Key points and Plans in the Italian Opening
Learn How to Play the Italian Opening by Focusing on Key Points and the Games Shared in This Post

Key points and Plans in the Italian Opening

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The Italian Opening has inspired many beautiful games and remains popular across all levels and eras. I play and teach it to my students because its plans are straightforward, which is particularly beneficial for beginners who may not yet have many strategic ideas. 

The main plan typically involves castling kingside (0-0), maneuvering the rook to e1 (Re1), advancing the knight from b1 to d2, then to f1, and eventually to g3 (Nbd2-f1-g3), and relocating the bishop from b3 to c2 (Bb3-c2) in a flexible order. While there isn't much variation, there are a few crucial considerations to remember.

I didn't come up with these points myself; rather, I read about them in a highly recommended book: Winning with the Slow (but Venomous!) Italian by Georgios Souleidis. This book provides a concise summary of key concepts to remember during the initial stages of an Italian Opening game. Additionally, I've selected games that highlight typical strategies seen in this opening. Let's begin with the tips from the aforementioned book.


  • Before playing Rf1-e1, ensure that ...Ng4 is not dangerous. Otherwise, Black can quickly follow up with ...f7-f5.
  • The move h2-h3 is usually played only after Black has castled. Otherwise, Black can aim for ...g7-g5-g4. Additionally, Black can sacrifice on h3 in several lines, especially when their dark-squared bishop controls the a7-g1 diagonal.
  • Make sure you can respond to ...d7-d5 in the way you want, or stop it with an early Re1.
  • White's bishop usually stays on c4 until Black threatens it or it needs to be repositioned.
  • The move d3-d4 should usually not be played early and only after preparation. Often, the queen's knight should already be on g3.
  • Bg4 is usually not dangerous and often just helps White.
  • Be cautious of moves like a6 in the Italian Opening, as often Black threatens ...Na5, preventing you from relocating your bishop to b5, a4, or c2. This can allow Black to capture your bishop with a knight, which can disrupt your position.

Well, I hope these points give you a better idea of what to do in the opening moves. Now, let's explore some games that illustrate the typical plans . We will see maneuvers such as moving the knight from d2 to f1 and then to g3, playing Be3 and capturing with the f-pawn on e3 to take advantage of the f-file, sacrificing the knight on g5, expanding with b4, and using d4-d5 to win a piece if the opponent is careless, such as a knight on c6 or a bishop on e6.

I hope by now you have a better understanding of the Italian Opening and feel confident incorporating it into your future games. I trust you find this guide helpful, and I welcome any suggestions or feedback! See you around, and remember to make your opponents cry, not your friends!


Let me tell you a little bit about my chess background. I started playing chess at the age of 8 because I wanted to defeat my best friend at the time. What can I say? I am super competitive, but I have become a better person now!

So after a lot of chess lessons, I became a provincial and national youth champion. Also, I got second place in the Pan American U-20 Championship (2012) and 10th place in the World Youth Chess Championship (2011), and I earned the FIDE Master title at 15. My peak FIDE rating was 2190.

At the moment, I am not playing OTB that much because I am a full-time chess coach.

Well, let's speak about what the blog is about! I have decided to write some articles about my chess experience, my students' stories, and whatever I can share with you that has to do with chess, basically.

Finally, I hope you like at least a few of them, and I am open to any suggestions! So see you around and make your opponents cry, not your friends! happy