giuoco piano


The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Affair Conclusion

I’m done with Season One and what a lovely season it was!

To recap here are all 29 episodes with descriptions and links to some more in-depth reviews. The best episodes (in my opinion) are bolded.

The Vulcan Affair: In which Napoleon’s hair is hella weird.
The Iowa-SCUBA Affair: The title makes no sense. The episode follows suit.
The Quadripartite Affair: where it becomes apparent that Illya is the worst flirt in the world. He compares himself to furniture. Because Ladies love furniture.
The Shark Affair: in which Illya gets beaten up by doors and Napoleon gets whipped, but in which no sharks were actually harmed.
The Deadly Games Affair: the plan is Zombie Hitler. The solution is kill it with fire.
The Green Opal Affair: Repeat after me: Illya is the only one allowed undercover ever again.
The Giuoco Piano Affair: where the crazy villains are doin’ it for love.
The Double Affair: in which Napoleon Solo is replaced by a perfect double and nobody notices.
The Project Strigas Affair: where Kirk and Spock are not yet Kirk and Spock
The Finny Foot Affair: aka the one with mini Snake Plissken.
The Neptune Affair: Soviet officer Illya is forced to put the lives of his countrymen in the hands of Napoleon Solo. He is understandably distressed.
The Dove Affair: Spy vs spy, but Napoleon has the advantage because Khan Noonien Singh is afraid of children.
The King of Knaves Affair: As a result of brainwashing, Napoleon isn’t quite as bad at undercover work this time.
The Terbuf Affair: In which being so obviously American is a definite handicap.
The Deadly Decoy Affair: Mr. Waverly has a cunning plan. Napoleon Solo fucks it up.
The Fiddlesticks Affair: The Casino Heist.
The Yellow Scarf Affair: where you realize Napoleon’s thing is personal one-on-one rapport with villains.
The Mad, Mad Tea Party Affair: In which Mr. Waverly is so much of a troll even THRUSH is confused.
The Secret Sceptre Affair: in which Napoleon is completely, brutally wrong. (and Illya should stop going on vacation with his partner.)
The Bow-wow Affair: Illya’s episode. He names a fox “Napoleon” and it literally takes Solo’s role in the plot: causing a huge commotion and leading the bad-guy henchmen (dogs) on a merry chase because he’s so foxy.
The Four-Steps Affair: Illya metaphorically beats cynicism into a child.
The See-Paris-and-Die Affair: Alternative title: Illya’s terrible, no-good, very bad day.
The Brain-Killer Affair: In which the Section Ones demonstrate why they’re in charge.
The Hong Kong Shilling Affair: where Illya pretends to be a Mongol Lord for reasons that I’m sure were explained but which currently escape me.
The Never-Never Affair: in which the Joker goes after Agent 99.
The Love Affair: Listen up kids: joining a cult is less fun than it sounds.
The Gazebo in the Maze Affair: In which lifelong bondage fans are made.
The Girls of Nazarone Affair: Napoleon learns blond(e)s are dangerous despite being Illya’s partner for almost an entire season by now.
The Odd Man Affair: All the evil cool kids wear sunglasses to a nightclub, but it’s in France so no one notices.

The Open Italian Game: Part 1

The open italian is the oldest and one of the most logical openings around.  It it still sees grandmaster play from time to time

1.e4 e5 (open game) 2.Nf3 Nc6

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white is looking to put his initiative to work, his plan is to play a quick d4, but he prepairs this first by giving him an additional option to capture on d4.  He is also making use of his initiative by forcing black to make a concession.  White is attacking black’s pawn, black defends it with Nc6 (which removes the option of playing c6 later, it isn’t much of a concession, but it is something).  black can also play other moves, and i’ll get to these later, but these also give up a concession.

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white would like to play d4, but he would also like to castle after playing d4, so he moves his bishop out to c4 first so that this is a possibility.  this attacks the weak point f7, and prevents black from playing d5 in some lines.  also, black can no longer play c6 in responce to it, so the bishop can sit here for a little bit.  this leads to a position known as the epine dorsale (dolphin fin), analysed by Damiano way back in 1470, though the position is better known because of Greco and other italian players later.

if black wastes time here, white would like to play 4.d4 exd4 5.O-O intending either Nxd4 or c3 next, depending on black’s responce.  So black now has 2 obvious choices, Bc5 preventing d4, or Nf6, counterattacking the e4 pawn (as with all positions where you have the initiative, other options are possible).

