Chess Opening Theory/1. e4/1...e5/2. Bc4

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Bishop's Opening
a b c d e f g h
8 a8 b8 c8 d8 e8 f8 g8 h8 8
7 a7 b7 c7 d7 e7 f7 g7 h7 7
6 a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 g6 h6 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5 5
4 a4 b4 c4 d4 e4 f4 g4 h4 4
3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 3
2 a2 b2 c2 d2 e2 f2 g2 h2 2
1 a1 b1 c1 d1 e1 f1 g1 h1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position in Forsyth-Edwards Notation (FEN)
Moves: 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4

Bishop's Opening[edit | edit source]

2. Bc4[edit | edit source]

The Bishop's Opening is an ancient chess opening that dates from the 18th century to the days of Romantic chess. It was the favourite opening choice by François-André Danican Philidor. The Bishop's Opening used to be called "The Truth" back in the 19th century.

In those days, the Bishop's Opening had a solid theoretical reputation with very complex variations, not so relevant to the modern understanding of the game but interesting historically.

Over the last couple of decades, its popularity has resurged mainly because of the new treatment in the Italian Game. However, this ancient opening is seldom seen in modern play since Black has no difficulties equalizing the game. Grandmaster Nick de Firmian, in the 14th edition of Modern Chess Openings, concludes that the Bishop's Opening leads to equality with the best play by both sides.[1]

Strategy

White develops the light square bishop before bringing the knight to f3. The main point is to develop the bishop to a good square while targeting the weak f7 pawn, keeping the possibility of playing a deadly pawn to f4 and preventing Black from advancing the d-pawn to d5. Unlike in 2. Nf3, Black's e5 pawn, is not under attack, giving him a wider range of choices. Black's main worry is the Qh5 threat. That's why Black should play something other than Be7 or Ne7. The f2–f4 push gives the Bishop's Opening an affinity with the King's Gambit and the Vienna Game, two openings that share this characteristic. The Bishop's Opening can transpose into either of these openings, particularly a favourable variation of the King's Gambit, but Black can circumvent this with care. Transpositions into the Giuoco Piano, Two Knights Defense, and other openings are also possible.

Pros:

  • A less common opening and reach other superior openings by transposition.
  • It is a solid choice for White.
  • It does not block the f2-pawn.

Drawbacks:

  • It does not immediately pressure the Black game.
  • The White bishop might come under attack by a later Black d5.

The three main responses from Black are 2…Nf6, 2…Nc6, and 2…Bc5.

The main choice is 2...Nf6, reacting to White's passivity by attacking the e4 pawn and taking the initiative. Moreover, it prevents Qh5.

Black has still the possibility of mirroring White's move with 2...Bc5.

2...Nc6 is playable, although a bit passive.

The Calabrese Countergambit (2...f5) is very sharp, but may be a deadly weapon if mastered correctly.

2...c6, the Philidor Counterattack prepares d5 but is often considered to be too slow.

2...d6 may transpose to Philidor's Defence but not necessarily (Black should expect 3. f4).

Theory table[edit | edit source]

For explanation of theory tables, see theory table and for notation, see algebraic notation..

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4

2 3
Berlin Defence ...
Nf6
=
Italian Game ...
Nc6
Nf3=
Classical Defence ...
Bc5
Nc3=
Calabrese Countergambit ...
f5!?
⩲/±
Philidor Counterattack ...
c6
=
...
d6
=
Sidelines
Anderssen Counter-Gambit ...
b5?!
±
...
c5?!
⩲/±
...
Qg5?
+−
...
Qh4?
±
...
Qe7?
±
...
d5?
+−
...
Be7?
±

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References[edit | edit source]

  1. de Firmian, Nick (1999). Modern Chess Openings. David McKay Company. ISBN 0812930843. 

Bibliography

External links[edit | edit source]