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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Ponziani's Gambit

     In recent weeks I have been intrigued by playing certain lines in my online games at my favorite time limit of G15. As white I have played 1.e4 and met the Sicilian with 1...c5 2.Nc3 d6 (or 2...Nc6) with 3.g4. This move is not as aggressive as it first appears if black plays correctly. In fact, it turns out to be rather passive. On the other hand, against incorrect play white can develop a ferocious K-side attack.

     As black I have enjoyed experimenting with 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 b5. Of course 2...b5 is not good, but most opponents have spent a little time trying to decide which P to take. 

     If white plays 3. Bxb5 c6 where should he play his B? Surprisingly, most of my opponents (generally lower rated ones) have retreated it back which allows me to play 4...d5. 4.Ba4 is best.

     Black can try either after 4...Ba6 or 4...Nf6. White is clearly better; if white now captures the e-Pawn black is still at a disadvantage, but he has a choice of either 5...Qa4 attacking two pieces or playing 5...Qe7. In either case white has the advantage, but against a tactically challenged opponent it can be very discombobulating.
     Apparently white does best to capture the e-Pawn. Does this not makes sense? The center P is more important than a flank P. After 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 b5 3. Nxe5 Qe7 4. d4 

     Black must avoid 4...d6 because of 5.Bxb5, but he can try either 4...Nc6 or 4...f6. Neither move is really very good, but if black is overly concerned about that, then he should not play 2...b5. Admittedly, none of this stuff is good, but things generally get rather tactical and IF you are better at them than your opponent, you'll probably win; if not you won't. But, for us non-masters that's the case even if we were playing the Ruy Lopez or Najdorf Sicilian. 
     This game features a rather better opening that I have been messing around with and there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of theory on it.  I Googled Bishop's Opening Ponziani Gambit and got nothing more than some games in various databases. It's a good line to make your own opening book on so you will be familiar with the main lines then give it a try. 


  1. Back in the early part of 2010 I experimented with the Sicilian Wing Gambit with the idea of playing a Benko Gambit reversed. In OTB play it actually worked rather well. Usually, the higher rated players wanted to blow me off the board and the lower ones wanted to hold on the pawn for dear life. Both proved to be a mistake in that I had good play and only lost when b4 was ignored and Black used common sense development to make my overextended b4 pawn a middle game liability. Fun - but probably won't play it again.

  2. I experimented with the Wing Gambit in CC and online play about a year or so ago and have to admit my results were nor very good.