Chess Openings: Traps And Zaps (Fireside Chess Library) and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
  • List Price: $16.99
  • Save: $4.00 (24%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by
Gift-wrap available.
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Eligible for Amazon's FREE Super Saver/Prime Shipping, 24/7 Customer Service, and package tracking. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Chess Openings: Traps And Zaps (Fireside Chess Library) Paperback – April 15, 1989

See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$6.50 $0.01

Frequently Bought Together

Chess Openings: Traps And Zaps (Fireside Chess Library) + More Chess Openings: Traps and Zaps 2 (Fireside Chess Library) + Pandolfini's Endgame Course: Basic Endgame Concepts Explained by America's Leading Chess Teacher (Fireside Chess Library)
Price for all three: $44.37

Buy the selected items together


Looking for the Audiobook Edition?
Tell us that you'd like this title to be produced as an audiobook, and we'll alert our colleagues at If you are the author or rights holder, let Audible help you produce the audiobook: Learn more at

Product Details

  • Series: Fireside Chess Library
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 9th Printing edition (April 15, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671656902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671656904
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Bruce Pandolfini is the author of eight instructional chess books, including Bobby Fischer's Outrageous Chess Moves, Principles of the New Chess, Pandolfini's Endgame Course, Russian Chess, The ABC's of Chess, Let's Play Chess, Kasparov's Winning Chess Tactics, and One-Move Chess by the Champions. He is also editor of the distinguished anthologies, The Best of Chess Life, Volumes I and II. Perhaps the most experienced chess teacher in North America, and the Executive Director of the Manhattan Chess Club, Bruce Pandolfini lives in New York City.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


The Early d2-d4 Complex

Center Game

Danish Gambit

Goring Gambit

Scotch Gambit

Scotch Game

The openings of Chapter 1 are characterized by an early advance of White's d-pawn to d4, which pries open the center while also opening lines for rapid deployment of the pieces. For the developing student, this group of openings is an excellent training ground in tactics and active piece play.

In the Center Game (1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. Qxd4) White contents himself with knocking out the e5-pawn, Black's foothold in the center. White then regains this pawn by capturing on d4 with his Queen. Such an early Queen move is theoretically a liability, and after 3....Nc6, White indeed must back the Queen out of the center, losing time. Despite this drawback, the Center Game offers White reasonably good chances, and Black must play energetically in midcourt to secure equality.

The Danish Gambit (1. e4 e5. 2. d4 exd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Bc4 cxb2 5. Bxb2) is an entirely different kettle of fish. Here, White sacrifices two pawns to accelerate development. This is not a humble opening, and if White fails to generate sufficient attacking possibilities, he will will simply be two pawns down with no compensation. Black, lacking development, must defend carefully. Rather than clinging too greedily to his extra pawns, he should return one or both of them to mobilize his forces. Otherwise, White's attack becomes irresistible.

The Goring Gambit (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. c3) is closely related to the Danish Gambit, with the accent again on expeditious development. Here, White generally restricts himself to sacrificing only one pawn, thus minimizing much of the risk entailed in the Danish. Black, in theory, ought to be able to grab the pawn and endure White's attack. In practice, however, it's not so easy to keep White off his back.

The Scotch Gambit (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Bc4) resembles the Goring Gambit, with the sacrifice of a single pawn for speedy development. Exactly what constitutes a Scotch Gambit is not so clear to the casual player. In practice, this opening almost always transposes into other openings: Two Knights Defense, Max Lange Attack, Giuoco Piano, and even the Goring Gambit. It is often perceived as a transitional opening leading to a complex of related openings. One might play it to disguise one's true intentions.

The Scotch Game (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4) is White's attempt to enjoy the benefits of the Center Game without incurring its disadvantage: the premature exposure of White's Queen. With a pawn on e4 and a Knight on d4, White has the makings of a powerfully centralized game, and Black must conscientiously combine development and counterattack before White consolidates these assests into a concrete, permanent advantage. In theory, Black can pound away at squares e4 and d4, shaking White's grip on the center and ultimately achieving the freeing advance of his Queen-pawn from d7 to d5. This spirited thrust will allow Black to enter the middlegame on an even keel.



Center Game

1. e4 e5

2. d4 exd4

3. Qxd4 Nf6

4. Bg5 Be7

5. e5?

White wants to attack the f6-Knight, but he overlooked 5....Nc6, assailing White's Queen and e-pawn. There are three safe squares for the Queen that also defend the pawn: c3, e3, and f4. If 6. Qc3, then 6....Bb4 pins White's Queen to its King. If 6. Qe3, then 6....Ng4 7. Qe4 (or 7. Bxe7 Qxe7 8. Qe4 Ngxe5) 7....Ngxe5 gains the e5-pawn. And if 6. Qf4, then 6....Nh5 7. Qf3 (or 7. Bxe7 Qxe7 wins the e-pawn next move) 7....Bxg5 8. Qxh5 Bc1 9.Nd2 Bxb2 10. Rb1 Bxe5 puts Black two pawns ahead.

