Giuoco Piano - How to Play the e-pawn Openings - The Complete Chess Course From Beginning To Winning Chess! (2016)

The Complete Chess Course From Beginning To Winning Chess! (2016)

Book Seven

How to Play the e-pawn Openings

Giuoco Piano

This is the first opening in our survey which is based on strictly logical ideas. White strives for the initiative with his second move (2.Nf3), and continues with 3.Bc4. Thus he gives his light-square bishop an aggressive diagonal and attempts to restrain the liberating …d5. Then he proceeds to construct a strong pawn center.

All this sounds formidable, and it is. Black can easily go wrong if he does not know the safest lines.

(a) Møller Attack

Giuoco Piano

White - Black

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6

The classic counterattacking move. Black intends to give up the center with his next move.

5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4

Note that although 6.e5 looks impressive, Black has a perfect answer in 6…d5!.

6…Bb4+ (D)


Position after 6…Bb4+

The simple and safe course is now 7.Bd2 Bxd2+ 8.Nbxd2 d5! 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Qb3 Nce7 11.0-0 0-0 with equality.

The alternative 6…Bb6? leaves Black with a miserable game after 7.e5 Ng8 8.d5 etc.

7.Nc3?! Nxe4!?

Another way is 7…d5! and if 8.exd5 Nxd5 9.0-0 Be6! 10.Bg5 Be7 11.Bxd5 Bxd5 12.Nxd5 Qxd5 13.Bxe7 Nxe7 14.Re1 f6! 15.Qe2 Qd7 16.Rac1 Kf7! and Black is safe after 17…Rhe8 and 18…Kg8.

Note that White’s last move is a wild attempt to create dangerous complications at the cost of a pawn or even more material.

8.0-0 (D)


Position after 8.0-0

Black must proceed with great care.

Now 8…Nxc3 can lead to a lot of trouble for Black after 9.bxc3 d5 10.cxb4 dxc4 11.Re1+ Ne7 (if 11…Be6? 12.d5 wins a piece) 12.Qe2 Be6 13.Bg5 Qd5 14.Bxe7 Kxe7 15.Qc2! f6 16.Ng5! fxg5 (if 16…Qxg5 17.Qe4 with a winning attack) 17.Re5 Qxd4 18.Rae1 and White wins back his piece with advantage.

Another dangerous line for Black is 9…Bxc3? 10.Ba3!! and wins. Thus, after 10…Bxa1?? 11.Re1+ Black can resign.

And if 10…d5 11.Bb5! Bxa1 12.Re1+ Be6 13.Qa4! and Black is lost.

Or take this possibility: 10…d6 11.Rc1 Ba5 12.Qa4 a6 13.Bd5 Bb6 14.Rxc6! Bd7 15.Re1+ Kf8 16.Rxd6!! and wins.

8…Bxc3! 9.d5 (D)


Position after 9.d5

This position is full of bewildering possibilities. Black’s safest is 9…Ne5!.

9…Ne5! 10.bxc3 Nxc4 11.Qd4

A famous trap here is 11…Ncd6? 12.Qxg7 Qf6 13.Qxf6 Nxf6 14.Re1+. If now 14…Kd8?? 15.Bg5! wins.

If 14…Kf8?? 15.Bh6+ Kg8 16.Re5! and Black is lost, for example 16…Nde4 17.Nd2 Nxd2 18.Rg5# or 17…d6 18.Nxe4 dxe5 19.Nxf6#.

Finally, if 14…Nfe4 15.Nd2 f5 16.f3 with a winning game for White.

11…f5 12.Qxc4

Not 12.Qxg7? Qf6 and White has no compensation for the lost piece.


Black has the advantage: his position is safe and he is a pawn to the good.

(b) 4…Qe7 Variation

Giuoco Piano

White - Black

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Qe7 5.d4 Bb6 (D)


Position after 5…Bb6

Black avoids exchanging pawns in order to hold the center. The result is a very cramped game for him.

6.0-0 Nf6 7.Re1 d6 8.h3!

Preventing the pin …Bg4. Thus White strengthens his pawn center and deprives Black’s light-square bishop of its best square.

8…0-0 9.Na3! Nd8 10.Bd3! c6 11.Nc4 Bc7

White has distinctly the better game because of his greater freedom. He can play 12.b3! threatening 13.Ba3 with annoying possibilities.

(c) 4.d3 Variation

Giuoco Piano

White - Black

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d3

This leads to a slow game which gives Black very little trouble.

4…Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Be3

After 6.Bg5 h6 (6…Na5 is also playable) 7.Bxf6 Qxf6 8.Nd5 Qd8 9.c3 a6! 10.d4 exd4 11.cxd4 Ba7 Black’s game is slightly preferable because of his two bishops.


Better than 6…Bxe3 7.fxe3, which gives White an open f-file.

7.Qd2 Be6 8.Bb3

White is confronted with the same problem that Black encountered at move 6. That is to say, White is unwilling to play 8.Bxe6, for that would open the f-file for Black. However, now that White has retreated Bb3, Black in turn has to meet the same problem. If Black now plays 8…Bxb3, White replies 9.axb3, acquiring an open a-file.

This reasoning about the desirability or undesirability of exchanging the bishops is an important feature of the variation. Obtaining an open file is often the imperceptible beginning of a strong initiative. (D)


Position after 8.Bb3

This is a good variation for inexperienced players, as the position offers little scope for complications.

Even game; the symmetrical position of the bishops and pawns offers little to either side.