The Italian Game then branches off into many different variations after move three.
Black has two main choices at move three which will limit how white could respond:
3. …Bc5(The Giucco Piano):
This leads to the Giuoco Piano, and many other variations that spring from the Guico Piano. Here, black counterattacks by placing their bishop on c5 where it attacks white’s weak f7 square.
a. Giuoco Piano: 3. …Bc5 b. Evan’s Gambit: 3. …Bc5 4. b4 c. The Deutz Gambit: 3. …Bc5 4. 0-0 Nf6 5. d4
This leads to the Two Knights Defense, which White can exploit in many agressive variations such as the Fried Liver Attack. The Fried Liver Attack is a brilliant attacking variation, so you must study this chess opening for some easy wins.
In the Two Knights Defense variation, white can easily get some wins by playing 4. Ng5! White is able to do this because black can castle to safety, and because black’s knight on f6 interferes with the black queen’s defense of the g5 square.
a. Modern Bishop’s Opening: 3. …Nf6 4. d3 b. The Knights Attack: 3. …Nf6 4.Ng5! c. Traxler Counterattack: 3. …Nf6 4. Ng5! Bc5 d. Fried Liver Attack: 3. …Nf6 4. Ng5! d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6. Nxf7
One Poor Sideline for Black: 3. …Be7
There is also another move that black can make on the third move – that is 3. …Be7 (the Hungarian Defense). Even if it’s not such a good variation for black, they might still make this move so you need study this chess opening too.
Black makes this move in order to get out of the main Italian Game theory as above, however this move lets White maintain a healthy advantage. Therefore, it is just a mere sideline in the Italian Game, but you might meet it sometime in your chess career. Therefore, it’s important that you know how to punish it and win an easy game.
a. Hungarian Defense: 3. …Be7
This post was mainly an overview of the different variations and lines in the Italian Game – the best white opening to improve your chess.
The French Defense – Learn a Top 3 Chess Opening for Black
The French Defense is a Semi-Open or Single-King Pawn Game (1. e4 other) which is usually in the top three of the most popular chess openings for black. The other two most popular chess openings for black would be the Sicilian Defense and the Caro-Kann.
Here in this post, FlyIntoBooks.com will go through the general theory and main variations of the French Defense with other posts linked below delving into each variation in greater detail.
Please click the links below in order to look in more detail at each variation of the French Defense. Or you can continue to read to look at the general overview of the French Defense.
French Defense: 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5
3. Nc3 (Paulson Variation C10) a. Winawer: 3. …Bb4 (C15) b. Classical: 3. …Nf6 (C11) b1: Burn Variation: 4. Bg5 (C11) b2: Steinitz Variation: 4. e5 (C11) c. Rubinstein Variation: 3. …dxe4 (c10) d. Continuing Paulson Variation: 3. …Nc6 (C10)
3. Nd2 (Tarrasch Variation C03) a. Closed Variation: 3. …Nf6 (C05) b. Open System: 3. …c5 (C07) c. Continuing Tarrasch: 3. …dxe4 (c03)
3. e5 (Advance Variation C02)
3. exd5 (Exchange Variation C01)
So, please continue on to look at the general ideas of the French Defense Chess Openings for black.
The French Defense Chess Opening:
The French Defense Chess Opening starts with the following moves:
1. e4 e6
White still has a choice to transpose into the King’s Indian attack with 2. d3 but most of the time (about 90% of games) follows with the next two moves:
2. d4 d5
Here is where the French Defense Opening branches into many different variations. White can follow through with four different moves which attempt to defend the white pawn on e4.
White can play: 3. Nc3 (Paulson Variation) 3. Nd2 (Tarrasch Variation) 3. e5 (Advance Variation) 3. exd5(Exchange Variation)
Each of the above moves for white leads into different kinds of games and ideas for both players.
Let’s look at them in turn below.
3. Nc3 (The Paulson Variation):
This is the Paulson Variation of the French Defense Chess Opening. Now, the knight on Nc3 defends white’s pawn on e4 (which was being attacked by black’s d5 pawn push on the last move).