Interpretation: White's second move, d2-d4, is designed to take control of the center, but the plan could backfire. White's Queen can be sucked into the central zone prematurely, after which it is subject to harassment from Black's developing army. Instead of the unprepared advance 5.e5, White should have brought out his b1-Knight, defending his e4-pawn. Afterward, he may be able to castle Queenside. Don't start attacking if you can't follow through with muscle. First build your game by rapid development. Then feast on your opponent's targets and weaknesses. Moreover, don't rely too much on the Queen. Before bringing it out, develop a couple of minor pieces.



Center Game

1. e4 e5

2. d4 exd4

3. Qxd4 Nc6

4. Qa4 Nf6

5. Nc3 d5

6. Bg5 dxe4

7. Nxe4 Qe7

8. 0-0-0 Qxe4

Black's Queen seems protected by his f6-Knight, but not forever. White disrupts with 9. Rd8+!. Black's c6-Knight can't take White's Rook because it's pinned to Black's King by White's Queen. If 9....Kxd8 (or 9....Ke7 10. Qxe4+) 10. Qxe4, then Black's f6-Knight, now in a pin, cannot take the Queen back. Black says goodbye to his Queen.

Interpretation: If your King is still uncastled, avoid opening the center, giving your opponent some access to your fettered monarch. And at the very least, don't initiate risky captures that aid the enemy's attack. Black gauged that his Queen was adequately guarded by the f6-Knight after 8....Qxe4, but he neglected to consider what White's Rook check could do. Before inaugurating a combination or sequence of moves, try to evaluate the consequences of all your opponent's reasonable checks. They could force you to change your plans completely.



Center Game

1. e4 e5

2. d4 exd4

3. Qxd4 Nc6

4. Qe3 g6

5. Nc3 Bg7

6. Nd5 Nge7

7. Ne2 d6

8. Bd2 Bxb2

9. Bc3 Bxa1

Black probably expects White to take his dark-square Bishop, which has grabbed White's Rook, but life isn't always tit for tat. Rather than capture on a1, White's rude Knight intercedes with a check, 10. Nf6+. After the obligatory 10....Kf8, White ends Black's torment with 11. Qh6 mate.

Interpretation: When you've flanked your King's Bishop, you probably can't exchange it away without incurring Kingside weaknesses. Especially vulnerable are the squares traveled by the Bishop -- for Black, the dark squares. The f6 and h6 squares are already weakened here by the g7-pawn's early advance. Once Black's dark-square Bishop also is shut out, those squares become indefensible. That's why it's prudent to think hard before exchanging the flanked King's Bishop, even if it wins a pawn. If you can get away with it, fine; but here, White actually wins by exploiting the undefended f6 with a Knight and also the abandoned h6 with his Queen. Be chary about early, impulsive pawn moves since they usually bring on enemy attack. As Marcus Aurelius put it, "What is not good for the swarm is not good for the bee."



Center Game

1. e4 e5

2. d4 exd4

3. Qxd4 Nc6

4. Qe3 Bb4+

5. c3 Ba5

6. Bc4 Nge7

7. Qg3 0-0

8. h4 Ng6

Black has castled into a furious assault. No prisoners are taken after 9. h5, driving away Black's Kingside shelter. If the g6Knight flees to e7, then 10. Bh6 capitalizes on a debilitating pin. So Black continues 9....Nge5, when 10. Bg5! pushes Black's Queen to a meaningless square, 10....Qe8, making it impossible for that piece to lend defense from f6. And here came more surprises, for 11. Bf6 g6 12. hxg6 Nxg6 is refuted by 13. Qxg6+! hxg6 14. Rh8 mate.

Interpretation: Black's troubles were manifold. Though tactically the early b4-Bishop check works out fine, it weakens Black's Kingside, especially the square g7. In the final position, White's dark-square Bishop runs roughshod over g7 and h8, made possible by Black's aloof dark-square Bishop placement. The King-Knight's defensive abilities are also not so good from square e7. It would have been more enterprising to develop this piece to f6. Black, too, castles into a powerful attack force spearheaded by the h-pawn. Moving it up, White introduces his h1-Rook with deadly effect. Near the end, White's c4-Bishop holds the key, for it pins Black's f7 pawn, preventing it from capturing on g6. It's amazing that Black lasts even fourteen moves.



Center Game

1. e4 e5

2. d4 exd4

3. Oxd4 Nc6

4. Qe3 Nf6

5. Bc4 Ne5

6. Bb3 Bb4+

7. c3 Bc5

8. Qg3?

Black lays a trap, and White falls into it. White's Queen is history after 8....Bxf2+!, forking White's King and Queen. No matter what White answers, his Queen goes: (A) 9.Qxf2 Nd3+, Knight-forking White's King and Queen; (B) 9. Kxf2 Nxe4+, again Knight-forking White's royal pair.

