Chess Openings – Fried Liver Attack!

Chess Openings - The Fried Liver Attack

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

Following our coverage of the Italian Game where both sides sensibly develop pieces, this page looks at a similar but very aggressive line!

Knowing the core line works, 5. Ng5! looks like it's the way to undermine black's position.

The fried liver attack is a "do or die response" to the d5 thrust.

In our section on sacrificing in the opening, giving up a piece on f7 should either be done for material compensation, much more active pieces or a mating attack.


The Fried Liver Attack is not the only devastating thing to see fried!

Three things we will learn today

  1. The Fried Liver Attack is crazy
  2. With aggressive openings, you need to be prepared to calculate and take risks
  3. Aggressive play leads to sharp positions - be on your guard!

Part 1 - Fried Liver = Crazy!

Because white is sacrificing a whole piece and there's not an immediate material recovery, white needs to play actively to make sure it's black who is fried, rather than lightly boiled.

Shirov is usually pretty exciting - let's see how he handles the white pieces:

[Event "Chess Olympiad"] [Site "Tromso NOR"] [Date "2014.08.03"] [EventDate "2014.08.02"] [Round "2.36"] [Result "1-0"] [White "Shirov, Alexey"] [Black "Sulskis, Sarunas"] [ECO "C57"] [WhiteElo "2709"] [BlackElo "2544"] [PlyCount "55"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Nxd5 6. Nxf7 Kxf7 7. Qf3+ {the natural follow-up - developing a piece, hitting the pinned d5 and forcing the king to e6} Ke6 8. Nc3 Nb4 {black is holding everything together but now white invests further material to set the board on fire!} 9. a3! (9. 0-0 c6! {and black is basically fine! That's how sharp this position is!}) Nxc2+ 10. Kd1 Nxa1 11. Nxd5 Kd6 12. d4! {maximising the open lines - white is behind but his pieces are active and better developed} Be6 13. Re1 b5 14. Nb4 bxc4 (14...c5 15. Qc6 Ke7 16. Qe6 {illustrates how devastating white's attack is!}) 15. Qc6+ Ke7 16. Bg5+ Kf7 17. Bxd8 Rxd8 18. Qxc7+ Rd7 19. Qxe5 Rd6 20. d5 Bd7 21. Qf4+ Kg8 22. Qxc4 a5 23. Nd3 a4 24. Nc5 h5 25. Nxd7 Rxd7 26. d6+ Kh7 27. Re6 g6 28. Rxg6 1-0
By move 15, the game was effectively over.

White played boldly and with the "no guts, no glory" approach won an attractive game, using the mantras from our knowledge of sacrificing in the opening -

  • Pieces out quickly
  • Using development initiative
  • Prepared to invest further material 9. a3 to make further progress

Part 2 - Aggressive Openings require sharp play

We saw Shirov above butchering his opponent, after being allowed to play the Nxf7 sacrifice and following up with gusto!

It was absolutely vital Shirov played throughout with energy, as it can so easily turn if white chickens out after the initial investment.

(note after 6...Kxf7 the position theoretically is winning for white, which is why black often avoids 5...Nxd5 preferring 5...Na5!? with an equally interesting game!)

Let's look at a couple of reasonable alternatives to see the importance of active play and practice development:

[Event "Seattle Olympiad"] [Site "USA"] [Result "1-0"] [White "Dog, Eddie"] [Black "Doyle, Roz"] [ECO "C57"] [PlyCount "55"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Nxd5 6. Nxf7 Kxf7 7. Qf3+ (7. Nc3 Be6 {black is winning easily}) Ke6 8. Nc3 (8. 0-0 b5!!{and again black has a better game}) Nb4 9. a3! (9. d4!? c6! {and black is again ok!}) Nxc2+ 10. Kd1 Nxa1 11. Nxd5
In summary, the position is theoretically better for white but absolutely critical it is handled with precision and accuracy!

Part 3 - Aggressive play means you must be on your guard!

To end our discussion of the Fried Liver Attack, let's see what happens if white cannot make the move of his initiative - in this game, black also uses the modern rebuttal of the opening with 5...b5 and reaches a positional equality quickly before finishing with some excellent tactics!
[Event "Berlin (Germany)"] [Site "Berlin (Germany)"] [Date "1996.??.??"] [EventDate "?"] [Round "?"] [Result "0-1"] [White "Lueber, R"] [Black "Tuchenhagen, Axel"] [ECO "C57"] [WhiteElo "?"] [BlackElo "?"] [PlyCount "28"] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 b5 6.Bxb5 Qxd5 7.Bxc6+ Qxc6 8.Qf3 Bb7 9.Qb3 O-O-O 10.Rg1 Bc5 11.Nxf7 Qe4+ 12.Kf1 Ba6+ 13.d3 Rxd3 14.Qe6+ Kb8 0-1
Like all aggressive openings, black will try to turn the tables quickly and you have to be on your guard and play the right move to maintain the equilibrium!

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