Ponziani Opening


Loek, when I made the statement, I knew, probably some would jump all over me.  First the game played by Nakamuro--he made a fundamental mistake on the 6th move and that is one of the reasons he lost. If he had made the best move and if he understood play from the best move--very probably he would have won.

Look at the game Carlsen played today.  Do you really think Carlsen spent a lot of time on the theory of the Ponziani??  I think not--he was just using it as a surprise weapon and per the gamble I mentioned.

Do, I know more about how to play the Ponziani than Carlsen? The answer which may get me in trouble is Yes, of course--I have played and studied the Ponziani for years and even thou grandmaster Carlsen is about 360 points higher than me--that does not mean he knows the theory of the Ponziani better than I do.

Did, I say I "completely understand the Ponziani" NO! of course not--I did not say that---nobody-not even supergrandmaster Carlsen completely understands any opening. 


Oh no, my question was not meant to jump all over you or to bring you in trouble. I wanted to ask where did he go wrong? Can you shed a light on that game?

I like modesty, but not when the statement becomes incorrect. It is possible that an expert with sufficient level knows more of a certain aspect of the expertise then an expert of outstanding level.

You make promising statements, but do not fulfill your promise by pointing to the moves, where he could play the Ponziani better. I am just curious, that's all.


Maybe I want to save the best moves [not played] for a time when someone uses the moves of the supergrandmaster in a vote chess game?

[naturally, I want Ponziani Power vote chess team to win and thus hold things in reserve for a while]

Or maybe I have a whole lot of Ponziani improvements and novelties I am saving for a second edition of Play the Ponziani?

To be sure, the better moves Carlsen could/might have made in this opening variation will come out.  Even if I die today, they will come out.

I can tell you that supergrandmaster Carlsen played correctly through the first 6 moves.


May I please join the Ponziani Power group? Sounds like fun!


Yes, you can--please just send me a private message and I will be glad to get you on our team! 


Sent! I can't wait.


Carlsen didn't play the Ponziani to get a theoretical advantage, he played it to get a playable position.

If he were facing someone he knew to be an expert in the Ponziani, he'd play the London, or an English, or just about anything else.

The argument that Carlsen didn't know the best theoretical line is completely beside the point. He may well know the best theoretical line. In fact, I'm betting he did know the key theoretical lines and avoided them on purpose! His goal was to reach a position where neither side had any significant experience and outplay his opponent.

Carlsen succeeded brilliantly!


Smylov, oh come on! You are saying that Carlsen played this bad line on purpose???? 

A supergrandmaster or any master hopes to get an advantage out of the opening and will not willingly play some bad line which gives him the disadvantage as Carlsen did.

Believe me, if Carlsen knew the best way to play this particular variation of the Ponziani--he would have played it!


I agree with Smyslov,  Carlsen goes down paths that others don;t to make them play chess.it does not matter if he plays an opening that leads to =+ because as white  we don't study those lines.  Carlsen would not play that line if it were a two day per move game, but he put a position on the board that that he could be certain had not been analyzed by his opponent, but was not worse than =+, and Carlsen can spot most people on the planet =+.  I bet he would not play that against Vishy or Aronian, or...


Kantifields, you are telling me that Carlsen delibertly played a variation of the Ponziani which gives him close to a lost game???

The position on the board was quite bad for Carlsen--certainly not =+.

Carlsen is a genius, but he is not a genius who will delibertly play into a position where he is almost lost. 


That is not what I wrote.  That is not even close to what I wrote.  But I do think that Carlsen can win against almost anyone  if they are playing in a position that neither have fully analyzed even if he starts off slightly worse.

He is that much of a genius! 

Quite frankly even authorities on openings stop analyizung at some point and definitively state += or some other stamp.  Those autorities could not pull off the finish against a top player over the board because after they stamp the side variation they don't look back.


Carlsen, in an interview after the game, believed he had an advantage out of the opening. He stated "I thought my game was excellent... I mean, I got a more or less normal variation with the extra move c3, which I think should be excellent for white. I mean, not that this variation is too great anyway, but with an extra move, it must be something."


In other words, Carlsen was playing the Ponziani by using theoretical knowledge about another variation (the Scotch, I think) to play with an extra move, c3 tossed in.

If he was "almost lost", as ponz said, that would be news. You should probably write an article for Chessbase to show that Carlsen was almost lost. Because Carlsen disagrees with your assessment.


I stand with my statement that he got a bad game out of the opening.

He was playing more or less the black side of an another opening where he had the extra move c3.

Some day we will get analysis of that opening or I should say the variation he played. [i think the other opening was the Two Knights Defense which goes  1. e4  e5  2. Nf3  Nc6  3. Bc4  Nf6  4. d4  exd4 5. e5  d5

6. Bb5  Ne4 and now there is the extra move c3 thrown in if you play the black side.]

He is giving his first impressions and happy he won but the game will surely be analyzed completely and possibly also with chess engines.


Come on guys - how dare you to claim that someone knows Ponziani better than Ponz does? He just knows it and he even does not need to back up his claims with particular lines. Laughing


at move 22 Qf3  White has had a disadvantage for some time and

black could play 23. ...Nb5   I will admit it is very complicated.  


He had the worse game for most of the opening after say  the 6th move.

He was fighting an uphill battle but won anyway. In any event hopefully we will see more analysis except for my comments and the 22. Qf3  Nb5 line.

I  ran my computer on the whole opening and it suggested he was average minus for a very long time. 

I do have improvements so he could have  been more like average plus...


Carlsen just played the Ponziani at Tata steel and got a comfortable position and won quite convincingly.


I saw an interview with Carlsen several years ago by a chess reporter who really knew his in one obscure opening, he stumped Carlsen on several book moves Carlsen thought he had memorized.  Carlsen shrugged it off saying he still had lots of work to do.  

  On the even brighter side, I'll bet the team ranks swell considerably.