, I suppose the Giuoco Piano is quiet! But there is a variation to be avoided, which is the Giuoco Pianissimo. That means 'very quiet game'.

  It looks like this:

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. d3 d6

 

t+lDj+-T
XxX-+xXx
-+sX-S-+
+-L-X-+-
-+b+p+-+
+-Np+n+-
pPp+-PpP
R-BqK-+r

Junior players can usually get to this point safely but often don't really enjoy the game that results. The position is blocked, the sides are equal and it's hard to get things going. It can take a long time to beat worse players because things are so solid. Also, it may be that almost every game you play ends up something like this, and perhaps you would like some variety.

  Why does this go wrong? Well, you should know that Plan A in the opening (for White and Black) is to play e4 and d4. If you both play sensibly 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 White cannot play d4, so you both continue sensibly 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. d3 d6. Which is where we came in. If you really want to play like this, see the last section, but I don't think it's a good way to play.

  Knowing this can happen, you need to know the two great ways to avoid it, which lead to open exciting games:

 

t+lDj+sT
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-+-+
+-L-X-+-
-+b+p+-+
+-P-+n+-
pP-P-PpP
RnBqK-+r

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4.c3

  This is the main line of the Giuoco Piano. The idea is to play c3, d4 and only after ...exd4,cxd4 do you play Nc3. You then have your old-fashioned centre and good prospects of a quick attack down the centre or on the K-side. I often call this Plan A.

  Black can use the temporary weakness of e4 to play 4...Nf6 when it is difficult to stop Black upsetting your plan a little.

 

t+lDj+sT
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-+-+
+-L-X-+-
-Pb+p+-+
+-+-+n+-
p+pP-PpP
RnBqK-+r

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4.b4!?

  This is the Evans' Gambit, the "gift of the gods to a languishing chess world". After 4...Bxb4, 5. c3 Bc5 6. d4 you have gained a move on Plan A, although you are a Pawn down. The Evans' is more dangerous than the Giuoco Piano - for both sides!

  Enterprising chess players still occasionally trot this one out at master level: Bobby Fischer and John Nunn have played it with success.

  So, let's have a look at some ideas in these more exciting lines. I'll show you

  1. first, the basic ideas

  2. secondly, some important traps

  3. lastly, some variations

  You should read and play over the examples with a board, and do them in the order above: (1) ideas, (2) traps, and only then (3) variations. This is how to study any opening.


Basic ideas in the Italian Game

I've described some of them above.

  bring your Bishop onto the a2-g8 diagonal, eyeing up the tender f7 point

  play c2-c3 and d2-d4 to take over the centre

develop your other pieces rapidly, bring your King's Rook to e1. If you have a lead in development, break open lines to get at the Black position

  keep the opponent's pieces from settling with central pawn stabs. Usually we say, don't make time-wasting pawn moves, like h2-h3. But if you play e4-e5 attacking a Knight on f6, the Knight has to move, and so you haven't given Black a chance to catch up in development, and you may have dislodged an important defender. It's odd that, because Pawns are worth the least, nothing can resist their attacks!

  try and catch the opponent's King in the middle, or, if it escapes by castling, attack on the King's-side.. Usually, only the Evans' Gambit and Moller Attack in the Giuoco Piano are fast enough to catch the King in the middle.

  if your attack doesn't come about, fast development and siezing the central files may give you an advantage in the endgame

  Because the basic layout is similar for both sides, some of these ideas also apply to playing Black: in addition Black should strive for:

  rapid development

castle into safety

  counter with ...d5

  play for counterattack on the King's-side or an endgame advantage First, I'll show you an example game which includes the ideas I have listed above.


All the basic ideas: White,R - Al Marif,S [C51 Evans' Gambit] (London LB), 1990

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Bc5 6. O-O!? d6 7. d4 exd4 8. cxd4

 

t+lDj+sT
XxX-+xXx
-+sX-+-+
+-L-+-+-
-+bPp+-+
+-+-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
RnBq+rK-

Central advantage: the Plan A pawn centre with good development.

8...Bb6 9. Re1

  The Rook comes to e1, gving the King a Hard Stare.

9...Bg4

 

t+-Dj+sT
XxX-+xXx
-LsX-+-+
+-+-+-+-
-+bPp+l+
+-+-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
RnBqR-K-

White's next points both Bishops at the King's-side.

10. Bb2 Qf6 11. e5 dxe5 12. dxe5

 

t+-+j+sT
XxX-+xXx
-Ls+-D-+
+-+-P-+-
-+b+-+l+
+-+-+n+-
pB-+-PpP
Rn+qR-K-

Raiding by centre pawns. The Pawn wins time by the attack on the Queen, and then breaks open lines by a further step forward.

12... Qf4 13. e6 Bxf3

  Black hopes to gain time by taking a piece with an attack on the Queen.

 

t+-+j+sT
XxX-+xXx
-Ls+p+-+
+-+-+-+-
-+b+-D-+
+-+-+l+-
pB-+-PpP
Rn+qR-K-

14. exf7+

  Not a bit of it! - Check stops everything. In fact White never moves the Queen or takes the Bishop!

 

t+-+j+sT
XxX-+pXx
-Ls+-+-+
+-+-+-+-
-+b+-D-+
+-+-+l+-
pB-+-PpP
Rn+qR-K-

Attack on f7 along the "Italian Diagonal"

14... Kf8 15. fxg8=Q+ Rxg8 16. Ba3+ Ne7 17. Bxe7+

 

t+-+-Jt+
XxX-B-Xx
-L-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-
-+b+-D-+
+-+-+l+-
p+-+-PpP
Rn+qR-K-

The King caught in the middle. Black resigns... 1-0

  An exciting game! Let's have a look at each of these ideas again in actual play, and how to play when you are Black.


Ideas mainly for White


Develop rapidly and take over the centre

You should know this idea already. Get your pieces out and fighting - if they are on the back rank you might as well not have them! And of course, they are most effective in the centre.

  The way to take over the centre is with your e- and d-pawns. These pawns can make little steps down the middle towards the Black King, and on the way stamp on the toes of the Black pieces to make them jump out of the way!


The raid with central pawns: Boleslavsky - Scitov [C54 Giuoco Piano] (Moscow) 1933

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. cxd4 Bb6

 

t+lDj+-T
XxXx+xXx
-Ls+-S-+
+-+-+-+-
-+bPp+-+
+-+-+n+-
pP-+-PpP
RnBqK-+r

This move gives White too much of a free hand. The "Plan A" pawn centre just rolls over the Black position.

7. e5 Stamp!

7...Ng4 8. h3 Stamp!

8...Nh6 9. d5 Stamp!

9...Ne7 10. d6 Stamp!

10...Ng6

  The Pawns have marched forward, causing the Black pieces to scatter. Time to develop a piece...

11. Bg5 f6

 

t+lDj+-T
XxXx+-Xx
-L-P-XsS
+-+-P-B-
-+b+-+-+
+-+-+n+p
pP-+-Pp+
Rn+qK-+r

12. exf6 gxf6

  White can win a piece, but:

13. Qe2+ Kf8 14. Bxh6# 1-0

 

  Isn't that better than the Giuoco Pianissimo?


The raid with central pawns: Morphy,Paul - Laroche,H [Evans' Gambit, C52] Paris, 1859

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Ba5 6. d4 Nf6

 

t+lDj+-T
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-S-+
L-+-X-+-
-+bPp+-+
+-P-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
RnBqK-+r

Now a little Pawn stab.

7. dxe5 Ng4 8. Bg5 f6 9. exf6 Nxf6 10. e5

 

t+lDj+-T
XxXx+-Xx
-+s+-S-+
L-+-P-B-
-+b+-+-+
+-P-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
Rn+qK-+r

Another awkward Pawn raid.

10... h6 11. exf6 hxg5 12. fxg7 Qe7+ 13. Qe2 1-0

 


The raid with central pawns: Morphy,Paul(bl_sim) - Cunningham [Giuoco Piano, C54] London, 1859

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Bc5 3. c3 Nc6 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. e5 Qe7 7. O-O Ng8 8. cxd4 Bb6 9. d5

 

t+l+j+sT
XxXxDxXx
-Ls+-+-+
+-+pP-+-
-+b+-+-+
+-+-+n+-
pP-+-PpP
RnBq+rK-

This we would call a central pawn roller.

9... Qc5 10. Na3 Nd4 11. Be3 Nxf3+ 12. Qxf3 Qf8 13. Bxb6 axb6 14. Nb5 Kd8 15. Rac1

 

t+lJ-DsT
+xXx+xXx
-X-+-+-+
+n+pP-+-
-+b+-+-+
+-+-+q+-
pP-+-PpP
+-R-+rK-

Black is getting squashed by those Pawns.

15... d6 16. exd6 cxd6 17. Qe3 Ra6 18. Nc7 Qe7

 

-+lJ-+sT
+xN-DxXx
tX-X-+-+
+-+p+-+-
-+b+-+-+
+-+-Q-+-
pP-+-PpP
+-R-+rK-

Black wants to exchange Queens.

19. Ne6+! fxe6 20. Bxa6 Bd7 21. Bb5 Ke8 22. dxe6 Nf6 23. Rc8+ 1-0


Central advantage: Bastian,Herbert - Eng,Holger (10) [Giuoco Piano, C54] Bad Neuenahr ch-DE, 1984

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. cxd4 Bb4+ 7. Bd2 Bxd2+ 8. Nbxd2 d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Qb3 Nce7 11. O-O O-O 12. Rfe1

 

t+lD-Tj+
XxX-SxXx
-+-+-+-+
+-+s+-+-
-+bP-+-+
+q+-+n+-
pP-N-PpP
R-+-R-K-

This is the Main line position. Most of the Pawns have disappeared, but Black must be careful not to let the White pieces dominate the central squares and the e-file.

