Giuoco Piano


The Giuoco Piano is a branch of the Italian Game opening.

How To Reach The Giuoco Piano

The idea behind the Giuoco Piano: take aim at the f7 pawn and Black’s King.

The Giuoco Piano is a great opening since it:

  1. Controls the Center.
  2. Develops Pieces.
  3. Protects the King.

The Giuoco Piano can be divided into three major variations based on White's fourth move:

  • the Main Line (4. c3)
  • the Evans Gambit (4. b4)
  • the Giuoco Pianissimo (4. d3)

In the Main line, White’s ideas are:

  1. Bring bishop onto a diagonal, attacking the weak f7 square (only defended by the King).
  2. Play c2-c3 in preparation for the central advance d2-d4.
  3. Develop other pieces rapidly.
  4. Open lines to attack Black’s position.

In the Evans Gambit, White offers a pawn to distract black’s bishop on c5.

If Black accepts, White can follow up with c3 and d4 to open up the center and also opens diagonals that allow moves such as Ba3 or Qb3.

These moves prevent Black from castling kingside and threaten the weak f7-pawn respectively.

If Black declines the Evans Gambit (not a good option), Whites b4-pawn gains space on the queenside, and White can follow up with a4 later to take up more space.

Doing this also threatens to trap Black's dark-square bishop in.

In the Giuoco Pianissimo , White aims for a slow buildup deferring d4 until it can be set up.

By avoiding an immediate confrontation in the center, White prevents the early release of tension through exchanges and enters a maneuvering game.

White plays Giuoco Pianissimo If he likes closed-style games.

If White plays c2–c3, the position can take some characteristics of the Ruy Lopez if his bishop retreats to c2 via Bc4–b3–c2.

This idea has been taken up by some grandmasters, such as Anish Giri, in order to avoid the drawish Berlin Defence in the Ruy Lopez.

How to reach the Giuoco Piano?

  • First, White must move the King’s pawn two squares (1.e4).
  • Then, Black replies by moving his King pawn two squares (1...e5).
  • White wants to attack e5-pawn by moving his Knight three squares (2. Nf3).
  • Black defends e5-pawn by moving his Knight three squares (2…Nc6).
  • White replies by moving his King’s-side Bishop three squares. He wants to build a strong center and clear a space for 0-0 (3. Bc4).
  • Black replies by moving his King’s-side Bishop three squares too. He wants to control d4 square (3…Bc5).

Take a look at the moves below.

Why Play The Giuoco Piano?

The Giuoco Piano is best for beginner/intermediate players because it allows them to naturally make good moves that do not have any obvious weaknesses.

It also allows games to occur in less complicated positions that are more comfortable for players to play in.

Every move explained

Main Line

How to reach it?

The Main Line of the Giuoco Piano appears on the board after the following moves:

  1. e4 e5
  2. Nf3 Nc6
  3. Bc4 Bc5
  4. c3

You can see the moves here.

Why play the Main line?

The Main line is the most popular variation of the Giuoco Piano.

White’s idea: Gain an advantage in the center by playing pawn to c3 and then pawn to d2–d4. Then coordinate an attack on Black’s Kingside.

Black has two ways to counter this:

  1. If Black wants a closed, strategic game, then he can try to hold a strongpoint on the e5 square by putting his Queen on e7.
  2. If Black wants an open, tactical game, then he can counter attack by putting his Knight on f6.

White's Moves

Push c3-d4 to gain control of the center

White typically wants to gain center control on d4 by first setting up his c-pawn before he does the d4 push.

Push c3-b4-a5 to gain Queenside space

A really good plan is to gain Queenside space by pushing c3-b4-a5 and then swinging the bishop over to a3, which can cause black a lot of problems when trying to castle.

This plan is used successfully against the Ruy Lopez opening as well.

Black’s Moves

Castle Kingside to Protect the King

Black should castle Kingside to protect his King and remove the weakness of the f7 square (when uncastled)

Nf6 counterattack

It is best for Black to counter attack the e4 pawn by placing the Knight on f6 (instead of the other variation of putting the Queen on e7 - because this move blocks a square for either the c5 bishop or the c6 Knight)

Every move explained

Evans Gambit

How to reach it?

The Evans Gambit of the Giuoco Piano appears on the board after the following moves:

  1. e4 e5
  2. Nf3 Nc6
  3. Bc4 Bc5
  4. b2-b4

You can see the moves here.

Why play the Evans Gambit?

The Evans Gambit is used to keep the Black King from castling and overwhelm Black with an attack in the center.

If you are playing as white you need to make sure that you attack.

You do not want to exchange your pieces with Black and go toward an endgame.

White’s Moves

When Black takes free pawn with Knight (instead of the bishop)

It is a very bad move for Black to accept the Evans Gambit with the Knight (instead of the bishop)

This allows White to put his pawn on c3 (which eventually lets White control the center, gain a tempo and launch an attack).

When Black takes free pawn with Bishop (instead of the Knight)

White can follow up by using his pawns to control the center.

Evans declining variation

If Black declines the gambit, White can still have a very aggressive game, which is usually the game plan for someone playing the Evan’s Gambit.

Black’s Moves

Get Knight to a5

Black’s idea should be to retreat the bishop to b6, and then get the Knight on to a5.

Accept the gambit and play ..Ne7

Black’s best option is to accept the gambit.

By declining the Evans, Black lets White gain space on the queenside for free.

The best way to accept the gambit is the bishop.

Every move explained

Giuoco Pianissimo

How to reach it?

The Giuoco Pianissimo of the Giuoco Piano appears on the board after the following moves:

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

You can see the moves here:

Why play the Giuoco Pianissimo?

White aims for a slow buildup, not playing d4 immediately, but deciding to wait until he can prepare it.

The battle for the center is avoided early on, but White keeps the tension in the position by exchanging pieces and playing a positional game instead.

White’s Moves


A really good plan for White is to just to play Bg5.

This will pin Black’s Knight to his Queen.

Since black has played d6, he can’t use his Bishop to break this pin (since it blocks the path going backwards)

Black can’t afford to move his Queen, since if White takes, Black will end up with doubled pawns, which would severely weaken his Kingside.

Then White can move his Knight to d5 to really cause some damage.

Put pressure on f7

White should put pressure on Black’s f7 square with his Queen b3, together with the Bishop on c4.

Black’s Moves

Counter attack with d5

Black should counter-attack in the center with d7-d5. This prevents White from having central control.

Pin White’s Knight with Bishop

Black should pin White’s Knight to the Queen.

Castle Kingside to Protect the King

Black castles Kingside to protect his King and f7-pawn.

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