A trap that isn’t a trap

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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.

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Legal Trap

legal trapThe 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.

legaltrap

The Greco Attack

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Giuoco Piano

Italian 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. ItalianYou 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: