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At 0:55 in this video, Youtuber agadmator claims Anish Giri played the Evans Gambit in the Italian Game:

[fen ""]
[Black "Anish Giri"]
[White "Kirill Alekseenko"]
[Event "Candidates 2020 (Joke Line)"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4

It becomes clear thereafter that agadmator was joking, as he immediately smiles, says "No, he didn't", and continues with the actual line.

However, I don't have the background to understand what makes the humour transparent here.

  • Is this joke referencing an amusing history or reputation of this line?
  • Is it just such an obviously bad move that no one can take it seriously on face value? If so, why?

I'm discounting the explanation he just made an error in his annotations because of the deliberate way he looks at the camera when he announces this, but I'll accept an argument for any interesting lines that spring from this position.

  • 2
    Actually it is Alekseenko with white against Giri with the black pieces. Referring to the "joke", not sure there is much deep meaning behind it (also in view that he mixed the players sides). Perhaps he just wanted to wake up the audience. – user1583209 Mar 24 at 19:26
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    Agadmator regularly trolls his viewers with this Evans-Gambit tease (it is one of his favourite openings). It's a running gag on the channel, nothing deep behind it. :) – Flo Mar 25 at 17:40
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I'm discounting the explanation he just made an error in his annotations because of the deliberate way he looks at the camera when he announces this

First of all, he did make a mistake. He said Giri played the Evans Gambit but Giri was black. The Evans Gambit is an opening played by white.

The opening is sound and is occasionally played at the top level. It has a swashbuckling sounding name and in the romantic era was one way that attacking players tried to play for a quick win. In this respect it was similar to the King's Gambit and both openings still have romantic overtones which promise an exciting game.

This was the extent of the joke. The joke was against Agadmator's viewers. He lead them to believe it was going to be an Evans Gambit, an "exciting" game when actually it was a more boring normal Italian.

The truth nowadays is that computers have taken the romance out of openings like the Evans Gambit and the King's Gambit. Rather than produce sharp unbalanced games they are more likely to lead to early piece exchanges and games which end fairly quickly as tame draws. The Italian Game proper avoids early exchanges and often leads to slow manoeuvring games which build up slowly and come to life much later. So, maybe the joke was on Agadmator?

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    Sounds reasonable. The answer might also address the question whether Giri is a player who would play "exciting" openings like this. – user1583209 Mar 24 at 20:25
  • There is only one opening to a game. Both sides play that opening. While it is true that it's white that chooses the Evans gambit, it's incorrect to say it's "an opening played by white" since black is also playing the opening. – Savage47 Mar 28 at 5:45
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The joke is based on the perception of Giri as a very solid, "drawish" player. There always seems to be one top player who is the butt of such jokes. It used to be Leko, nowadays it's Giri.

Take a look at this reddit thread for example or this chess24 April's fool.

The swashbuckling Evan's is the last opening Giri would ever choose to play, or so the jokester suggests.

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  • While it's true that Giri is often referred to as the "draw master" and such, in this case it's just not related to him. Agadmator likes to troll his viewers with this "Evans-Gambit tease", so it's simply a running gag on the channel that occurs independent on whose game is being showed. – Flo Mar 26 at 10:51
  • @BlindKungFuMaster is on the money. A common banter comment by fans is: Giri has a winning position, how will he manage to get a draw out of this? Giri in the opening phase is well known to be one of the best prepared of all elite players. They would all get the joke immediately! – cousin_pete Mar 29 at 0:18
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The Evans Gambit is a running gag on Agadmator's channel. I can't remember when it started but at least for the past year whenever there is a game that reaches the Giuoco Piano position he jokes about white going for the Evans Gambit, a very exciting opening which—to Antonio's dismay it would seem—is played extremely rarely in modern high level chess.

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    This is the only correct answer, as regular viewers (aka excellent subscribers) will know. Agadmator likes to troll with this Evans-Gambit-Tease every once in a while. – Flo Mar 25 at 17:39
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I think that he is just kidding because it is so rare at that level, but nevertheless, some great players have whipped it out as a surprise.

Kasparov played it three times against Jeroen Piket, Vishy Anand in classical, and Nigel Short in rapid, beating Piket and Anand, and drawing Short.

Morozevich played it once and lost to Kamsky in 2008, but Nakamura has a 1.5/2 score in classical, and MVL has played it three times in rapid and blitz (2.5/3).

It is always a shock to see this opening at that level, and I think he was just joking around about that.

This is just for your viewing pleasure.

 [Event "Riga Tal Memorial"]
 [Site "Riga"]
 [Date "1995.04.16"]
 [Round "4"]
 [White "Kasparov, Garry"]
 [Black "Anand, Viswanathan"]
 [Result "1-0"]
 [ECO "C51"]
 [WhiteElo "2805"]
 [BlackElo "2715"]
 [PlyCount "49"]
 [EventType "tourn"]
 [EventRounds "11"]
 [EventCountry "LAT"]
 [EventCategory "17"]
 [FEN ""]

 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Be7 6. d4 Na5 7. Be2 exd4 8. Qxd4 Nf6 9. e5 Nc6 10. Qh4 Nd5 11. Qg3 g6 12. O-O Nb6 13. c4 d6 14. Rd1 Nd7 15. Bh6 Ncxe5 16. Nxe5 Nxe5 17. Nc3 f6 18. c5 Nf7 19. cxd6 cxd6 20. Qe3 Nxh6 21. Qxh6 Bf8 22. Qe3+ Kf7 23. Nd5 Be6 24. Nf4 Qe7 25. Re1 1-0
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    I also suspect so. Also considering that he mixed up the players. Giri was actually playing black. – user1583209 Mar 24 at 19:27
  • @user1583209 I missed that point, and that may be the real answer. He realized that he mixed up the players, and said something. Put that in as an answer, and I will upvote it, and edit my answer to point to yours as more likely. – PhishMaster Mar 24 at 19:30

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