An Old Giuoco Worth Repeating
The revival of the Giuoco Piano at the highest levels of competitive chess has been a pleasure to observe for amateur players like myself committed to heirloom openings. With one day to go in the Corus tournament at Wijk aan Zee, players in each of the three groups (Movsesian in Group A, Nigel Short in Group B, Tiger Hillarp Persson and David Howell in Group C) have scored impressive victories with the old Giuoco, going 4-1-0 (or a stunning 90% for White), while their peers committed to the "Spanish torture" racked up a score of only 13-24-6 (still not bad at 58%). I predict that we will be seeing a lot more of the Giuoco Piano, including of the older and less "quiet" lines that Movsesian and Short employed. Perhaps GM John Emms will lead the way with his excellent discussion of the Max Lange in Dangerous Weapons: 1.e4 e5 and with his forthcoming book Beating 1.e4 e5 (Everyman 2009), focused on the Giuoco Piano.
In the present game, former FIDE champ Kasimdzanov sidestepped the dangerous Max Lange Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.O-O Nf6 5.d4!?) with the safer 4...d6 (which Mark Morss once described as a "Lost Variation"). But Black still lost, thanks to some fine play by White in a fascinating ending, worthy of study in its own right. Short has always been an "opening hero" of mine, especially with his frequent forays into the Evans Gambit. At Corus, his experiments with Romantic openings like the Four Knights and Giuoco Piano made important additions to his score. Let's hope he continues to forge interesting paths through the forgotten opening lines of the past.