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I would be interested in your source for the contention that Nunn claimed the Italian is "busted' ?
I agree that high-ranked players may think the Italian is "busted". However, for us "pawn pushers" of lower rankings, it's still a lot of fun. Since I will never be a high-ranked player, this is one of my favorite openings. It's also fun to share some of the "traps" that I have discovered in this opening.
"My point was that opening stats are not all that helpful. All that matters are the results of best play by both sides."
This is true in the theory, but in practice likely in the most openings the absolute best play is unknown and it is not posible for a club player (and in many cases for a GM) know the absolute best continuation.
"it turns out that on the next move the stats are 32-38-30 for one move, and 95-5-0 for another, and more games were played in the second line," When I see a variation I don't see a few moves I surfing for the variants to see the results.
"People in the field (i.e. titled players) know that it's bad, then a guy like you comes with his database nonsense and gets smashed."
In OTB i lost a very few games for a bad opening, normally I lost for blundering a tactical shot or Strategy mistake. If you use a database of games of all time the effect acumulated over the time is true but I speak about a database of the last years.
"Looking at database results is a waste of time." I think the stastics have value in a vast number of sports and in various fields. In my opinion the players view stastitics. For example Fischer view this things, the coments in the Sicilian Dragon Game Against Larsen denote this. "and found the ratio was something like nine wins out of ten in White's favour" (Fischer, My 60 memorable Games, Game 2) when he argument that yugoslav Attack almost plays itself.
Secrets of practical chess (John Nunn) in my opinion is a very good book, but in my opinion it is decanted for the theorical approach in the opening section (this is not bad).
In the page 81, at the end of the chapter named "The Opening" we can read " ...What do you do? It is no good switching to another line in the Giuco Piano, as these have long been dismissed as offering White nothing. In fact, you may as well dust off your books on the Ruy Lopez"
Nunn talk about the line of the Giuco Piano (c3 +d4) but He don't sugest you can switch to (c3+d3) Giuoco Pianissimo he sugest dust of books of Ruy Lopez.
And I read other and other bad things about Italian Game, this is the theme of this topic. If the 3.Bc4 is the second most used move in the position and it scores well in practice and exists GM that play it freqüently why the Italian have this reputation.
In my opinion, the jlconn answer is a good contribution, and the contribution that say is only the name is another interesant contribution.
After 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6, are Nunn, et al. right that only the Spanish is worth playing, or is the Italian still viable?
Of course the Italian is still viable, as are the Scotch, the Three Knights, the Ponziani, the Konstantinopolsky, and even the Reverse Hanham. Play them all, at least once. The open games are fun, these seven in particular.
Statistics were bantered about and a forum poster asked how to develop a repertoire based on statistics. The correct answer to that is an emphatic DON'T!
Which opening to prefer cannot be determined by statistics found, for example, in the Chess.com Games Explorer (nor even in more complete databases such as ChessBase mega or what have you). They can be incredibly misleading, especially to lower ranked players. And even if used judiciously, they offer only a very approximate and skewed valuation.
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