Friday, February 26, 2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 White Repertoire Webliography

I have been developing a 1.e4 e5 White repertoire based on the Italian Game or Giuoco Piano (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4) where White blows open the center with an early d4 (after 3...Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 or the gambit 3...Bc5 4.d4!?) rather than play the "quieter" Giuoco lines with 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3 (which will feature in a repertoire book by John Emms titled Beating 1.e4 e5 due in May from Everyman Chess).  The repertoire also features the aggressive "Duffer's Attack" against the Two Knights (with 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 -- which Seigbert Tarrasch famously labeled a "duffer's move").  I realized the other day that my repertoire could be learned from web sources alone, so I thought I'd take on the challenge of putting together a "1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 White Repertoire Webliography" for anyone who is interested.  I have also listed a few books and other materials for those who want to study these lines more deeply. 

I present the repertoire as a 14-part webliography of sources.  Even if you are not interested in the Giuoco Piano, you may benefit from the recommendations and online resources against the Petroff, Philidor, Latvian, Elephant, and other lines at Black's disposal.  As always, I invite reader comments and additions. 

1. Giuoco Piano Overview (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5)
I recommend learning a few different Giuoco Piano lines to get the maximum enjoyment from the repertoire.  I am personally most interested in the Steinitz-Sveshnikov Attack (4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.e5!?), but I have also enjoyed trying out the Moeller Attack (4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3), Rossolimo Variation (with 7.Bd2), and Max Lange Attack and Gambit (beginning 4.d4!?).  All are lots of fun to play for amateurs and well supported by online sources.  Some of these lines are regarded as "suspect" by GM theory, but all have been used with success by GMs, while amateurs will find them simply deadly against their level of competition.  Those interested in exploring the world of the Giuoco Piano or Italian Game in greater depth might pick up Jan Pinski's Italian Game and Evans Gambit (Everyman 2005) or Jude Acers and George Laven's The Italian Gambit System (Trafford 2003)--the latter of which has a surprising amount of good opening advice to offer amateur players.  I also have Reinhold Ripperger's ChessBase CD on The Giuoco Piano, which has some annotated games and exercises but is probably not worth the investment.  As usual, the web offers everything most amateur players will need to get started: 
  • Beginner's Repertoire at
    The link presents a game collection from with great classic games showing you how to crush people with the Moeller and other Giuoco lines.  It's essentially a complete repertoire in games -- just click your way through them and you get the basic theoretical ideas and tactics.
  • "Don't Shoot the Piano Player!" by Leviathan at
    Another great games collection that serves as an excellent introduction to Giuoco Piano themes and ideas.
  • Exeter Chess Club's The Italian Game for Beginners by Dr. Dave (e-book in PDF)
    Tricks, traps and tactical ideas in the Italian lines, including the Evans, Moeller Attack, and others.  This little e-book makes a great beginner's introduction to Giuoco Piano themes.
  • Swansong of the Giuoco Piano, Part 1 (Kibitzer #64 at ChessCafe) by Tim Harding
  • The Giuoco Piano, Part 2: The Case for the Defence (Kibitzer #65 at ChessCafe) by Tim Harding
  • The Giuoco Piano on Trial, Part 3: The Summing Up (Kibitzer #69 at ChessCafe) by Tim Harding
  • The Giuoco Piano on Trial: White Wins the Case (Kibitzer #70 at ChessCafe) by Tim Harding
  • The Giuoco Piano Revisited (Kibitzer #118 at ChessCafe) by Tim Harding
    This five part series of articles on the Giuoco Piano lines with c3 and d4 for White -- mostly focused on the Moeller Attack and Rossolimo's Bd2 line with only some discussion of others -- gives a great overview to the Giuoco Piano theory and is remarkably pro-White in the final analysis.  In the last article, Harding returns to the Giuoco by way of reviewing Pinski's book, focusing on the critical lines vs the Moeller Attack and the Rossolimo Variation.

