Lolli Attack: Giving the Italian Game a Boost


Table of Contents

The Lolli Attack adds a little more heat to the Fried Liver Attack.

  • The Lolli Attack poses many defensive challenges to Black.
  • Easy to play with very little theory, the Lolli Attack is an ideal weapon for players who enjoy attacking, tactical games.
  • The three main defensive tries for Black are 6…exd4, 6…Be7, and 6…Bb4+.

Ideas Behind the Lolli Attack

The renowned chess theoretician Giambattista Lolli, who lived in the 18th century, gave his name to the Lolli Attack. This opening reflects the all-out attacking style of the Italian chess school.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.d4

The starting position of the Lolli Attack is reached after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.d4

It will come as no surprise that this aggressive chess opening was known to Bobby Fischer, who played several games with the opening in a simul.

The Lolli Attack adds another layer of aggression to the already aggressive Fried Liver Attack. White plans to sacrifice a piece but first opens more avenues of attack.

The positions that arise in the Lolli Attack certainly bear out the adage that it is more challenging to defend than attack in chess. Many players with the black pieces struggle to hold their nerve and find the correct defense.

A vital tactic in the Lolli Attack is Qf3 when the queen attacks the black king after it captures on f7 and the knight on d5. White is ready to castle kingside and bring the rook into the attack along the open e-file.

If Black is not careful, White will soon have numerous pieces participating in the attack against the exposed black king.

Black has three main sixth move options in the Lolli Attack:

  1. Accepting the pawn with 6…exd4.
  2. Declining the pawn with 6…Be7 while attacking the knight on g5.
  3. Getting in a check with 6…Bb4+ and attacking the white king before it can reach safety.

Although there have not been many games played with 6…Bb4+, this move may prove to be Black’s best way of declining the pawn.

Black Captures on d4

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.d4 exd4

Black captures the pawn with 6...exd4

Black refuses to show any fear and decides to capture extra material. Opening the e-file when your king is still two moves from castling is a risky way to play chess.

7.0-0 Be7 8.Nxf7 Kxf7 9.Qf3+ Bf6 10.Bxd5+ Be6 11.Bxe6+ Kxe6 12.Re1+

Although White has yet to develop a single queenside piece, the exposed black king offers more than enough compensation. The knight sacrifice on move 8 proved a temporary sacrifice as White regained the piece two moves later.

Remember the Nxf7 and Qf3+ tactic as it draws the black king into a very exposed position.

Another queen move worth remembering is Qb3+.

After the natural 12…Kf7, White needs to develop the queenside pieces even if it means passing up the opportunity to win material.

When playing a gambit or sacrificing material, it helps to continue playing as if you have not sacrificed material. The technique for finding good moves remains the same, and not every sacrifice or gambit will end in checkmate.

The fifth World Chess Champion, Max Euwe, knew this and settled for the slight advantage of having two minor pieces for a rook and pawn heading to an endgame. Euwe made use of another knight sacrifice and created a mating net around the black king.

Black Plays 6…Be7

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.d4 Be7

Black declines the Lolli Attack with 6...Be7

Developing with a gain of tempo must surely be preferable to opening lines with your king in the center. The downside to this move is that it allows the thematic tactical blow of Nxf7 and Qf3+

However, this time, Black can defend the knight on d5 with …Ke6. Now it is White’s turn to develop with tempo and attack the knight with Nc3.

The Lolli Attack requires fearless play from both sides, but it is hard to imagine Black can survive with the king in the middle of the board. We are far from reaching the endgame where a centralized king is often an asset.

7.Nxf7 Kxf7 8.Qf3+ Ke6 9.Nc3 Nb4 10.Qe4

It is not difficult to see that White has an overwhelming position, and it only took ten moves. Black’s queenside rook and bishop are effectively out of the game, and the knight on b4 will soon get driven back with a3.

On top of that, neither the kingside rook nor bishop has any weaknesses to target in White’s position.

As if that was not bad enough for black, White’s dark-squared bishop and rooks have yet to join in the attack.

Thus, it will be no surprise that in the next game, White delivered checkmate from this position in only another four moves.

Black Plays 6…Bb4+

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.d4 Bb4+

Lolli Attack 6.Bb4+

The downside to this check is that after the logical c3, the bishop is forced to move again. Bringing it back to e7 to help defend only provokes the well-known sacrifice of the knight on f7 by White.

Once again, we will enter a series of familiar moves, and it is the familiarity of this attacking pattern that makes the Lolli Attack easy to play.

Although he wasn’t referring to the Lolli Attack when he said “Sac, sac, mate!” these words by Bobby Fischer could easily apply to this opening as well.

7.c3 Be7 8.Nxf7 Kxf7 9.Qf3+ Ke6 10.Qe4 Bf8 11.0-0

Black played 10…Bf8 to free the e7-square for the knight on c6. By withdrawing the knight from c6, Black not only defends the knight on d5 but creates the opportunity to defend the knight once more with …c6.

All this takes time, and the black pieces are moving backward, so it is hardly surprising that the black position is soon overwhelmed by a series of natural moves.

In Conclusion

The Lolli Attack is effective because it is seldom played, and the best defense to the attack is not widely known. This makes it a particularly devastating weapon for White to use in the Fried Liver Attack.

In fact, it is quite likely to prove even more effective as your opponent is more likely to prepare a defense against the thematic Fried Liver Attack.

What could be better than drawing your opponent into a devastating attacking chess opening where the attacking theme remains similar against the three most frequently played defenses? As we have seen, one misstep by Black and the game can end quickly.

Lolli Attack Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it called the Lolli Attack?

The renowned chess theoretician Giambattista Lolli, who lived in the 18th century, gave his name to the Lolli Attack.

How do you play the Lolli Attack?

The Lolli Attack begins with the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.d4. White opens lines with d4, often sacrifices a knight on f7, and then attacks the weak black knight on d5 with Qf3.

What is Lolli’s Mate?

Lolli’s Mate is a checkmate delivered by a queen on g7 or g3, usually supported by a pawn on f6 or f3.

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