12... Nb6 13. Bd3 Bf5 14. Rxe7 Bxd3 15. Rae1 Bg6 16. Nh4 Nc8

 

t+sD-Tj+
XxX-RxXx
-+-+-+l+
+-+-+-+-
-+-P-+-N
+q+-+-+-
pP-N-PpP
+-+-R-K-

White has far more active pieces and control of the e-file. This is an easy game to understand, and, hopefully, imitate.

17. Nxg6 hxg6 18. R7e5 Qxd4 19. Nf3 Qd7 20. Ng5 Nd6

 

t+-+-Tj+
XxXd+xX-
-+-S-+x+
+-+-R-N-
-+-+-+-+
+q+-+-+-
pP-+-PpP
+-+-R-K-

Black is starting to get sorted out but White's next move tempts the f-pawn to move...

21. Qb4 f6 22. Re7 Qb5 23. Rxg7+ Kxg7 24. Re7+ Rf7 25. Rxf7+ Nxf7 26. Ne6+ 1-0



Catch the Black King in the middle

As I said, this is mostly an idea for the Evans' Gambit. White's pieces charge out before Black can play ...Nf6 and ...O-O, and before the defence can get organised.


The King caught in the middle (and Central advantage): Morphy - Hampton, H [Evans' Gambit, C52] (London) 1858

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Bc5 6. O-O d6 7. d4 exd4 8. cxd4 Bb6 9. Nc3

 

t+lDj+sT
XxX-+xXx
-LsX-+-+
+-+-+-+-
-+bPp+-+
+-N-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
R-Bq+rK-

This simple developing move is best, but not much played before Morphy. Instead they used to rush with 9. d5 or hesitate with 9. h3.

9... Nf6 10. e5 dxe5 11. Ba3

  Stops the Black King castling.

11...Bg4 12. Qb3 Bh5 13. dxe5 Ng4 14. Rad1 Qc8

 

t+d+j+-T
XxX-+xXx
-Ls+-+-+
+-+-P-+l
-+b+-+s+
BqN-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
+-+r+rK-

White has a model position, while Black's pieces are disorganised and the King vulnerable.

15. e6 f6 16. Qb5 Bg6 17. Bd5 1-0

 


King caught in the middle: Fischer - Fine RH [Evans' Gambit, C52] (New York) 1963

This game was played as a 'friendly' game at Fine's house.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Ba5 6. d4 exd4 7. O-O dxc3

  "A little too greedy", said Modern Chess Openings, and Fischer agreed.

8. Qb3 Qe7 9. Nxc3

 

t+l+j+sT
XxXxDxXx
-+s+-+-+
L-+-+-+-
-+b+p+-+
+qN-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
R-B-+rK-

White has a massive lead in development. Now 9...Qb4 is the most awkward. Fischer's reply does not lose time because Black must respond to the attack on the Queen, and, after the exchange, the Knight.

9... Nf6 10. Nd5 Nxd5 11. exd5 Ne5 12. Nxe5 Qxe5 13. Bb2 Qg5

 

t+l+j+-T
XxXx+xXx
-+-+-+-+
L-+p+-D-
-+b+-+-+
+q+-+-+-
pB-+-PpP
R-+-+rK-

Fischer now finds a nice deflecting move.

14. h4 Qxh4 15. Bxg7 Rg8 16. Rfe1+ Kd8 17. Qg3

 

t+lJ-+t+
XxXx+xBx
-+-+-+-+
L-+p+-+-
-+b+-+-D
+-+-+-Q-
p+-+-Pp+
R-+-R-K-

1-0

  Another, conclusive deflection. The Black Queen cannot defend the f6 square, so if 17...Qg3 18. Bf6 mate.



King caught in the middle: Anderssen,Adolf - Dufresne,J [Evans' Gambit, C52] Berlin 'Evergreen', 1852

This is a very famous game, published in newspapers all over the world at the time.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Ba5 6. d4 exd4 7. O-O d3 8. Qb3 Qf6 9. e5 Qg6 10. Re1 Nge7 11. Ba3 b5 12. Qxb5 Rb8 13. Qa4 Bb6 14. Nbd2 Bb7 15. Ne4 Qf5 16. Bxd3 Qh5 17. Nf6+ gxf6 18. exf6 Rg8

 

-T-+j+t+
XlXxSx+x
-Ls+-P-+
+-+-+-+d
q+-+-+-+
B-Pb+n+-
p+-+-PpP
R-+-R-K-

In playing his next move, Anderssen must have seen the mate at the end. Superb!

19. Rad1 Qxf3 20. Rxe7+ Nxe7 21. Qxd7+ Kxd7 22. Bf5+ Ke8 23. Bd7+ Kf8 24. Bxe7# 1-0


King caught in the middle: Romero Holmes,Alfonse - Estremera Panos,Serg [Giuoco Piano, C54] Leon, 1989

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. b4

 

t+lDj+-T
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-S-+
+-L-+-+-
-PbXp+-+
+-P-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
RnBqK-+r

An unusual line.

6... Bb6 7. e5 d5 8. exf6 dxc4 9. b5 Na5

 

t+lDj+-T
XxX-+xXx
-L-+-P-+
Sp+-+-+-
-+xX-+-+
+-P-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
RnBqK-+r

White has yet to show anything for his efforts.

10. Qe2+ Be6 11. fxg7 Rg8 12. Nxd4 Bxd4 13. cxd4 Qxd4 14. Bb2

 

t+-+j+t+
XxX-+xPx
-+-+l+-+
Sp+-+-+-
-+xD-+-+
+-+-+-+-
pB-+qPpP
Rn+-K-+r

This move hangs on to the g-pawn, without which Black would be OK. It's still all very muddly!

14... Qd3 15. Bf6 Qg6 16. Qf3 Rxg7 17. Nd2

 

t+-+j+-+
XxX-+xTx
-+-+lBd+
Sp+-+-+-
-+x+-+-+
+-+-+q+-
p+-N-PpP
R-+-K-+r

Black jumps at a loose Pawn...

17... Qxg2 18. Qa3 1-0


The King's-side attack.

Of course, if Black is not greedy you may see the Black King flee to the King's-side. But all the things that make the attack on the uncastled King work - better development, central control and open lines - also make a King's-side attack work!


King's-side attack: Morphy,Paul - Amateur [Giuoco Piano, C51] London, 1858

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Bc5 6. d4 exd4 7. cxd4 Bb6 8. Bg5 Nge7 9. Nc3 O-O 10. d5 Na5

 

t+lD-Tj+
XxXxSxXx
-L-+-+-+
S-+p+-B-
-+b+p+-+
+-N-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
R-+qK-+r

Black has castled, but White is still out get the King.

11. d6 cxd6 12. Nd5 Nac6 13. Nxe7+ Nxe7 14. Qxd6 Re8 15. Rc1 Ba5+

 

t+lDt+j+
Xx+xSxXx
-+-Q-+-+
L-+-+-B-
-+b+p+-+
+-+-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
+-R-K-+r

White's next move is an important one: he will have to win the game without his King's Rook!

16. Kf1 Kf8 17. Qf4 d5 18. Bb5 Bd7 19. Ne5

 

t+-DtJ-+
Xx+lSxXx
-+-+-+-+
Lb+xN-B-
-+-+pQ-+
+-+-+-+-
p+-+-PpP
+-R-+k+r

A well-judged sacrifice.

19... Bxb5+ 20. Kg1 f5 21. exf5 Qb6 22. f6 Ng8 23. f7 Rec8 24. fxg8=Q+ Kxg8 25. Qf7+

 

t+t+-+j+
Xx+-+qXx
-D-+-+-+
Ll+xN-B-
-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-
p+-+-PpP
+-R-+-Kr

White has got his attack going nicely now.

25... Kh8 26. Rxc8+ Rxc8 27. Qxd5 h6 28. Nf7+ Kh7 29. Qf5+ Qg6 30. Qxc8 Qb1+ 31. Qc1 Qf5 32. Be3 Qxf7 33. Qb1+ 1-0



Littlewood - Paish (Blindfold)1993

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. cxd4 Bb4+ 7. Bd2 Bxd2+ 8. Nbxd2 d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Qb3! Nce7 11. O-O O-O

12. Rfe1 c6 13. a4

  Fritz knows about several alternatives here: h6, Qb6,Qb7, Rb8, b6 and so on. Littlewood's opponent found a new one, but the decentralising ...Qa5 does little towards getting Black's position sorted.

13... Qa5 14. Ne4 Rd8 15. Ne5 Nf5 16. Qd3 Be6 17. Ng5 g6 18. Qh3 Nd6 19. Qxh7+

 

t+-T-+j+
Xx+-+x+q
-+xSl+x+
D-+sN-N-
p+bP-+-+
+-+-+-+-
-P-+-PpP
R-+-R-K-

The entry of the Queen decides.

19... Kf8 20. Nxe6+ fxe6 21. Bxd5 and Nxg6+ 1-0

  This was one of eight games played blindfold by Paul - that is, he played by calling out moves to eight opponents, each of whom had a board!


King's-side attack: Euwe,Max - O'Hanlon,John [Giuoco Piano, C54] Hastings, 1919

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. cxd4 Bb4+ 7. Nc3 Nxe4 8. O-O Bxc3 9. d5 Bf6 10. Re1 Ne7 11. Rxe4 d6 12. Bg5 Bxg5 13. Nxg5 O-O

 

t+lD-Tj+
XxX-SxXx
-+-X-+-+
+-+p+-N-
-+b+r+-+
+-+-+-+-
pP-+-PpP
R-+q+-K-

White now plays a break-up sacrifice.

