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  1. Subscriber Paul Leggett
    Chess Librarian
    07 Jun '10 02:55 / 1 edit
    Hi folks,

    The Ponziani Opening - 1. e4 e5 2. c3 with the idea of getting in d4- has a new book out, and seems to be making a sort of comeback.

    I started thinking about this after a post in the "e4/d4" thread mentioned that the Caro Kann is designed to equalize, and wouldn't be good played in reverse as white.

    Here's my questions:

    1) Can this be played as white and get the slight pull white can reasonably expect? and;

    2) Wouldn't this be a reasonable option for those who either play the Caro Kann as black, or play the Sicilian Alapin (1. e4 c5 2. c3) as white?
  2. Standard member clandarkfire
    Grammar Nazi
    07 Jun '10 03:26 / 5 edits
    I used to play it pretty extensively, though I've now given it up for the Scotch Game. I found I always got a relatively good position against people who played 3...Nf6 or 3...d6, but against 1800+, most people know the correct line of 3....d5 where I felt black always equalized and got lots of play. It's got a few tricks that will catch many sub 1600 or so players too. I'm really quite unfamiliar with the Caro Kann and Alapin, so I can't really help you out in that area.

    BTW I'm not sure if you realize it, but the Ponziani is 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3, not 2.c3

    Here are the lines I generally had trouble with:

    1.e4....e5
    2.Nf3...Nc6
    3.c3....d5
    4.Qa4..Bd7
    5.exd5..Nd4
    6.Qd1...Nxf3
    7.Qxf3..Nf6

    and

    1.e4....e5
    2.Nf3...Nc6
    3.c3....Nf6
    4.d4....Nxe4
    5.d5....Ne7
    6.Nxe5..Ng6

    I do have a book on it, but it's pretty horrible.

    Just my opinion, but after experimenting with the Scotch Game I'd say it has more potential than the Ponziani, at least if you are looking for aggressive attacking positions.



    I'm not sure whether Caro Kann players tend to get e5 in or not, so that would make a difference.
  3. 07 Jun '10 04:40 / 1 edit
    There was thread about it Thread 124133

    I've not looked at the vids. Nor do I have the book Skeets mentioned.

    Yeah 3...d5 but this is just about as far as most people know
    it's that off beat it tends to get ignored.

    To be honest it's all I know about this from both sides.
    Rarely played it, (twice?), never met it.

    There are some players who swear by it.
    If you know all the wrinkles and the twists and turns then the Black
    player has a wide open game which he has to unthread OTB.

    Can be a good surprise weapon.
    Any good player who replies 1...e5 has got his lines v the Lopez, KG,
    Guico, Scotch, Vienna and possibly The Danish.

    The Poziani? "You just played 3....d5."
    It's not quite as simply as that.

    If Paul means 2.c3 which I think is called the Lopez Opening,
    (needs a new name I'm thinking). Or the Centre Opening.

    All I know is again 2....d5 as 3.exd5 Qxd5 is a dodgy Scandinavian.

    Edit:

    (I just Wiki'd it - pasted below )

    The Lopez Opening or MacLeod Attack is a chess opening
    characterized by the moves

    1. e4 e5
    2. c3

    White's second move prepares to push a pawn to d4,
    establishing a strong center.

    Play can potentially transpose to other openings,
    most likely the Ponziani Opening or the Göring Gambit
    in the Scotch Game.

    However, in Unorthodox Chess Openings,
    Eric Schiller states that the opening is too slow,
    and that Black can respond vigorously with 2...d5!
    to eliminate transpositional possibilities and solve
    all of his opening problems, as after

    1.e4 e5 2.c3 d5! 3.exd5 Qxd5

    there is no 4.Nc3 to chase the queen away and gain a tempo.

    -------------------------------------

    (I told you it was a dodgy Scandinavian).

    So Schiller says it's no good - therefore it is perfectly playable (Tartakower).
  4. 07 Jun '10 13:21
    In the Caro-Kann we play e6, not e5. So it's not really the same thing. and 95% of the time the pawn break is with c5.... which leads to my biggest dilemma with the Caro-Kann.... why not play c5 on the first move?
  5. 07 Jun '10 14:30
    "....why not play c5 on the first move."

    I'll have a stab at answering this, though I've played the Caro only once
    in my life including, blitz and skittles games.

    In a nutshell.

    The Caro pops the question to e-pawn right right away.
    (it's a relation of the French in this respect and the Scandinavian
    1...d5 is the violent uncle).
    .
    Swap it, move it, or defend it. Either way it is not staying on e4.

    The Sicilian bases it's counter-play on the e4 pawn and wants
    it to stay on e4 so it can develop on it.
    1...c5 prevent large pawn centre, 2...d6 restrict e-pawn, 3...Nf6 hit e-pawn.

    Then the fun starts.
    White is looking for a time when e4-e5 will work in his favour.
    Black is tempting him to push it forward too soon at the same time
    under-mining the e4 pawn.

    Very loose I know, the Sicilian is the more fluid opening, Black can
    play early e5's to halt the e4 pawn at the cost of theory protected holes.

    By that I mean opening theory has not found a concrete way of exploiting
    these early e5's by Black but when Capablanca first saw it he nearly had a fit.

