Playing Black against King's-Pawn Openings (1.e4)
An Exeter Junior Chess Club booklet
Edition 2., December, 99
Kasparov/Keene, Batsford Chess Openings
Levy/Keene, An Opening Repertoire for the Attacking Club Player
Walker, Chess Openings for Juniors
Various magazines and other books
The two general opening rules are:
Rule 1: Develop as fast and as actively as you can
Rule 2: Get a stake in the centre, and try to stop your opponent
What does this mean in the e-pawn openings?
Plan A for White:
try and build a big centre with c3,d4 etc.
try and destroy Black's hold in the centre with f4 or d4
You can see that the move d4 may do both: after ...exd4, cxd4 Black's centre pawn has disappeared and White has the perfect pawn centre. This is the worst case for Black
|White's pawn centre plan||White's perfect centre|
Plan A for Black:
Rule 1: develop as fast as you can
Rule 2: try to hang on to your own stake in the centre, or at least make sure you destroy White's as well.
Both sides may be able to maintain the e-pawn centre with pawns on e4/e5, or these may disappear and both sides have a central d-pawn (d4/d5). Lastly, all four central pawns may vanish. In each case Black should have equal play.
if White doesn't do much, grab as much of the centre as you can
Again, the move ...d5 often forms part of Black's plans. If Black can play this in safety, you will usually have equalised at least.
|e-pawn centre||d-pawn centre||vanished centre|
With or without the d-pawns the natural break is f4/...f5, and either side can hope to plant a Knight on f4/f5.
The open e-file usually means exchanges of the heavy pieces, as neither side can afford to abandon control of the file. The right square to plonk a Knight is e4/e5
With both files open exchanges are likely, and unless one side can seize the centre by force, or has the two bishops, play is drawish.
So, let's have a look at some variations.
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3
The commonest and probably the best move here, but there are alternatives. We divide this booklet into:
White plays 2. Nf3
Less usual tries for White
This old move is not bad: it threatens nothing but holds up Black's ...d5, and leaves open the possibility of 3. f4. How should Black reply?
This is Rule 1: develop as fast and as actively as you can
White has several choices here: 3. f4, 3. Bc4 and 3. g3 are common
And this is Rule 2: keep hold of your share of the centre, or hit back with ...d5. [The move 3...d6 looks half-right, but blocks in the Bf8 and gives up on playing ...d5. 3...d5 is all right.]
Now you should get an equal game, although, as always, you must be careful.
[4. exd5 exf4 5. d4 Bd6 6. Qe2+ Kf8! Inkiov-Pinter, 1982. BCO2 give this as a slight edge to Black]
[Natural development by 5. Nf3 Be7 6. d4 O-O 7. Bd3 f5 8.
exf6 Bxf6 9. O-O Nc6 10. Ne2 Bf5 11. c3 Qd7 12. Bf4 Rae8 leads to a
level d-pawn type of centre
Now after 5. d3 Black can simplify carefully and gain equality:
5... Nxc3 6. bxc3 d4
6...Be7 is more solid-looking, perhaps
7. Nf3 Nc6 8. cxd4 Nxd4
[Instead 8... Bb4+ 9. Bd2 Bxd2+ 10. Qxd2 Nxd4 11. c3 Nxf3+ 12. gxf3 Qh4+ 13. Qf2 Qxf2+ 14. Kxf2 f6 is level:
9. c3 Nxf3+ 10. Qxf3 c6 11. d4 Qh4+ 12. g3 Qg4 13. Bg2 Qxf3 14. Bxf3 Be6
with a level endgame; not much chance for Black to win in this line I'm afraid.
Vienna Game with 3. g3
This line was fashionable amongst masters a few years ago. White isn't doing much, so just follow rules one and two: first develop:
3... Bc5 4. Bg2 O-O 5. d3 Re8
Then hit back with ...d5.
6. Nge2 c6 7. O-O d5 8. exd5 Nxd5 9. Kh1 Bg4 =
with a level game, as in Portisch-Toran 1961.
