Bishop's Opening

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Bishop's Opening
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a8 black rook
b8 black knight
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d7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
e5 black pawn
c4 white bishop
e4 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
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Moves 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4
ECO C23–C24
Named after Bishop in 2.Bc4
Parent Open Game

The Bishop's Opening is a chess opening that begins with the moves:

1. e4 e5
2. Bc4

White attacks Black's f7-square and prevents Black from advancing his d-pawn to d5. By ignoring the beginner's maxim "develop knights before bishops", White leaves his f-pawn unblocked, allowing the possibility of playing f2–f4.

The f2–f4 push gives the Bishop's Opening an affinity with the King's Gambit and the Vienna Game, two openings that share this characteristic. The Bishop's Opening can transpose into either of these openings, and in particular a favorable variation of the King's Gambit, but with care Black can circumvent this. Transpositions into Giuoco Piano and Two Knights Defense and other openings are also possible.

The Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings (ECO) assigns Bishop's Opening the codes C23 and C24.


History and use[edit]

The Bishop's Opening is one of the oldest openings to be analyzed; it was studied by Lucena and Ruy Lopez. Later it was played by Philidor. Larsen was one of the few grandmasters to play it often, after first using it at the 1964 Interzonal Tournament. Although the Bishop's Opening is uncommon today, it has been used occasionally as a surprise by players such as Kasparov. Nunn uses it to avoid Petrov's Defence (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6),[1] and Lékó played it in the 2007 World Championship against Kramnik, known to consistently play the Petrov.

Weaver Adams in his classic work "White to Play and Win" claimed that the Bishop's Opening was a win for White by force from the second move.[2] However, he was unable to prove this by defeating players stronger than himself, and later abandoned the Bishop's Opening for the Vienna Game, making the same claim.[3] Grandmaster Nick de Firmian, in the 14th edition of Modern Chess Openings concludes that the Bishop's Opening leads to equality with best play by both sides,[4] and notes that, "Among modern players only Bent Larsen has played it much, but even Kasparov gave it a whirl (winning against Bareev)."[5]

Main variations[edit]

Because White's second move makes no direct threat, Black has many possible responses on the second move. As shown below, the Bishop's Opening offers opportunities to transpose to several other open games.

Berlin Defense: 2...Nf6[edit]

Probably Black's most popular second move is 2...Nf6, forcing White to decide how to defend his e-pawn.

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a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
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h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
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c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
f6 black knight
e5 black pawn
c4 white bishop
e4 white pawn
d3 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
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3.d3
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a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
f6 black knight
e5 black pawn
c4 white bishop
d4 white pawn
e4 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
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Ponziani's Gambit 3.d4
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a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
e5 black pawn
c4 white bishop
e4 black knight
c3 white knight
f3 white knight
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
h1 white rook
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After 3.d3 Black must be careful not to drift into an inferior variation of the King's Gambit Declined. One continuation that avoids this pitfall is 2...Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nf3 d5 5.Bb3 Bd6. Also possible is 3...d6 (instead of 3...c6) 4.f4 exf4 5.Bxf4 Be6! neutralizing White's king bishop.

White sometimes chooses the Bishop's Opening move order to transpose into the Giuoco Piano while preventing Black from playing Petrov's Defense. For example, 2...Nf6 3.d3 Nc6 4.Nf3 Bc5 reaches the quiet Giuoco Pianissimo.

The Urusov Gambit is named after Russian Prince Sergey Semyonovich Urusov (1827–1897). After 2...Nf6 3.d4 exd4 (3...Nxe4 4.dxe5 gives White some advantage) 4.Nf3, Black can transpose to the Two Knights Defense with 4...Nc6, or can decline the gambit with 4...d5 5.exd5 Bb4+ 6.c3 (6.Kf1 is recommended by Michael Goeller, winning a pawn at the expense of castling rights) 6...Qe7+ 7.Be2 dxc3, when 8.bxc3 and 8.Nxc3 both offer approximately equal chances. Instead, Black can accept the gambit with 4...Nxe4 5.Qxd4 Nf6 (5...Nd6? 6.0-0 gives White an overwhelming attack), and White will continue with Nc3, Bg5, Qh4, 0-0-0, and usually intends to meet ...0-0 and ...h6 with the piece sacrifice Bxh6, exposing the black king. Black has no obvious weaknesses, but most authorities [weasel words] consider White's piece activity and attacking chances to provide sufficient compensation for the pawn. The Urusov Gambit is also occasionally reached via the Petrov Defence after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4.

The Boden–Kieseritzky Gambit is named after English player and chess writer Samuel Boden and Lionel Kieseritzky. Boden published the first analysis of it in 1851. Opening theoreticians consider that after 2...Nf6 3.Nf3 Nxe4 4.Nc3 Nxc3 5.dxc3 f6, White's attack is not quite worth a pawn. The game may continue 6.0-0 Nc6 (not 6...Be7? 7.Nxe5! with a tremendous attack, but 6...d6 is also playable) 7.Nh4 g6 8.f4 f5 9.Nf3 (9.Nxf5? d5!) e4 10.Ng5 (10.Ne5 Qe7! threatening Qc5+ is strong) Bc5+. In practice, Black's lack of development and inability to castle kingside can prove very problematic.

