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The Fried Liver Attack: Basic Moves and Defending Strategies

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The Fried Liver Attack is a chess opening variation that white pieces can use to get aggressive. It’s popular with beginners because it can be played so aggressively, but experienced players should avoid using it too often. We’ll discuss the basic moves of this attack in detail and how you should defend against it if you are playing black pieces.

The Fried Liver Attack is a chess opening using white pieces; it has been played for hundreds of years, with the first known instance being a game played by Giulio Cesare Polerio in 1606, using, 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Nxd5?!. Fried Liver Attack is also known as the Fegatello Opening in chess.

The dish “Fegatelli” is made from sliced pork liver wrapped in fat netting and grilled over a fire in Italy. Fegatello opening has therefore become known as the Fried Liver, as white is the netting that smothers black’s King.

Fried liver attack step by step

  1. e4 e5
  2. Nf3 Nc6
  3. Bc4 Nf6
  4. Ng5 d5
  5. exd5 Nxd5?
  6. Nxf7 Kxf7
  7. Qf3

At this point the white is up 1.8 after extending the Italian game at move 5, into the fried liver from move 6 onward.

Here is a visual of how this looks on the board from chess.com

So white makes the common e4 kings pawn opening countered by black playing e5 and facing the pawns off

Knight to f3 white attacks the e5 black pawn in the kings Knight variation, black 2…Nc6

Bishop to c4 is the Italian game while black plays the two knight defense with …Nf6

The Italian game continues as white plays Ng5 and now black counters with a fork of pawn and bishop with d5

White takes exd5, black knight replies Nxd5

And now the knight is sacrificed capturing the pawn on f7, giving the piece up to the black king, before the Queen is developed to f3 and the fun begins in chasing the King around the board as well as the capture of undeveloped pieces as we see in this classic and spectacular example from an exciting game in 1850 between Paul and Alonzo Morphy.

Does the fried liver opening work?

Played well the Fried Liver attack can be sound and work well for you when learned deeply.

This is endorsed by the fact it is a common opening played in amateur games but is also seen between advanced players and grandmasters that, for instance, the Vienna game these days. Unlike the Vienna opening, the Fried Liver Attack is still being played often 200 years later.

What are the pros and cons of the fried liver attack?

The pros of playing the game against an unprepared opponent are obvious in displacing the enemy king, and the chase we have seen can result.

Even against a prepared black king, played accurately the fried liver attack will be effective, just don’t get cold feet with some of the sacrifices you will ultimately be making around the board. Keep in mind the material advantage you should be gaining along the way

What do chess grandmasters think about the fried liver attack?

The general feeling is that the Fried Liver opening is still a viable strategy in the modern game 200 years after Morphy was playing it, and it is often seen played by more advanced players as well as those at beginner level.

Fried Liver Attack Defense

There is a defense against the Fried Liver attack and the most common way to play it is to play h6 prior to developing the knight to f6 on move three.

It does create a loss of tempo and slight advantage to white in the chess game that might not be regained but it can stave off the deadly onslaught in the short-term and is a defensive option nonetheless.

Why is it Called the Fried Liver Attack?

There are several variations on the theme, but a literal translation of fegatello from the original Italian name of the opening into English is Liver.

the Piece of Liver can be prepared by cooking in a net over hot coals, so the similarity is that the black is getting cooked in whites attacking net as it is drawn from the safety of his own side of the board.

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