Below is a classic chess miniature which took place nearly 400 years ago.
Greco – Amateur
The following game was played in the early 17nth century by one of the very first chess theoretician by the name of Greco (as White).
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 In addition to the move played in this game, White’s most popular options are 3.Bb5 (the Ruy Lopez); 3.d4 (the Scotch) or the Four Knight’s game, starting with 3.Nc3.
3.Bc4 This the beginning of the Italian game or Giuoco Piano as it is also called.
3…Bc5 So far both sides were developing their minor pieces (Bishops and Knights) as expected while focusing on controlling the key central squares (d4, d5, e4, e5) at the same time.
4.c3 This move aims to prepare the safe advance of White’s d-Pawn by d2-d4.White could not have played that move immediately as three Black pieces were attacking the d4 square.
4…Qe7 While this move may not objectively be the best, it is a tricky one. If White now proceeds with his plan and plays 5.d4 then after the exchange of Pawn on d4 by 5…exd4 6.cxd4 Black could win a Pawn with 6…Qxe4+ as the Queen has captured the Pawn with a check.
The best move instead is 4…Nf6 when typically the game would continue with 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+.
5.0–0 d6 6.d4 Bb6 Here Black no longer can win a Pawn on e4 by 6…exd4 7.cxd4 Qxe4 as White would pin and win Black’s Queen after 8.Re1.
7.Bg5 f6 While this move gains time as it attacks White’s Bishop at the same time it makes it difficult for Black to castle to the King’s side in the near future. 7…Nf6 may have been a safer choice, although putting the Knight voluntarily into a pin is not that appealing either.
8.Bh4 I would have preferred 8.Be3.
8…g5 This unusual early aggression leads to interesting complications.
9.Nxg5 White is going for it! White sacrifices a Knight for two Pawns and an attack. The safer looking 9.Bg3 would give Black initiative after 9…h5 10.h3 h4 11.Bh2 g4 12.hxg4 Bxg4.
9…fxg5 10.Qh5+ This is a key moment. The question is where to go from the check?
10…Kd7 After 10…Kf8 White has a winning attack with 11.f4! gxh4 (or 11…exf4 12.Bxg5 followed by 13.Rxf4+) 12.fxe5+ Kg7 13.Rf7+.
10…Kd8 11.Bxg5 Nf6 12.Qh4 Rf8 is also playable.
11.Bxg5 and this was the point where Black made the decisive mistake.
11…Qg7? 11…Nf6 was the only move to continue the fight, although White would still have compensation for the sacrificed piece after 12.Qh3+ Ke8 13.Qh4; 11…Qe8? on the other hand was bad as would lead to checkmate in two after 12.Qg4+.
And now comes, the brilliant final combination which forces checkmate in three moves.
12.Be6+! Kxe6 13.Qe8+ Nce7 14.d5 Checkmate.