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Fried Liver Attack - ECO C57

"If the enemy King is still in the center and you have a lead in development, consider these factors an invitation to rip the opponent's head off!"
    - IM Jeremy Silman (1954 - ?)

Introduction

There are a few things which are simply beautiful to behold in chess. Brilliant sacrificial combinations, perfect endgame technique, some entire games are just beautiful. This is one of those lines which simply takes your breath away the first time you see it--if you're in to this sort of thing, anyway.

The Fried Liver Attack, also known as the Fegatello Attack, is named for an Italian idiom "dead as fried liver"1 and dates back at least to the early 17th century, with the first known game recorded in Rome in 1610 between Guilio Cesare Polerio and Domenico2. It arises from the 5. Nh4 line (sometimes called the Perreux Variation) of the Two Knights Defense, which can occur from the Bishop's Opening or the Petroff. It has lost favor in recent centuries, as Giambattista Lolli discovered an improvement on the attack in the mid 18th century, concluding that 6. d4 gives white a better game, and also black can fairly well refute the Fried Liver Attack by not recapturing the pawn with his knight on move five. Still, this is fun to see, and if you play patzers in clubs or a lot of blitz online you might get the opportunity to uncork this beauty once in a great while.

Note: This is a very straightforward and mostly forced line with few deviations, so this is a relatively complete assessment. The chess game detailed at the end is not copyrightable, only annotation is, and as always, all annotation is mine.

Definition

The Fried Liver Attack position (see Diagram 1) can be reached from a couple of move orders, but I'll give the ECO line for the sake of clarity: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Nxd5 6. Nxf7!. From here, black has little choice but to take the offered knight with 6. ... Kxf7. Any other move leaves black down both a pawn and at least the exchange, and most likely the game. White replies with 7. Qf3+ (see Diagram 2), increasing pressure on the pinned knight at d5 while delivering a check to the now wandering King.


                         Diagram 1: After 6. Nxf7
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |BR |   |BB |BQ |BK |BB |   |BR | 8
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |BP |BP |BP |   |   |WN |BP |BP | 7
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |   |   |BN |   |   |   |   |   | 6
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |   |   |   |BN |BP |   |   |   | 5
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |   |   |WB |   |   |   |   |   | 4
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   | 3
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |WP |WP |WP |WP |   |WP |WP |WP | 2
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |WR |WN |WB |WQ |WK |   |   |WR | 1
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                      A    B   C   D   E   F   G   H
                        

                         Diagram 2: After 7. Qf3+
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |BR |   |BB |BQ |   |BB |   |BR | 8
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |BP |BP |BP |   |   |BK |BP |BP | 7
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |   |   |BN |   |   |   |   |   | 6
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |   |   |   |BN |BP |   |   |   | 5
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |   |   |WB |   |   |   |   |   | 4
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |   |   |   |   |   |WQ |   |   | 3
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |WP |WP |WP |WP |   |WP |WP |WP | 2
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |WR |WN |WB |   |WK |   |   |WR | 1
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                      A    B   C   D   E   F   G   H
                        

Lines

  • 7. ... Ke6
  • This is really black's only move to try to hang on to his or her material. It gives extra protection to the still-pinned knight on d5 and shores up the e5 pawn. From here, 8. Nc3 Ncb4 9. Bb3 c6 (see Diagram 3) and black looks alright, although scattered and with a king in the middle of the board.

    
                            Diagram 3: After 9. ... c6
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |BR |   |BB |BQ |   |BB |   |BR | 8
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |BP |BP |   |   |   |   |BP |BP | 7
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |BP |   |BK |   |   |   | 6
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |   |BN |BP |   |   |   | 5
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |BN |   |   |   |   |   |   | 4
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |WB |WN |   |   |WQ |   |   | 3
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |WP |WP |WP |WP |   |WP |WP |WP | 2
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |WR |   |WB |   |WK |   |   |WR | 1
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                          A    B   C   D   E   F   G   H
                            
    
  • 7. ... Ke8
  • This move is a way for black to passively accept his or her material loss and move on to a lost game. Then 8. Bxd5 threatening mate with 9. Qf7#, 8. ... Qf6 9. Bxc6+ Qxc6 10. Qxc6 bxc6 (see Diagram 4). And now we see why this line is so entertaining against the unwary. Black has four(!) pawn islands, including doubled c-pawns and a king who cannot castle. White has a fully intact pawn structure and a king who is likely to castle kingside in short order. From this point, white trading down to a won endgame is recommended.

                           Diagram 4: After 10. ... bxc6
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |BR |   |BB |   |BK |BB |   |BR | 8
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |BP |   |BP |   |   |   |BP |BP | 7
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |BP |   |   |   |   |   | 6
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |   |   |BP |   |   |   | 5
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   | 4
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   | 3
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |WP |WP |WP |WP |   |WP |WP |WP | 2
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |WR |WN |WB |   |WK |   |   |WR | 1
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                          A    B   C   D   E   F   G   H
                            
    
  • Other Moves
  • All the other seventh moves for black are patently bad, but I'll give an example here. If 7. ... Kg8?? 8. Qxd5+ Qxd5 9. Bxd5+ Be6 10. Bxe6#. Game over.

In Closing

Truth be told, the Fried Liver Attack is mostly a trap line, where if your opponent knows what they are doing, many of the annoyances can be avoided (in fact, the entire line can be avoided). However, it's one of those important bits of chess history that is useful to know should you ever find yourself in a Two Knights Defense and perhaps more importantly, if your opponent is playing white and tries this on you, you'll know how to defend accurately.


1 Possibly apocryphal, and I do not speak Italian, so I cannot find any sources of this alleged idiom.

2Polerio,G - Domenico
Rome, 1610

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.Nxf7 Kxf7 7.Qf3+ Ke6 8.Nc3 Nce7 9.d4 c6 10.Bg5 h6 11.Bxe7 Bxe7 12.0-0-0 Rf8 13.Qe4 Rxf2 14.dxe5 Bg5+ 15.Kb1 Rd2 16.h4 Rxd1+ 17.Rxd1 Bxh4 18.Nxd5 cxd5 19.Rxd5 Qg5 20.Rd6+ Ke7 21.Qd5 1-0


Chessbase 8.0 used to cull game scores

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