However, this variation blocks white’s c3 pawn push to defend the d4 pawn which will be attacked with Black’s c4 pawn break. Therefore, some consider the Tarrasch Variation (3. Nd2) to be a better variation for white to attack’s black’s French Defense structure.
Here in the Paulson Variation, black can continue in four different ways:
3. …Bb4 (The Winawer Variation):
Black responds to white’s 3.Nc3 with Bb4. Black overdefends the d5 pawn which was being attacked twice by pinning black’s knight.
3. …Nf6 (The Classical Variation)
Black responds to white’s 3. Nc3 with Nf6. Black overdefends the d5 pawn which was being attacked twice by developing their kingside knight to f6. However after white plays e5 to dislodge the knight on f6, black will have to move this knight to d7.
White can then respond to the Classical Variation in two main ways:
4. Bg5 (The Burn Variation) 4. e5 (The Steinitz Variation)
In response to 3. …Nf6, white can develop their bishop to g5 and pin black’s knight to their queen (as in the Burn Variation).
Or white can play 4. e5 and force the black knight on f6 to move (normally to d7).
3. …dxe4 (The Rubinstein Variation)
Black responds to white’s 3. Nc3 with dxe4. Here black resolves the central tension by taking on e4 with their d pawn. White will most likely take this pawn next with 4. Nxe4.
3. …Nc6 (Continuing the Paulson Variation)
Black responds to white’s 3. Nc3 with Nc6 which continues the Paulson variation.
3. Nd2 (The Tarrasch Variation):
Instead of 3. Nc3, white has another square where they can develop their knight and defend their pawn on e4 (which was being attacked by black’s d5 pawn push on the last move). So, instead of 3. Nc3, white develops their knight to Nd2. This is the Tarrasch Variation – one of the best variations in the French Defense for white.
The benefit to white of developing their knight to d2 means that they can still play c2-c3 in order to protect their d4 pawn (if black plays their main c7-c5 pawn break).
Here in the Tarrasch Variation, black can continue in three different ways:
3. …Nf6 (Closed Variation of the Tarrasch):
Black responds to white’s 3.Nd2 with Nf6. Black develops his knight and attacks the e4 pawn once more.
In the closed variation of the Tarrasch, white will probably play 4. e5 in order to push the knight off the f6 square.
3. …c5 (Open System of the Tarrasch):
Black responds to white’s 3.Nd2 with c5. Black immediately strikes at white’s center with his c7-c5 pawn break.
3. … dxe4 (Continuing the Tarrasch Variation):
Black responds to white’s 3.Nd2 with dxe4. Black resolves the central tension by taking on e4. White will probably retake e4 with the knight on d2.
3. e5 (Advance Variation)
Instead of developing their knight, white can also play 3. e5 and advance the e pawn in order to protect it and gain space on the king-side immediately.
The benefit of the advance variation is that black can’t develop their knight to the f6 square. White also begins to squeeze black’s kingside and gets ready for f4 and begin a kingside attack.
3. exd5 (Exchange Variation)
Finally, white can also take on d5 with their e pawn. Black than retakes with 3. …exd5. This creates a symmetrical positon which is quite draw-ish, however there are still chances for black to have a fighting chess game.
This post was mainly an overview of the different variations and lines in the French Defense – a top 3 in chess openings for black.
In this post we will look at the Giuoco Piano variation of the Italian Game in more detail. The other variations of the Italian Game we will deal in other posts. You can click here in order to look at the post about the variations of the Italian Game.
Actually, white doesn’t have to enter the main theory for the Giuoco Piano yet. They can still enter other variations in the Italian Game, like the Deutz Gambit or Evan’s Gambit.
A Couple of Choices for White to Make:
Here are the main ideas in the Giuoco Piano. Of course because, the opening begins with the moves above the theory will start to expand out and get a little more complicated. However, I’ll be sure to explain the main variations and ideas to you in simple terms.
4. c3 (main line)
Black has three ways to repond to this: 4. …Nf6 (main Line) 4. …d6 (sideline 1) 4. …Qe7 (sideline 2)
The two sidelines often transpose into the main line, and aren’t as good as the main line for black, so we will concentrated on the maineline.
