The Ponziani Opening is a good weapon against pretty much anything, and it also forces a lot of the opponent’s move. It’s one of the most straightforward, and directly approach to the king’s pawn openings.
It will also give white many attacking chances if paid correctly. The Ponziani opening is not the most famous king’s pawn opening, but its effectiveness can’t be denied. This is one of the easiest and funniest openings to play.
There are many systems that may vary out of this opening, and it offers food opportunities for both sides. The fact that is not much known is good for you, it’s not weird to find an opponent who doesn’t know the theory.
If one of the players doesn’t know how to play correctly in the Ponziani opening he will have a bad time. Make sure that player is not you! Today we will tell you how to play and counter the Ponziani attack.
All of the possible systems that may go out of the Ponziani opening, and how to play respectively if you want to play one or other.
The main lines of the Ponziani opening
To get into the Ponziani opening we must play the following moves with white. It’s pretty difficult to have black go out of theory because the opening doesn’t leave too many options for black.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3 And here we have the Ponziani opening on the board. Here black has two main options, we will separate them to organize our study better:
If black plays the first move 3…d5 we can play the move Qa4, which is called the Steinitz variation, and the game would go like this:
3…d5 4.Qa4 Bd7 5.exd5 Nd4 6.Qd1 Nxf3+ 7.Qxf3 Bd6 8.d4 Nf6 9.Bg5 this is the mainline of the Ponziani opening with d5 by black.
This is the most common move to play against d5, but there is an interesting move that we should consider. One of the adepts of the Ponziani opening at first in actual chess was Maxime Vachier Lagrave.
Maxime loves to try out new openings, and the Ponziani was of his liking, and he tried the novelty 4.exd5!? against GM Wesley So! Let’s see how it goes!
An interesting game, of course, white not always had the upper hand. We could say that white won because of black’s mistakes (21…Bxa2 opening the a-file).
But the “pressure” black had at the beginning of the game was easily rejected by white who stood well in the middle game.
Now let’s go with the second important move in the Ponziani opening by black 3…Nf6. The mainline would be the following: Nf6 4.d4 Nxe4 5.d5 Ne7 6.Nxe5 Ng6 7.Nxg6 hxg6 8.Nd2 Nxd2 9.Bxd2 Be7 10.Bd3 d6 11.Qe2 and we are in a partially equal position.
White could try to castle queenside to play aggressively or to castle in the kingside and play quietly.
But the game doesn’t necessarily have to go that way, there are different systems. Black could also play 4…d5! Instead of the inferior Nxe4. This is a recent line that is lately gaining fame.
In this case, you could play like this: Nf6 4.d4 d5 5.Bb5 exd4 6.e5 Ne4 7.cxd4 Be7 8.O-O O-O 9.Be3 Bg4 10.h3 Bh5 11.Nc3 Nxc3 12.bxc3 getting a decent position. I personally like this variation, because it gives you a pretty comfortable structure in the center.
Let’s have a look at how Magnus Carlsen handles the Ponziani opening!
It's obvious that we all should know about the Ponziani opening!
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