Ponziani Opening


And remember if Black plays perfectly after any reasonable opening he
will get a draw.

There is abolutely no opening for White in chess that Black cannot get a draw with perfect chess.


Actually, theoretically the 3rd move 3. c3 is just as good as 3. Bb5 [Ruy Lopez] or any other sound opening as the result with best play for both sides is a draw.

With the Ruy Lopez while it is considered maybe THE top opening after 1. e4  e5 if you want to play the Ruy there are a ton of variations which can be thrown at you and this could require years of analysis.

The Ponziani is far better than many people who have not studied  the Ponziani to any depth will say. 


According to my engine after 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6

3 Bb5 (best) scores +0.18

3 c3 (6th) scores -0.17

but that's not the point is it...you may lose 0.35 if you play c3 instead of Bb5 but with superior knowledge in the upcoming positions, that will be made back soon enough.


DJ besides that--your engine is simply wrong. you do not lose .35 by playing 3. c3.  If you did--you would be sure I would never play or suggest the Ponziani Opening. 


Hey Jempty,


I play the Ponziani.  We can settle this (or start this) over the board.


jempty_method wrote:

Oh yay a Vote chess game just finished where Black plays the inferior 4...d6.  Nice way to keep bumping this thread about an opening that throws away White's advantage to the top.  If I wanted to do this (throw away White's advantage), I could do so a move earlier than the Ponziani with 2. d4.  I could start a thread about a novelty I devised as early as move 5 in the Center game: 2. d4 exd4  3. Qxd4 Nc6  4. Qc4 Nf6  5. a3.


Completely equal if not slightly worse for White you say.  Oh I beg to differ -- and differ I will in that thread every 2 or 3 days, after the thread falls off the front page of the Openings discussion forum.

Please, give it a break.

Give up Jempy. Ponz is deaf to any reasonable arguments (like most unorthodox opening maniacs). Any arguing will give him only the reason to repeat  his "Ponziani is good opening" mantras like a parrot. Its much better to ignore him, leaving him in his imaginary world.

P.S. Hope it`ll be my last post in this thread.


I hope it will be your last post as well!  

Of course it was played by the highest rated player in the world, and the former women's world champion within a week.


Firebrand from my own research the Ponziani is not weak even if Black is booked up. 

Of course we have the question--what does "booked up" mean in an opening not played much..

Certainly if you go to the data bases you will not find the best moves...


The Ponziani makes people wish they had studied.  For me personally, the Ruy makes black respond to more threats than the Ponziani.  The problem is black is fully capable and prepared to respond to those threats and create threats of his own.

The Ponziani does not throw away an adavantage like say the Exchange variation of the French.  It does not create as many problems as other choices, or at least it does not create as many obvious problems.

Anand's game against Aronian, refuted a main line played by super GM's all the time.

No one is playing the Petroff for a win.  Yet it's a mainstream response to 1.e4

The Ponziani is an opening which can be equalized by a prepared player, just like every other opening.


I just finished a game where Black played database moves found himself crushed.  


Ponziani Opening ? If that's an Italian restaurant, when is it opening?

Sorry chaps, I'm a bit bored today. ;)

kantifields wrote:

I just finished a game where Black played database moves found himself crushed.  

Irrelevant. I don't know any Ponziani theory and won my only game against it with mate in 13 moves (even missing that I could win a rook a move earlier). Not related to the opening.


I was commenting on something written in the thread.

In any case, I was confirming that following moves from the Master database is not always a good idea.  I was not saying I played someone who did not know what they were doing and mated them in 13 moves.

kantifields wrote:

I was commenting on something written in the thread.

In any case, I was confirming that following moves from the Master database is not always a good idea.  I was not saying I played someone who did not know what they were doing and mated them in 13 moves.

Fair point.


Firebrand we were looking at a move in the ponziani which is not recommended  . I actually got it mixed up with another similar line.

I looked at your line and after examining your line I concluded it was a good and winning line for Black.  But it is not a line that we would play in a real game. It is my fault that I confused your line with another line. But the point is your line while it wins would not be played by someone who knows Ponziani Theory.  Because I tell you that I agree that your line wins--this is not "admitting defeat" it is just saying that you  are correct if that particular move is played in the Ponziani then White should lose.

Just as if in this line  1. e4  e5  2. Nf3  Nc6  3. c3  d5 and now White plays 4. Bb5?  White should lose with the correct follow ups by Black but of course there are other lines than 4. Bb5. 

ponz111 wrote:

 I remember quite a few years ago the Center Counter with 1. e4  d5  2. exd5  Qxd5  3.Nc3  Qa5 was considered by most as a rather bad opening. 

It is, and sorry for that. It's just that at class level it works because whites don't know the way to bust it (which is admittedly complex).

But the opening is secondrate (although certainly better than the "active" 2...Nf6 which is a sure way to shoot your own foot).

3...Qd6 is slightly better, but quite passive.


I believe @Ponz111 used that line as his "workhorse variation" to win the U.S. Correspondence Championship.

I conjecture he might have something to say about your comment, IM @Pfern.

Oh, I see you left out most of his comment regarding same in post #367.  Neat trick.  

Do you play 3-Card-Monty in Washington Square Park, as well?  Smile

If it takes GM skill to break down specific mainline openings, So What.  

Those openings are still good for the other 99 percent of players.  No doubt about it.


This is soooo cool :D

I have been an exponent of the Ponziani for many years and started with Harding's book on the Ponziani (which is pretty hard to get). I have found that I can generally outplay most others in the opening on chess.com because very, very few players will play 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. c3 d5. Rather, they almost invariable play the Steinitz variation or something like that which I believe is better for white.

I bought your book on the Ponziani last year and I think its a fabulous work. It has certainly scored me some points in online games, where the chess.com opening explorer has holes. There is no question that those holes exist, which is really more about the fact that the Ponziani isn't played much at the master level than it is about the opening itself.

I asked postal master Lou Owen years ago if the opening was viable despite OTB GMs not playing it. He said that it was absolutely viable and probably playable to a high level. There are indeed issues with not being able to develop the knight to its usual c3 square but every opening has it's weaknesses.

Anyway, great book and I'm glad you are on here :)


While I don't think the Ponziani is "bad " I do believe white has 3 moves at move 3 that are all better : Bb5, Bc4  and  d4 .  I have checked several data bases and the Ponziani scores about 53% for white which is respectable . My own personal experience with the Ponziani is that I did well with it for the better part of a year until my otb opponents started coming to the board prepared to meet it and then my results dropped off significantly and I went back to 3 Bb5 . I think black has 2 very good lines : 3 ... d5  4 Qa4 and now both  4 ... Bd7 and  f6 are fine for black imo and according to database results I have checked . Is there something better for white at move 4  ?   If not then 3 ...  d5 is the way to go for black . 


Yes, In the line you gave I was certain my possible moves against that particular line were the best White could do. And I said that the particular line was not good for White and even losing.

But it was a line that is not suggested to play in Ponziani theory. So while it would be a good line for Black if White plays into it--White does not have to play into it at all.  [I think it was a d3 line--I would appreciate it if you will give the exact line as at the time I got it confused with I think another d3 line]

We do not need to hash the line out again as I already agreed with you that the particular line was very bad for White. It is just that the line would not be played by someone with good Ponziani theory and there are better moves other than playing that particular line.  I do confess getting that line mixed up with another line. So I am asking you to give the particular line again but if I remember it was not a line in Ponziani theory that I have.  But if you think you have something and there is no other line please give it again...