    Hope this reads OK, Perhaps a Caro player can throw more light on it.
  6. 07 Jun '10 15:56 / 1 edit
    "....why not play c5 on the first move."
    My rather naive reasoning comes from the Pirc, where a pawn on c6 is useful as:

    a) It creates a space on c7 where the queen can protect e5
    b) It prevents sneaky knight moves to d5 or b5, which is especially useful if there is a queen on c7
    c) It eventually supports ..d5 or ..b5, depending on how the game goes.

    However, that is just my opinion and relates to the Pirc, not the Caro.I would have thought the idea is the same, but I don't know.
  7. 07 Jun '10 16:39
    The c6 pawn in the Caro is to bang in an early d5 without
    the rigours of a Scandinavian.

    The c6 pawn in the Pirc is to keep beasts out of d5 and perhaps boost a b5.

    One thing I forgot to mention about the Sicilian is the move c5.
    White can ignore it. Closed Scilian. But in the Caro & French c5 is played
    hitting something (the d-apwn) so a decision about the centre has to be made
    by White.
  8. 07 Jun '10 17:06
    I was thinking about trying this, but ran into a string of people using the modern defence. When I finally met someone who allowed me to start the ponziani I got cold feet after seeing the odds against me if they do defend it correctly.

    Yes you can use it to defeat people who haven't heard of it before, but I figure I can probably also beat these people with more traditional openings.
  9. Subscriber Paul Leggett
    Chess Librarian
    08 Jun '10 00:49
    Originally posted by Maxacre42
    In the Caro-Kann we play e6, not e5. So it's not really the same thing. and 95% of the time the pawn break is with c5.... which leads to my biggest dilemma with the Caro-Kann.... why not play c5 on the first move?
    My idea (which I got from reading somewhere, but can't remember) is that in the Caro Kann black would love to play ...e5 to go with his ...d5 and the initial ...c6, but in practice never gets to do so.

    With the Ponziani, white may get to realize what black only dreams about in the Caro Kann- which is what you said, essentially!
  10. Subscriber Paul Leggett
    Chess Librarian
    08 Jun '10 00:50
    Originally posted by clandarkfire

    BTW I'm not sure if you realize it, but the Ponziani is 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3, not 2.c3
    Yep, I realized after I typed it. Thanks for the corrections, and thanks also to GP for the other interesting stuff on 2. c3!
  11. 08 Jun '10 18:39 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by greenpawn34
    "....why not play c5 on the first move."

    I'll have a stab at answering this, though I've played the Caro only once
    in my life including, blitz and skittles games.

    In a nutshell.

    The Caro pops the question to e-pawn right right away.
    (it's a relation of the French in this respect and the Scandinavian
    1...d5 is the violent uncle).
    .
    Swap it, arly had a fit.

    Hope this reads OK, Perhaps a Caro player can throw more light on it.
    I think it's all true, but as you say 1...d5 is the violent uncle, and I like it more for that reason. It's more forcing, unlike after c6 where white just has sooooo many different ways to play, and the panov-botvinnik attack is really hard to play against. Basically in the Caro-Kann, you just try to hang on and reach an endgame. I still like it, it's great for learning endgames, but I do think 1...c5 is clearly better. That being said, the CK is still an opening I love very much, because it's often based on ideas rather than precise variations.

    To get back on topic I don't see how the ponziati or ponziani can be more useful than 1.c4. How do you play it anyways, do you play solidly and try to reach a slightly favorable endgame? I don't really understand the point behind it when black doesn't fall into the early traps. I've never played it, so please enlighten me.
  12. 08 Jun '10 18:49
    The basic idea of the Ponziani is to build a strong centre.c3 and d4.
    If left alone that's what White will do and have a good position.

    It's the polite harmless Auntie of the King Pawn's opening.

    The idea is seen in more drastic terms with Nasty Cousin Evans....

    (Do you like these family references? - I'm trying a whole new
    method of chess annotation, every opening is related to each other).

    ....who sacs the b-pawn to get in c3 & d4 with tempo.
  13. 08 Jun '10 19:46 / 1 edit
    Yeah I like it, it really helps understanding the picture, with possibilities to refer openings to alcoholic uncles and such.
  14. 08 Jun '10 22:56
    I have it figured out for the 1.e4 e5 openings.

    Ruy Lopez is Big Daddy King Pawn.
    Guicio Piano -Mrs King Pawn
    Evans - The Nasty Uncle
    Ponziani -The Timd Aunt
    Kings Gambit - The Crazy Layabout Son
    The Two Knights-The Rebilious Daughter
    The Vienna - The Gay Uncle
    The Scotch - The Drunken Brother in Law
    The Danish - The Mad Relation know one talks about
    The 4 Knights - The boring next door neighbour

    Hmmmm...It actually reads like my family tree.
  15. Subscriber Paul Leggett
    Chess Librarian
    08 Jun '10 23:54
    Originally posted by greenpawn34
    I have it figured out for the 1.e4 e5 openings.

    Ruy Lopez is Big Daddy King Pawn.
    Guicio Piano -Mrs King Pawn
    Evans - The Nasty Uncle
    Ponziani -The Timd Aunt
    Kings Gambit - The Crazy Layabout Son
    The Two Knights-The Rebilious Daughter
    The Vienna - The Gay Uncle
    The Scotch - The Drunken Brother in Law
    The Danish - The Mad Relation know one talk ...[text shortened]... The 4 Knights - The boring next door neighbour

    Hmmmm...It actually reads like my family tree.
    rec'd!