The Ponziani Opening is one of the oldest openings in chess (it was mentioned for the first time in 1497!). Yet it was never really popular. Top chess players avoid it because Black has many reliable ways to equalize. For the club players the opening is not very appealing because it is not the most exciting of all the openings, and besides it is permanently out of chess fashion. Even if the Ponziani Opening is played, in most of the cases it is just a surprise weapon, rather than part of the main opening repertoire of a chess player. Nevertheless, the opening has its own traps and Black has to be careful. Look at the next game for example:
Of course, in the above mentioned game Black could have equalized if he wasn't that greedy (7...Nxf2??). But what if Black wants to get something more exciting than just a boring equal position? In this case he can borrow the ideas from the Latvian gambit (which we discussed last week) and play 3...f5! Here it definitely makes more sense, since compared to the Latvian gambit White has a not particularly useful move c3, while Nc6 is a perfect addition to any opening! Let's see what can happen in this case:
The next game was played by two very strong Grandmasters and was very important since the winner would qualify for the World Championship. Hikaru Nakamura, who is well known for his off-beat openings, decided to surprise his opponent with the Ponziani Opening, but Julio Beccera was up to the challenge.
So, if you are playing Black and your opponent tries to surprise you with the Ponziani opening, surprise him back with the very sharp 3... f5! move. Even if you don't create a masterpiece like the last two games we analyzed, I guarantee you a very sharp and exciting game.