The Kraków Variation of the Giuoco Piano Game is an interesting opportunity to divert from the most common lines in the opening that very often ends up as a draw by repetition. It is definitely worth checking out.
1. e4 e5 2. ♘f3 ♞c6 3. ♗c4 ♝c5 4. c3 ♞f6 5. d4 exd4 6. cxd4 ♝b4+ 7. ♔f1
Basically, White gains a tempo because Black’s usual plan cannot be applied. The move is meant to be a surprise, so objective excellence is not necessary. After playing 7. ♔f1, the position becomes roughly equal, but black now faces a new situation while white likely has a plan for the next moves. Black must now handle the vulnerability of the bishop on b4 and the two connected central pawns. If black makes a wrong move, trouble can arise, but if they make the right move, the position will be playable for white. The key is to prevent the exchange of the bishop on b4, as it can unleash various tactical possibilities.
Let’s take a look at a game played by the great Alexander Alekhine in a simultaneous exhibition:
And, as usual, a sample game from our database. Although White lost the game, our analysis suggests a better line that could have produced a very promising attack: