|Moves||1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5|
|Named after||Italian: "Quiet Game"|
Common alternatives to 3...Bc5 include 3...Nf6 (the Two Knights Defence) and 3...Be7 (the Hungarian Defence). Much less common are 3...d6 (the Semi-Italian Opening), 3...g6, 3...Nd4 (the Blackburne Shilling Gambit), and 3...f5 (the Rousseau Gambit).
|This article uses algebraic notation to describe chess moves.|
The Giuoco Piano is one of the oldest recorded openings. The Portuguese Damiano played it at the beginning of the 16th century and the Italian Greco played it at the beginning of the 17th century. The opening is also known as the Italian Game (Pinski 2005:5), although that name is also used to describe all games starting with 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4, regardless of Black's third move (Gufeld & Stetsko 1996:5). The Giuoco Piano was popular through the 19th century, but modern refinements in defensive play have led most chess masters towards openings like the Ruy Lopez that offer White greater chances for long-term .
In modern play, grandmasters have shown distinct preference for the slower and more strategic Giuoco Pianissimo (4.d3, or 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3). Anatoly Karpov used the Giuoco Pianissimo against Viktor Korchnoi twice in the 1981 World Championship match, with both games ending in a draw; Garry Kasparov used it against Joël Lautier at Linares 1994, resigning after 29 moves; Vladimir Kramnik chose it against Teimour Radjabov at Linares (2004); Viswanathan Anand used it to defeat Jon Hammer in 2010; and Magnus Carlsen used it against Hikaru Nakamura at London 2011, winning in 41 moves.
The main continuations on White's fourth move are:
- 4.c3, the Main line (see below).
- 4.b4, the Evans Gambit, in which White offers a pawn to speed his . This opening was popular in the 19th century, more than the standard Giuoco Piano.
- 4.d3, the Giuoco Pianissimo (see below).
- 4.0-0, often with the intention of meeting 4...Nf6 with 5.d4, the Max Lange Gambit, with similar ideas to the Italian Gambit but with some transpositional differences.
Other continuations are:
- 4.Nc3 Nf6, the Four Knights Variation.
- 4.d4, the Italian Gambit, in which White opens up the , avoiding the lines of the Giuoco Piano and Giuoco Pianissimo.
- 4.Bxf7+? Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5, the Jerome Gambit, an opening where White sacrifices two pieces in the hope of exposing Black's king and obtaining a .
Main line: 4.c3 Edit
White plays 4.c3 in preparation for the central advance d2–d4. Black can try to hold a in the centre at e5 with 4...Qe7 or he can counterattack with 4...Nf6. The centre-holding line can continue 4...Qe7 5.d4 Bb6 6.0-0 d6 7.a4 a6 8.h3 Nf6 9.Re1 0-0.
The more aggressive 4...Nf6 was first analysed by Greco in the 17th century. In the Greco Variation, White uses a major piece sacrifice to create a . Play continues:
4... Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. cxd4
- White can also try 6.e5, a line favoured by Evgeny Sveshnikov, when play usually continues 6...d5 7.Bb5 Ne4 8.cxd4 Bb6, with approximate . Instead, White has a gambit alternative in 6.0-0, which Graham Burgess revived in the book 101 Chess Opening Surprises; the critical line runs 6...Nxe4 7.cxd4 d5 8.dxc5 dxc4 9.Qe2. The other alternative 6.b4 is by the strong piece sacrifice 6...Bb6 7.e5 d5 8.exf6 dxc4 9.b5 0-0! according to Jeremy Silman.
6... Bb4+ 7. Nc3
- If White does not want to gambit material, 7.Bd2 is a good alternative. The game could continue 7...Bxd2+ (Kaufman recommends 7...Nxe4!? 8.Bxb4 Nxb4 9.Bxf7+ Kxf7 10.Qb3+ d5!? [10...Kf8 11.Qxb4+ Qe7 12.Qxe7+ Kxe7 is safer, reaching an equal endgame] 11.Ne5+ Ke6! 12.Qxb4 c5!?) 8.Nbxd2 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Qb3 Nce7 (10...Na5 is an alternative, inviting a repetition of moves after 11.Qa4+ Nc6 [threatening 12...Nb6] 12.Qb3 Na5) 11.0-0 0-0 12.Rfe1 c6. In this position White has more freedom, but the can be a weakness. 7.Nbd2 is also a viable move for White, although this still only offers approximate equality. It has not been a popular choice among human players, but it seems to be recommended by computer engines. 7.Kf1?! has been largely abandoned.
7... Nxe4 8.0-0 (see diagram)
- Greco encouraged an attack on White's with 8.0-0, allowing 8...Nxc3?!, the Greco Variation. If 9.bxc3 Bxc3? 10.Qb3. Now if Black takes the rook with 10...Bxa1?, White wins the black queen with 11.Bxf7+ Kf8 12.Bg5 Ne7 13.Re1. This trap is well-known, and Black can avoid it by playing 10...d5. For this reason, the Scottish master James Aitken proposed 10.Ba3!, which gives White the advantage. After 9.bxc3, best for Black is 9...d5! 10.cxb4 dxc4 11.Re1+ Ne7 12.Qa4+! Bd7 13.b5 0-0 14.Qxc4 Ng6!
- In 1898 the Møller Attack revived this line; Danish player Jørgen Møller published analysis of the line in Tidsskrift for Skak (1898). In the Møller Attack, White sacrifices a pawn for development and the initiative:
8... Bxc3! 9. d5
- 9.bxc3 and 9.Qc2 are both fine alternatives.
- 9...Ne5 is also interesting; a possible continuation is 10.bxc3 Nxc4 11.Qd4 f5 12.Qxc4 d6.
10. Re1 Ne7 11. Rxe4 d6 12. Bg5 Bxg5 13. Nxg5 h6!?
- 13...0-0 14.Nxh7! is considered to lead to a draw with best play, although Black has many opportunities to go wrong.
- After 14.Qe2 hxg5 15.Re1 Be6! 16.dxe6 (White also can try 16.Qd2 c6! 17.dxe6 f6 18.Bd3 d5 19.Rg4 Qc7 20.h3 0-0-0 21.b4, attacking) 16...f6 17.Re3 c6 18.Rh3 Rxh3 19.gxh3 g6 it is doubtful that White has compensation for the sacrificed pawn, according to Grandmaster Larry Kaufman; 14.Qh5 0-0 15.Rae1 Ng6! (or 15...Nf5!) also favours Black.
14... Bd7 15. Qe2 Bxb5 16. Qxb5+ Qd7 17. Qxb7
17... 0-0 18. Rae1 Rab8 19. Qxa7 Nxd5 20. Qd4 Qf5 21. Nf3 Rb4
- and Black is clearly better.
Giuoco Pianissimo: 4.d3 Edit
With 4.d3, White plays the Giuoco Pianissimo (Italian: "Very Quiet Game", a name given by Adolf Anderssen). White aims for a slow buildup deferring the to d4 until it can be prepared. By avoiding an immediate confrontation in the centre White prevents the early release of tension through exchanges and enters a positional maneuvering game. 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.d3 is the Giuoco Pianissimo Deferred.
If White plays c2–c3, the position can take some characteristics of the Ruy Lopez if his bishop retreats to c2 via Bc4–b3–c2. This idea has been taken up by some grandmasters, such as Anish Giri, in order to avoid the drawish Berlin Defence in the Ruy Lopez. The game can also retain an Italian flavour after c3 if White plays a4 and b4, staking out on the . Despite its slow, drawish reputation, this variation became more popular after being taken up by John Nunn in the 1980s. The common move orders are 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3 (ECO C54), and the transposition from the Bishop's Opening: 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 Nc6 4.Nf3 Bc5 5.c3 or 5.0-0 d6 6.c3.
Codes from the Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings (ECO) are:
- Hooper & Whyld (1996), p. 183. Italian Opening.
- "Karpov vs. Korchnoi, World Ch. Rematch (1981), rd. 8". Chessgames.com.
- "Karpov vs. Korchnoi, World Ch. Rematch (1981), rd. 10". Chessgames.com.
- "Kasparov vs. Lautier, Linares (1994)". Chessgames.com.
- "Kramnik vs. Radjabov, Linares (2004)". Chessgames.com.
- "Anand vs. Hammer, Arctic Securities Chess Stars (2010)". Chessgames.com.
- "Carlsen vs. Nakamura, London (2011)". Chessgames.com.
- The Steinitz–Sveshnikov Attack
- Giuoco Piano – A nice piece sacrifice
- "The Baron vs. Pandix, World Computer Chess Championship (2011)". Chessgames.com.
- Chessgames.com position search after 7.Kf1
- "Laszlo Barczay vs. Lajos Portisch (1969)". Chessgames.com. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
- Hooper & Whyld (1996), p. 153.
- Gufeld, Eduard; Stetsko, Oleg (1996), The Giuoco Piano, Batsford, ISBN 978-0-7134-7802-0
- Harding, Tim; Botterill, G. S. (1977). The Italian Game. B. T. Batsford Ltd. ISBN 0-7134-3261-6.
- Hooper, David; Whyld, Kenneth (1996) [First pub. 1992]. The Oxford Companion to Chess (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280049-3.
- Kaufman, Larry (2004). The Chess Advantage in Black and White. McKay Chess Library. ISBN 0-8129-3571-3.
- Pinski, Jan (2005), Italian Game and Evans Gambit, Everyman Chess, ISBN 978-1-85744-373-8