14. Nxh7! Kxh7 15. Rh4+ Kg8 16. Qh5 f5 17. Re1 Ng6 18. Rh3 f4 19. Re6 Rf6

 

t+lD-+j+
XxX-+-X-
-+-XrTs+
+-+p+-+q
-+b+-X-+
+-+-+-+r
pP-+-PpP
+-+-+-K-

Black has no time to organise a defence of all of his weaknesses.

20. Qh7+ Kf8 21. Qh8+ Nxh8 22. Rxh8+ Kf7 23. Rxd8 c6 24. Ree8 Bd7 25. dxc6+ Be6 26. Bxe6+ Rxe6 27. Rxa8 Rxe8 28. Rxe8 Kxe8 29. cxb7 1-0


The Fried Liver raid: Morphy,Paul(bl_sim) - Forde,A [Evans' Gambit, C52] New Orleans, 1858

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Ba5 6. O-O Nge7 7. Ng5 d5 8. exd5 Nxd5

 

t+lDj+-T
XxX-+xXx
-+s+-+-+
L-+sX-N-
-+b+-+-+
+-P-+-+-
p+-P-PpP
RnBq+rK-

You may know the Fried Liver Attack - here is a version of it in the Evans' Gambit.

9. Nxf7 Kxf7 10. Qf3+ Ke6 11. Ba3 Bb6 12. Re1 Na5

 

t+lD-+-T
XxX-+-Xx
-L-+j+-+
S-+sX-+-
-+b+-+-+
B-P-+q+-
p+-P-PpP
Rn+-R-K-

How can White get at the King?

13. Rxe5+! Kxe5 14. d4+ Ke6 15. g4 g6 16. Qe4+ Kf7 17. Bxd5+ Kg7 18. Be7 Re8 19. Qe5+ Kh6 20. g5+ Kh5 21. Bf3+ Bg4 22. Qg3 Qd7 23. Qh3# 1-0

  This too was one of a number of games played by Morphy without sight of the board.


The Queen's-side attack.

Black's Queen's-side may be late coming out, and may be a target for a direct attack by e.g. Qd1-b3xb7. But if the Black King cannot feel entirely safe on the King's-side, and not at all in the centre, perhaps your opponent will castle Queen's-side? This is usually easier to attack than the King's-side, because you won't mind moving your Queen's-side Pawns forward!


Move to the Queen's-side: Szecsi - Szarka [Giuoco Piano, C54] cr, 1987

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. cxd4 Bb4+ 7. Nc3 Nxe4 8. O-O Bxc3 9. d5 Bf6 10. Re1 Ne7 11. Rxe4 d6 12. Bg5 Bxg5 13. Nxg5 h6 14. Qe2 hxg5 15. Re1 Be6 16. dxe6 f6 17. Re3 c6 18. Rh3 Rxh3 19. gxh3 g6 20. b4

 

t+-Dj+-+
Xx+-S-+-
-+xXpXx+
+-+-+-X-
-Pb+-+-+
+-+-+-+p
p+-+qP-P
+-+-R-K-

This move is quite cute: White realises Black will castle Queen's-side, and so arranges a welcome for the Black King...

20... Qb6 21. Qb2 O-O-O

  Told you!

22. b5 Rf8 23. a4 Qa5 24. Rc1 Qxa4 25. bxc6 b6 26. Bb5 Qe4 27. c7 Kb7 28. Qa3 a5 29. Qxd6

 

-+-+-T-+
+jP-S-+-
-X-QpXx+
Xb+-+-X-
-+-+d+-+
+-+-+-+p
-+-+-P-P
+-R-+-K-

Black is cut to shreds. It's an interesting point that this was played in recent years by post, so Black had plenty of time to work out the best opening variation and the best defence to the attack!

1-0


Ideas for Black

Of course, you need to know how to play the Black side of the Italian Game.

Hit back with ...d5

This is the most important idea. Black's problems in the games we have looked at stem from (a) poor development, (b) poor control over the centre.

  The ...d5 break is crucial, releasing the Bc8 and getting a share of the centre (or at least breaking up White's pawns). This goes some way to solving both problems. If you can play ...d5 as Black without immediate disaster you usually get an even game at least.


Black hits back with ...d5: Marache,N - Morphy,Paul [Evans' Gambit, C52] New York, 1857

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Ba5 6. d4 exd4 7. e5

 

t+lDj+sT
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-+-+
L-+-P-+-
-+bX-+-+
+-P-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
RnBqK-+r

White swings a punch into the air. Black responds with one on the chin.

7... d5 8. exd6 Qxd6 9. O-O Nge7 10. Ng5 O-O 11. Bd3

 

t+l+-Tj+
XxX-SxXx
-+sD-+-+
L-+-+-N-
-+-X-+-+
+-Pb+-+-
p+-+-PpP
RnBq+rK-

White has no reason to expect these attacking gestures to succeed. Black sensibly develops, connecting the Rooks, and soon moves over to the attack.

11... Bf5 12. Bxf5 Nxf5 13. Ba3 Qg6 14. Bxf8 Qxg5 15. Ba3 dxc3 16. Bc1 Qg6 17. Bf4 Rd8 18. Qc2 Ncd4 19. Qe4

 

-+-T-+j+
XxX-+xXx
-+-+-+d+
L-+-+s+-
-+-SqB-+
+-X-+-+-
p+-+-PpP
Rn+-+rK-

19... Ng3! 0-1

A neat finish: Black attacks the White Queen (twice) and threatens mate by ...Nde2#.


Black hits back with ...d5: Treiber,Timo - Kurz,Ralf (07) [Giuoco Piano, C54] Baden Baden, 1990

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. cxd4 Bb4+ 7. Nc3 Nxe4 8. O-O Bxc3 9. d5 Bf6 10. dxc6 bxc6 11. Re1

 

t+lDj+-T
X-Xx+xXx
-+x+-L-+
+-+-+-+-
-+b+s+-+
+-+-+n+-
pP-+-PpP
R-BqR-K-

Black whips the King out of the way of the Rook...

11... O-O 12. Rxe4

 

t+lD-Tj+
X-Xx+xXx
-+x+-L-+
+-+-+-+-
-+b+r+-+
+-+-+n+-
pP-+-PpP
R-Bq+-K-

12... d5

  ...And the ...d5 blow recovers the piece.

13. Rf4 dxc4 14. Qa4 c3 15. bxc3 Bxc3 16. Rb1 Qd3

 

t+l+-Tj+
X-X-+xXx
-+x+-+-+
+-+-+-+-
q+-+-R-+
+-Ld+n+-
p+-+-PpP
+rB-+-K-

White is getting into a right mess.

17. Rbb4

[17. Qb3 Rb8 18. Rd4 Rxb3 19. Rxd3 Rxb1]

17... Ba6 18. Rbc4 Bxc4 19. Rxc4 Rab8 0-1


Catch the White King in the middle

If you are developing as fast as you can, and White isn't, you may find that you are ahead in development. In this case you have every right to attack the White King, and if this is still in the middle, so much the better!


Black catches the King in the middle: Noa,Josef - Kopylov [Evans' Gambit, C52] Leningrad, 1937

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Ba5 6. d4 d6 7. Bg5 Nf6 8. Qa4 exd4 9. Nxd4 Bb6 10. Bb5 O-O 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. Bxc6

 

t+lD-Tj+
X-X-+xXx
-LbX-S-+
+-+-+-B-
q+-+p+-+
+-P-+-+-
p+-+-PpP
Rn+-K-+r

White has tried to cash in straight away before completing development.

12... Bxf2+ 13. Ke2

[13. Kxf2 Ng4+ 14. Kf1 Qxg5 15. Bxa8 Qc1+ 16. Ke2 Qxh1]

13... Rb8 14. Rf1 Rb2+ 15. Nd2

 

-+lD-Tj+
X-X-+xXx
-+bX-S-+
+-+-+-B-
q+-+p+-+
+-P-+-+-
pT-NkLpP
R-+-+r+-

Black now finds a neat move to exploit White's loose position.

15... Nxe4! 16. Qxe4 Qxg5 17. Kxf2 Bf5 18. Qf3 Bg4 19. Qe4 d5 0-1


Counterattack on the White King's-side

Similarly, if you are ahead in development or have some other advantage, you can (and should!) think about a King's-side attack.


Black's King's-side counterattack: Mongredien,A - Morphy,Paul (07) [Evans' Gambit, C52] Paris m, 1859

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Ba5 6. O-O Nf6 7. d4 O-O

 

t+lD-Tj+
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-S-+
L-+-X-+-
-+bPp+-+
+-P-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
RnBq+rK-

White tries a pawn stab, but things are pretty solid. No quick raid will be possible, which is bad news for the Gambit player.

8. d5 Ne7 9. Qd3 d6 10. h3 Ng6 11. Nh2 Nh5 12. Bb3 Ngf4 13. Bxf4 Nxf4 14. Qf3 f5

 

t+lD-Tj+
XxX-+-Xx
-+-X-+-+
L-+pXx+-
-+-+pS-+
+bP-+q+p
p+-+-PpN
Rn+-+rK-

This move announces to White that it is Black who holds the initiative.

15. exf5 Bxf5 16. g4 Bd3 17. Qe3 Bb6 18. Qd2 Qh4 0-1


Black's King's-side counterattack: Saint Amant - Morphy,Paul [Giuoco Piano, C54] Paris, 1858

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. cxd4 Bb4+ 7. Bd2 Bxd2+ 8. Nbxd2 d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. O-O O-O

 

t+lD-Tj+
XxX-+xXx
-+s+-+-+
+-+s+-+-
-+bP-+-+
+-+-+n+-
pP-N-PpP
R-+q+rK-

White follows the limp 10. O-O with a time-wasting and weakening Pawn move.

