Understanding The Italian Game (Giuoco Piano) C50

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

The Giuoco Piano, known outside the English speaking world as the "Italian Game" is a fifteenth-century opening that has stood the test of time. The name means quiet or mild game in contrast to various gambits White can play. Yet this is misleading, as the type of game that arises depends on the temperament of the players involved. If White is an exponent of hand-to-hand combat he plays lines like the Moller Attack, trying to blast through the center. Those seeking quiet positional maneuvers prefer the lines with d3 and c3, postponing aggressive action until the middlegame. Many of the world's best players, Kramnik, Gelfand, Ivanchuk, Karpov and even Kasparov, have used the opening occasionally, and several grandmasters, such as Kudrin used it routinely, in preference to the Ruy Lopez.

Basically, White is content to simply develop pieces on useful squares and postpones any confrontation until the middlegame. Besides the sound idea of developing a piece and preparing to castle Kingside, the thematic idea behind the Italian Game is to take clear aim at the f7-pawn and by extension, Black's King. The Italian Game is a dangerous opening for Black and he has to navigate some tricky tactical lines. The opening has been largely eclipsed by the more refined Spanish Game, (Ruy Lopez Opening) but is still a staple of amateur games.

The Italian Game

The Two Knights Defense should probably be better called the Two Knights Attack rather than to label it a defense.
One of the oldest of openings, it dates back over 425 years back to 1580, when it was subjected to analysis by Polerio.
Two Knights Defense
The Fried Liver Attack
The Evans Gambit
The Giuoco Piano
The Max Lange Attack
The Hungarian Defense
The Classical Variation
Modern Bishop Opening
Wilkes Barre Variation
The Ulvestad Fritz Variation