The Giuoco Pianissimo is the classical version of the Italian Game, and has been played for hundreds of years. It is the best option out of the three choices for white on move five. The Giuoco Pianissimo is a very quiet positional game but with some strong tactics if the players don’t know the theory properly.
The Giuoco Pianissimo position above can also be achieved by transposition. For example the following moves all lead to the Giuoco Pianissimo position above:
Here is where we look at the possibilities of pinning the white knight by black. If white merely plays 9. Re1 then black would pin the knight to the queen by playing Bg4:
9. Re1 Bg4 10. h3 Bh5 11. Nf1 Ne7 12. Ng3 (which would dislodge Bishop) Bg6 (now Black’s bishop is misplaced and has taken away a square from black’s knight)…
So we can see that Black wouldn’t be winning anyway if they pinned the knight after 9. Re1 by white.
In any case, White wants to play 9. h3 so that black can’t pin their knight to the white queen:
9. h3 h6 10. Re1 Be6 11. Nf1 Re8 12. Ng3 (don’t exchange the bishop or other pieces. Keep them on and get an attacking edge).
You need to caculate whether you can play d4 or whether black can play d5 on every move. You also need to get a position where Nf5 works.
12. …d5 13. Qe2 12. …Bxb3 13. Qxb3 Qd7 14. Nf3
9. h3 h6 10. Re1 Nh5 (a fast Knight maneuvure) 11. Nf1 Qf6 12. Be3 Nf4 13. Ng5
5. d4 (Center Attack)
The center attack seems like it is more aggressive than 5. d3 (Giuoco Pianissimo) but if both players plays the best moves, it will lead to an even position.
After white plays 5. d4 (center attack), then the game should follow in the following manner:
5. …exd4 6. cxd4 Bb4+ 7. Bd2
Here, black has two responses. The first is taking e4 with the knight, which will lead to an equal position. The second is taking white’s bishop on d2 with black’s bishop, which will lead a very very slight advantage to white.
Black can respond:
a) 7. …Nxe4 (kills game to a draw) 8. Bxb4 Nxb4 9. Bf7+ Kxf7 10. Qb3+ Kf8 11. Qb4+ Qe7 12. Qxe7+ Kxe7 (equal position).
Or black can respond:
b) 7. …Bxd2 8. Nbxd2 d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Qb3 Na5 11. Qa4+ Nc6 (often repeats) 12. Qb3 Na5 13. Qa4+ Nc6 This can keep repeating until black plays the following sequence: 14. Qb3 Nce7 (this position is okay for white but nothing special)
5. b4 (Bird’s Attack)
This often leads to a better position for black, so it isn’t wise for white to play into this variation.
Black has two moves in response: 5. …Bb6 (Main line) or 5. …Be7 (side line)
Let’s look at the continution of each:
a) Main Line: 5. …Bb6 6. d3 d6 7. a4 a5 8. b5 Ne7 9. 0-0 0-0 10. Nd2 Ng6
b) Sideline: 5. …Be7 6. d3 0-0 7. 0-0 d5 8. exd5 Nxd5 9. b5 Na5 10. Bxd5 Qxd5 11. c4 Qd8 12. Bd2 b6 13. Nxe5 Bf6 14. Bxa5 bxa5 (white’s center is loose and this position is difficult to play for white)
How You Can Study Chess Openings & Get Instant Results
Most chess opening books go through complicated variations in an opening and force you memorise confusing lines. At publication of the book, these variations are already refuted and don’t improve your chess game at all. You need to study chess openings and get instant results!
To really learn a chess opening you need to link openings to pawn structures and develop a variety of plans around a specific variation based on that specific pawn structure.
The Italian Game and the Spanish Game leads to a variety of different pawn structures, so that you are exposed to a variety of pawn structures and thus middle-game ideas.
In order to establish plans for each chess opening, you need to learn the first few moves until the opening branches out into the different variations.
