Semi-Italian Opening

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Semi-Italian Opening
abcdefgh
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
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
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
c6 black knight
d6 black pawn
e5 black pawn
c4 white bishop
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
h1 white rook
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Moves1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 d6
ECOC50
OriginRodzinski vs. Alekhine, Paris 1913
Named afterItalian Opening (Giuoco Piano)
ParentItalian Game
Synonym(s)Half Giuoco Piano
Lesser Giuoco Piano
Paris Defence

The Semi-Italian Opening (also known as Half Giuoco Piano, Lesser Giuoco Piano, and Paris Defence) is one of Black's responses to the Italian Game.[1][2] It begins with the moves:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 d6

Black's intent is to play a Hungarian Defense with an early ...Bg4, fighting for control of the d4-square.[1][3] The line was tried by Alexander Alekhine early in his career.[3][4] The first recorded use in international competition was in 1846.[citation needed] I. A. Horowitz called the defence "solid", also writing: "It does not seem quite sufficient for equality."[4]

The Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings code for the Semi-Italian is C50.


Lines[edit]

Main line: 4.c3 [edit]

4.d4 Bg4[edit]

After 4...exd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Nc3 White has the freer game according to Paul Keres, and instead of 5...Nf6, Larry Evans has suggested 5...g6!?[3] The move 4...Be7 transposes to the Hungarian Defense.

  • 5. c3 and now:
    • 5...Qd7 and White has some space advantage after either 6.d5 or 6.Bb5 (Keres), or 6.Be3 (Evans).[3]
    • 5...Nf6 6.Qb3 with a clear advantage for White (Keres).
    • 5...Qf6 6.Be3 Bxf3 7.Qxf3 with some advantage for White (Keres).
    • 5...Qe7 transposes to the Main line.
  • 5. h3! and White is slightly better,[2] for example 5... Bxf3 6. Qxf3 and now:

4.h3[edit]

White prevents Black's thematic ...Bg4. The reply 4.h3 leads to lines similar to the Hungarian Defense, for example 4... Be7 5. d4 and now:

  • 5...Nf6 6.d5 Nb8 7.Bd3 0-0 8.Be3 a5 9.g4!? (Keres preferred 9.c4) Na6 10.Qd2 c6 11.c4 Nd7 12.Nc3 Ndc5 leading to a sharp game with balanced chances in Viktor Kupreichik–Podgayets, USSR 1970.[3][7]
  • 5...Nxd4 6.Nxd4 exd4 7.Qh5 g6 8.Qd5 Be6 9.Qxb7 Nf6 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.Qc6+ Kf7 12.Nd2 Qd7 13.Qc4 c5 14.0-0 d5 (Gyula SaxBorislav Ivkov, Amsterdam 1976[8]) with an even game (Unzicker).[9]

4.Nc3[edit]

This transposes to the game Maslov–Anatoly Lutikov, USSR 1963,[10] which continued 4...Bg4 5.h3 Bxf3 6.Qxf3 Nf6 7.Ne2 (or 7.d3) and White stands slightly better (Keres, Miroslav Filip).[11]

Notable games[edit]

abcdefgh
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 white queen
f8 black bishop
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black king
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
c6 black knight
d6 black pawn
e5 black pawn
c4 black queen
e4 white pawn
g4 black bishop
c3 white pawn
f3 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
e1 white king
h1 white rook
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Position after 11.f3

Rodzinski vs. Alekhine, Paris 1913:[2][3]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 d6 4. c3 Bg4 5. Qb3!?

5.d4, the Main line, is better.

5... Qd7 6. Ng5?!

6.Bxf7+ Qxf7 7.Qxb7 Kd7 8.Qxa8 Bxf3 9.gxf3 Qxf3 10.Rg1 Qxe4+ 11.Kd1 Qf3+ 12.Ke1 Qe4+ with perpetual check (Alekhine); or 12...e4 13.Na3 Ne5 14.Qxa7 Nd3+ 15.Kf1 with an even game according to Veniamin Sozin,[3][12] but Black forces mate with 15...Qd1+ 16.Kg2 Nf4+ 17.Kg3 Qf3+ 18.Kh4 Qh3+ 19.Kg5 Ne6#.

6... Nh6 7. Nxf7 Nxf7 8. Bxf7+ Qxf7 9. Qxb7 Kd7 10. Qxa8 Qc4 11. f3 (diagram) Bxf3! 12. gxf3 Nd4 13. d3?

13.cxd4 Qxc1+ with clear advantage for Black.

13... Qxd3 14. cxd4 Be7 15. Qxh8 Bh4# 0–1[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Hooper & Whyld (1996), p. 365. Semi-Italian Opening.
  2. ^ a b c d Kasparov & Keene (1982), pp. 308, 309.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Harding & Botterill (1977), pp. 129–30.
  4. ^ a b Horowitz (1964), pp. 39–41.
  5. ^ "Grigory Levenfish vs. Alexander Kazimirovich Tolush, USSR Championship 1939". Chessgames.com.
  6. ^ "Viktor Gavrikov vs. Evgeny Yuryevich Vladimirov, Vilnius 1978". Chessgames.com.
  7. ^ "Viktor Kupreichik vs. Mikhail Podgaets, USSR 1970". Chessgames.com.
  8. ^ "Gyula Sax vs. Borislav Ivkov, Amsterdam 1976". Chessgames.com.
  9. ^ Matanović (1981), p. 227, n. 1.
  10. ^ "Leonid P Maslov vs. Anatoly S Lutikov, Kharkov 1963". Chessgames.com.
  11. ^ Matanović (1981), p. 243, n. 8.
  12. ^ Matanović (1981), p. 242, n. 4.
  13. ^ "Rodzynski vs. Alexander Alekhine, Paris 1913". Chessgames.com.

Bibliography