11. h3 Nf4 12. Kh2 Nxd4 13. Nxd4 Qxd4 14. Qc2 Qd6

 

t+l+-Tj+
XxX-+xXx
-+-D-+-+
+-+-+-+-
-+b+-S-+
+-+-+-+p
pPqN-PpK
R-+-+r+-

Threatening several nasties.

15. Kh1 Qh6 16. Qc3 Bf5 17. Kh2 Rad8 18. Rad1

 

-+-T-Tj+
XxX-+xXx
-+-+-+-D
+-+-+l+-
-+b+-S-+
+-Q-+-+p
pP-N-PpK
+-+r+r+-

"And now for my last trick:"

18... Bxh3 19. gxh3 Rd3 20. Qxd3 Nxd3 21. Bxd3 Qd6+ 22. f4 Qxd3 0-1

 


Black's chances in the endgame

It is actually quite difficult to take over the attack and mate White. This is nearly always true if the Queens are exchanged. But very often, once White's initiative blows itself out, you may be left with better placed pieces. Then there may be open lines that you can use to attack White Pawns. White may have given up a pawn for the attack, or may have advanced one or two Pawns beyond easy reach of White's pieces, but within easy reach of yours. Then Black can look forward to a very promising endgame.


Black's endgame chances: Hammond,G - Morphy,Paul [Giuoco Piano, C54] New York, 1857

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. e5

 

t+lDj+-T
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-S-+
+-L-P-+-
-+bX-+-+
+-P-+n+-
pP-+-PpP
RnBqK-+r

As ever, Black must hit back hard:

6... d5 7. Bb3 Ne4 8. cxd4 Bb6 9. O-O Bg4 10. Be3 O-O 11. Qd3 Bxf3 12. gxf3 Ng5 13. Qf5

 

t+-D-Tj+
XxX-+xXx
-Ls+-+-+
+-+xPqS-
-+-P-+-+
+b+-Bp+-
pP-+-P-P
Rn+-+rK-

White is doing his best to attack.

13... Nxd4 14. Bxd4 Bxd4 15. Nc3 g6 16. Qg4 h5 17. Qg2 Bxe5 18. Nxd5 c6 19. Rfe1 Re8 20. f4 cxd5 21. fxe5 Ne6 22. Qxd5 Qxd5 23. Bxd5 Nf4 24. Bxb7 Rab8 25. Bc6 Re6 26. Bd7 Re7 27. Rad1 Rxb2

 

-+-+-+j+
X-+bTx+-
-+-+-+x+
+-+-P-+x
-+-+-S-+
+-+-+-+-
pT-+-P-P
+-+rR-K-

The attack has blown out leaving Black's pieces very well placed. White is losing at least a Pawn...

28. Re4? Rxd7 0-1

  ...if not the game!


Some traps in the Italian Game

I hope that's given you a feel for the way to play these positions. Now I'd like to look at some specific variations, because in these lively lines you have to watch your step! Here are some of the most important traps, the tactical ideas behind some of the main lines.

  These are taken `wholemeal' (rather than piecemeal) from Znosko-Borovsky's Traps on the Chessboard. I think this is out of print (I have a 1940s copy) but worth trying to find if you read descriptive notation. In fact, that goes for all Z-B's books! Many of them are issued in inexpensive editions by Dover.


A poor line for White in the Closed Variation of the Giuoco Piano

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Qe7 5. O-O?!

[5. d4 is best]

5... d6 6. d4 Bb6 7. h3 Nf6 8. dxe5?!

  Just because your opponent plays slowly doesn't mean you can relax.

[8. d5 may have been better]

8... Nxe5 9. Nxe5 Qxe5 10. Nd2

 

t+l+j+-T
XxX-+xXx
-L-X-S-+
+-+-D-+-
-+b+p+-+
+-P-+-+p
pP-N-Pp+
R-Bq+rK-

White has done everything possible to encourage Black!

10... Bxh3 11. gxh3 Qg3+ 12. Kh1 Qxh3+ 13. Kg1 Ng4 14. Nf3 Qg3+ 15. Kh1 Bxf2

-+


Another trap in the Closed Variation of the Giuoco Piano

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Qe7 5. O-O?! d6 6. d4 Bb6 7. Bg5 f6?! 8. Bh4 g5?! 9. Nxg5 fxg5

  I said above that you usually can't afford to do this in front of your castled King. It's also not safe in front of your uncastled King!

10. Qh5+ Kd8 11. Bxg5

 

t+lJ-+sT
XxX-D-+x
-LsX-+-+
+-+-X-Bq
-+bPp+-+
+-P-+-+-
pP-+-PpP
Rn+-+rK-

Is White's attack worth a piece?

11... Nf6 12. Qh6 Rf8 13. f4 exd4

  Else White fatally opens the f-file.

14. e5! dxc3+ 15. Kh1 cxb2

 

t+lJ-T-+
XxX-D-+x
-LsX-S-Q
+-+-P-B-
-+b+-P-+
+-+-+-+-
pX-+-+pP
Rn+-+r+k

16. exf6 Rxf6 17. Qxf6 bxa1=Q 18. Qxa1+-

 


Trap in the Main Line of the Giuoco Piano with 6. O-O

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. O-O

  White sometimes plays this uncommon alternative to avoid the main lines after 6. cxd4.

6...Nxe4?

[6...d6]

7. cxd4 Be7 8. d5 Nb8 9. Re1 Nd6 10. Bb3 O-O 11. Nc3 Ne8 12. d6

 

tSlDsTj+
XxXxLxXx
-+-P-+-+
+-+-+-+-
-+-+-+-+
+bN-+n+-
pP-+-PpP
R-BqR-K-

A very clever move.

12... cxd6

[12... Bxd6 13. Bg5 Nf6 14. Nd5 Nc6 15. Nxf6+ gxf6 16. Bh6+- ]

[12... Nxd6 13. Rxe7 Qxe7 14. Bg5 Qe8 15. Qd3 Nc6 16. Re1+- ]

13. Rxe7 Qxe7 14. Bg5 Nf6 15. Nd5 Qd8 16. Qd4 Nc6 17. Qh4+-


Trap in the Main Line of the Giuoco Piano with 6. O-O

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. O-O O-O?

[again, 6...d6 is most reliable]

7. cxd4 Bb6 8. d5 Ne7 9. e5 Ne8 10. d6 cxd6 11. exd6 Ng6 12. Bg5 Nf6 13. Nc3 h6 14. Qd3

 

t+lD-Tj+
Xx+x+xX-
-L-P-SsX
+-+-+-B-
-+b+-+-+
+-Nq+n+-
pP-+-PpP
R-+-+rK-

A terrific example of the central pawn raid.

14... Kh7

[14... hxg5 15. Qxg6]

15. Bxf7! Rxf7 16. Ne5 hxg5 17. Qxg6+ Kg8 18. Qxf7+ +-

 


Trap in the Main Line of the Giuoco Piano with 6. O-O

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. O-O dxc3

  A little greedy.

7. e5

 

t+lDj+-T
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-S-+
+-L-P-+-
-+b+-+-+
+-X-+n+-
pP-+-PpP
RnBq+rK-

Black's next is often the right idea, but doesn't work here because of the lag in development and castling.

7... d5 8. exf6 dxc4 9. Qxd8+ Nxd8 10. fxg7 Rg8 11. Nxc3 Rxg7 12. Bf4 Ne6 13. Rfe1 c6 14. Ne4 Be7 15. Rad1+/-

 

t+l+j+-+
Xx+-LxTx
-+x+s+-+
+-+-+-+-
-+x+nB-+
+-+-+n+-
pP-+-PpP
+-+rR-K-

could you win from here as White? Black cannot afford to play

15... Nxf4

  because of

16. Nf6+ Kf8 17. Rd8+ Bxd8 18. Re8#

 

t+lLrJ-+
Xx+-+xTx
-+x+-N-+
+-+-+-+-
-+x+-S-+
+-+-+n+-
pP-+-PpP
+-+-+-K-


Trap in the Main Line of the Giuoco Piano with 6. cxd4

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. cxd4

 

t+lDj+-T
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-S-+
+-L-+-+-
-+bPp+-+
+-+-+n+-
pP-+-PpP
RnBqK-+r

This is the normal continuation.

6... Bb6?

  This isn't! The Pawns push forward.

[6... Bb4+ is best]

7. d5 Ne7 8. e5 Ne4 9. d6 Nxf2 10. Qe2 Nxh1 11. Bg5

 

t+lDj+-T
XxXxSxXx
-L-P-+-+
+-+-P-B-
-+b+-+-+
+-+-+n+-
pP-+q+pP
Rn+-K-+s

11... Bf2+

  Black intends to get the Queen out via c7

12. Kd1!

[12. Kf1 Nf5 13. Bxd8

[or 13. Qe4 Nhg3+ 14. Kxf2 Nxe4+ 15. Ke1 Nxg5-+ ]

13... Ne3+ 14. Qxe3 Bxe3-/+ and Black is in the clear]

12... c5 13. Bxe7 Qb6 14. Ng5 Rf8 15. Qh5 g6 16. Qxh7+-


Trap in the Moller Attack

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. cxd4 Bb4+ 7. Nc3 Nxe4 8. O-O Bxc3 9. d5

 

t+lDj+-T
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-+-+
+-+p+-+-
-+b+s+-+
+-L-+n+-
pP-+-PpP
R-Bq+rK-

The Moller Attack

9... Ne5?!

[9... Bf6!]

10. bxc3 Nxc4 11. Qd4 Ncd6?

[11... f5]

12. Qxg7 Qf6 13. Qxf6 Nxf6 14. Re1+

 

t+l+j+-T
XxXx+x+x
-+-S-S-+
+-+p+-+-
-+-+-+-+
+-P-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
R-B-R-K-

14... Kf8

[14... Kd8 15. Bg5 Nde8 16. Rxe8+ Kxe8 17. Re1+! Kf8 18. Bh6+ Kg8 19. Re5 d6 20. Rg5#]

15. Bh6+ Kg8 16. Re5 Nfe4 17. Re1 f5 18. Re7+-

 

t+l+-+jT
XxXxR-+x
-+-S-+-B
+-+p+x+-
-+-+s+-+
+-P-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
+-+-R-K-

"and wins", says Znosko-Borovsky. Have a go!

18... a5 19. Nd4 b5 20. f3 Nxc3 21. Rg7+ Kf8 22. Rxd7+ Kg8 23. Rg7+ Kf8 24. Rxc7+ Kg8 25. Rg7+ Kf8 26. Ra7+ Kg8 27. Rxa8 +-


Bernstein's Trap in the Moller Attack

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. cxd4 Bb4+ 7. Nc3 Nxe4 8. O-O Nxc3 9. bxc3 Bxc3 10. Qb3

 

t+lDj+-T
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-+-+
+-+-+-+-
-+bP-+-+
+qL-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
R-B-+rK-

10... Bxa1?

  Black is being terribly greedy.

[10... d5 11. Bxd5 O-O 12. Bxf7+ Kh8 13. Qxc3 Rxf7 14. Ne5 Nxe5 15. dxe5 Be6<-/-> ]

11. Bxf7+ Kf8 12. Bg5 Ne7 13. Ne5 Bxd4 14. Bg6 d5 15. Qf3+ Bf5 16. Bxf5 Bxe5 17. Be6+ Bf6 18. Bxf6+-


Some Variations in the Italian Game

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5

  We will look at the Giuoco Piano with 4.c3, and Evans' Gambit with 4. b4.


A. Main line Guioco Piano 4. c3

4... Nf6

  The alternatives 4...Bb6, and 4...d6 give White a free hand. We'll have a look at 4...Bb6, the Closed Variation in section B later.

5. d4 exd4

 

t+lDj+-T
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-S-+
+-L-+-+-
-+bXp+-+
+-P-+n+-
pP-+-PpP
RnBqK-+r

6. cxd4

  White has alternatives:

[6. e5 d5 is no good]

[You might try one day 6. b4 Bb6 7. e5 d5 8. exf6 dxc4

 

t+lDj+-T
XxX-+xXx
-Ls+-P-+
+-+-+-+-
-PxX-+-+
+-P-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
RnBqK-+r

For example 9. b5 Na5 10. Qe2+ Be6 11. fxg7 Rg8 12. Nxd4 Bxd4 13. cxd4 Qxd4 14. Bb2 Qd3 15. Bf6 Qg6 16. Qf3 Rxg7 17. Nd2 Qxg2 18. Qa3

 

t+-+j+-+
XxX-+xTx
-+-+lB-+
Sp+-+-+-
-+x+-+-+
Q-+-+-+-
p+-N-PdP
R-+-K-+r

which is wonderfully messy]

[Lastly, White has 6. O-O hoping for 6...dxc3 7. Nxc3 with a big lead in development. There are examples of this line in the section on Traps, but it is neglected in many books on the opening]

  After 6. cxd4 Black must reply

6... Bb4+

[6... Bb6 does nothing to slow White's plan - see the game by Boleslavsky in the ideas section if you are not convinced!]

 

  Now White can play the risky 7. Nc3 or the safe 7. Bd2.


Risky main line 7. Nc3

7. Nc3

 

t+lDj+-T
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-S-+
+-+-+-+-
-LbPp+-+
+-N-+n+-
pP-+-PpP
R-BqK-+r

7... Nxe4

[Instead 7... d5 can be tried, which is probably not as good: e.g.

8. exd5 Nxd5 9. O-O Be6 10. Bg5 Be7 11. Bxd5 Bxd5 12. Nxd5 Qxd5 13. Bxe7 Nxe7 14. Re1 f6 15. Qe2 Qd7

 

t+-+j+-T
XxXdS-Xx
-+-+-X-+
+-+-+-+-
-+-P-+-+
+-+-+n+-
pP-+qPpP
R-+-R-K-

Black's King is caught in the centre, and cannot easily leave.

Now White can try either:

16. Qe4 or

16. Rac1

For example: 16. Rac1 c6 17. d5 cxd5 18. Nd4 Kf7 19. Ne6 Rhc8 20. Qg4 g6 21. Ng5+ Ke8 22. Rxe7+ Kf8 23. Rf7+ Kg8 24. Rg7+ Kh8 25. Rxh7+ Kg8 26. Rg7+ Kh8 27. Qh4+ Kxg7 28. Qh7+ Kf8 29. Qh8+ Ke7 30. Qg7+ Ke8 31. Qg8+ Ke7 32. Qf7+ Kd8 33. Qf8+ Qe8 34. Nf7+ Kd7 35. Qd6#

 

t+t+d+-+
Xx+j+n+-
-+-Q-Xx+
+-+x+-+-
-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-
pP-+-PpP
+-R-+-K-

An attractive 'swallowtail mate' in a game which Fritz produced from memory]

  White continues in bold style with

8. O-O

  Black has a further choice:

8...Bxc3, the Moller attack

8...Nxc3, avoiding the Moller

  We'll look at the avoiding line first, as it's such a good example of how quickly White can win in the Giuoco Piano.


Black avoids the Moller

8...Nxc3

 

t+lDj+-T
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-+-+
+-+-+-+-
-LbP-+-+
+-S-+n+-
pP-+-PpP
R-Bq+rK-

White has to play

9. bxc3

  when Black has another choice

Greedy 9...Bxc3

Safer 9...d5


Bernstein's line: greedy 9...Bxc3

t+lDj+-T
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-+-+
+-+-+-+-
-+bP-+-+
+-L-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
R-Bq+rK-

Reply

10. Ba3

[10. Qb3 is also fun: see the Traps section]

 

t+lDj+-T
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-+-+
+-+-+-+-
-+bP-+-+
B-L-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
R-+q+rK-

This is Bernstein's line, and Black no longer has a satisfactory reply. When I came across this line as a junior I fell in love with it, and always tried to play it.

  The most important one to deal with is the most obvious:

10... Bxa1

11. Re1+ Ne7 12. Bxe7 Qxe7 13. Rxe7+ Kxe7 14. Qe1+ Kf8 15. Qxa1

 

t+l+-J-T
XxXx+xXx
-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-
-+bP-+-+
+-+-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
Q-+-+-K-

with extra material, and White's attack is far from over. Black must back out earlier.

 

10... d6

  is also insufficient

11. Rc1 Ba5 12. Qa4 a6 13. Bd5 Bb6 14. Rxc6 Bd7 15. Re1+ Kf8 16. Rxd6 cxd6 17. Bxd6+ Kg8 18. Bxf7+ Kxf7 19. Qb3+ Kg6 20. Ne5+

 

t+-D-+-T
+x+l+-Xx
xL-B-+j+
+-+-N-+-
-+-P-+-+
+q+-+-+-
p+-+-PpP
+-+-R-K-

20...Kf6 [20... Kh5 21. Qf3+ Kh6 22. Nf7+ Kg6 23. Nxd8 Bxd8 24. Qxb7]

21. Qf7+ Kg5 22. Qxg7+ Kh5 23. g4+ Bxg4 24. Qxg4+ Kh6 25. Nf7#

 

10... d5

  Often a good idea but here is no good either:

11. Bb5 Bxa1 12. Re1+ Be6 13. Qa4 Qc8 14. Bxc6+ bxc6 15. Qxc6+ Kd8 16. Ng5 Qb8

 

tD-J-+-T
X-X-+xXx
-+q+l+-+
+-+x+-N-
-+-P-+-+
B-+-+-+-
p+-+-PpP
L-+-R-K-

10... Qf6

  Not even close

11. Rc1 Bb4 12. Bxb4 Nxb4 13. Re1+

 

t+l+j+-T
XxXx+xXx
-+-+-D-+
+-+-+-+-
-SbP-+-+
+-+-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
+-RqR-K-

10... Ne7

  best: the game might go

11. Qb3 d5 12. Qxc3 dxc4 13. Rfe1 Be6 14. Bxe7 Kxe7 15. d5 Qxd5 16. Rad1 Qc5 17. Re5 Qb6

 

t+-+-+-T
XxX-JxXx
-D-+l+-+
+-+-R-+-
-+x+-+-+
+-Q-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
+-+r+-K-

White now can finish nicely:

18. Rxe6+ Qxe6

  else Qxg7+ is terrible

19. Re1 Qxe1+ 20. Qxe1+ Kd8 21. Ne5

 

t+-J-+-T
XxX-+xXx
-+-+-+-+
+-+-N-+-
-+x+-+-+
+-+-+-+-
p+-+-PpP
+-+-Q-K-

when White should be able to handle the Pawns, which lack support from the Rooks.


Bernstein: the safer 9... d5

t+lDj+-T
XxX-+xXx
-+s+-+-+
+-+x+-+-
-LbP-+-+
+-P-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
R-Bq+rK-

This may be really where Black should back out.

10. cxb4 dxc4 11. Re1+

[A safer line for White here is 11. b5 Ne7 12. Ba3 O-O 13. Qe2 Re8 14. Qxc4]

11... Ne7

 

t+lDj+-T
XxX-SxXx
-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-
-PxP-+-+
+-+-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
R-BqR-K-

12. Qe2

[John Walker suggests the piece sacrifice with 12. Bg5 f6

[not 12... Be6 13. Bxe7 Qxe7 14. d5]

13. Qe2 fxg5 14. Nxg5

 

t+lDj+-T
XxX-S-Xx
-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-N-
-PxP-+-+
+-+-+-+-
p+-+qPpP
R-+-R-K-

...which certainly puts Black under pressure, but it's not my style.]

  After 12. Qe2 Fritz wanted to play out a game it knew about, which ran:

12... Be6 13. Bg5 Qd7 14. Qe5 c6 15. Qxg7 O-O-O 16. Ne5 Qd5 17. Qf6 Ng6 18. h4 Rhg8 19. Nxg6 hxg6 20. Rac1 b5 21. a4 Qxd4 22. axb5 Qxf6 23. Bxf6 Rd3 24. bxc6 Kc7 25. Rxe6 fxe6 26. Rxc4

 

-+-+-+t+
X-J-+-+-
-+p+xBx+
+-+-+-+-
-Pr+-+-P
+-+t+-+-
-+-+-Pp+
+-+-+-K-

White's exchange deficit is compensated by the pawns

  If you don't fancy this you can always play 11.b5.


Moller attack

8... Bxc3

  Now the key reply is 9. d5, although we will look at 9. bxc3 below.

9. d5

 

t+lDj+-T
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-+-+
+-+p+-+-
-+b+s+-+
+-L-+n+-
pP-+-PpP
R-Bq+rK-

9... Bf6

  Neither

[9... Na5 ?]

  nor

[9... Nd6 ?]

  are any good.

[9... Ne5 is better, but after 10. bxc3 Nxc4 11. Qd4 f5 Keene and Levy give 12. Qxc4 d6 13. Nd4 O-O 14. f3 Nc5 with advantage
(Alert and anxious reader: "What about 11...Ncd6? What about 11...O-O?" What indeed?)
]

[And after 9... Ne7 White continues logically 10. bxc3 O-O 11. Re1 Nf6 12. Bg5 Ng6 13. d6 h6 14. Qd3 hxg5 15. Qxg6 cxd6 16. Nxg5 Qc7 17. Bxf7+ Kh8 18. Re3

 

t+l+-T-J
XxDx+bX-
-+-X-Sq+
+-+-+-N-
-+-+-+-+
+-P-R-+-
p+-+-PpP
R-+-+-K-

winning]

  After 9...Bf6, the only try is

 

t+lDj+-T
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-L-+
+-+p+-+-
-+b+s+-+
+-+-+n+-
pP-+-PpP
R-Bq+rK-

10. Re1

[If 10. dxc6 bxc6 11. Re1 Black can continue 11...O-O 12. Rxe4 d5 13. Rf4 dxc4 14. Qa4 c3 15. bxc3 Bxc3 16. Rb1 Qd3 17. Rbb4 Ba6 18. Rbc4 Bxc4 19. Rxc4 Rab8 -+]

10... Ne7 11. Rxe4 d6 12. Bg5 Bxg5 13. Nxg5

 

t+lDj+-T
XxX-SxXx
-+-X-+-+
+-+p+-N-
-+b+r+-+
+-+-+-+-
pP-+-PpP
R-+q+-K-

13... O-O

[BCO reckons a better line is 13... h6 14. Qh5 O-O 15. Rae1 Nf5 16. Nxf7

[16. Ne6 fxe6 17. dxe6 Ne7 -+ BCO2]

16... Qf6[[opthyphen]] Zak]

14. Nxh7 Kxh7

[or 14... Bf5 15. Rh4=]

15. Qh5+ Kg8 16. Rh4 f5 17. Re1 Re8

[We saw ...Ng6 in the Traps section above]

18. Re6 Kf8 19. Be2 Nxd5 20. Qxf5+ Kg8 21. Qh7+ Kf7 22. Rxe8 Kxe8 23. Qg8+ Kd7 24. Bg4+ Kc6 25. Qxd8 winning

 

t+lQ-+-+
XxX-+-X-
-+jX-+-+
+-+s+-+-
-+-+-+bR
+-+-+-+-
pP-+-PpP
+-+-+-K-

If this is all a bit much, White can go instead

9. bxc3

when 9... d5

  is OK for Black.

 

t+lDj+-T
XxX-+xXx
-+s+-+-+
+-+x+-+-
-+bPs+-+
+-P-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
R-Bq+rK-

White is still ahead in development but Black still has a pawn. At Grandmaster level they have given up on this line, thinking White cannot get enough of an attack going. At club level, though, there may be enough meat left to chew.

  Let's look at two example lines, to see how games might go.

10. Bb5 O-O 11. Qc2 Bf5 12. Bd3 Bg6 13. Rb1 Nd6 14. Ba3 b6 15. Ne5 Bxd3 16. Qxd3 Ne7 17. Rfe1 f6 18. Ng4 Qd7 19. Qh3 Rad8 20. Rb2 Ng6 21. Qf3 Rfe8 22. Rbe2 Rxe2 23. Rxe2 Ne4 24. h3 Qa4 25. Bb2 Qxa2 26. Ne3

 

-+-T-+j+
X-X-+-Xx
-X-+-Xs+
+-+x+-+-
-+-Ps+-+
+-P-Nq+p
dB-+rPp+
+-+-+-K-

when it has all gone minty for White.

  So White can try instead

10. Be3 dxc4 11. Re1 f5 12. Nd2 Kf7 13. Nxe4 fxe4 14. Rxe4 Qf6 15. Qe2 Bf5 16. Qxc4+ Kg6 17. Re3 Rae8 18. Rae1 Rxe3 19. Rxe3 h5 20. h3 h4 21. d5 Ne5 22. Qxc7 Nd3 23. Qxb7 Bc8 24. Qc6 Qxc6 25. dxc6 Nf4 26. Re7 a6

 

-+l+-+-T
+-+-R-X-
x+p+-+j+
+-+-+-+-
-+-+-S-X
B-P-+-+p
p+-+-Pp+
+-+-+-K-

when White has enough pawns to account for the piece, but their scattered placing makes it hard to play for a win.

  If you are not convinced by any of these lines (and while they are worth a punt in practice the theory is against them) you can always play safe on move 7. So let's look at that next.


Safe main line 7. Bd2

7. Bd2

 

t+lDj+-T
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-S-+
+-+-+-+-
-LbPp+-+
+-+-+n+-
pP-B-PpP
Rn+qK-+r

7... Bxd2+ 8. Nbxd2 d5

  Of course.

9. exd5 Nxd5

[A solid line is 10. O-O O-O 11. Nb3]

10. Qb3 Nce7 11. O-O O-O

 

t+lD-Tj+
XxX-SxXx
-+-+-+-+
+-+s+-+-
-+bP-+-+
+q+-+n+-
pP-N-PpP
R-+-+rK-

White has several alternatives in this well-known position:

[12. Ne5]

[12. Ne4]

[12. Bxd5]

[12. Rae1]

[12. Rfe1]

 

  For an example of 12. Rfe1 see the games section.


The closed variation 4...Bb6

4... Bb6 5. d4 Qe7

[6. O-O+= is good enough, but try instead...]

6. Bg5

 

t+lDj+sT
XxXx+xXx
-Ls+-+-+
+-+-X-B-
-+bPp+-+
+-P-+n+-
pP-+-PpP
Rn+qK-+r

This continuation was discovered by Jonathan Mestel and helped him win the UK Championship in 1975. Of course, Black doesn't want to weaken the King's-side with ...f6, when Nxe5 looks very dangerous.

6... Nf6 7. d5 Nd8 8. d6 cxd6

  The capture with 8...Qxd6 9. Qxd6 cxd6 is no safer for Black.

9. Na3 a6 10. Nc2 Bxf2+ 11. Ke2 Bc5 12. Nh4 Ne6 13. Nf5 +-

 

t+l+j+-T
+x+xDxXx
x+-XsS-+
+-L-XnB-
-+b+p+-+
+-P-+-+-
pPn+k+pP
R-+q+-+r

Mestel-Doyle '75; White has a large positional advantage and may be winning.

Evans' Gambit 4. b4

4. b4

 

t+lDj+sT
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-+-+
+-L-X-+-
-Pb+p+-+
+-+-+n+-
p+pP-PpP
RnBqK-+r



Evans' Gambit Declined (4...Bb6)

4... Bb6

  The best way to refute a gambit is to accept it.

5. a4 a6 6. Nc3 d6

[6... Nf6 7. Nd5 Nxd5 8. exd5 e4 9. dxc6 exf3 10. Qxf3 Qe7+ 11. Kd1 dxc6 12. Re1 Be6 13. Bb2 +=/+- estrin]

7. Nd5 Ba7 8. d3 h6

[8... Nce7 Fritz]

9. Be3 +=

 

t+lDj+sT
LxX-+xX-
x+sX-+-X
+-+nX-+-
pPb+p+-+
+-+pBn+-
-+p+-PpP
R-+qK-+r

With an edge for White - Panov/Estrin]


Evans' Gambit Accepted (4...Bxb4)

4... Bxb4

[If instead 4... Nxb4 5. c3 Nc6 6. d4

 

t+lDj+sT
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-+-+
+-L-X-+-
-+bPp+-+
+-P-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
RnBqK-+r

transposes to the 5...Bc5 variation]

 

5. c3

 

t+lDj+sT
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-+-+
+-+-X-+-
-Lb+p+-+
+-P-+n+-
p+-P-PpP
RnBqK-+r

Black has three choices:

5... Ba5

5... Bc5

5... Be7


Evans' Gambit with 5... Bc5

5... Bc5 6. d4 exd4 7. O-O

 

t+lDj+sT
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-+-+
+-L-+-+-
-+bXp+-+
+-P-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
RnBq+rK-

7...d6

[7... d3 8. Ng5 Nh6 9. Nxf7 +- BCO2 9... Nxf7 10. Qh5]

8. cxd4 Bb6 9. Nc3 Na5 10. Bg5 Ne7

[10... f6 11. Bf4 Nxc4 12. Qa4+ Qd7 13. Qxc4 Qf7 14. Nd5

 

t+l+j+sT
XxX-+dXx
-L-X-X-+
+-+n+-+-
-+qPpB-+
+-+-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
R-+-+rK-

14... g5 15. Bg3 Be6 16. Qa4+ Bd7 17. Qa3 Rc8 18. Rfe1 g4 19. Nxb6 axb6 20. Nd2 Be6 21. f4 gxf3 22. Nxf3 Ne7 23. e5 fxe5 24. dxe5 d5 25. Rf1 Nf5 26. Nd4

 

-+t+j+-T
+xX-+d+x
-X-+l+-+
+-+xPs+-
-+-N-+-+
Q-+-+-B-
p+-+-+pP
R-+-+rK-

when it's still awkward for Black

  Now an old analysis goes:

11. Bxf7+ Kxf7 12. Nd5 Re8 13. Bxe7 Rxe7 14. Ng5+ Kg8 15. Qh5 h6 16. Qg6 hxg5 17. Nf6+ Kf8 18. Nh7+ Kg8 19. Nf6+

 

t+lD-+j+
XxX-T-X-
-L-X-Nq+
S-+-+-X-
-+-Pp+-+
+-+-+-+-
p+-+-PpP
R-+-+rK-

with a draw by perpetual check - Tchigorin

Evans' Gambit with 5..Be7

5... Be7

 

t+lDj+sT
XxXxLxXx
-+s+-+-+
+-+-X-+-
-+b+p+-+
+-P-+n+-
p+-P-PpP
RnBqK-+r

6. d4

[6. Qb3 Nh6 7. d4 Na5 8. Qb5 Nxc4 9. Bxh6 gxh6 10. Qxc4

 

t+lDj+-T
XxXxLx+x
-+-+-+-X
+-+-X-+-
-+qPp+-+
+-P-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
Rn+-K-+r

unclear: Harding-Hodgson corr. 1975]

6... Na5 7. Nxe5 Nxc4 8. Nxc4 d5 9. exd5 Qxd5 10. Ne3 Qd7 11. O-O Nf6 12. c4 O-O

[12... b5 = Nunn]

13. Nc3 c6 14. d5 cxd5 15. Ncxd5 Nxd5 16. Nxd5

 

t+l+-Tj+
Xx+dLxXx
-+-+-+-+
+-+n+-+-
-+p+-+-+
+-+-+-+-
p+-+-PpP
R-Bq+rK-

+= Nunn-Larsen 1980

  White has a small edge.

  The most famous recent example of this line is of course:



Kasparov, Gary-Anand, Viswanathan, Riga 1993

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Be7 6. d4 Na5 7. Be2

 

t+lDj+sT
XxXxLxXx
-+-+-+-+
S-+-X-+-
-+-Pp+-+
+-P-+n+-
p+-+bPpP
RnBqK-+r

A new move

7... exd4 8. Qxd4 Nf6 9. e5 Nc6 10. Qh4 Nd5 11. Qg3 g6 12. O-O Nb6

 

t+lDj+-T
XxXxLx+x
-Ss+-+x+
+-+-P-+-
-+-+-+-+
+-P-+nQ-
p+-+bPpP
RnB-+rK-

The Black king never escapes the centre

13. c4 d6 14. Rd1 Nd7 15. Bh6 Ncxe5 16. Nxe5 Nxe5 17. Nc3

  Develop before attacking with a move like Bg7

17... f6 18. c5 Nf7 19. cxd6 cxd6 20. Qe3 Nxh6 21. Qxh6 Bf8

 

t+lDjL-T
Xx+-+-+x
-+-X-XxQ
+-+-+-+-
-+-+-+-+
+-N-+-+-
p+-+bPpP
R-+r+-K-

White's lead on development could hardly be greater

22. Qe3+ Kf7 23.

Nd5 Be6 24. Nf4 Qe7 25. Re1 1-0

 

t+-+-L-T
Xx+-Dj+x
-+-XlXx+
+-+-+-+-
-+-+-N-+
+-+-Q-+-
p+-+bPpP
R-+-R-K-

[25... Qd7 26. Bb5 Qxb5 27. Qxe6+ Kg7 28. Nd5 Qb2 29. Rab1]

[25... Re8 26. Nxe6 Qxe6 27. Qxe6+ Rxe6 28. Bc4]

[25... Bh6 26. Bc4]

  An amazing destruction of the current world No.3 and his PCA championship challenger.


Evans' Gambit with 5... Ba5

t+lDj+sT
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-+-+
L-+-X-+-
-+b+p+-+
+-P-+n+-
p+-P-PpP
RnBqK-+r

This is the best line.

6. d4 d6

  Lasker's Defence, which led to some disillusionment with the Gambit.

7. Qb3

 

t+lDj+sT
XxX-+xXx
-+sX-+-+
L-+-X-+-
-+bPp+-+
+qP-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
RnB-K-+r

Black has three tries here, but only the last is trustworthy:

A. 7... Qe7

B. 7... Nxd4

C. 7... Qd7


Lasker's Defence with 7... Qe7
7... Qe7

 

t+l+j+sT
XxX-DxXx
-+sX-+-+
L-+-X-+-
-+bPp+-+
+qP-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
RnB-K-+r

The trouble with this move is that the Nc6 has no good retreat, and must advance. This leads to trouble. The game might go:

8. d5 Nd4 9. Nxd4 exd4 10. Qa4+ Kd8 11. Qxa5 Qxe4+ 12. Kd2 Qxg2 13. Re1 Nf6 14. Bd3 Qxf2+ 15. Re2 Qg1

16. Na3 Bg4 17. Bb2 dxc3+ 18. Bxc3 Qb6 19. Bxf6+ gxf6 20. Qc3 Kd7 21. Bb5+ c6 22. dxc6+ bxc6 23. Bxc6+ Kd8 24. Qxf6+ Kc7 25. Re7+ Kxc6 26. Rc1+

 

t+-+-+-T
X-+-Rx+x
-DjX-Q-+
+-+-+-+-
-+-+-+l+
N-+-+-+-
p+-K-+-P
+-R-+-+-

26... Qc5 27. Rxc5+ Kxc5 28. Qc3+ Kb6 29. Qb4+ Kc6 30. Qb5#


Lasker's Defence with 7... Nxd4
7... Nxd4

 

t+lDj+sT
XxX-+xXx
-+-X-+-+
L-+-X-+-
-+bSp+-+
+qP-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
RnB-K-+r

8. Nxd4 exd4 9. Bxf7+ Kf8 10. O-O dxc3 11. e5 Qe7

 

t+l+-JsT
XxX-DbXx
-+-X-+-+
L-+-P-+-
-+-+-+-+
+qX-+-+-
p+-+-PpP
RnB-+rK-

If White consolidates, Black's lost King will die.

12. Bxg8 Rxg8 13. exd6 Qe5 14. Na3 Be6 15. Qxb7 Bd5 16. Qb5 Bb6 17. Nc4 Qe4 18. Ne3

 

t+-+-Jt+
X-X-+-Xx
-L-P-+-+
+q+l+-+-
-+-+d+-+
+-X-N-+-
p+-+-PpP
R-B-+rK-

This move holds the game for White.

18... Bc6

[18... Bxe3 19. fxe3+ Bf7 20. dxc7]

19. Qb3 cxd6 20. Ba3 g6 21. Rad1 Kg7 22. Qxc3+ Kh6 23. Bc1 Kh5

 

t+-+-+t+
X-+-+-+x
-LlX-+x+
+-+-+-+j
-+-+d+-+
+-Q-N-+-
p+-+-PpP
+-Br+rK-

24. Nd5

Lasker's Defence with 7... Qd7
This is the only satisfactory line.

7... Qd7

covers f7

 

t+l+j+sT
XxXd+xXx
-+sX-+-+
L-+-X-+-
-+bPp+-+
+qP-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
RnB-K-+r

Now as far as I can find out the best try for White here is:

8. dxe5!

 

t+l+j+sT
XxXd+xXx
-+sX-+-+
L-+-P-+-
-+b+p+-+
+qP-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
RnB-K-+r

Now Black has:

CI: 8...dxe5

CII: 8...Bb6

 

Variation CI: 8... dxe5

 

t+l+j+sT
XxXd+xXx
-+s+-+-+
L-+-X-+-
-+b+p+-+
+qP-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
RnB-K-+r

9. O-O Bb6 10. Rd1 Qe7 11. a4 a6

[11... a5 is less safe:

12. Bd5 Bg4 13. Rd3 Be6 14. Ba3

 

t+-+j+sT
+xX-DxXx
-Ls+l+-+
X-+bX-+-
p+-+p+-+
BqPr+n+-
-+-+-PpP
Rn+-+-K-

+- Shaposhnikov-Veltmander 1958]

 

12. Ba3 Qf6

 

t+l+j+sT
+xX-+xXx
xLs+-D-+
+-+-X-+-
p+b+p+-+
BqP-+n+-
-+-+-PpP
Rn+r+-K-

13. a5 Bxa5 14. Bd5 Bb6 15. Nbd2 Nge7 16. Nc4 Ba7 17. Rd2 8/=

  With enough compensation for the material, according to Estrin.