You need to look at 10 – 20 GM or master games in that specific variation in order to see what kind of plans they attempted to do in the middle-game based on the strategic assets they had (e.g. bishop pair, pawn structures like isolated pawns, double pawns, queen-side majority, etc.). Learning through GM games is the best way to study chess openings!
In order to fully see the plan they attempted to achieve, you should search for GM games where the GM played an opponent a few hundred ELO points below them. This will allow you to really see what the GM was trying to do. Because if you look at games between two very strong GMs the plans they had will not show through the games very clearly. You need to find games where a strong player plays against a weak player.
To further complicated things, it would be great if you find games which where extensively annotated verbally so that you can build your own understanding of the plans. If there is just the game, it will be difficult for someone learning to understand the concepts and ideas behind the games by themselves.
But clearly annotated games are difficult to find – especially those that help to build learner’s understanding of the middle game. In order to help you in your quest to study chess openings and get instant results, here’s an opening reportiate for the Italian Game and the most important variations.
Welcome to a new series in FlyIntoBooks.com‘s repertoire of exciting new ideas – How Chess is Played and Won by the best GMs in the world! In this new series, we are going to layout the foundation for you to study and learn how to play chess in a way that will drastically improve your chess game!
After learning the basic chess moves, and learning a few chess tactics for beginners, the next thing you need to do is actually play and win some chess games!
But after trying out a few chess tactics and chess openings on your friends, you go out into the online world of chess only to get beaten again and again!
For you see that after getting past and winning against the newbies in chess, you get into the real world of chess. Here is where everyone knows your tricks of knight forks and the latest post-modern chess openings. Now, is where you really need go down the path of learning how chess is played by looking at what the great GMs of chess do – and here at FlyIntoBooks we have you covered!
Checkout the Best Chess Youtube Channels to see How Chess is Played:
There are some very good youtube channels out there that show you how chess is played, and also how to win in chess! I’ve been looking at a few of them for the past six months, and here is my list of chess of youtubers you ought to know!
This is probably the most useful youtube channel I have come across for learning and improving at chess! There are lots of videos about openings, middle game ideas, and now training games. Check it out!
This youtube channel also helped me a tonne in improving in chess. In particular, there are a few series he has that are very useful for beginners/intermediates in chess: a) Inside My Mind b) The Amateur’s Mind c) Know Thy Classics
John is also an IM and he has a lot of useful videos where he plays games and explains what he is doing each move and why (similar to IM Andras’ Inside My Mind series). His best series is probably called: Climbing the Rating Ladder, because it explains what each of people at different levels are doing wrong/right and how to improve your game.
This chess club has a tonne of lecture series that teach you how chess is played. It goes from beginner to intermediate to advanced level discussions. Some of the lectures gets a bit long and therefore a bit boring, but if you hit on a lecture which you just need then it’s okay haha.
There are a tonne of others I’ve watched too! Too many to keep count. But the three above I think are the best for improving your game, and learning how chess is played.
And there’s probably more I’m missing…. Leave me a comment if I missed something!
How to Understand and Play Chess Openings:
You need to understand how openings work, and not memorise the moves. There are too many variations and different moves that your opponent can do (that aren’t even part of the opening), so it’s good if you go through the opening in order to understand the ideas behind the moves instead. It’s also good to go through the main openings in order to understand that they exist.
After that, you need to look at the main ideas that each player wants to do in the openings too. This relates to strategy somewhat (e.g. pawn breaks, isolated pawn, etc.), so you need to learn about strategy too in order to learn how chess is played.
At the moment because of my level, I only want to try to remember only four moves deep for each opening – it gets too confusing if I go any deeper. However, there are a few openings I like to play. So for those ones I like to do deeper analysis if I lose a few games the same way, or I get into trouble during the opening in my game.
Here is the main openings and some videos for you to understand the main ideas and principles behind each:
Other openings for white will be dealt with on their own page. Click the links below to delve in more detail and learn how chess is played by the pros:
2. The Ruy-Lopez
3. The London System
4. Four Knights
5. The English Opening
6. Queen’s Gambit
7. The King’s Gambit
8. Reti Opening
9. King’s Indian Attack
B. The Main Black Openings:
The main openings for black are listed below. You can see that they are called defense because they attempt to equalise with white or create some kind of imbalance that can be used to the player’s advantage.