If White plays this I recommend you reply
[There is an exciting line 3... Nxe4 4. Qh5 Nd6 5. Bb3
when Black can survive with ... Be7, but I don't think you should let White get into this line]
4. d3 Bb4 5. Nf3 d6 6. O-O Bxc3 7. bxc3 Na5
[Fritz reckons you should play 7... h6]
8. Bb3 Nxb3 9. cxb3
When play is level.
This became fashionable as a way of avoiding the Petroff. The right move is:
Now White's most common move is:
[The line 3. d4 exd4 4. Nf3 is the dangerous Urusoff Gambit 4...Nxe4 when 5. Qxd4 Nf6 6. Bg5 Be7 7. Nc3 c6 8. O-O-O d5 9. Rhe1 Be6 leads to a strong attacking game for White
Simply 4... Nc6 5. O-O transposes to the Two Knights' lines below]
3... Nc6 4. Nf3
This transposes to a quiet line of the Italian ( Giuoco Piano/Two Knights' ) group of openings
[4. f4 is the only attempt to be original, but is a poor version of the King's Gambit where White has been committed to d2-d3. One line might go:
4...exf4 5. e5 d5 6. exf6 dxc4 7. fxg7 Bxg7 8. Bxf4 cxd3 9. cxd3 Qe7+ 10. Ne2 Bxb2, when White is in all sorts of trouble]
4... Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. Bb3
Having developed quickly, you are now ready for:
6...d5 7. exd5 Nxd5 8. Re1 Bg4 9. h3
Now, the book line goes:
9... Bh5 10. g4 Bg6 11. Nxe5 Nxe5 12. Rxe5,
when BCO2 gives:
This is a move Gary Lane ignores in his popular book.
But Lane does suggest the magnificent mess starting:
10. Qxf3 Nd4 11. Qxd5
Qxd5 12. Bxd5 Nxc2
If you prefer this sort of game, this is a nice try.
Emanuel Lasker, world champion after Steinitz, said that gambit pawns should always be taken if you haven't broken any opening rules. He adds, you take them, not to hang on to them, but to make your opponent waste time and energy getting the pawn back. Meanwhile, you can develop and prepare to hit back.
This is good advice, but just as in the Vienna Gambit, we will also look quickly at a line with ...d5.
2... d5 3. exd5
Now you can try the relatively unanalysed 3...c6
The Nimzovitch counter-gambit; 3...e4 is the old Falkbeer counter-gambit. Either way you get a good gambit line of your own against the King's Gambit. But Lasker would undoubtedly play:
Now White has two main ways of continuing:
(a) King's Bishop's Gambit, 3. Bc4
(b) King's Knight's Gambit, 3. Nf3
Black can play simply
3... Nf6 (Rule 1)
4. Nc3 c6 (Rule 2)
with good chances.
I have always liked
This Cunningham Variation reinforces the ancient weakness on the e1-h4 diagonal, and covers the e-file.
Now 4...Bh4+ is a fair try, but it's easier to go
4...Nf6 5. e5
[5. Nc3 c6]
[5. O-O d5]
but these should cause you no trouble. After 5. e5
5... Ng4 6. O-O d6
Black has an equal game.
Don't mess around, just play
Now White has a choice:
(a) Centre Game, 3. Qxd4
(b) Danish Gambit, 3. c3
or White can try to transpose into the Scotch with 3. Nf3.
This exposes the Q to attack, when it is hard to find a good retreat.
3... Nc6 4. Qe3 Nf6 5. Nc3 Be7
[or 5... Bb4 6. Bd2 O-O 7. O-O-O Re8 8. Bc4 d6 9. f3 Na5 10. Bb3 Be6 =+
with slight advantage to Black, according to BCO2]
6. Bd2 d5 7. exd5 Nxd5 8. Nxd5 Qxd5
Black is ahead in development, which makes the opposite-side castling difficult to play for White. The game is equal.
3... dxc3 (Lasker!)
[Although 3... Qe7 is an interesting way of declining]
Now 4. Nxc3 is a sort of 'half-Danish', and is likely to transpose to the Goring Gambit, dealt with under the Scotch Game section below. The Danish proper is:
4. Bc4 cxb2 5. Bxb2
When White has a genuinely dangerous lead in development. Correct technique here is to return some of the material to get your own development back on track.
