Tricky Repertoire against the Italian
We are happy to present another fascinating opening project by GM Mihail Marin - Tricky Repertoire against the Italian.
In this survey, GM Marins suggests a repertoire based on the rare 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 d6!?
The database consists of 7 Theoretical chapters, 14 Interactive test positions, a Memory Booster, and a Video Version (1h and 40min).
Below, you shall see how the author presents the database himself.
Preview by GM Mihail Marin
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 The Italian game is a very popular alternative to the classical Spanish Game (or Ruy Lopez). The theory has developed massively over the past years, but there is room for new trends still. One of them is 3...d6!?
This apparently modest move is a flexible way of meeting the Italian Game (or Giuoco Piano).
Optically, it looks like a solid but slightly passive move, aiming for Philidor or Pirc structures after d2-d4, ...exd4. This is the way Steinitz used to treat several open games. Much later, Geller played a similar setup against the Four Knights Defence.
I will not hide that I have also played a few games according to the philosophy described above, but my intention when analysing the repertoire suggested in this database was different.
Black's last move is solid, indeed, because it consolidates e5 in anticipation of d2-d4. It does not need to be passive, though! Black is ready to adapt his reaction according to White's choice on the next move. As a rule, he would play a move contributing to the fight for the centre and not give it up with ...exd4. Curiously, against White's main continuations, Black reacts differently each time!
Before moving on, just a few words about the two main lines in the Italian Game, explaining why players started looking for alternatives for Black.
3...Nf6 is an ambitious move, having a couple of drawbacks with respect to the repertoire suggested here. First of all, Black has to know what to do after 4.Ng5, forcing him to sacrifice a pawn. The practice has shown that Black gets enough compensation, but the theory has developed abruptly over the past years and one needs to analyze and remember relatively long lines.
The main source of concern after 3...Nf6, however, is the position arising after 4.d3 Be7 5.0-0 0-0 6.Re1 d6 7.a4
As mentioned later, this is an important tabyia. White has ome chances to retain some light pressure, but Black is in no danger, of course. Once again, the problem is that theory is very well developed. Our repertoire offers a shortcut to this system in Chapter 8.
The line with 3...Bc5 can be met in many ways, including a quick c2-c3 followed by d2-d4 and the Evans Gambit. However, the main psychological problem may arise in the Giuoco Pianissimo: 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3
The structure is almost symmetrical, but White's play might be just a bit more flexible. The knight on c6 stands a bit in the way of the c-pawn and the b1-knight has slightly better manoeuvring possibilities. Plus there is a lot of theory here, too.
3...Be7 is not a good move order, since after 4.d4 White retains an edge (more about it later).
Let's get back to the main starting position of our repertoire.
At this point, 4.0-0 appears to be the most flexible and promising move. Displaying early ambitions in the centre would play into Black's hands, allowing him to prove the merits of his third move.
In the event of 4.d4, Black can take advantage of the fact that e5 is defended to play the developing and counter-attacking 4...Nf6! This line has been covered in the first three chapters.
The move 4.c3 is adequately answered with the slightly exotic, but entirely viable 4...f5! as in Chapter 4. The position arising after 5.exf5 Bxf5 is examined in Chapter 5.
After the main move 4.0-0, Black should play 4...Be7.
Since he needs to count with Ng5, Black needs to choose this developing move order. In Chapter 6, I have examined a few minor continuations. In this position the move 5.a4 is the most challenging continuation, examined in Chapter 8. White offers a transposition to the main line after 3...Nf6, but Black can avoid it. Having delayed ...Nf6, he can use the extra tempo to question the stability of the white bishop on c4 by means of 5...Be6.
The move 5.d4 is examined in Chapter 7. Once again, this is a bit premature, for similar reasons as before. Black should play 5...Nf6. We will see that there are some concrete differences with respect to Chapter 1, especially in the case White plays dxe5. All these subtleties offer us an image of the flexibility and universality of this system.
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