1. The French Defense:
Moves: 1. e4, e6 2. d4, d5 As soon as black plays e6 it becomes the French Defesne. On turn two, most games follow in the fashion above: d4, d5 (over 90 percent of games). There are a few other possibilities that people can play, but they will probably be not as good as this main line.
Like the white openings, the other black opening will be described in detail on their own page. Please click on the links below to go to each page and see how GMs play chess and win with black.
2. The Scilian Defense:
3. The Scandinanian Defense:
4. The Caro-Kann:
5. The Pirc Defense:
6. The Slav Defense:
7. Indian Defenses:
7a: King’s Indian Defense:
7b: Nimzo-Indian Defense:
7c: Queen’s Indian Defense:
7d: Grunfield Defense:
Learn How Chess is Played in The Endgame
Once you started playing chess, you probably searched for endgames online and came up with the “overkill” mates – the mates where it’s pretty much impossible to lose. You only need to learn about two techniques: the staircase and the box, and you’re good to go!
Here are the basic “overkill” checkmates:
King, Queen and Rook against a King
King and Two Rooks against a King
King and Queen against a King
King and Rook against a King
There are some other basic endgames that are a little more difficult than the “overkill” checkmates, but you should still able to win easily. There are no tricks here – you can study the pattern a little bit and just keep winning.
Here are the other basic endgames:
King and Two Bishops (of opposite colours) against a King
King, Bishop and Knight against a King
King and Queen against King and Bishop
King and Queen against King and Knight
There are also some endgames you need to know where it is impossible to win. These are the endgames you want to avoid because the game will end in a draw. No matter how hard you try there is no way to win.
Here are the drawn endgames:
King and two Knights against a King
King and Bishop against a King
King and Knight against a King
But all the above is just for beginners. Once you start moving up the rating ladder, you really need to study more advanced endgames. Most experienced chess players already know the endgames above and won’t fall for your simple tricks. Here is where we start our real endgame study.
Two Great Books to Learn How Chess is Played in the Endgame:
There are two really great books for endgame study.
The first is Silman’s Complete Endgame Course: from Beginning to Master.This book is good because it shows you the real endgames you need to know depending on your level. The first few chapters deals with endgames described above (e.g. overkill mates) but as you get into the later chapter that are for higher rated players than he gets into more advanced endgames that will definitely improve your game!
Silman’s Complete Endgame Course deals with the following topics for endgames:
Part One Endgames for Beginners (Unrated – 999)
Part Two Endgames for Class “E” (1000-1199)
Part Three Endgames for Class “D” (1200-1399)
Part Four Endgames for Class “C” (1400-1599)
Part Five Endgames for Class “B” (1600-1799)
Part Six Endgames for Class “A” (1800-1999)
Part Seven Endgames for Experts (2000-2199)
Part Eight Endgames for Master (2200-2399)
Part Nine Endgames for Pure Pleasure
So the best part of Silman’s Endgame course is that you can gradually go through the book and practice the endgames that he suggest for each level as you go up in rating. There are pretty important endgames that you must learn in order to get all the points you deserve (e.g. Rook endgames, the Lucena Position, the Philidor Position, and Bishops of Opposite Colors). So it is well worth getting the book in order to improve your game!
The other Endgame book to learn how chess is played in the endgame is 100 Endgames You Must Know: Vital Lessons for Every Chess Player by Jesus De La Villa.
Instead of going through all the endgames you need to know by rating level or class, Jesus De La Villa instead choose only the best endgames you must know in order to improve your game.
Inside 100 Endgames You Must Know there are the following chapters:
Knight Vs Pawn
Queen Vs Pawn
Rook Vs Pawn
Rook Vs 2 Pawns
Rook + Pawn Vs Rook
Rook + Two Pawns Vs Rook
So, there would be some overlap with Silman’s Endgame course but Jesus De La Villa take a more principaled approach and deals with each endgame by type instead.
