The Giuoco Pianissimo, or the “Very Quiet Game” as its Italian translation suggests, is a popular chess opening with a rich history and versatile strategic options.
This opening emphasizes strategic maneuvering and the careful build-up of pieces rather than quick exchanges, making it a distinctive choice for players at various levels of experience.
Below we look into the characteristics and nuances of the Giuoco Pianissimo, from its move order and strategy to its historical context and popularity in the chess world.
Move Order of the Giuoco Pianissimo
The move order of the Giuoco Pianissimo is 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. d3
This allows White to aim for a slow buildup of positions, deferring the push to d4 until it can be prepared.
A slight modification can lead to the Giuoco Pianissimo Deferred, denoted by 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.d3.
The Lucchini Gambit, marked by 4.d3 f5, presents a less quiet variation, potentially leading to the Dubois Variation with 5.Ng5 f4.
Theory, Strategy, and Purpose of the Giuoco Pianissimo
White’s primary strategy in the Giuoco Pianissimo is to avoid immediate confrontation in the center of the board.
By doing this, White prevents early tension release through exchanges and instead commits to a positional maneuvering game.
If White plays c2–c3, the position can begin to resemble certain characteristics of the Ruy Lopez if the bishop retreats to c2 via b3.
There’s also an option to play b4 and a4, thus chasing the Black bishop and staking out space on the queenside.
Variations of the Giuoco Pianissimo
There are a number of variations within the Giuoco Pianissimo.
The Giuoco Pianissimo Deferred is one such variation.
Another is the Lucchini Gambit, leading potentially to the Dubois Variation.
The game can also transpose into a variation of the Bishop’s Opening, via the move order 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 Nc6 4.Nf3 Bc5 5.c3 or 5.0-0 d6 6.c3.
These variations offer a wealth of strategic possibilities and contribute to the appeal of the Giuoco Pianissimo.
Evaluation of the Giuoco Pianissimo
The Giuoco Pianissimo is generally evaluated at around +0.10 to +0.25 for white.
Theory & Continuation Lines of the Giuoco Pianissimo
Below we have some common theory and continuation lines from the Giuoco Pianissimo starting move order 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. d3 that you would see at the highest level of play.
The best reply to Giuoco Pianissimo for black is considered 4…Nf6.
4… Nf6 5. c3 a6 6. O-O d6 7. Bb3 Ba7 8. Nbd2 O-O 9. h3 h6 10. Re1 Re8 11. Nf1 Be6 12. Be3 Bxe3 13. Nxe3 Bxb3 14. Qxb3 Qd7 15. Qc2 d5 16. b4 Rad8 17. Rad1 Qe6 18. a4 Ne7 19. exd5 Nexd5 20. Nxd5 Rxd5
4… Nf6 5. a4 O-O 6. O-O h6 7. Be3 Bxe3 8. fxe3 d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Qe2 Be6 11. Nbd2 Qe7 12. c3 f5 13. a5 Rad8 14. a6 b6 15. Rae1 Bf7 16. Bb3 f4 17. Bxd5 Bxd5 18. exf4 Qc5+ 19. Qf2
4… Nf6 5. a4 d6 6. O-O a5 7. Be3 Bxe3 8. fxe3 O-O 9. Nbd2 Ne7 10. Nh4 Kh8 11. Qe1 Qe8 12. h3 Bd7 13. Bb3 Be6 14. Bxe6 fxe6 15. Nhf3 h6 16. b3 Nc6 17. Rf2 Kg8 18. Qe2 Ne7 19. Raf1
4… Nf6 5. c3 a6 6. Nbd2 h6 7. h3 d6 8. a4 Ba7 9. b4 O-O 10. O-O Be6 11. Bxe6 fxe6 12. Nb3 Qe8 13. Be3 Nh5 14. Kh2 Qg6 15. Bxa7 Nxa7 16. Nh4 Qf7
4… Nf6 5. c3 a6 6. Nbd2 O-O 7. O-O d6 8. Bb3 h6 9. Re1 Be6 10. Nf1 Bxb3 11. axb3 d5 12. exd5 Nxd5 13. b4 Ba7 14. Qb3 Qd6 15. Ng3 f5 16. Be3 Bxe3 17. fxe3 Kh8 18. Kh1 f4
4… Nf6 5. c3 a6 6. O-O d6 7. a4 O-O 8. h3 h6 9. Bb3 Re8 10. Re1 a5 11. Nbd2 Be6 12. Nc4 Qd7 13. Be3 Bxe3 14. Rxe3 Rad8 15. Qe1 Bxc4 16. Bxc4 Ne7 17. d4 Ng6 18. d5 c6 19. Bf1 cxd5 20. Bb5
Italian Game | The Giuoco Pianissimo | IM Alex Astaneh
History of the Giuoco Pianissimo
The Giuoco Pianissimo’s history can be traced back to Adolf Anderssen, who provided it with its name.
However, despite its slow and drawish reputation, it didn’t gain significant popularity until the 1980s.
This uptick in usage was due largely to grandmaster John Nunn, who incorporated it into his play with success.
Is the Giuoco Pianissimo Good for Beginners or Intermediates?
The Giuoco Pianissimo is a beneficial opening for both beginners and intermediate players.
Beginners can benefit from the opening’s slow buildup, which gives them the opportunity to focus on strategic positioning and understanding piece maneuvering.
Intermediate players can also find value in the flexibility and variety of strategies available in the various variations of the Giuoco Pianissimo.
How Often the Giuoco Pianissimo Is Played at the Grandmaster Level
At the grandmaster level, the Giuoco Pianissimo sees occasional play.
Grandmasters such as Anish Giri have utilized the opening to avoid the drawish Berlin Defence in the Ruy Lopez.
Despite its reputation for drawishness, its strategic depth and the range of variations make it an intriguing choice even for players at the highest level.
FAQs – Giuoco Pianissimo
What is the Giuoco Pianissimo?
The Giuoco Pianissimo, translated as “Very Quiet Game” from Italian, is a variation of the Italian Game in chess that is characterized by the move 4.d3.
The term “Giuoco Pianissimo” was given by Adolf Anderssen. It is characterized by a slow build-up where White defers the push to d4 until it can be prepared.
Instead of an immediate confrontation in the center, White seeks to prevent the early release of tension through exchanges and aims to enter a positional maneuvering game.
What is the Giuoco Pianissimo Deferred?
The Giuoco Pianissimo Deferred is a variation of the Giuoco Pianissimo characterized by the move sequence 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.d3.
In this variation, the move d3 is deferred or delayed further into the game, hence the name.
What is the Lucchini Gambit and the Dubois Variation in the context of Giuoco Pianissimo?
The Lucchini Gambit is a variation in the Giuoco Pianissimo which starts with the move 4.d3 f5. It is also known as the not-so-quiet game.
The Dubois Variation, which follows the moves 5.Ng5 f4, is a continuation of the Lucchini Gambit.
These variations lead to a more aggressive and less quiet game than the typical Giuoco Pianissimo.
How does the move c2-c3 affect the Giuoco Pianissimo game?
Playing c2–c3 can lead the game to take on some characteristics of the Ruy Lopez if the bishop retreats to c2 via b3.
This move has been adopted by grandmasters like Anish Giri, primarily to avoid the Berlin Defense in the Ruy Lopez, which is known for its drawish nature.
Additionally, White can also play b4 and a4, pushing the Black bishop and creating space on the queenside.
What is the reputation of the Giuoco Pianissimo variation?
Despite its slow pace, the Giuoco Pianissimo does not necessarily mean a drawish game.
It is a strategy that encourages positional maneuvering and long-term planning.
It gained popularity after Grandmaster John Nunn began using it in the 1980s.
It’s a strategic game of chess that can be used to maneuver the opponent into unfamiliar territory.
What are the common move orders for the Giuoco Pianissimo?
There are several common move orders for the Giuoco Pianissimo. One common sequence is 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3, which falls under the ECO (Encyclopedia of Chess Openings) code C54.
Another common sequence can be achieved through a transposition from the Bishop’s Opening: 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 Nc6 4.Nf3 Bc5 5.c3 or 5.0-0 d6 6.c3.
These sequences help to establish a strong positional game and maintain tension on the board.
The Giuoco Pianissimo is a chess opening that holds appeal for a range of players, from beginners to grandmasters.
Its strategic depth, historical legacy, and variety of strategic options make it a compelling choice.
Whether you’re a novice seeking to understand positional play, an intermediate player looking for a versatile opening, or a grandmaster aiming to confound your opponent with intricate maneuvering, the Giuoco Pianissimo has much to offer.
The very quiet game, it seems, has plenty to say.