08 October 2013

Fried Liver Attack

The Fegatello Attack, or Fried Liver, favors White in practice. White scores nearly 80% wins in the selection of games available in the ChessBase database. It should be no surprise that Black usually prefers to avoid the line with 5...Na5.

In The Oxford Companion to Chess (1996), David Hooper and Kenneth Whyld offer the assessment that the opening favors White and suggest the origin of the intriguing name.
...an extensively analyzed variation that favours White. It was known to the 16th-century Italian masters and the name is Italian for a piece of liver, perhaps implying that the sacrifice of White's knight is like a slice of liver used as bait in a trap.
The Wikipedia entry currently offers, "White has a strong attack, but it has not been proven to be decisive." That is my view, but it is not universally shared.

The opening begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.Nxf7 Kxf7 7.Qf3+ Ke6

White to move


Now Black makes the first important choice.

Although 8...Nce7 is a frequent move, it is my view that 8...Ncb4 is Black's best choice.

White to move

White has a problem to solve. The most common response here may not be the best.


In my best game on the Black side of the Fried Liver, my opponent played 9.a3. That game continued 9...Nxc2+ 10.Kd1 Nxa1 11.Nxd5 Kd6 12.d4 b5!? and I was in the process of repeating moves when we agreed to a draw on move 22.

9.Bb3!? has been explored in a small number of games. It may deserve more attention.

In a challenge on Chess.com that resulted from my claim that the Fried Liver is unsound, and Black is fine if he or she defends accurately, my opponent continued with 9.Qe4.

When that game finishes, I plan to post it.


  1. If you have a chance, try Maarten de Zeeuw's article on the Fried Liver and Lolli Attacks in New In Chess Yearbook 75 (2005) pp 139-145. His conclusions are that Black's chances in the Fried Liver are pretty good.

    In your 22 move draw, he suggests 11...Qh4 as a much stronger move than your 11...b5!?

    1. Thanks for the tip, Ralph. I've downloaded the games from YB 75, and will watch for the opportunity to pick up the volume. The article is in two parts, extending to YB 76. It appears that 6.d4 may be the focus of the second article.

  2. For the 9.a3 Nc2 10.Kd1 Na1 11.Nd5 Kd6 12.d4 b5 text game variation (which by mistake led to a draw) the winning moves are the following (apart from 13.Nb4+ which is also good apart from the 13...Bg4 14.Qg4 bc4 15.Re1 Qd7 16.Qe4 Ke6=):
    13.Bb5 Rb8 (for 13....g5 14.Nb4 for other moves de5+ wins) 14.Ne7 Rb5 (for 14...c6 15.Bg5 Qc8 16.de5+; for others 15.Nc6/8 or Nf5 wins) 15. Qc6. Ke7 16.Bg5. Kf7 17.Bd8 Be7 18.Be7 Rb2 19.Qc1 Rf2 20.Qc4. Ke7 21.Qc7. Bd7 22.Re1 Rf5 23.Re5. Re5 24.Qe5. Kf7 25.Qf4. Ke6 26.Qg4. Kd6 27.Qg3. Ke6 28.Qg7 Rc8 29.d5. Kd6 30.Qa1 (3.6)