Opening Guide for White & Black

Learn a lot about attack and defense in chess with the unheralded Lucchini Gambit.

  • For those players who relish exciting chess and are not afraid to sacrifice material, the Lucchini Gambit is tailor-made for you.
  • Learn about a position Stockfish assesses as 0.00 even though Black is an entire rook down.
  • Deepen your understanding of chess by looking for improvements for both sides.

The Ideas Behind the Lucchini Gambit

Gambits are an intriguing part of chess that often get us to think of quick victories or traps that win us lots of material. There is lots more to gambits than a quick checkmate or winning material.

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Sometimes a gambit only gives us a lead in development or provides us with the initiative. It is up to us to put the time we’ve gained to good use.

Learning how to make the most of this time is a skill we have to learn, and the best way to learn is to play gambits. Gambits like the little-known and seldom played Lucchini Gambit.

When choosing a gambit, the theory is not as critical as the positions that arise. If you feel comfortable playing these positions, you ought to try the gambit.

Of course, if you feel uncomfortable playing positions reached from a particular gambit, then it is best to avoid the gambit no matter what theory, your chess friends, or chess fashion says.

We reach the starting position of the Lucchini Gambit after:

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d3 f5

Starting position Lucchini Gambit

One of the first things you notice about the move 4…f5 is that Black cannot castle short because the bishop on c4 covers the g8 square. This fact makes it pretty straightforward if you dislike exposing your king to danger, then the Lucchini Gambit is not for you.

If king safety is a high priority for you, then 4…Nf6 or 4…d6 are much better options for you to play in the Quiet Italian Game.

Apart from exposing your king, the move 4…f5 practically begs White to attack you with 5.Ng5 when the knight threatens to land on f7 and fork the queen and rook.

This is the obvious starting point when considering playing the provocative Lucchini Gambit. Now would be a good time to start your chess engine because there are few master games in the Lucchini Gambit.

The Lucchini Gambit With 5.Ng5

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d3 f5 5.Ng5

White plays the ultra=aggressive 5.Ng5

The simplest way to deal with the threat of Nf7 would be to capture the knight on g5, but this would not help because the bishop on c1 defends it. Instead, we must accept the loss of the rook on h8 and see what we can get in return.

A flank attack is always best met with a counter-strike in the center. Well, almost always because each position must be judged on its merits and tactical opportunities.

However, that is not to say 5…d5 does not work, only that it might not be the best response. Here is how the game might proceed after 5.Ng5 d5

6.Bxd5 Nf6 7.Nf7 Qd7 8.Nxh8 Nxd5 9.exd5 Qxd5 10.0-0 Qg8

According to the engines White has a decisive advantage of between 3.4 and 4.2

Depending on your chess engine of choice, White has a decisive advantage of either +3.4 (Komodo Dragon 2) or +4.2 (Stockfish 14+ NNUE).

This did not stop Black from winning the next game.