The Fried Liver Attack! Winning By Force?
When did you first encounter the Fried Liver Attack?

The Fried Liver Attack! Winning By Force?

NM SamCopeland

Perhaps no opening theory is more important to a beginning chess player than that of the Fried Liver (AKA Fegatello) Attack, a truly ancient chess opening defined by the following incredibly natural moves.

First recorded in 1602 in a game by Polerio, 6.Nxf7!? must have stunned the first player it was unleashed against (probably won novelty of the year in Informant...), and it still stuns beginning scholastic and adult players around the globe each day. One has to learn these things the hard way.

The Fried Liver Attack was basically considered a refutation of 5...Nxd5?! Practically, White gets a tremendous attack, and for hundreds of years, this was considered sufficient reason to avoid the Fried Liver at all cost.

Today, that conclusion is being revised in correspondence play where, with the assistance of powerful chess engines, the top players are showing that incredible defense can hold the balance! Have a look at these lines in which the evaluation constantly comes up "unclear."

So is 5...Nxd5 viable again? Still no unfortunately. 5...Nxd5?! has not only been considered suspect because of the knight sacrifice offered in the Fried Liver, but also because of 6.d4! - the Lolli Attack. This aggressive pawn push adds more bite to White's attack without sacrificing a knight, and it really puts Black in a tough spot although I haven't been able to find a clear refutation of 6...Be6! Can you do better?

Of course, setting aside the theoretical status of 5...Nxd5?! (Can Black hold or not?), Black has long known that there are better moves available. 5...Na5, 5...b5, and 5...Nd4 are all strong moves that have performed well for Black and are far less fun for White.

The Fried Liver Attack isn't going away anytime soon though. Each new generation of beginning players is sure to get stung by this line.

Maybe eventually strong engines and strong chess players will find a clear win for the White side or even show drawing resources for Black, but for now I'd suggest you just avoid this line unless you are a truly greedy son of a gun.

To see Paul Morphy employing the Fried Liver (with rook odds!) to brilliantly defeat his father, check out this video!

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