1A. The Giuoco Piano, Steinitz-Sveshnikov Attack, a.k.a. "Anderssen Attack" (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.e5!?)
The advance with 6.e5!? secures a space advantage for White and creates opportunities for controlling the dark squares and attacking on the kingside.  First played by Adolf Anderssen, the line was adopted by Wilhelm Steinitz in a few World Championship match games with Lasker (though he later rejected the line in favor of the Moeller Attack), and much later revived with success by the great theoretician Evgeny Sveshnikov.  There really is not much good "book" material on this line, though Pinski or Acers & Laven offer coverage.  Currently I am analyzing Ni Hua's games based on his notes in Mihail Marin's excellent book on the Reggio Emilia tournament.  I think this line is typically underestimated by theory and can be deadly at amateur level.  It also does not risk as much as the gambit lines and is more fun than the Rossolimo.
1B. The Giuoco Piano, Moeller Attack (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3)
This is a risky line and Black probably keeps a pawn with best play, but you are not going to find too many opponents below 2000 ELO who can prove that over the board.  Besides, these lines are a lot of fun and Black has lots of ways to go wrong.  If an amateur player asked my advice on learning the Moeller Attack, I think I would recommend hunting down a copy of Andy Soltis's fun little book Winning with the Giuoco Piano and the Max Lange Attack (Chess Digest 1996), which presents the material wonderfully for non-experts (though John Nunn questions some of the analysis in his Secrets of Practical Chess).  Due to its historical significance and continuing interest among beginners, there is plenty of material online, especially Tim Harding's articles (cited above) and the following links:

1C. Giuoco Piano, Rossolimo Variation (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Bd2)
The idea of playing the safe 7.Bd2 was revived by U.S. players Nicolas Rossolimo and Edmar Mednis and recently advocated by Roman Dzindzichashvili in some videos and in Chess Openings for White, Explained.  The game Rossolimo-Reissmann, Puerto Rico 1967, is rather inspiring.  Though the resulting trade of Bishops generally eases Black's task, the line still leads to wide open positions with plenty of piece play and chances for both sides.  White accepts an isolated pawn, but this gives him control over the center, especially the c5 and e5 squares.  You will see that theory finds two methods of achieving equality for Black, but that is never the end of the story in amateur games. 

1D. Max Lange Gambit and Attack (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d4)
There has been a revived interest in the Max Lange Attack and Max Lange Gambit, due mainly to some excellent analysis published by Lev Gutman and Stefan Bücker in the German chess journal Kaissiber (volumes 22-25 especially).  Most of Gutman and Bücker's analysis is neatly summarized by John Emms in the recent Dangerous Weapons: 1.e4 e5 (Everyman 2008), which I have reviewed in these pages and think is excellent. You can also find lots of material online, including by yours truly:

2. Rousseau Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 f5!?)
This counter-gambit is much trickier than you would expect and must be met vigorously by 4.d4!  See the second part of the McGrew analysis for details.
  • Giuoco Fortissimo: The Rousseau Gambit, Part One by Tim McGrew
  • Giuoco Fortissimo: The Rousseau Gambit, Part Two by Tim McGrew
  • Gambits in Many Dimensions (The Gambit Cartel #13 at ChessCafe) by Tim McGrew
    Despite playing the Black side of this complex line, McGrew offers some excellent and objective analysis demonstrating White's advantage after 4.d4! -- returning to the subject later to add analysis and some philosophical reflections on the value of even "unsound" gambits that create many opportunities for opponents to go wrong.  You actually will not find anything as detailed or useful in the "books" that mention this line.
3. Blackburne Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4?!)
Black's idea resembles the Bird Defense to the Ruy Lopez, except that White's Bishop is much better placed on c4 than on b5 once the Knight goes to d4.  White should probably play 4.Nxd4! exd4 (White is up two tempi on the Bird) 5.c3! with a clear advantage.  The quiet alternative 4.c3!? Nxf3+ 5.Qxf3 Qf6 yields White little.  You may be amused, as I was, by the idea of "falling for" the trap after4.Nxe5?!? Qg5 5.Bxf7+ Ke7 6.O-O! and Tim McGrew does the best job of demonstrating White's chances for attack.

    • Blackburne Gambit -- 3...Nd4?! by Adam Bozon
      Best for beginners to know what to do against this, since they will see it sometimes
    • Two Wild Black Systems by Jeremy Silman
      The second part of this article covers 3...Nd4 very well from the White perspective..
    • A Shilling in the Mailbag (The Gambit Cartel #26 at ChessCafe) by Tim McGrew
      Analyzes the response 4.Nxe5(?) Qg5 5.Bxf7+ Ke7 6.O-O! and 5.O-O!? as providing White plenty of interesting play for his piece -- a surprising and fun way to turn the tables on the gambiteer.
    • Reader's Showcase (The Gambit Cartel #25 at ChessCafe) by Tim McGrew
      Maybe the only article I've ever seen to take 3...Nd4 seriously.
    Two Knights, Duffer's Attack Overview (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5)
    Seigbert Tarrasch may have called it a "Duffer's Move," but 4.Ng5 clearly forces Black to surrender a pawn or suffer a dangerous attack.  In "Duffer's Delight," a writer at the Streatham & Brixton Chess Blog describes some of the reasons why 4.Ng5 is being seen more frequently in GM practice, as computers have helped analysts recognize that even odd-looking ways of winning or holding an extra pawn are difficult to meet.

