Roven Vogel reviews the "Modern Italian" by Wesley So

by Roven Vogel
3/23/2020 – After winning the U16 World Champion title five years ago, things became a bit more quiet for Roven Vogel. Those times might be over now, since he could win the qualifier tournament in Wijk aan Zee just a couple of weeks ago. Preparation is key. International Master ROVEN VOGEL took a deeper look at Wesley So’s DVD and discusses the many benefits of the black secrets in the ‘Modern Italian’.

My Black Secrets in the Modern Italian My Black Secrets in the Modern Italian

The Italian Game is considered a sound but quiet opening without early trades, giving rise to rich positions where plans are more important than forced variations. So shows black's plans on this DVD.

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Reviewing So's secrets

As soon as a chess beginner starts to understand that they cannot win every game with the scholar’s mate, often the next step is to take a look at the Giuoco Piano, which is one of the oldest openings. After all, it follows very elementary chess opening basics: controlling the centre (1.e4), developing the minor pieces (2.♘f3, 3.♗c4) and finally, moving the king to a safer place (4.0-0). Pretty fool proof, right?

Roven Vogel

Certainly this opening has developed and changed a lot over time. The Giuoco Piano was considered to be a harmless opening, but it advanced to a highly complex and detailed sequence. The ‘Italian’, as it is called in German-speaking countries, is fashionable again and everybody is playing it.

Especially in the World Elite a lot of research has been made towards this opening in the last couple of years, because it turns out to be rather tiring to find new innovations against the Marshall Defence or the Berlin Wall. The good news is: There is an option to learn about it very comfortably.

Wesley So made it possible to get a very good basic understanding about the Italian game with his DVD "My Black Secrets in the Modern Italian".

Wesley So visiting ChessBase in Hamburg

Together with Oliver Reeh, So discusses nine game models, each of which contain essential motifs and ideas for the Giuoco Piano. Among other things, he presents the very modern concept of pushing back the ♗g5 with h6/g5 followed by ♞h7 and h5/h4/g4 to attack the king. He also suggests going for the witty manoeuvre ♚g7!?, followed by ♞g8/♞ge7/♞g6 which might be seen much more often in the near future. Furthermore, So advises black to play the important move ...a5 instead of ...a6 to gain more space, because ...a5 allows you to try out the optional manoeuvre ♛b8/♛a7.

Another very useful idea So describes on the DVD, which feels like rather new territory for myself, is how to react to white’s d4 pawn move, if black already has a bishop on a7 and the knight on g6. Most often black can play ...exd4 followed by ...d5 (if cxd4 has been played), or proceed with ♞h5/♞hf4 and f6 for more initiative, if white has continued with e5. So is referring to these examples as ‘standard motifs’ and you can find plenty of them on the DVD which might be new to the majority of the viewers.

All these ideas are shown in sample games instead of endless, abstract variations. So is explaining everything in a very calm manner and slow enough, that even weaker players can understand his train of thoughts.

But there is even more the viewer can take away from the DVD apart from the opening theories, for example how to prepare for important, upcoming games and how a top player can deal with stressful situations. I personally hope So will make a sequel of this DVD and I can highly recommend to watch "My Black Secrets in the Modern Italian".


My Black Secrets in the Modern Italian

The Italian Game is considered a sound but quiet opening without early trades, giving rise to rich positions where plans are more important than forced variations. So shows black's plans on this DVD.


  • Time: 3 Std. 04 min
  • Analysis and commented games by Wesley So
  • Extra: Special book of the "Modern Italian" and more game structures
  • Including ChessBase Reader
  • Language: Englisch
  • Price: €34.90

Video sample

Wesley So, "My Black Secrets in the Modern Italian" buy it in our Shop

Translation from German: Arne Kaehler



In 2015 Roven Vogel became World Junior Champion U16 and in the same year he became an International Master. In January 2020 he won the Qualifiers event at the Tata Steel Tournament in Wijk aan Zee and qualified for the Wijk aan Zee Challengers 2021.