Interpretation: White bought a couple of bad raps here. First, he should have answered Black's fourth-move b4-Bishop check by 5. Bd2. It's usual to respond to a premature check by the KingBishop by blocking with a pawn. That compels the Bishop to move again to save itself, which causes your opponent to waste a turn. So White naturally responded with 7.c2-c3. This mechanical move weakened the d3 square, leaving it without pawn protection. In one of the winning lines, Black's e5-Knight exploits this square. White could have avoided loss of his Queen even after that, however, for there was no need to play 8.Qe3-g3. The simple retreat 4. Qe3-e2 would have averted disaster. One might play White's final blunder, 8. Qe3-g3, because it is natural to move the Queen aggressively, since its great power is always u...

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

Personally I found this book to be of very little help in improving my chess game.
Pandolfini gives really unlikely positions where your opponent would have had to commit a string of gross blunders, and then asks you to find the 'winning move'.
ian cunliffe
At least 90% of chess books don't teach you anything and were just thrown together to make money.
Jason Enochs

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

114 of 120 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on September 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
The idea of chess traps books is absolutely great!!! You don't want to memorize a bunch of traps, you don't want to make "inferior" moves to set up a trap only to find your opponent sees through it and you end up with a rotten sitiuation. But learning tactics by seeing what is going on "before" the tactical trap and being able to avoid them and be able to execute them, as "sound" tactics considering both the tactics and positional situation is important.

Now you ask: why then just two stars for this book? Why does'n't this book tell you about the moves before the trap? It is limited to just one trap per page by design. And, the learning of the openings, explaining the ideas behind the opening moves is just not covered, when it could be. I would like my book to not just give a bunch of moves, then boom... a trap!!! - following a move with a ?? (but what should have been played? - simply not covered most of the time). This book lacks detail when it could have that. So, make each trap two pages! What a much better book that would be.

Also, this book is just plaged with errors in analysis and typos. To point just how fast it starts look at DIAGRAM 1. I was asking where the Black Knight on "f6" went - it disapeared from the board!! There should be a Knight on "f6" - how could a typo starting with the first diagram be missed? Then that leads you to wonder about the rest of the book.

I just got this book and now wonder: is there a book on chess traps that is well rounded as far as the openings it covers, explains the ideas behind moves before the traps, and is accurate? This one misses in all of these respects.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
54 of 56 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on September 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
For starts I would like to say that CHESS OPENINGS: Traps and Zaps is one of two books you need by the same author before you get all the openings covered. This book only covers double king pawn openings, which in my opinion do have some of the most important opening tactics to learn from.

For a second point learning tactics in the opening is important. Learning the "typical" types of tactics that you will come across in the openings you use is an important part of learning the "ideas behind your openings". A CHESS TRAP book should assist you in learning your openings better and improving your tactics. The purpose of using a book on traps is not to learn to set up cheapo tricks that will get you into trouble if your opponent sees through it, but to learn how to avoid traps and to learn solid tactics.

Here is the main problem with CHESS OPENINGS: Traps and Zaps (including the second volume): It provides little analysis and often none at all before the trap (tactic) is reached. Then even after the trap (tactic) the analysis is still lacking in quantity and quality. Don't you find it irritating when a question mark is given to move, but it doesn't tell you why the move is bad, and it doesn't tell you what should have been done? As part of the learning process wouldn't you like a little information on the opening itself - though this isn't the main job of a Traps Book a few notes along the way would take little space.

The author FORCES each trap to fit onto one page with one diagram. I personally would prefer more diagrams. But, often an opening trap/tactic cannot be done justice by requiring it to all fit onto one page.

Now will a good opening trap book be helpful in improving your knowledge of tactics and openings?
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
54 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Matthew T. Deluca on December 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
First, a few points that one won't find included in the book description:
- The book only covers double king pawn openings.
- A large number of the 202 positions arise from questionable opening play by both sides.
- The book is riddled with printing errors.

I purchased this book a number of years ago when I first started studying chess. At that time, I didn't understand much about chess openings and the idea of setting traps appealed to me. Imagine - being able to dupe my opponent and obtain a winning position after only eight or nine moves! What I didn't understand was that this is not good chess. I was mislead by the glint and glitter of a quick knockout - and this book served as an all-too-willing enabler. What I didn't understand was that the opening is a prelude to the positional struggle of the middlegame. Hence, all opening moves should be orchestrated with one's middlegame plan in mind. Setting traps rarely fall into line with these plans - in fact they are often the equivalent of positional suicide. Of course, Pandolfini understands this and to his credit he constantly reminds the reader to adhere to the dogma of basic opening principles such as develop pieces toward the center, castle the king to safety, etc. He offers up some of these tips for playing the opening in the introduction. It's in his justification for writing this book - his "crime and punishment" approach - that Pandolfini begins to wander. He says that beginners often make elementary mistakes in the opening and it is important to recognize these mistakes and punish accordingly. This is all well and good for playing against your cousin at the family get together. But what happens if the opponent doesn't play the horrible chess illustrated in this book?
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?