I’ve been reading a great book for juniors on openings called Ten ways to succeed in the opening by http://onionschess.co.uk and it gives me an opportunity to talk about a trap that isn’t a trap in the two knights defence.
After 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 (Italian) black plays Nf6 which is the two knights defence and commonly seen at junior level white has a choice. Nc3 is common at junior level to defend the e4 pawn but black can then play Nxe4 setting the trap. I still haven’t found a decent app to show the most common traps if anyone knows of one?
If white responds with Nxe4, which is of course the reason white played Nc3 then black has a fork up his sleeve with pawn to d5 forking the bishop and knight. This is meant to be a reason not to play these moves but of course with any trap there is sometimes a way out if you look hard enough.
Black can now justice his bishop to d3 defending the knight which is the main line and after xe4 we have Bxe4 and material is equal. The trap was not a trap after all but still worth knowing as your opponent may be surprised and not know how to respond.
You then see Bd6 defending the pawn and either d4 attacking or castles from white and the game continues.
Of course Nc3 is still not a great move for this reason and better would be d4 attacking the centre, c3 preparing an even stronger d4 and of course the famous Ng5 which is the Fried Liver.
The Traxler is a variation of the Italian-Two Knights Game. It’s not quite the Fried Liver attack but shares the move Ng5 which also characterises the Fried Liver. It’s one of the first variations beginners learn and is popular as an attacking move at a junior level.
Technically the Fried Liver is 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 (Two Knights) 4. Ng5 d5 5 . exd5 Nxd5 6. Nxf7. You’ll notice that d5 is the response to Ng5 to block the most dangerous elements of the Fried Liver attack.
In the Traxler the first three moves from both sides are the same with white playing Ng5 on move four. But instead of replying with d5 black responds with Bc5. d5 is by far the most common move at professional level but Bc5 is the other possible response and is a counter attack that leads to a fun game. It’s also known as the Wilkes-Barre Variation.
Bxf7+ is then the most common move which wins a pawn but Nxf7 forks the queen and the rook so wins more material but watch out for the counterattack! After Nxf7 black can respond with his own threat of Bxf2+ which is the natural move and white has a choice now of Kxf2 winning a bishop or Kf1. If Kxf2 then Nxe4 with another check and the King should retreat to g1 or he is in trouble.
If the king goes to e2 then Nd4+ and black is winning.
Below is a game I played as black and losing to the Ng5 move.
The legal trap is a chess trap in the Italian opening. Traps are fun to look at because they lead to a checkmate in a way you may not have expected. You can see the moves in the picture that lead up to this check mate and there’s a great video on this from the chess website.
If you want to see the moves played I’ve also included a gif file below which animates the moves.
Essentially white opens with the Italian and if black plays the Philidor defence and then moves the black bishop to g4 pinning the knight then the trap is unleased.
In the last post we looked at white’s move to d4 attacking the pawn and bishop and how black should respond.
Black could defend his e5 pawn with d6 but where would the fun be in that? Instead black is most likely to take with the e5 pawn in the good old fashioned fight for the centre.
This present white with two options. He can either take back with cxd4 or push the e4 pawn to e5 attacking the f6 knight. Shredder has cxd4 as the most popular move by three to one so let’s go with that for now and we’ll see in the next post how the black bishop responds. What would you do in this position?
We left off in the last post with white to move and considering whether to defend the e4 pawn with d3 or to play a more aggressive move such as d4 or b4.
There is an opening called the Giuoco Pianissimo which we referred to and means the very quiet game. It should be avoided mainly because it’s boring! But let’s look at anyway so you can see why.
We can get there through transposition if white plays d3 to defend the e4 pawn. This starts to lock the board down and the most popular response from black is d6 as there’s not much else he can do! Moves beyond that take us out of the Giuoco Pianissimo so we won’t look at them here but as we’ve said before you’re going to find it hard to beat someone quickly from this sort of position so you should avoid it!
So one of the best options for white here is to ignore the threat to e4 and play d4 forking the pawn and the bishop. This is still the Giuoco Piano and in the next post we’ll look at the response from black to this move.
After e4, e5 the Open game continues with Nf3 which is the best response to e5 as it develops a piece and attacks the black centre.
Bc4 is the Bishops Opening as a second but not much used option. Nc3 is the Vienna Game which again is not very popular but could be played.
After Nf3 from white black often responds with Nc3 to defend the pawn and technically we are still in the Open Game with black now on the defensive as white starts to attack pieces.
The most popular move now for white is Bb5 – the Spanish or Ruy Lopez. This is favoured to the Italian which is Bc4 as it saves a move later in the game. But Bc4 is the move we’ll look at today as again it is popular at club level.
The Scotch Opening is d4 as another option and Nc3 is the Three Knights game.
Bc4 develops a piece and is attacking f7 which is a well known weakness for black. The Italian is one of the oldest openings recorded and studied in chess and one of the first people learn so it’s a good opening to study first.
If black doesn’t know how to play against this then the game may only last a few more moves but read on and you’ll see the best way to play against it!
As you can see the options next for Black are Bc5 or Nf6 both of which are well recognised moves and pretty much nothing else is played at GrandMaster level. Bc5 takes us into the Giuoco Piano whereas Nf6 takes us to the Two Knights Defence, both variations of the Italian Game and which we’ll look at in the next post.