It’s important to work through these types of books, and play lots of games in order to work through the different types of endgames you might encounter. That way, you will be sure to deal with every kind of endgame and have lots of practice in order to keep winning and improving your game!
Learn How Chess is Played in the MiddleGame with Chess Tactics:
Everyone says that middle game tactics is the most important to study when you learn chess is played. However, after you learn the basic tactics like forks and pins, then every single player knows what you will do if they aren’t beginners.
The point of middle game tactics is tactical combinations inside the higher-level strategic structures that occur because of the openings that were played.
Often you can play a move that forks your opponents, but if he goes and checks or checkmates you on the next move then you will never be able to capture either of the pieces that you forked.
At the start of the game, everyone always pins their opponent’s knights to their queen or king. But then what? What do you do then?
Okay, so you know your basic level tactics, but you want to become stronger and learn how chess is played at the top levels. Then what do you do?
Are Openings More Important Than Tactics?
People say to practice tactics everyday with certain websites or certain apps, but really you need to know which tactics are available in which pawn structures – and this depends on what kind of openings you play.
First, you need to choose a few openings that are above for each colour and just gradually learn how to play them by doing what? Playing them!
You need to play those openings to see what happens when you do this move and that move. Then go back to the theory and see what other ideas there were. Gradually your memory of the openings you play are going to get better and better. You know what moves to play in that opening because that happens in your games.
Then you need to workout the high level strategies in those openings, which involve middle game ideas. For example, pawn breaks, isolated pawns, doubled pawns, how to create a past pawn, etc. These are the sort of ideas you need to focus on for tactics.
There might be some tactics that will surprise low level players, but the real good players can see them too.
Of course, there are still the bread and butter of the chess world. Therefore, you do need to do them everyday. But, they alone will not help you improve your chess. For that, you need to play lots of games in the different openings you want to specialise and learn the different middle game ideas that arise from those openings. For example, closed openings/semi-closed openings/open openings. That is for the best.
Anyways, if you want to practice the middle game tactics, then the following resources I have found are the best.
Practice your Middle Game Tactics with the Following:
Chess Coach Pro App on Android
I found I like this app because it goes through each kind of tactics in very simple and fundamental terms
Sometimes, the other ways to practice tactics are just so random and don’t let you consolidate your learning.
But this app is so simple and gradually increases in diffifulty (easy, medium, hard) so that you can gradually get used to the different ways the basic tactics are used. It’s great.
Chess King Learn App on Android
This app is also very great because it goes through the tactics in a simple way, but allows you to make mistakes and then think again in order to find the correct moves.
It also gradually gives you hints to why the move you took was wrong in order to help consolidate your learning and improve the ways you think about the tactical problems.
They also have tonnes of different app with the giant Chess King Family so that you can gradually improve your game in various other ways.
The apps I’m currently using in the Chess King Learn Family are a) Chess Tactics for Beginners, and b) Chess Endings for Beginners. Later on I want to grab the Chess Combinations Volumes because that’s where the real learning begins for Middle Game Tactics! It’s not the simple tactics we learn when we are a beginning, but instead how they are used together in order to achive a goal as part of a larger strategy to win the game.
ChessTempo.com – website
ChessTempo is a really great website, because all the tactics come real games played in the past.
However, these tactics are so much harder than the other simplet tactic trainers. It also is pretty punitive in case you make a simple mistake.
It would be a great tactics trainer, but it seems to go over my head at the head.
I want to start at the basic with the other two apps above and then come back later to chesstempo.com because I would get a lot more out of it.
Chesstempo.com is also pretty random in terms of what the solution is. There is no underlying principle to learn and just seems to be a bunch of random positions for you to practice, which I don’t use it much nowadays.
What Else is Needed to Learn How Chess is Played?
So, there is my massive spill on how chess is played and how to get better at the game. What do you think? Did I miss anything important? Did I get something wrong?
Well then, now it’s your turn! Let me know in the comments or the site’s contact me in order to let your voice be heard!
I will also make a lot more posts about chess in order to improve not only my own game but also our readers too!