5... d5 6. Bxd5 Bb4+
[or 6... Nf6 7. Bxf7+ Kxf7 8. Qxd8 Bb4+ 9. Qd2 Bxd2+ 10. Nxd2
is a level ending with rival majorities, and is as good try to win as any for Black.]
7. Nc3 Nf6
when Black has good chances of an advantage - either securing the two bishops in an open position, or developing quickly and then keeping the pawn. If you find yourself as Black thinking about odd or cramped moves just to try and hang on to the pawn, my advice is: let it go.
The best reply, is, of course:
White has a few different tries here, the main ones being
3. Bb5, the Ruy Lopez
3. d4, the Scotch Game
3. Bc4, the Italian game which can lead to the Giuoco Piano. Here I recommend the Two Knights' Defence.
This is the most important move at master level. The 'Spanish torture' (Ruy Lopez was a Spanish priest) is the main winning weapon for White and has held centre stage for hundreds of years. At junior level, though, there are a few ways to play it, depending on how much you trust your opponent to play lines you like. John Walker recommends the exciting Open Morphy Defence with 5...Nxe4, but White can veer off into some really dull lines on moves 4 and 5, and if anything your two moves tempt White to play a dull line. The Open Morphy is very well known and hard to play for both sides, so I'll throw in one more alternative: the Archangel Variation. See what you think for yourself.
My own recommendation is the old Cordel Defence with
Bobby Fischer played this a few times in the 'sixties, and never had any trouble reaching a level game. It avoids any trouble you may have with the Exchange Variation and Lopez Four Knights' lines below. Let's look at how you can try and get into the Open Morphy lines, and perhaps then you can will see why I started looking at the Cordel line.
To get into the Open Morphy line you play
White has an important alternative here, which might be played just out of nerves.
4. Bxc6 dxc6
White can play either the old main line
(a) 5. d4
or the Barendregt line
(b) 5. O-O
The move 5.Nxe5 is met by 5...Qd4, regaining the pawn.
White is going for the better ending with this move; the hope is that all the pieces will come off, when White can create a passed pawn on the K-side with f4-f5 and e4-e5-e6 while your Q-side majority is crippled. So Black should avoid too many exchanges and play very actively, using the two bishops and open lines.
5... exd4 6. Qxd4 Qxd4 7. Nxd4 c5 8. Nf3 Bg4
with equal chances.
Bobby Fischer revived this in the 'seventies, and it is still being tried.
What should you do? The book line is roughly equal after
5... f6 6. d4 exd4 7. Nxd4 c5 8. Nb3 Qxd1 9. Rxd1 Bg4 10. f3
Be6 11. Bf4 c4 12. Nd4 O-O-O 13. Nc3 Bf7 14. Nf5 Rxd1+ 15. Rxd1 Ne7
16. Ne3 Ng6 17. Bg3 Bc5 18. Kf2 Rd8 =/+=
(Vitolins-Romanishin 84) with at most a small advantage for White.
But I reckon at junior level the line
is worth a punt:
6. h3 h5!
7. hxg4 hxg4 8. Nxe5 Qh4 9. f4 g3
leads to mate.
So White should play either
with a probable draw after
7...Qd3 8. Re1
[8. hxg4 hxg4 9. Nxe5 Bd6 10. Nxd3 Bh2+ 11. Kh1 Bg3+ 12. Kg1 Bh2+ drawn
8... Bxf3 9. Qxf3 Qxf3 10. gxf3 O-O-O 11. Kf1 Be7 12. Ke2 Bg5 13. Na3 Ne7 14. Rg1 Bh6 15. Nc4 f6 16. h4 c5 17. d3
Or, the best line,
White can get a small advantage here I think, but has to play lots of good moves.
