Chess Opening Essentials (from Italy) has a great introduction to the Ponziani Opening:
"Domenico Lorenzo Ponziani, from the Italian town of Modena, analysed various important lines in the 18th century. He was also a member of the Pope's inner circle. The c2-c3 push is logical in that it supports d2-d4. But it has two drawbacks: it leaves the e4-pawn undefended and it prevents the development of the queen's knight to c3. Black's two best responses are 3...Nf6 and 3...d5, both of which highlight these drawbacks."
In my own games I have played both 3...Nf6 and 3...d5 pretty much interchangeably. This blitz game vs "Ivy" will serve and an introductory game to this opening. Since Black can basically equalize after 1.e4 e5 anyway, it is not a bad thing to play a rarer line that might lead to equality in positions you know better than your opponent. However, if you really do not know the opening well, then the Ponziani just gives Black an easy to play game.
Ivy (1643) - Sawyer (2013), ICC 3 0 u Internet Chess Club, 31.05.2013 begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3 d5 4.Qc2?! [4.Qa4] 4...dxe4 5.Qxe4 Nf6 6.Qh4 Be7 7.Qa4 0-0 8.d3 Re8 [8...Bf5-/+] 9.Bg5 h6 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.Nbd2 Bf5 12.Ne4 Be7 13.Rd1 a6 14.Be2 Qd7 15.0-0? [This drops a piece. Better is 15.Qc2 Rad8=/+] 15...Nd4 16.Qxd7 Nxe2+ 17.Kh1 Bxd7 18.Rfe1 Nf4 19.Nxe5 Bf5 20.g3 Nh3 21.Kg2 Ng5 22.f4 Nxe4 23.dxe4 Be6 24.a3 f6 25.Nf3 Rad8 26.Nd4 Bg4 27.Rc1 c5 28.Nb3 b6 29.h3 Be6 30.Na1 Rd2+ White resigns 0-1
Copyright by Tim Sawyer 2013. Send your games for this blog to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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