|The Ponziani Opening is a chess opening that begins with the moves|
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3
This opening is named for Domenico Lorenzo Ponziani, who analyzed it in 1769. Later it was favored by Howard Staunton. Today it is rarely played except as a surprise because Black has several ways to obtain an equal game.
With his third move, White prepares to build a powerful center with 4.d4. This is a logical aim and the same tactic is seen in the Giuoco Piano and the Ruy Lopez. At this point, however, 3.c3 is somewhat premature as it takes away the most natural square for White´s queen knight and it fails to prevent Black from acting in the center. Unlike in the Giuoco Piano, White´s d4 advance will not gain a tempo.
Black´s most aggressive response is 3...d5, striking back in the center. Black players unfamiliar with these lines should be careful as after 4.Qa4 Black must either reinforce the center with 4...f6 (Steinitz) or be prepared to sacrifice a pawn with either 4...Bd7 (Caro) or 4...Nf6 (Leonhardt). If White instead plays 4.Bb5 the game becomes sharp with chances for both sides.
The Ponziani Countergambit (3...f5) is another aggressive Black response. Positions resemble those of the Latvian Gambit.
Black´s safest course is 3...Nf6 (Jaensich). The game might continue 4.d4 Nxe4 5.d5 Ne7 6.Nxe5 Ng6.