The Bishop's Opening and the Italian game

by Davide Nastasio
6/1/2018 – This DVD could be Carlsen's answer to Caruana's unbeatable Petroff Defence. Tiviakov in his most recent video series teaches us his experience with this formidable weapon for White, which avoids the Petroff, and eventually lets us enter into a comfortable Italian game, an opening which has become very popular recently. DAVIDE NASTASIO takes a closer look, and SERGEI TIVIAKOV annotates a fresh game of his own.

The Bishop's Opening and The Italian Game The Bishop's Opening and The Italian Game

Studying the content of this DVD and adding these openings to your repertoire will provide players with a very strong tool to fight 1...e5 - as the practice of the author clearly demonstrates.


A review

DVD cover

After my last match, a disaster which cost me 30 points, I needed to make some changes to the openings I play. Tiviakov begins this DVD pointing out an important idea I didn't think of... how to avoid studying the Petroff Defence if someone plays 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3? The opening could be a field of battle once again in the next World Championship!

Tiviakov, in this video series, makes special mention of Kramnik's games as proof that for White it is difficult or nearly impossible to gain an advantage against what is also known in some countries as the Russian Defence.

In fact, we have seen what the Russian Defence has accomplished in the last couple of high-level tournaments, and for those who missed it, I'm talking of course about Grischuk vs Caruana from the Candidates and Vitiugov vs Caruana from the Grenke Chess Classic!

Of course in our busy times, in this century based on rushing, we want the answer, instead of endless questions! For Tiviakov the answer is playing 2.Bc4, aiming to eventually transpose into the Italian!


As always, when I try to discover a new opening, I try to find the names of the top players who actually play it. A few names mentioned by Tiviakov can help us: Caruana, and Morozevich.

So why there is a connection between the move Bc4 and the Italian game? As always there is the possibility of transpositions into other openings like after 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6


Now White just needs to play Nf3, and this is the tabya for the Italian game!

Of course the next transposition happens if Black tries stubbornly to enter the Russian Defence by playing: 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 now Black can play 3...Nc6 and we enter the Italian game once more playing 4.Nf3

So what is the Bishop's opening?

Tiviakov begins to define it as when Black tries to fight for the centre, via d5, push the pawns on c7 and d7 to c6 and d6, and develop the b8-knight to d7.

Tiviakov illustrates and explains quite well the ideas of the Bishop's game, I'd say better than in books, because I consulted three different works — two recently published, and one older, and I couldn't find the details Tiviakov gives. Not only that, in most works the lines given by Tiviakov are not treated at all, making this video series better than a book because, at my level, it is quite possible those lines will be played.

While listening to Tiviakov's videos, I pay notice of possible tactical tricks. Try to work out the following, alone (no engine, and no solution, like in a real game!) after the moves: 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 c6 3.d4 Nf6 4.dxe5 Qa5 5.Nc3

Please ask yourself: Is the move Nc3 a mistake because Black can play Nxe4, or does White have a clever tactical shot to refute Nxe4? (Tiviakov explains it in the video! I'm not giving any answer, because I want the reader to be always ready, like in a tournament game, to refute possible dubious moves.)

By the way, I'd like to argue, just for a minute, for the superiority of the ChessBase training system. After a long line given by Tiviakov for the Bishop opening, it ends in this position.


What should I do?

If one owns an engine program like Houdini or Komodo (I have them both!) it's enough to click on your favourite engine, for example I've clicked on Houdini 6:

Then I return to my Chessbase 14 program and I do the following, click on position setup:

Then click on COPY FEN (highlighted)

And then return to your favourite engine and click paste position —  Et voila — one is ready to practice that position against the silicon friend, and ready if it happens in a tournament game.

Returning to review the DVD: It is made up of 16 videos which give a repertoire for playing the Bishop's opening and the Italian game.

This is followed by ten videos of training positions, in which Tiviakov shows the student positions, and ask questions, giving feedback if one doesn't find the right move. Then there is a mega-database based upon the ECO keys which cover the Bishop opening and Italian game. This is a gift of over 350000 games!! And another database of all Tiviakov's games played in these 12 years with the Italian and Bishop game, for a total of 151 games.

I started to watch Tiviakov's games, because I find quite important when the author of an opening book or DVD is also the one who suffered in the same positions we will suffer!

Here two games I found interesting from Tiviakov's personal games:


Final thoughts

DVD cover

Tiviakov has made another very important DVD, which unlike this one is not a repertoire (but also explains the ideas behind some moves, because at heart he is a good coach!) and treats mating attacks on the kingside in the Italian, and Ruy Lopez.

With these 2 DVDs in one's hand, one can be prepared for the opening theory, and at the same time the middlegame themes and ideas.

I feel Tiviakov really did the homework for me, because he showed me many possible unusual continuations which could surprise me at the board, giving me a good 50% of the opening preparation needed to play in tournament.

Now it's time to put in my own 50% of preparation playing it in slow time control games, blitz, studying the games given in the database, before actually put it at work in my tournament games.

Attacking with the Italian Game and the Ruy Lopez

The purpose of this DVD is to teach players how to conduct the attack on the black king using different methods. Although the Italian Game and the Ruy Lopez are mostly positional openings, it is very often possible to make use of attacking methods of play



Tiviakov won the strong Nakhchivan Open in Azerbaijan in early May, and sent us the following annotated game, in which he notes that his work on these recent DVDs came in handy.


Alinca castle following an extensive renovation

Alinca castle following an extensive renovation | Photo: Rahim Gasimov

Final standings (top 25)

Rnk. SNo   Name FED Elo Club/City Pts.  TB1   TB2  n w we w-we K rtg+/-
1 4 GM Mamedov Nidjat AZE 2602 Baku 6,5 2543 4 9 6,5 5,19 1,31 10 13,1
2 9 GM Tiviakov Sergei NED 2569   6,5 2496 4 9 6,5 5,34 1,16 10 11,6
3 2 GM Safarli Eltaj AZE 2657 Baku 6,0 2529 3 9 6 5,96 0,04 10 0,4
4 3 GM Guseinov Gadir AZE 2654 Shamkir 6,0 2524 3 9 6 6,02 -0,02 10 -0,2
5 10 GM Khenkin Igor GER 2557   6,0 2501 3 9 6 5,17 0,83 10 8,3
6 1 GM Korobov Anton UKR 2678   6,0 2442 4 9 6 7,11 -1,11 10 -11,1
7 14 GM Ghaem Maghami Ehsan IRI 2531   6,0 2439 3 9 6 5,53 0,47 10 4,7
8 43 FM Ibrahimli Murad AZE 2305 Sumqayit 6,0 2407 5 9 6 3,28 2,72 20 54,4
9 27 IM Abdulov Orkhan AZE 2401 Baku 6,0 2375 5 9 6 4,68 1,32 10 13,2
10 30 IM Pak Yevgeniy KAZ 2390   5,5 2519 4 9 5,5 2,95 2,55 10 25,5
11 6 GM Smirin Ilia ISR 2592   5,5 2497 3 9 5,5 5,62 -0,12 10 -1,2
12 7 GM Bernadskiy Vitaliy UKR 2589   5,5 2493 2 9 5,5 5,64 -0,14 10 -1,4
13 18 IM Beradze Irakli GEO 2486   5,5 2476 3 9 5,5 4,60 0,90 10 9,0
14 13 GM Abbasov Farid AZE 2531 Baku 5,5 2474 3 9 5,5 5,18 0,32 10 3,2
15 11 GM Korneev Oleg ESP 2533   5,5 2453 3 9 5,5 5,42 0,08 10 0,8
16 20 IM Asadli Vugar AZE 2470 Baku 5,5 2448 4 9 5,5 4,73 0,77 10 7,7
17 16 GM Sanal Vahap TUR 2505   5,0 2499 4 9 5 4,54 0,46 10 4,6
18 22 FM Tutisani Noe GEO 2460   5,0 2485 3 9 5 4,10 0,90 10 9,0
19 8 IM Firouzja Alireza IRI 2570   5,0 2449 3 9 5 5,90 -0,90 10 -9,0
20 31 IM Bashirli Nail AZE 2374 Baku 5,0 2438 4 9 5 3,77 1,23 10 12,3
21 5 GM Aleksandrov Aleksej BLR 2594   5,0 2430 2 9 5 6,36 -1,36 10 -13,6
22 15 GM Kotronias Vasilios GRE 2518   5,0 2408 4 9 5 5,77 -0,77 10 -7,7
23 19 GM Galego Luis POR 2477   5,0 2388 4 9 5 5,55 -0,55 10 -5,5
24 23 IM Tahbaz Arash IRI 2451   5,0 2372 3 9 5 5,37 -0,37 10 -3,7
25 37 WFM Hojjatova Aydan AZE 2344 Baku 5,0 2362 3 9 5 4,40 0,60 20 12,0


Davide is a novel chess aficionado who has made chess his spiritual tool of improvement and self-discovery. One of his favorite quotes is from the great Paul Keres: "Nobody is born a master. The way to mastery leads to the desired goal only after long years of learning, of struggle, of rejoicing, and of disappointment..."
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