The Italian Game – The Best Chess Opening For White

The Italian Game – The Best Chess Opening for White

The Italian Game is an Open or Double-King Pawn Game (1. e4 e5) which is one of the most popular chess openings for white. The other popular chess openings for white would be the Ruy-Lopez, Queen’s Gambit and the London System.

Here in this post, ChessLoversOnly will go through the general theory and main variations of the Italian Game with other posts linked below delving into each variation in greater detail.

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The Italian Game (C50) – 1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4

Most people who start playing chess play the Italian Game (C50) or the Ruy Lopez (C60). These two chess openings are the most natural continuation of games which begin with 1.e4 e5.

The Italian Game and the Ruy Lopez are part of chess openings called the Open Game.

Many games in the Open Game (1.e4 e5) are decided by blunders or simple tactics because pieces are more active in the open positions than Closed Games.

The Italian Game has many interesting variations, which are in some ways quite deadly.

Play through the opening with notes below in ChessLoversOnly‘s lichess study.

You can click the links below in order to look in more detail at each variation of the Italian Game. Or you can continue to read to look at the general overview of the Italian Game.

Italian Game (C50): 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4

3. … Bc5 (Giuoco Piano)
a. Giuoco Piano (C50): 3. … Bc5
b. Evan’s Gambit (C51): 3. … Bc5 4. b4
c. The Deutz Gambit (C55): 3. …Bc5 4. 0-0 Nf6 5. d4

3. …Nf6 (Two Knights Defense)
a. Modern Bishop’s Opening (C55): 3. …Nf6 4. d3
b. The Knight Attack (C57): 3. …Nf6 4. Ng5!
c. Traxler Counterattack (C57): 3. …Nf6 4. Ng5! Bc5
d. Fried Liver Attack (C57): 3. …Nf6 4. Ng5! d5 5. exd5 Nxd5 6. Nxf7

3. …Be7 (Hungarian Defense)
a. Hungarian Defense: 3. …Be7

So, please continue on to look at the general ideas of the Italian Game Chess Opening for white.

The Italian Game Chess Opening:

The Italian Game is a family of openings that all begin the same way:

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4

The Italian Game is part of the Open Chess Games, which start with e4, e5 and lead to many different pawn structures and chess positions.

This means the Italian Game is one of the best openings for beginners to practice their chess knowledge and understand what to do in different chess positions that may arise in other chess openings. If you want to get better at your chess games, you need to study the Italian game chess opening. There are some great chess YouTubers to help you too.

The Italian Game - Chess Openings for White
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 (The Italian Game)

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:

The Giucco Piano3. …Bc5

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.

Giuoco Piano (The Italian Game) (
3. …Bc5 (The Giucco Piano in the Italian Game)

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

The Two Knights Defense – 3. …Nf6

This leads to the Two Knights Defense, which White can exploit in many aggressive 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.

Two Knights Defense (The Italian Game) (
3. …Nf6 (The Two Knights Defense in the Italian Game)

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 defence 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

The Hungrian Defense (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 to 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.

Hungarian Defense (The Italian Game) (
3. …Be7 (Hungarian Defense of the Italian 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.

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A.J. McMahon


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