The Italian Chess Opening

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A New Look At The Italian (giuoco Piano) - Gm Ivan Saric

A new look at the Italian Game – GM Ivan Saric

One of the oldest chess openings, the Italian game (also known as the Giuoco Piano) still has relevance today.

The Italian game has seen a resurgence in the last couple of years due to the influence of defenses to the Spanish (Ruy Lopez) such as the Berlin and the Marshall and GM Ivan Saric believes every serious 1.e4 player should have both 3.Bb5 and 3.Bc4 in their repertoire.

With many 1…e5 players expecting 3.Bb5, the Italian can be a great surprise weapon, especially when you are well prepared.

In this 3 hour course, GM Ivan Saric shows you how to create maximum problems for your opponent using systems with d3. Known as the Giuoco Piannisimo, or “very slow game”, this opening is inaccurately named as the positions can become wild and full of attacking possibilities at any point.

With GM Saric’s advice on the key lines and plans, you will be able to get an early advantage in your games by playing the Italian.

About the Author:

Ivan Saric is a Croatian chess grandmaster. He won the Under-18 European Youth Chess Championship in 2007, and the Under-18 World Youth Chess Championship in 2008.

Saric obtained his IM title in 2007 and his GM title in 2008. In 2018 he won the European Individual Chess Championship in Batumi with a score of 8.5/11 points. He also has won the Croatian Chess Championship in 2009 and 2013, and holds a notable victory over Magnus Carlsen, which he achieved at the 2014 Chess Olympiad.

Saric won the Tata Steel Challengers tournament in 2014 with a score of 10/13 points. As a result, he qualified for the 2015 Tata Steel Masters, where he finished in 12th place scoring 4.5/11.

Is this course for me?

In this course, GM Ivan Saric will try to cover almost all possible choices for Black against the Giuoco Piano in order to create a complete repertoire for White starting with 3.Bc4.

A New Look At The Italian (giuoco Piano) - Gm Ivan Saric

If you’re a 1.e4 player, but you don’t want to face defenses such as the Berlin, Marshall, Ruy Lopez, etc, then playing 3.Bc4 would be a great choice for you. 

The Giuoco Piano, also known as the Italian game, is one of the oldest chess openings. I’m sure many players will recall early tactical tricks noted in Greco’s games. We can clearly see the logic behind White’s starting moves.

In the very old days of chess, White’s idea was to play for quick development and initiative with c3-d4, and was often connected with ideas of sacrificing a pawn or even more.

The Evan’s gambit is one well known example, as well as the aggressive 4.Ng5 in the Two Knights Defence. This type of play is typical for beginners and indeed was the first opening I myself learned. It has brought me many victories and became one of my favorite openings.

I think every serious e4 player should have both 3.Bb5 and 3.Bc4 in their repertoire, which will make each opening more effective. I can’t guarantee you an advantage in all lines because that is impossible in modern chess, but I can show you how to create maximum problems for your opponent.

In this course, we will concentrate on systems with d3 which is known as Giuoco Pianisimo, or “very slow game”. However, as you shall see, this is a bit of a misnomer. Even a very slow game can easily transpose to wild positions in as little as one move. Many people wrongly think that these systems are boring and drawish. In fact this is far from true.

Additional information

Running Time

2 hours 53 minutes



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Opening Name


Chapter List

Chapter Outline:

1. Introduction
2. Rare 3rd moves
3. 3…d6 and 3…Be7
4. 3…Nf6 4.d3 h6
5. 3…Nf6 4.d3 Be7
6. Main line: 3…Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3 d6 6.0-0 0-0 7.Bb3 a6 8.h3 Ba7 9.Re1 and 9…Ne7
7. Main line: 3…Bc5, with 9…h6 10.Nbd2 and 10…Nh5
8. Main line: 3…Bc5 with 9…Be6 or 9…Kh8
9. Main line: 3…Bc5 with 9…h6 and 10…Re8
10. 3…Bc5, followed by retreating to b6, rather than a7
11. 3…Bc5 with 7…a6, but not Ba7
12. Move-order tricks and transpositions