Safer for Black are Paul Morphy's solid 5...c6 6.Nxe5 d5, returning the pawn with equality, and 4...Nc6!? (instead of 4...Nxc3) 5.0-0 (5.Nxe4 d5) Nxc3 6.dxc3 Qe7! when, according to Bobby Fischer in My 60 Memorable Games, "White has no compensation for the Pawn."[6]

Black can also decline the pawn with 3...Nc6, transposing into the Two Knights Defense. He must, however, be willing to offer a gambit himself after 4.Ng5. White may invite an offshoot of the Boden–Kieseritzky Gambit with 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.Nc3.

Irregular move orders are 2.Nc3 (Vienna) Nf6 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.Nf3 and 2.Nf3 Nf6 (Russian or Petrov Defence) 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.Nf3.

Summary after 2...Nf6[edit]

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a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
f6 black knight
e5 black pawn
c4 white bishop
e4 white pawn
f4 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
g1 white knight
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Greco Gambit 3.f4

Classical Defense: 2...Bc5[edit]

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f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
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c5 black bishop
e5 black pawn
b4 white pawn
c4 white bishop
e4 white pawn
a2 white pawn
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a1 white rook
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d1 white queen
e1 white king
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Wing Gambit 3.b4
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a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
c5 black bishop
e5 black pawn
c4 white bishop
e4 white pawn
c3 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
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Philidor Variation 3.c3
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a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
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h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
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d7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
c5 black bishop
e5 black pawn
c4 white bishop
e4 white pawn
d3 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
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3.d3

The Classical Defense is Black's symmetrical response, 2...Bc5. White can then transpose into the Vienna Game (3.Nc3) or the Giuoco Piano (3.Nf3), or remain in the Bishop's Opening with the Wing Gambit (3.b4) or the Philidor Variation (3.c3). The main line of the Philidor Variation runs: 3. c3 Nf6 4. d4 exd4 5. e5 d5! 6. exf6 dxc4 7. Qh5 0-0 8. Qxc5 Re8+ 9. Ne2 d3 10.Be3 Transpositions into the King's Gambit Declined and the Giuoco Piano are also possible after 3.d3.

The Wing Gambit results in positions similar to those in the Evans Gambit. It can transpose into the Evans Gambit, for instance by 3.b4 Bxb4 4.c3 Ba5 5.Nf3 Nc6.

Black's most energetic response to the Philidor Variation is the Lewis Countergambit, 3.c3 d5, named for the English player and author William Lewis (1787–1870) who published analysis of the line in 1834.

Among amateurs, 3.Qf3 and 3.Qh5 are also popular, threatening an immediate scholar's mate. But the threat is easily met (e.g. 3.Qh5 Qe7) and the moves are considered inferior since they hamper White's development or leave the queen exposed, leading to loss of tempo.

Summary after 2...Bc5[edit]

  • 3.b4 (Wing Gambit)
  • 3.c3 (Philidor Variation)
    • 3...d5 (Lewis Countergambit)
    • 3...d6
    • 3...Nf6
  • 3.Nc3 (Vienna Game, by transposition)
  • 3.d3
  • 3.Nf3 Nc6 (Giuoco Piano, by transposition)
  • 3.Qg4

Other Black responses[edit]

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a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
c6 black pawn
e5 black pawn
c4 white bishop
e4 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
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Philidor Counterattack 2...c6

Other Black second moves are rarely played. If Black tries to transpose into the Hungarian Defense with 2...Be7?, then 3.Qh5 wins a pawn.

The Calabrian Countergambit (2...f5?!) is named after Greco's homeland, Calabria. It is considered dubious, as the line recommended by Carl Jaenisch, 3.d3 Nf6 4.f4 d6 5.Nf3, gives White the advantage.

Summary of other Black responses[edit]

  • 2...c6 (Philidor Counterattack)
  • 2...Nc6
  • 2...d6
  • 2...f5?! (Calabrian Countergambit)
    • 3.d3 (Jaenisch Variation)

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ Reuben, Stewart (1992). Chess Openings — Your Choice!. Cadogan Chess. p. 59. ISBN 1-85744-070-6. 
  2. ^ Adams, Weaver (1939). White to Play and Win. David McKay Company. pp. 9–12. 
  3. ^ Evans, Larry (1970). Chess Catechism. Simon and Schuster. pp. 147, 153. ISBN 978-0-671-21531-6. 
  4. ^ de Firmian, Nick (1999). Modern Chess Openings. David McKay Company. pp. 144–45. ISBN 0-8129-3084-3. 
  5. ^ Id. at 143.
  6. ^ Fischer, Bobby (1972). My 60 Memorable Games. Faber and Faber. pp. 280–81. ISBN 0-571-09987-4. 

Bibliography

External links[edit]