THE ITALIAN GAME

A Kenyan and a South African Walk into an Italian Restaurant in Algeria

The African Junior Chess Championship is an annual event that invites players who are under 20 years of age from all African Chess federations.

The top 3 players in the Open category will earn an International Master title while the in the Girls category the top 3 players earn the Woman International Master title. The winners, in addition, also get a norm towards the Grandmaster and Woman Grandmaster title respectively.

The capital of Algeria is Algiers but the chess capital of Algeria from 13th to 19th November was the harbor city of Bejaia, also known by its French name Bougie which means candle. Bejaia was a major pirate stronghold in the Middle Ages and was fought over and occupied by the Romans, the French, the Spanish, the Turks, and the Italians.

Kenya had 2 players representing us in Algeria. The Kenya National Open Junior Champion Robert Mcligeyo and the Kenya National Girls Champion Mercy Ingado. Their experiences will add a lot to the standards of chess in Kenya.

Robert Mcligeyo of Kenya

Robert, for one missed the IM title by half a point and would have been the first Kenyan ever to achieve such an honor.

Speaking of Italians, here is one of Robert’s best games in which he drew with the eventual winner of the tournament, Jan Karsten who is a 14-year-old young man from Hoërskool Jan van Riebeeck in Cape Town, South Africa.


Jan Karsten from South Africa. Winner of the Africa Junior Chess Championship

The game started 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4

 

This is the flag of the Italian opening. It may be as popular or even more popular than the Spanish which continues 3.Bb5

 

Before we examine the main game let us learn a little bit about the Italian.

The Italian opening was given its name by Gioachino Greco who was a Greek chess player born in the Italian city of Celico in 1600. This city was then known for Greek immigrants hence his name Greco. Little is known about him but that he was a prolific writer and a very strong chess player. Botvinnik considers him the first professional chess player as he made his living entirely from chess. The first about 100 games in the Chessbase Megadatabase are credited to him but without an opponent because it was assumed the games were his own creations. Thankfully, the printing press, which was invented by Johannes Gutenburg in 1436 allowed Greco’s first ideas to be saved for posterity. His most famous work was this weighty tome:


From white’s move 3 there are 2 main continuations:

A.    3…Bc5 which is the Giuoco piano or quiet game because Black is simply mirroring whites moves. If white continues with 4.d3 and black plays 4…d6 then this becomes the Giuoco Pianissimo or very quiet game, what I like to call bore your opponent to death!

B.    3…Nf6 which is more aggressive and is known as the 2 knights’ defense. This is more of a counterattack which leads to some exciting games especially in blitz and rapid for example,

The Fried Liver Attack:

Liang,Awonder (2592) - Ponkratov,Pavel (2631) [C57]

PNWCC-ch Online blitz Lichess.org INT (5), 02.08.2020

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.Nxf7 this is the whole point of Ng5, to give up the knight so that White can take the black king for a walk to the gallows!