    4.Two Knights, Duffer's Attack, Traxler Counter-Gambit (4.Ng5 Bc5!?)
    This may well be the toughest thing Black has against the Duffer's Attack with 4.Ng5, but I feel safe with the unusual 5.d4!? This is the rarest line for White, the easiest to study, and offers some safe bail-out options (like 5.d4 d5! 6.dxc4 dxc5 7.Qxd8+ etc).  Pinski does not think much of it, but other authors think it may be best.   If you disagree, check out the webliography for more links -- including the complete set of articles by Maarten de Zeeuw from New in Chess Yearbook available online for download.
    5. Two Knights, Duffer's Attack, Amazing Counter Attack (4.Ng5 Nxe4?!)
    Tim Harding explored this wild line (based on the idea that 5.Nxe4?! d5 is good for Black), returning to the subject later with the best ideas for White.  Best to be prepared so you are not amazed.
    6. Two Knights, Lolli Attack or Fried Liver (4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.d4! or 6.Nxf7!?)
    This is actually a bit of a disputed territory of late, thanks to the use of computers.  And some players (most notably Dan Heisman) have made a very deep study of these lines, concluding that Black might be able to hold or reach an unclear position.  However, at the amateur level, you can be pretty certain that if your opponent plays into this line he has done so unwittingly and is going to be defeated swiftly.  The Lolli Attack (with 6.d4!) seems like the way to get the most out of the position compared to the traditional Fried Liver continuation (with 6.Nxf7!?), but both are very effective at the amateur level.  Hat tip to The Bishops Bounty for pointing me to some sources.

    7. Two Knights, Duffer's Attack, Gunsberg Variation (4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5 6.Bb5+ c6 7.dxc6 bxc6 8.Bd3!?)
    Daniel Stellwagen's article in SOS #9 on the surprising 8.Bd3!? (securing e4 for the Knight's retreat, as in Stellwagen - de Jong) seems to have inspired a number of GM games, including Nakamura-Friedel, Short - Sokolov, and Conquest-Howell. Nakamura's use of the line to win the 2009 US Championship certainly gave it excellent publicity.  White gets a very dynamic and complex game with an extra pawn and solid position.  The pressure is on Black to show what he has got.

    8. Two Knights, Duffer's Attack, Fritz-Ulvestad (4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nd4 or 5...b5)
    This is another tricky territory for White, but some recent games suggest that White looks good after 5....b5 6.Bf1 Nd4 7.c3 Nxd5 8.cxd4 in the Fritz-Ulvestad.  I am looking for more analysis to support this section. 

    9.Hungarian and Closed Defenses (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4)
    Besides the traditional Giuoco Piano with 3...Bc5 and the Two Knights Defense with 3...Nf6, Black can also play several moves leading to a more closed position with 3...Be7 (the Hungarian Defense), 3...Qe7 (Euwe's traditional Closed line), 3...d6 (Mihail Marin's recent favorite) or 3...g6 (my own preference as Black).  Jan Pinski's book on the Italian Game and Evans Gambit (Everyman 2005) probably offers the most objective coverage of these lines.  None of these lines is something White needs to fear.  The simplest general policy is to play as you would against the closed Philidor with c3, d4, h3, and a4, restraining Black and holding onto more space.  I would say that you will rarely encounter these lines at the amateur level.

    10. Philidor's Defense (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4)
    Since my bibliography, Christian Seel's The Philidor: A Secret Weapon and a new edition of Van Rekom & Jansen's The Black Lion have come out to supplement Christian Bauer's book (which I now see has plenty of flaws).  But the bibliography is still useful and offers the best "refutation" of Jim West's favorite Philidor Counter-Gambit with 3...f5: 4.exf5! as seen in Dvoirys - West, New York 2000.

    11. Petroff (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4!)
    I think the best way to achieve an unbalanced position against the Petroff is by 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 which also has the advantage of getting many amateur Petroff players out of their comfort zone.  If you are serious about finding an antidote to the Petroff, you might consider tracking down The Petroff Defence by GM Artur Yusupov (Olms 1999) which may still be the best reference on the 3.d4 lines I recommend.