7... Qf6 8. Nbd2 Ne7 9. Re1 Ng6 10. d4 Bd6 11. hxg4 hxg4 12. Nh2 Rxh2 13. Qxg4 Qh4 14. Qxh4 Rxh4 15. Nf3 Rh5 16. dxe5
[16. c3 f6 17. Be3 += bco2]
16... Nxe5 17. Nxe5 Bxe5 18. c3 g5 19. Be3 g4
If White plays the main line with 4. Ba4,
we continue to steer for the Open Morphy with
Sadly, White has several alternatives here, and if all your opponent knows about the Ruy Lopez ends after the third move, you may well startle White into playing one of these lines:
5. Nc3 Lopez Four Knights
5. d3 Andersson-Steinitz
There is also
which is no problem, but it does stop you playing your intended 5...Nxe4. Instead 5...Be7 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. b3 Bd6 8. Bb2 Qe7 9. d3 =
9... Bg4 10. Nbd2 O-O-O is simply level]
Now ...d5 is difficult, but White has little chance of advantage.
5...b5 6. Bb3 Be7 7. d3
[7. a4 is more risky: 7...b4 8. Nd5 Nxe4
when Black may have the edge.]
7... d6 8. Nd5 Na5 =
with equality: BCO2.
White intend to play slowly. There's not much you can do but trot out the usual recipe: develop and play ...d5. This should lead to level play.
5. d3 d6 6. c3 Be7 7. Nbd2 O-O 8. Nf1 b5 9. Bc2
[9. Bb3 d5 10. Qe2 Be6]
9... d5 10. Qe2 Re8
After 5. O-O we can at last enter the
The main line of the Open Morphy variation goes:
6. d4 b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. dxe5 Be6 9. c3 Bc5
When Black has superb development, although may look a little loose. The Open variation has been a great favourite of fighting players like Euwe and Korchnoi.
10. Nbd2 O-O 11. Bc2
Now you might even consider the Dilworth line:
11... Nxf2 12. Rxf2 f6 13. exf6 Bxf2+ 14. Kxf2 Qxf6
Botvinnik has tried this, although it is clearly risky to give up a piece in such an apparently equal position.
There are many alternatives in the Open Morphy at each point for both players, so I have only indicated some of the outlines above. Look in books like BCO2 for more information. Or, if the number of variations you see in the books frightens you, please consider the Archangel Variation
5... b5 6. Bb3 Bb7
which I discuss below.
But I have a feeling that most White junior players won't let you play these lines, and instead will veer off with the natural-looking Exchange or Four Knights' lines.
Having seen the number of ways White can shoot off into odd lines, you can see why I would like to recommend the Cordel variation. After
White's best try is
[or 4. O-O Nge7 5. c3 Bb6 6. d4 exd4 7. cxd4 d5 8. exd5 Nxd5 9. Re1+ Be6 = Evans-Fischer 1960]
Now the only lines I could find in BCO2 started
...with White getting the advantage after
5. d4 fxe4 and
5. exf5 e4.
But Fischer's treatment was more simple: e.g.
4... Nge7 5. d4 exd4 6. cxd4 Bb4+ 7. Bd2 Bxd2+ 8. Qxd2 a6 9. Ba4 d5 10. exd5 Qxd5 11. Nc3 Qe6+ 12. Kf1 Qc4+ 13. Kg1 O-O 14. d5 Na7 15. Re1
[or 15... Ng6]
which was soon drawn: Tal-Fischer, 1960.
Fischer also had several games with the bolder line
5. d4 exd4
[5... Bb6 6. O-O O-O 7. Re1 exd4 8. cxd4 d5 9. e5 Ne4
drawn shortly, Unzicker-Fischer 60]
6. e5 Ne4 7. O-O
[7. cxd4 Bb4+ 8. Bd2 Nxd2 9. Nbxd2 O-O 10. O-O a6 11. Ba4 d6 = Jimenez-Fischer 60]
7... d5 8. Nxd4 O-O 9. f3 Ng5 10. Bxc6 bxc6
drawn Gligoric-Fischer 60.
So on this evidence, the Cordel Defence is a simple way to get your pieces out against players who you don't trust to enter the main lines.