 

Variation CII: 8... Bb6

 

t+l+j+sT
XxXd+xXx
-LsX-+-+
+-+-P-+-
-+b+p+-+
+qP-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
RnB-K-+r

This may be the best line for Black.

9. Bb5 a6 10. Ba4 Qe6 11. Bxc6+ bxc6 12. O-O Rb8 13. Qxe6+ fxe6 14. exd6 cxd6 15. Ba3

 

-Tl+j+sT
+-+-+-Xx
xLxXx+-+
+-+-+-+-
-+-+p+-+
B-P-+n+-
p+-+-PpP
Rn+-+rK-

+=

  In this endgame, White has a slight advantage, according to Estrin.


Appendix 1. Why is it called "Italian"?

The play most characteristic of the late 1700s and later was dominated by the style of the Italian MODENESE SCHOOL - Italian players and writers like DEL RIO, LOLLI and PONZIANI, through whom the Italian Game (Guioco Piano and related openings) came into prominence. Fast development followed by attack was the name of the game, and beyond this it is difficult to see much theory at all; players were concerned with direct attack - to mate, or lose gloriously in the attempt. From this period we inherit all the older tactical variations of the King's Gambit and Guioco Piano, where sacrifices were common and their acceptance almost routine. This period should not be though of as artless - it produced legions of fine analysts and several games of genius, and much was learned about the art of attack.

  Sadly, when players learned to decline or return sacrificed material, a lot of the steam went out of these openings. e.g. an old line of the Danish Gambit goes 1 e4, e5; 2 d4, exd4; 3 c3, exc3; 4 Bc4, cxb2; 5 Bxb2. If Black clings to the material White will have a good time, but MIESES showed 5...d5; 6 Bxd5, Nf6 secures open lines and probably the two Bishops. The best line for White here is probably 7 Bxf7+ Kxf7; 8 Qxd8, Bb4+ 9 Qd2, Bxd2+ when Black has no extra material but can play to win the ending with the Queen's-side majority. Technique was replacing romance in chess.

  The play of the American Paul MORPHY brought some additional science to all this, not that everyone recognised it at the time. Through his games he showed that a successful attack must be based on a lead in development. Similarly, he showed that a player who is behind in development must not open lines to 'free their position', since these lines will provide avenues along which the better-developed side will attack - instead, they should keep things closed until they have caught up a bit. Morphy's play was the Italian game perfected, and I have used many of his games in this booklet.


Appendix 2. Oh, if you must... some ideas for playing the Giuoco Pianissimo

If you must play the Guioco Pianissimo, here are some quick hot tips for this line.

 

t+lDj+-T
XxX-+xXx
-+sX-S-+
+-L-X-+-
-+b+p+-+
+-Np+n+-
pPp+-PpP
R-BqK-+r

Don't be in a hurry to castle: your opponent may play ...Bg4 (or Bg5) and pin your knight against the Queen. If you have castled you probably won't be able to play h3 (or ...h6) without dangerously weakening your king. Steinitz discovered that the sacrificial idea 6. O-O, Bg4; 7. h3, h5! 8.hxg4, hxg4 was playable for Black in many positions (see below) because of the attack on the King down the open h-file: once the Queen gets to h5 White is finished. Even playing 1.e4, e5; 2. Nf3, Nc6; 3. Bc4, Bc5; 4. Nc3, Nc6; 5. d3, d6; 6.h3 is not advisable as Black may play the standard sacrifice ...Bxh3 at some point, or lever open your king's side with ...g7-g5-g4.

  The key question in this line is: how are you going to develop your queen's bishop? White on move six can go 6. Be3 hoping for 6...Bxe3; 7. fxe3 when there is a juicy half-open f-file to attack along. Black is better off calmly retreating with 6...Bb6 or even leaving the Bishop at c5.

  The analysts gradually agreed that 6.Bg5, the Canal Variation, is the best move. One line of this goes 6...h6; (this is OK for Black before castling) when the main line goes 7.Bxf6, Qxf6; 8.Nd5, Qd8. White has given up the Bishop pair to achieve a bit of initiative. [There is a hairy line with 6.Bg5, h6; 7.Bxf6, Qxf6; 8.Nd5, Qg6!? 9.Nxc7+ which is supposed to be poor for Black if White plays 9.Rg1 instead, but White has to prove it!] Other ways to play for Black are to hit the other bishop with 6...Na5 (as in the final game) or to play himself 6...Be6.

  in the Canal Variation: to emphasise the pin on the Nf6, if you're allowed, with moves like Nd5, and otherwise threaten to give Black doubled, and therefore weak, f-pawns. I played a miniature with this theme at the British Universities' Congress some years ago:


Regis (Exeter) - Orpwood (Salford), 1987.

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. d3 Bb4 5. Nge2 O-O 6. O-O d6 7. Bg5 Na5 8. Bxf6! gxf6 9. Nd5 Bc5 10. b4 Nxc4 11. dxc4 c6 12. bxc5 cxd5 13. cxd5 dxc5 DIAGRAM

 

t+lD-Tj+
Xx+-+x+x
-+-+-X-+
+-XpX-+-
-+-+p+-+
+-+-+-+-
p+p+nPp+
R-+q+rK-

14. Ng3 Kh8 15. Qh5 Qd7? 16. Qh6 Qd6 17. Nh5 Rg8 18. Nxf6 Rg7 19. Qxg7+ 1-0

  (Ne8+ will leave White a rook ahead)

  again in the Canal Variation: move the Nc3 to e.g. d5 and play for c3 and d4 with a central space advantage. The knight on c3 can relocate to e3...

try to open up the f-file with f4: this will require you to play Be3 to stop a check from the Bc5 and to move the other Knight e.g. Nh4. From h4 the Knight can threaten to go to f5 when Black may be reluctant to remove it by ...g6 which will create weaknesses. A Queen's Knight that has travelled from c3-d5-e3 also puts pressure on this square, and if Black does play g6 then Ne3-g4 hits all the soft spots.

  And here are some traps:


A trap in the Giuoco Pianissimo

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. d3 d6 5. Nc3 Nf6 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bxf6 Qxf6 8. Nd5 Qd8 9. c3

 

t+lDj+-T
XxX-+xX-
-+sX-+-X
+-LnX-+-
-+b+p+-+
+-Pp+n+-
pP-+-PpP
R-+qK-+r

9... Be6 ?

[better is 9... Ne7]

10. d4 +/- 10... exd4 11. cxd4 Bb4+ 12. Nxb4 Bxc4 13. Nxc6 bxc6 14. Qc2


Another trap in the Giuoco Pianissimo

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. d3 Nf6 5. Nc3 O-O?!

  too early

[better is 5... d6]

 

t+lD-Tj+
XxXx+xXx
-+s+-S-+
+-L-X-+-
-+b+p+-+
+-Np+n+-
pPp+-PpP
R-BqK-+r

6. Bg5 h6 7. Bh4 Bb4 8. O-O Bxc3 9. bxc3 g5

  Normally you cannot afford to do this in front of your castled King.

10. Nxg5 hxg5 11. Bxg5 Kg7 12. f4+-

  with a strong attack


One more trap in the Giuoco Pianissimo

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. O-O?!

[better is 4. c3]

4... Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. Bg5?

[better is 6. Be3]

6... h6 7. Bh4 g5 8. Bg3 h5! 9. Nxg5 h4

 

t+lDj+-T
XxX-+x+-
-+sX-S-+
+-L-X-N-
-+b+p+-X
+-+p+-B-
pPp+-PpP
Rn+q+rK-

10. Nxf7 Bg4 11. Qd2 Nd4 12. Nc3

[12. Nxd8 hxg3 13. fxg3

[13. hxg3 Nf3+ 14. gxf3 Bxf3-+ ]

13... Nf3+ 14. Kh1 Rxh2#]

12... Nf3+ 13. gxf3 Bxf3-+

 

t+-Dj+-T
XxX-+n+-
-+-X-S-+
+-L-X-+-
-+b+p+-X
+-Np+lB-
pPpQ-P-P
R-+-+rK-

...and Black wins.

  Even armed with all these ideas it's really not that good a line to play. I include one last game which is intended to put you off it for life!


Example Game in the Giuoco Pianissimo: Chambers-Vorhees (Dayton, Ohio) 1972

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. d3 d6 5. O-O

  Too early: invites ...Bg4.

5...Nf6

 

t+lDj+-T
XxX-+xXx
-+sX-S-+
+-L-X-+-
-+b+p+-+
+-+p+n+-
pPp+-PpP
RnBq+rK-

This is a prime example of how not to play for this position for White.

6. Ng5

  Premature.

6...O-O 7. Bxf7+ Rxf7 8. Nxf7 Kxf7

  White has snatched what he can.

9. h3

 

t+lD-+-+
XxX-+jXx
-+sX-S-+
+-L-X-+-
-+-+p+-+
+-+p+-+p
pPp+-Pp+
RnBq+rK-

Well, this does stop ...Bg4, but invites a worse fate.

9... Be6 10. Nc3 Qd7 11. Qf3

  Not good enough, I'm afraid.

11...Nd4 12. Qd1

 

t+-+-+-+
XxXd+jXx
-+-XlS-+
+-L-X-+-
-+-Sp+-+
+-Np+-+p
pPp+-Pp+
R-Bq+rK-

12... Bxh3 13. gxh3 Qxh3 14. Be3 Nf3+ 0-1

Chess Quotes

"Chess is the art of analysis."
— -- BOTVINNIK