What is that I can hear? Why, it is none other than Malcolm Pein, extolling the virtues of a little Pianissimo Practice in today’s Daily Telegraph chess column. I hope you are making notes!

Malcolm Pein on…Pianissimo Practice

The Giuoco Pianissimo is a tough line to face with black. Play often develops along similar lines to the Ruy Lopez. The basic structural advantage for White of having a c-pawn that controls a centre square and can support d2/d3-d4 is common to both openings.

An aggressive approach is worth considering for Black because at club level, White’s opening choice is rarely employed by players looking for a fight. If you are looking for attacking inspiration, then the games of Alexey Shirov are a good place to start. Shirov has been using an early h6 and g5 in Titled Tuesdays on Chess.com.

A. R. Salem Saleh – A. Shirov

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 h6 5.0–0 d6 6.c3 g5 7.Re1 (The standard response in the centre to counter a wing assault does not work. If 7.d4 g4 8.Nfd2 exd4 or 8.Ne1 Nxe4) 7…Bg7 8.Nbd2? (8.h3 g4 9.hxg4 Bxg4 10.Be3 Qd7 prepares 0-0-0. Perhaps 8.Bb3 g4 9.Nfd2 Nh5 10.Nf1) 8…g4 9.Nh4 Nxe4! 10.dxe4 Qxh4 11.Nf1 f5 12.exf5 Bxf5 13.Ne3 Bd7 14.Nd5 0–0–0 15.Be3 Loose pieces drop off.

Test Your Strength

Pianissimo Practice

Black to play and win

A. Kubicka – A. Shirov

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 h6 5.c3 g5 6.a4 g4 7.Nfd2 d5 8.Ba2 (8.exd5 Nxd5 9.a5 Bg7 10.0–0 0–0 is also fine for Black) 8…Be6 9.Qe2 Qd7 10.exd5 (10.b4 0–0–0 is still good for Black) 10…Nxd5 11.Bxd5? Qxd5 12.Qe4 0–0–0 13.Qxd5 Rxd5 14.Ke2 Bg7 15.Rd1 Rhd8 16.Nc4

A. Kubicka – A. Shirov

16…Rxd3 17.Rxd3 Bxc4 0–1

Another approach is 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.c3 a6 6.Bb3 Ba7 7.0–0 d6 8.h3 h6 9.Re1 g5!? seen in Adams-Shirov, Candidates semifinal, Elista, 2007.

Pianissimo Practice With an Early ...g5

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

15…g3! 0–1 The bishop on c4 is attacked by the black queen.

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