5... b5 6. Bb3 Bb7
Now the best line is (c) 7. Re1, but White has been tempted to go for a quick break with either
(a) 7. d4 or
(b) 7. c3 and 8. d4
This is nothing to be scared of.
7... Nxd4 8. Nxd4 exd4 9. e5 Ne4 10. c3 dxc3 11. Qf3
This looks awkward, but Black can survive happily.
11...d5 12. exd6 Qf6 13. d7+ Kd8!
14. Qxf6+ Nxf6 15. Nxc3 Kxd7 16. Bf4 =
With equality, accoring to Vlastimil Hort.
This is more patient but not stronger.
Black can now make a mess with
7...Nxe4 8. d4 Na5 9. Bc2 exd4 10. b4 Nc4 11. Bxe4 Bxe4 12. Re1 d5 13. Nxd4 Bd6
14. f3 Qh4 15. h3 Qg3 16. Nf5 Qh2+ 17. Kf2 O-O-O 18. fxe4
dxe4 19. Qg4 Kb8 20. Qxe4 Rhe8
Black is doing fine here.
7. Re1 Bc5
White now plays his Plan A
8. c3 d6 9. d4 Bb6
Black is solid and well-developed, as in many lines of the Lopez, but here has posted the bishops on much more active squares, pointing at the White King. Black can play very actively now, castling Queen's side and hammering down the other wing.
10. Bg5 h6 11. Bh4 Qd7 12. a4 O-O-O 13. axb5
This is the strongest line:
[14. Na3 g5 15. Bg3 h5 16. dxe5
[16. h4 was essential: 16...gxh4 17. Bxh4 Rh6 18. Nxb5 Rg8 19. Qd3 exd4 20. cxd4 Nb4 and Black is still spuddling away well]
16... h4 17. exf6 hxg3 18. hxg3 g4 19. Nd4 Rh7 20. Bd5
with an edge for Black, according to BCO2]
Now White does best to try and keep things under wraps with
But Black can give White some nervous moments with:
15...Rhg8 16. Kh1 Qg4 17. Rg1 exd4 18. cxd4 f5 19. Nc3
fxe4 20. Nxe4 Qf5 21. Nc3 Nb4 22. Bxb7+ Kxb7=
Klovans-Shirov 87: equal, accoring to BCO2
The old (1826) Scotch Game is
3... exd4 4. Nxd4
People have recently found some new ideas in lines that had been abandoned, but I think interest is waning again as these ideas become better known. The natural move is
when White has two natural moves: 5. Nb3 and 5. Be3, although you must also consider 5. Nxc6 (and I have even seen 5. Nf5!?)
[If 5. Nxc6 bxc6 6. Bd3 Ne7 7. O-O d5 should hold, but more accurate 5...Qf6! 6. Qe2 bxc6 7. Nc3 Ne7=]
5. Be3 Qf6 6. c3 Nge7 7. Bc4
White has tried many moves in this position, but this Icelandic line is the most current.
[One alternative being 7. g3 d5 8. Bg2 dxe4 9. Nb5
[or 9. Nd2 Bb6 10. Nxe4 Qg6 11. O-O Bg4 12. Qa4 O-O 13. Nc5 Ne5 14. Bf4 Bxc5 15. Bxe5 c6+=
with only a small advantage to White, according to Gary Lane]
9... Bxe3 10. Nxc7+ Kf8 11. fxe3 Rb8 12. Nd5 Qg5 13. Nf4 Qc5
14. O-O g5 15. Nh5 Be6
Klovan-Romanishin 74, with complications avouring black (Lane)
After 7. Bc4 the equaliser used to be 7...Ne5 8. Be2 and 8...d6/8...Qg6 (see BCO2), but that has started to creak.
Will Black succeed in reiforcing the line? Karpov has still happily played 8...Qg6 9. O-O d6 10. f3! O-O 11. Nd2 d5!? and perhaps that is OK.
7... O-O 8. O-O Bb6 9. Nc2
[or 9. Na3 Nxd4 10. cxd4 d5 11. exd5 Rd8 12. Qh5 h6 13.
