George S. Laven, co-author of “the Italian Gambit”, is simply an amateur Chess player, who is also a TRUE enthusiast; more a student of the game than a player, finding great pleasure in ever changing theoretical mysteries this “King of Games” can render.

A latecomer to the game, learning the formal aspects, rules, terminology and more at the age of 47. This, a lucky result of his children's’ association with their school Chess Club, having been introduced to the “Chess Expert” instructor - a near Master of Elo, 2172 (USCF) at that time.

An eye-opening look into the REAL world of Chess began. Having never played the game as a child, and only occasionally around the Cafes of New Orleans in the 70’s Laven discovered a driving interest through his lessons with the strong tournament player Robert Snow. As time went on he developed into a serious student following the well-known adage, “study is the soul of Chess”.

Laven did not become a tournament player, keeping to the more sedate forms of friendly games; cafe Chess, Internet and neighborhood contests, but always involved with the academics this game leads one to.
As with all serious enthusiasts he began to develop a favorite Repertoire for the “opening”, and in time had a fairly consistent style for this initial part of the game. It was during this time that he found a preference for gambit play in certain “double King pawn” starts.

This style and system seemed to work and lead to good results. In time 4. d4! emerged. Two important aspects of this move (and gambit) came to light. First, although this was not a new move, it was little played.
Second, it was not easy to find comprehensive studies on the variations that follow. Solid, easy to follow monographs seemed non-existent while ECO, MCO, NCO and the like helped to some extent, but were surprisingly lacking.

For a short period of time he took lessons from International Master Blas Lugo at the Miami Chess Academy in the “Little Havana” area off Calle Ocho. Here, Chess Master Lugo explained this approach for certain King pawn openings was good and including 4. d4. An encouragement that eventually fueled an entire theoretical study.
After about two years of “Italian Gambit” (unnamed at the time) research, i.e. both over the board and using serious computer analysis to help find “ his own” variations, Laven, the amateur decided it was high time to seek the help and guidance of another true Chess Master, Jude Acers. He knew he would now absolutely need this kind of assistance from a real “pro”.

Jude Acers was contacted and sent samples of the study, plainly asking if any of this had merit, explaining this all evolved simply because of the usual sources were coming up short.
As they say, the rest is history.

Captain Laven is professional mariner, having sailed as ship’s officer and Ship Master for many years. He is now a Harbor Pilot for the bustling commercial Port of Miami.

Many of you are familiar with the Evans’ Gambit. A new infusion of interest emerged for the nearly ancient Italian Game when it was introduced in the 1800’s. Did you also know that Captain Evans, the origin of the gambit’s namesake was also a professional Ship Master and serious amateur?

Amateur enthusiasts can make a difference. With Evans’ 4.b4 in the Italian Game came some of the most interesting play of that age. A pure “new” gambit with exciting, yet to be discovered variations.

The Italian Gambit with 4. d4! is no new invention, however, as a result of this (still ongoing) three year plus theoretical study, the reader will find that many (certainly not all) of the moves that follow black’s response to this forcing play ARE new and ALL whether new or old can lead to winning lines, especially for the unwary or unprepared.


the home of the Italian Gambit Book I of Italian Gambit Book II of Italian Gambit bio for Jude Acers bio for George Laven Chess links from Italian Gambit