More Chess Traps in the Italian Opening
The Italian Opening is one of the oldest chess openings, first mentioned in the 16th century. Is also one of the most played openings at all levels, from most beginners right up to the World Champion.
The Italian has different variations, which makes it an ideal weapon. You can play powerful gambits to play for a win in spectacular fashion, or you can navigate the calm waters of the Giuoco Pianissimo – but, even the quiet variations have many tactical tricks that should be known by every chess player.
The Giuoco Pianissimo starts after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d3 (or 4.0-0 Nf6 5.d3, or even 3…Nf6 4.d3), and it can be your only weapon against 1…e5, which is the most played opening in the club level (together with the Sicilian and the French Defense).
White’s Ideas in the Giuoco Pianissimo (or Quiet Italian Opening)
The Giuoco Pianissimo, or Quiet Italian Opening, is well-suited for positional players who do not want to enter the open positions after d4. White plays the more modest d3 and adopts a quieter set-up.
The pawn on d3 defends the e4 pawn while the c3 pawn controls the d4 square and prevents Black from infiltrating with a piece.
Delaying the d4 advance until more pieces are developed is a sensible strategy. However, it does have a drawback in that it allows Black time to prepare for the opening of the position.
The play might be quieter than the early d4 move, but it can lead to exciting and dangerous positions. That is one of the reasons why the Quiet Italian Opening is played at the highest levels today.
In the video above, GM Damian Lemos shows you two modern games to teach you tactical tricks that every chess player must know, as they can also arise from other openings!
Giri – Anand
The first game is a blitz between Anish Giri and former World Champion Vishy Anand. It started with the normal Italian moves, but then Black decided to open the center with 14…d5. The following position arises when White displays his knowledge of this opening:
Black has a typical weakness that it’s important to know. What did Giri play?
White played 17.Nh4!, planning to place the knight on the f5-square. This knight is very powerful there, as it attacks the pawns on g7 and h6, creating many tactical opportunities. This game is an excellent example! After 17…Rad8 18.Nhf5 Kh8, White, in fact, can start a very dangerous attack (see the next diagram).
In this position, White played 19.d4! exd4 20.Nxg7!! Rxe1+ 21.Qxe1 Kxg7 22.Bxh6+!, and Black is in real danger!
Sacrificing two pieces, White’s attack is almost unstoppable!
Anand didn’t take the bishop and played 22…Kh8!, but he couldn’t resist the next wave of attack.
Caruana – Nakamura
The second game is super important for beginners and club players alike, as it shows a typical attacking idea in many 1.e4 e5 openings.
In the next position, decide what you would play with the white pieces.
Caruana sacrifices the knight for two pawns with 10.Nxg5!? hxg5 11.Bxg5. After that, the pinned Nf6 is in danger, as White can increase the pressure with moves like Qf3 or f4 (opening the f-file). But the real question is if the compensation is sufficient.
Black defended the knight with 11…Kg7 (threatening to move the queen and unpin the knight), so White is forced to play 12.Qf3. A few more moves (12…Rh8 13.Nd2 Kg6) and White played a mistake: 14.h4?
This move allowed Black to unravel his position. Do you know how? Watch the full free video to discover how the game finished!