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Black prevents white from the immediate d4 and continues to develop.  This not only provokes, but forces c3 (which then provokes Nf6).  If white wasted time here, black might play f5 taking the role of white and getting off his pawn break, but this is not likely. this leads us to a position known as the italian game or the giuoco piano (means quiet game, since it was named in an era of wild gambit play)

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4.c3 Nf6

White plays a neccisary preperation to d4 with c3, so that the d4 square will be defended 3 times (since it is attacked 3 times).  This also is one of the ideal responces to a bishop on c5, so white can use the threat against the enemy bishop to his advantage later (for example, if black wastes time on his next move, d4 earns space and holds tempo since it attacks the enemy bishop).  Note, the Nxe5 fork trick does not work as the black knight will then be attacking the white bishop, and white won’t have time to fork the two pieces with d4.

Black then responds Nf6, exploiting the pawn on c3 (d5 doesn’t work, it will be defended only once and attacked twice).  At this point, black still doesn’t know for sure what white’s plan is, as white could still be planning an immediate d4, or playing slowly with d3, but as black is threatening to win a pawn, so white has to decide now. (d6 is less strong, but playable, Qe7 or Bb6 [both lead to the same position] are played when black wishes to hold on to his center rather than counterattack.  It isn’t as well respected, but i’ll go over that one in detail later).

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white chooses the open option with 5.d4, accomplishing the thematic pawn break while threatening the bishop.  Black is virtually forced to capture on d4 here (Bb6 is an instructive trap, and other moves have other problems). and we will get to those in the upcoming articles.  really after 5…exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+, you should have enough of an understanding to wing it in a few games until you learn the position well enough.  However, i think learning the mainlines will help anyways (really your knowlege should be more and more detailed as you progress as a player.  A complete beginner who knows this far is already well ahead of his peers, where as this is not sufficent if you are a grand master, for example). [by wing it, i mean in casual play, if your results have more meaning, then you probably should be less open to experimental play in general]

Next time:  Greco’s gambit in the open italian.

A note on names (aka chess players are bad at naming things):  before anyone gets angry because i didn’t follow the naming convention they head from smoeone else.  know that the naming convention for openings is quite a mess, and really there is no right or wrong answer.  I try to give as many names as i know, but probably will accidentally skip one or will have the name shifted over, send me a correction if you think i got a name wrong by all means, but know that a lot of the time, there are no clear answers.  The italian game is a good example of this

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4:  called the Epine Dorsale, also sometimes refered to as the start of the italian game

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5:  Also refered to the start of the italian game (in which case it is a defense), and also as the giuoco piano (quiet game, though many of the variations are not quiet at all, they just were compaired to the others that were around in the 1800’s).

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4:  known universally as the evans gambit, but some players are adiment that this is not a giuoco piano variation, despite the fact that it meets the qualification of being a variation in every way.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6  5.d4:  this is what some players refer to as the start of the giuoco piano (which makes the claim to being quiet even less true).

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3:  This is sometimes called the giuoco pianissimo, or quietest game.  finally a name that makes sense!  too bad there is arguements then if this is still a giuoco piano variation or not, also this is called the modern closed variation of the italian game to differentiate it from it’s cousin, also called the giuoco pianissimo

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d3 Nf6 5.Nc3:  This is pretty much always called the giuoco pianissimo, but is still suffers from the problem of if it is a giuoco piano or not, and if it shares its name with its above cousin or not

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Qe7 (or Bb6): this is called the closed variation of the giuoco piano, a name also given to the line 2 above, or it could be called the strongpoint defense or the center holding line.  i have never heard this as not being a giuoco piano, even by the crowd who insists that it isn’t a giuoco piano unless white plays c3 followed by d4 (which he does here, but the d4 isn’t a responce to Nf6 like it is in those lines)

And that’s just for one opening!!!  So yeah, i’ll do my best with deciding how to name things, but just be warned that it isn’t always clear.