    12. Latvian (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5!? 3.Nxe5! Qf6 4.Nc4!?)
    If you are somebody who likes to have a book to study an opening, you might consider picking up Tony Kosten's The Latvian Gambit Lives! (Batsford 2001), but online analysis has gone much further than Kosten.  Though there is an intimidating amount of analysis on the line, I recommend the Leonhardt Variation, which I first encountered looking at the game Trifunovic - Apsenieks, Stockholm 1937.  The line is recommended by a number of books, including Chess Openings for White, Explained.
    13. Elephant Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5!? 3.exd5!)
    The best analysis of this tricky line is probably on the web, especially now that you can download an excellent chapter from Watson and Schiller's Survive & Beat Annoying Chess Openings.  I have never encountered this opening in a game, but it pays to be prepared.
    14. The Damiano (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f6?)
    Does this really need commentary?  Well, with Sam Sloan on the loose playing this move against unsuspecting youngsters, it at least deserves mention.
    • Chess (Washington Post, May 25, 2009) by Lubomir Kavalek
      Perhaps the most useful and extensive GM commentary on 2...f6? ever recorded.
    • Life on the Edge (Gambit Cartel #12 at ChessCafe, August 2003) by Tim McGrew
      Returns to the Damiano and discusses some other problematic gambit ideas.
    • Tactics of Mistake (Gambit Cartel #11 at ChessCafe, July 2003) by Tim McGrew
      Considers the Black side of Damiano's 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f6!?? with the idea of either challenging White to prove he knows the refutation or meeting 3.Nxe5 with 3...Qe7.
    I hope you have enjoyed this repertoire and the number of excellent online resources that support it.  There are many other resources out there, but not everyone has access to them.  I have most enjoyed Boris Alterman's videos at ICC/Chess FM and look forward to his forthcoming Alterman Gambit Guide from Quality Press devoted to White Gambits.  And I wish Chess Commander would stop ripping off my stuff.

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    Blogger Farbror the Guru said...

    Great Stuff! Thank you for sharing!

    Fri Feb 26, 07:04:00 PM EST  
    Anonymous Tom said...

    Yes I'm also curious about Boris Alterman.

    Anyway, thanks again for some great material. I had a look at your Urusov site this week and decided to play it friday in my clubchampionship. An 11-move win was my reward and I even unknowingly played an improvement you suggested.

    Sun Feb 28, 02:47:00 AM EST  
    Blogger Michael Goeller said...

    Thanks -- would love to see your Urusov game! That is one of the openings that Alterman discusses. The big downside to the opening, though, is that you have to play the Two Knights with d4 (1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nf3 Nc6!), facing equalizing lines like the Anti-Max Lange (5.O-O Nxe4!) or the fascinating Lvov (5.e5 Ng4!) That's why I have switched to 2.Nf3 headed for the Giuoco Piano: you can meet the Two Knights with the annoying Duffer's Attack....

    Sun Feb 28, 09:15:00 AM EST  
    Anonymous Tom said...

    1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nf3 Bb4+ 5. c3 dxc3 6. bxc3 Bc5 7. e5 Qe7 8.
    O-O (your suggestion, looked natural and good) Ng4 9. h3 Nxe5 10. Nxe5 Qf6 11. Nxf7 d6 12. Bg5 1-0

    The move issue order is & valid point and neither Two knights transposition looks interesting.

    The Two Knights Defence by GMs Alexander Beliavsky & Mikhalchishin is also an interesting book. They also seem a bit more objective then Pinski, ho can sometime a bit subjective.

    Sun Feb 28, 04:27:00 PM EST  
    Blogger Michael Goeller said...

    Good game. I agree: Beliavsky and Mikhalchishin's Two Knights book is better than I thought initially. There are some gaps in it and it therefore seems a bit rushed to press. But I was impressed that they cover Gunsberg's 8.Bd3!? line favorably. They are also more objective. But neither book is especially deep.

    Most players below 2000 can probably do fine with the Two Knights with d4 that you get from the Urusov via 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nf3 Nc6! -- but I had a number of games where I just felt it was equal at best, and my own analysis of the 5.e5 Ng4! lines suggests that Black is very good here. Hence this move order, which allows a Duffer's Attack instead. That seems objectively better.

    If you persist with the Urusov, though, you might still consider transposing to the Giuoco Piano lines via 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Bc5 3.Nf3 or 2...Nc6 3.Nf3, which I found I got with increasing frequency (due perhaps to Mihail Marin's influence).

    Sun Feb 28, 05:08:00 PM EST  
    Anonymous Tom said...

    I'm still not out of the woods what I want to play as white (black is more definitive although also not 100% settled).

    I just wanted something sharp against that player without too much theoretical knowledge. It worked like a charm.

    I always have played the two knights as black but on a fundemental level I always found the compensation for the pawn a bit lacking. Perhaps time to defect to the dark side.

    Mon Mar 01, 03:24:00 AM EST  

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