I don't like the Giuoco Pianissimo

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1. e4  e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 Bc5
4. d3

because I find it very slow and boring. The cramped center and overall board make me want to just resign, so as black how can I avoid the Giuoco Pianissimo as black if white plays 4.d3 (Although I guess this is not actually possible if white does play 4.d3),so instead, what are my options for basically blowing up the center and creating a wide open game after 4.d3?

  • Unfortunately 1. e4 e5 often leads to a cramped maneuvering game. The Ruy Lopez (similar structure) is often called the "Spanish Torture" because black is slightly worse for so much of the game. One option to totally avoid the "slow and boring" Giuoco Piano is to play a semi-open game - for example the Sicilian, the Scandinavian, the French, the Caro Kann, etc.
    – Andrew
    Jul 16, 2012 at 22:05
  • @Andrew - Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought the French leads to a cramped game as well. I play the Ruy Lopez and it is not as cramped as the Giuoco Pianissimo. I usually play the Scotch with 1. e4 e5 and that usually opens up the game. Are there any other gambits for white that start of with 1. e4 e5
    – xaisoft
    Jul 17, 2012 at 2:17
  • Yes, the French frequently leads to a closed position, but there are many lines that are more open (Rubenstein, Open Tarrasch, etc.). Openings that start 1. e4 and then some move other than 1... e5 are termed semi-open. Finally, I meant that if you play 1... e5 as black, you just have to be ready for a cramped game - part of playing black. If your opponent allows the Open Lopez, for example, or the Scotch as another, then the game is open, but white can dictate the type of position to some degree.
    – Andrew
    Jul 17, 2012 at 4:09

1 Answer 1


After 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc5 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. d3, you could continue with 4. ... Nf6 and aim to follow this up with an immediate 5. ... d5 if you want to open the center. For instance, play could proceed with 5. O-O d5 6. exd5 Nxd5 7. Nc3 Nxc3 8. bxc3 O-O, and you would have a rather open game.

But White need not allow this, and would likely instead play the natural 5. Nc3, bringing us into the Italian Four Knights, and stalling the idea of a ... d5 push by Black. The thing here is, White has concentrated a lot of attention on the d5 square precisely so that it is difficult for Black to play this freeing ... d5 move, which would immediately relieve Black of any hint of a cramped position. Black would now need to do some prep work in order to make this central advance happen, if that is what she wants. She might play e.g. O-O, d6, Be6 first, so that the move ... d5 is properly supported. Of course White will be playing his own moves in the meantime, and if he wants to keep things quiet for a while, he can often make it so that Black can only upset this at her own peril. But with the sort preparatory moves I've indicated, ultimately White cannot prevent you from getting ... d5 in and opening things up in a safe way.

I'm going to speak below to something more general that your question brings to mind, as it might be useful. Feel free to ignore if not, though.

One point worth making here is that some games just will be, to use your words, more "slow and boring" than others will. It's all well and good to prefer more open, dynamic, active games. But it can be a bad idea to insist upon a "faster" and more open game if doing so means recklessly putting oneself in danger, and it often can mean just that. An alternative approach (and one that will go far in leading you out of your beginner phase) is to try to see the slower, more closed phases of your games as not so boring after all, and realize that a lot can be going on "under the hood," so to speak. (Besides, the moves you play during "slower" phases are crucial to your success/failure once the position does open up.)

To illustrate this idea (very lightly), suppose our game proceeded, after 5. Nc3, by 5. ... h6 6. Be3 Bb6 7. O-O O-O 8. Nd5 d6 9. a4 Nxd5 10. Bxd5, and Black, desperate to open the game via an ... f5 push, plays 10. ... Kh8 in order to get out of the pin from the bishop on d5. White responds with 11. Qd2, and we have the following position:

Italian Game

So far, a pair of knights has been exchanged, but all the pawns (and everything else) are still on the board, and things have indeed been rather closed and quiet. This doesn't mean interesting things haven't been happening, and in particular, White has developed his pieces well so that it still isn't a good idea for Black to try and open the position without further preparation: 11. ... f5? is met harshly by 12. Bxh6, which wins a pawn because of 12. ... gxh6?? 13. Qxh6#. Instead, Black could play 11. ... Bxe3 12. fxe3 f5, and she has finally achieved the kind of opening of the position that she has been after.

My main point: sometimes one simply must be patient in chess, or else accept the consequences. Wanting to blast open the position only because, well, you always want to blast open the position, is going to lead you into a lot of trouble and missed opportunities. Sometimes you will find yourself in positions where it would be to your objective advantage to keep the position closed (maybe your opponent has a very cramped position that will ultimately prove fatal), but if you were to always blindly favor opening the game up, you would miss out on that kind of winning approach - or worse, you'll open yourself up to the kind of punishment illustrated above - and you will ultimately have worse results than you rightly should. Just something to keep in mind as you continue to explore the game.

  • Good points on playing a closed, quiet game vs a more dynamic, active one. I actually do seem to play better when the game is more closed, but sometimes I have a feeling this is due to the fact that there doesn't seem to be as many moves for myself or my opponent. The moves tend to be more carefully calculated when the game is quiet whereas in a dynamic game, I often end up blundering :), so your points are very good.
    – xaisoft
    Jul 17, 2012 at 2:25

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