Saturday, April 21, 2012
A trap in the Ponziani
The Ponziani Opening (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3) is an odd duck. No wonder it was a favorite of the Hungarian IM Andreas Dückstein. (Yeah, yeah, I know, his name isn't really pronounced like "duck.") It can lead to wild play after 3...d5 4.Qa4 or 3...f5!?, or a dull endgame after 3...Nf6 4.d4 Nxe4 5.d5 Ne7 (5...Nb8 is also OK, while 5...Bc5?! is another crazy line) 6.Nxe5 Ng6 7.Qd4 Qe7 8.Qxe4 Qxe5 9.Qxe5+ Nxe5. Here is a trap that those who defend double-king pawn openings should be aware of. Black's 6...d6? is a oft-seen blunder according to Dave Taylor and Keith Hayward in their book "Play the Ponziani," especially in blitz games. (Incidentally, I got the book today for only $5 at North Shore Chess Center's book/DVD sale. Check it out!) The pedestrian way to lose would have been 8...bxc6! 9.Nxc6 Qb6! 10.Nd4+ Kd8, when Taylor and Hayward observe that Black "has zero compensation for the pawn and his king is in trouble." Black went down in more picturesque fashion.