|Moves||1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f6|
|Named after||Pedro Damiano|
|Parent||King's Knight Opening|
The Damiano Defence is a chess opening beginning with the moves:
The defence is one of the oldest chess openings, with games dating back to the 16th century. It is a weak opening, and leads to either a forced win or a large advantage for White after 3.Nxe5. Even if White does not go for this continuation, simple development leads to an advantage since 2...f6 weakened Black's kingside as well as took away the best square for the g8-knight.
|This article uses algebraic notation to describe chess moves.|
3.d4 and 3.Bc4
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."
Most forceful, however, is the knight sacrifice 3.Nxe5! 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 (see diagram; 8...h6 is similar, except Black cannot play 9...Bxb7 because of 10.Qf5#) 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". 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! (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 a pawn)  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 Schiffers–Chigorin, St. Petersburg 1897.
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, when he would have done so without weakening his kingside or depriving the king's knight of its best square.
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'." 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. 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".
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. 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.
- I.A. Horowitz, Chess Openings: Theory and Practice, Simon and Schuster, 1964, p. 227 n. 31.
- Understanding the Chess Openings, Sam Collins, 2005, p. 28.
- Bruce Pandolfini, Chess Openings: Traps and Zaps, Simon & Schuster, 1989, p. 92. ISBN 0-671-65690-2.
- Pandolfini 1989, p. 91.
- Modern Chess Openings, 15th Edition, Random House Puzzles & Games, 2008, p. 156. ISBN 978-0-8129-3682-7.
- Howard Staunton, The Chess-Player's Handbook, Henry C. Bohn, 1847, p. 60.
- 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.
- Staunton, p. 64.
- "The Richter riddle". OPEN CHESS DIARY (scroll down to No. 222). Retrieved 2006-03-20.
- Bobby Fischer and Damiano's Defense. Chessstuff.blogspot.com. Retrieved on 2009-04-02.
|The Wikibook Chess Opening Theory has a page on the topic of: Damiano Defence|
- "Defeating Damiano's Defense". The Kenilworthian. 2010-07-28. Retrieved 2012-07-20. A comprehensive list of material available online about Damiano's Defense.