We left off in the last move with exd4 followed by cxd4 leaving the bishop in an attacked position.
You can see the almost exclusively here the black bishop moves to b4 to check the white king and white has a decision to make.
Bd2 seems to be the most popular move and gives white a small advantage in the engines. I think because the black bishop now has nowhere to go so has to exchange bishops and white can then develop the b1 knight.
But Nc3 is known as the Greco attack and has a great trap which is well worth looking at so we will. What do you play in this position?
If you moved the b knight to d2 then d5 would be coming and black looks better.
Of course in this position black is going to take the e4 pawn with the knight for free so it’s pretty much the only move for black.
To unpin the white king white is going to castle. Now black has two attackers on the c3 knight so the main line is Bxc3 which leads us to the end of the main line for the Greco attack.
From here the most popular move is d5 which takes us into the Moeller attack so that’s for another post! Bxc3 from white invites black to take back with the knight by Nxc3 but that would be a mistake. As you can see in the checkmate post white would move the queen to b3 attacking the knight and once the knight moves the bishop is set loose with Bxf7+!
At this point the black king has to move to f8 and has lost the chance to castle and is about to lose their queen so white is clearly winning which is why black should have played d5 earlier to block the bishop when it wasn’t defended by the queen. Even after taking the c3 pawn white should still play d5 as if the white bishop takes the d5 pawn the c3 black knight can take back.
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.
Bc5 in response from black develops a piece and attacks f2 which is the weakness in white’s game so is a good move.
Nf6 would have been the Two Knights defence and playing that attacks the e4 pawn. In that sense Nf6 provides some tempo to black as white has to consider how to defend the e4 pawn. Nf6 is probably more logical in that sense so would be seen by players who haven’t studied the Italian game.
Giuoco Piano means the quiet game because down this line there is less exchange and competition for the centre and instead each side continues steadily with development. However it does contain some more aggressive lines so as long as you avoid the Giuoco Pianissimo (Very Quiet Game) you still have opportunities to have a good game. You will find some pretty scathing commentary on the Giuoco Pianissimo as it leads to pretty much gridlock but beginners will often find themselves in that position. The Giuoco Pianissimo also makes it difficult to beat players who might not be as strong as you because everything is so defensive.
You can see that the obvious next move for White is c3 as this prepares d4 or c4 to attack the Bishop on c5. Black can prevent this with Nf6 which is really the only next option as this attacks the e4 pawn and forces White to consider how to defend it instead of playing b4 or d4 which White would want to play. But we’ll cover that in the next post!
Here’s a nice little video showing a game that uses this position:
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.
The opening move e4 is known as the Kings Pawn and is the most popular opening move in chess with some calling it ‘best by test’. The second most popular is d4 which is the Queen’s Pawn Game and you don’t see much else apart from these two opening moves which follow the opening principle of taking control of the centre.
In response to e4 the most popular reply now is c5 which is the Sicilian Defence which is meant to be the strongest opening response but here we look at e5 which is the Open Game and is more commonly seen amongst beginners and juniors, e6 would be the French opening for the completeness of a third option!
The reason for that is it adopts the strategy of mirroring white if you don’t know what else to do! Mirroring is not a sustainable long term strategy in the game but you will get away with it for a few moves which is why you see it so often when people haven’t practised a particular opening.
You can see that by far the most popular response to this is Nf3 (look at the percentages just under the board) which we’ll look at in the next post as a continuation of the Open Game.
Well that’s the first post as the purpose here is to cover opening moves in short sections that you can refer to by reference to the category or tags. It also makes it easier to write! See you in the next post for white’s second move.