Damiano Defence

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Damiano Defence
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
f6 black pawn
e5 black pawn
e4 white pawn
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
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f6
ECO C40
Named after Pedro Damiano
Parent King's Knight Opening

The Damiano Defence is a chess opening beginning with the moves:

  1. e4 e5
  2. Nf3 f6?

The defence is one of the oldest chess openings, with games dating back to the 16th century.

The ECO code for the Damiano Defence is C40 (King's Knight Opening).


3.d4 and 3.Bc4[edit]

Black's 2...f6? is a weak move that exposes Black's king, weakens Black's kingside and takes away his knight's best square. The moves 3.d4 and 3.Bc4 are strong replies; I.A. Horowitz wrote (substituting algebraic notation for his descriptive notation), "Simple and potent is 3.Bc4 d6 4.d4 Nc6 5.c3, after which Black chokes to death."[1]

3.Nxe5![edit]

a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
g6 black king
h6 black pawn
d5 white bishop
e5 white queen
e4 white pawn
h4 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
e1 white king
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position after 8...h6. After 9.Bxb7!, 9...Bxb7?? falls into 10.Qf5#.

Most forceful, however, is the knight sacrifice 3.Nxe5![2] Taking the knight with 3...fxe5? exposes Black to a deadly attack after 4.Qh5+ Ke7 (4...g6 loses to 5.Qxe5+, forking king and rook) 5.Qxe5+ Kf7 6.Bc4+ d5! (6...Kg6?? 7.Qf5+ is devastating and leads to mate shortly after) 7.Bxd5+ Kg6 8.h4 (8.d4? Bd6!) h5 (for 8...h6, see diagram) 9.Bxb7! Bd6 (9...Bxb7 10.Qf5+ Kh6 11.d4+ g5 12.Qf7! mates quickly) 10.Qa5!, when Black's best is 10...Nc6 11.Bxc6 Rb8, and now White will be ahead by several pawns. Bruce Pandolfini notes that Black's opening is thus sometimes described as "the five pawns gambit".[3] Alternatively, White can continue developing his pieces, remaining four pawns up. In either case, White has a clearly winning position.

Since taking the knight is fatal, after 3.Nxe5 Black should instead play 3...Qe7![4] (Other Black third moves, such as 3...d5, lead to 4. Qh5+! g6 5. Nxg6!) After 4.Nf3 (4.Qh5+? g6 5.Nxg6 Qxe4+ 6.Be2 Qxg6 leaves Black ahead a piece for two pawns)[4] Qxe4+ 5.Be2, Black has regained the pawn but has lost time and weakened his kingside, and will lose more time when White chases the queen with Nc3, or 0-0, Re1, and a move by the bishop on e2. Nick de Firmian in Modern Chess Openings analyzes instead 4...d5 5.d3 dxe4 6.dxe4, when White had a small advantage in SchiffersChigorin, St. Petersburg 1897.[5]

The fact that Black can only regain the pawn with 3...Qe7! shows that 2...f6? did not really defend the e-pawn at all. Indeed, even a relatively useless move like 2...a6?! is less risky than 2...f6?. After 2...a6?! 3.Nxe5, Black could still regain the pawn with 3...Qe7 4.d4 d6, without weakening his kingside or depriving the king knight of its best square.

History[edit]

a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black bishop
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
c6 black knight
f6 black pawn
g6 black queen
e5 white knight
c3 white knight
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
e2 white bishop
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
f1 white rook
g1 white king
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position after 10.Ne5!, White wins Black's queen.

Ironically, the opening is named after the Portuguese master Pedro Damiano (1480–1544), who condemned it as weak. In 1847, Howard Staunton wrote of 2...f6, "This move occurs in the old work of Damiano, who gives some ingenious variations on it. Lopez, and later authors, have hence entitled it 'Damiano's Gambit'."[6] Staunton's contemporary George Walker instead, more logically, reserved the term "Damiano Gambit" for the knight sacrifice played by White on the third move: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f6 3.Nxe5.[7] Staunton referred to 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6, a highly respected move then and now, as "Damiano's defence to the K. Kt.'s opening".[8]

The Damiano Defence is never seen today in top-level play. The greatest player to play the Damiano in serious master competition was Mikhail Chigorin. As noted above, he played the 3...Qe7 line in a game against Emmanuel Schiffers at Saint Petersburg 1897. Chigorin lost his queen on move 10 (see diagram), but Schiffers played so weakly that Chigorin later missed a brilliant forced mate and only escaped when Schiffers agreed to a draw in a winning position.[9] Robert McGregor played the Damiano in a 1964 simultaneous exhibition against Bobby Fischer, essaying 3...Qe7 4.Nf3 d5 5.d3 dxe4 6.dxe4 Qxe4+ 7.Be2 Bf5, and drew, although Fischer did not play the best moves.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ I.A. Horowitz, Chess Openings: Theory and Practice, Simon and Schuster, 1964, p. 227 n. 31.
  2. ^ Understanding the Chess Openings, Sam Collins, 2005, p. 28.
  3. ^ Bruce Pandolfini, Chess Openings: Traps and Zaps, Simon & Schuster, 1989, p. 92. ISBN 0-671-65690-2.
  4. ^ a b Pandolfini 1989, p. 91.
  5. ^ Modern Chess Openings, 15th Edition, Random House Puzzles & Games, 2008, p. 156. ISBN 978-0-8129-3682-7.
  6. ^ Howard Staunton, The Chess-Player's Handbook, Henry C. Bohn, 1847, p. 60.
  7. ^ Walker wrote of the knight sacrifice, "This constitutes the Damiano Gambit." George Walker, The Art of Chess-Play: A New Treatise on the Game of Chess (4th ed. 1846), Sherwood, Gilbert, & Piper, p. 236.
  8. ^ Staunton, p. 64.
  9. ^ "The Richter riddle". OPEN CHESS DIARY (scroll down to No. 222). Retrieved 2006-03-20. 
  10. ^ Bobby Fischer and Damiano's Defense. Chessstuff.blogspot.com. Retrieved on 2009-04-02.

External links[edit]

  • "Defeating Damiano's Defense". The Kenilworthian. 2010-07-28. Retrieved 2012-07-20.  A comprehensive list of material available online about Damiano's Defense.