Rfe1 Bf5 14. Qf3 Rd7 15. Nb5 Rad8
unclear/equal, Chandler-Short 91]
[White could also try 9. Bb3 Na5 10. Bc2 Nc4 11. Bc1 d5 12.
exd5 Bxd4 13. cxd4 Bf5 14. Nc3 Bxc2 15. Qxc2 Nb6 16. Qe4 Qd6 17.
Bf4 Qd7 18. d6 cxd6 19. a4 Rfe8 20. Qf3 Nc6 21. Rfd1 Rad8
9. Nc2 d6 10. Bxb6 axb6 11. f4
11...Be6 12. Nd2 Bxc4 13. Nxc4 Qe6
leaves White with a small space advantage. In the game Kasparov-Short (Linares 1991) Black tried
11...g5!? 12. f5 Ne5 13. Be2 Bd7 14. c4
14...Ba4! 15. b3 Bc6
would have been the best line.
You must retreat with
Now White usually chases the Bishop with
6. a4 a6
Gary Lane reckons this gives White good chances, but one move order he doesn't consider is
7. Nc3 Nge7 8. Bg5 f6!
9. Bh4 O-O
10. Bc4+ Kh8 11. Qd2 d6 12. f4 Ng6 13. Bg3 Na5 =+ Rodriguez-Unzicker, 1970
10. Qd2 d6 11. a5 Ba7 12. O-O-O Be6 13. Nd5 Bxd5! (an improvement on an old Hort-Portisch game) 14. exd5 Ne5 15. Nd4 Bxd4 16. Qxd4 Nf5 17. Qe4 Nxh4 18. Qxh4 f5=
and according to ChessBase , Black has achieved a pleasant equality.
After 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 White may try
[4. Bc4 leads to lines of the Italian Game, below]
Black can equalise with
[The old recommendation 4... d3 5. Bxd3 d6
is OK after 6. h3 g6 7. Bg5 Nf6 8. Nbd2 Bg7 9. Nd4 O-O 10. Nxc6 bxc6 11. f4 Rb8 12. O-O Qe8 = Raaste-Westerinen, 1979, but leads to a less east time after
6. Bf4 Be7 7. h3 Nf6 8. Nbd2 Bd7 9. Qc2 += BCO2]
5. exd5 Qxd5 6. cxd4 Bg4 7. Be2 Bb4+ 8. Nc3 Bxf3 9. Bxf3 Qc4
Neither [10. Bxc6+ bxc6 11. Qe2+ Qxe2+ 12. Kxe2 O-O-O 13. Be3 Ne7=]
[Nor 10. Be3 Bxc3+ 11. bxc3 Qxc3+ 12. Kf1 Qc4+ 13. Kg1 Nge7 14. Rc1 Qxa2 15. Ra1 Qc4 16. Rc1 (drawn here marshall-capablanca, 1926) 16... Qa2 17. Ra1 Qc4 18. Rc1 Qb4
-+ Bryson-Flear, Edinburgh 1985, are any good for White]
10... Qxb3 11. axb3 Nge7 12. O-O a6 =
with equality, Ljubojevic-Ree, 72.
Lastly, but most importantly, we must consider how you should reply to:
You can defend the Giuoco Piano, which is OK, except you cannot rely on White to play an interesting open game. The best way to get a good game going is:
White has several tries here:
(a) Max Lange Attack with 4. d4
(b) Main line Two Knights' with 4. Ng5
(c) Closed line with 4. d3
(d) Variation with 4. Nc3
After 4. d4 Black must reply:
The alternatives are unattractive:
[4... Nxe4 5. dxe5 Nc5 else Qd5 6. O-O Be7 7. Nc3+-
[4... Nxd4 5. Bxf7+ Kxf7 6. Nxe5+ Ke8 7. Qxd4+-]
[4... d6 5. Ng5 Nxe4
[not 5... Be6 6. d5]
6. Bxf7+ Ke7 7. Bb3 +-]
[5. e5 is no worry
5... d5 6. Bb5 Ne4 7. Nxd4 Bd7 8. Bxc6 bxc6 9. O-O Be7 10. f3 Nc5 11. f4 Ne4 12. f5 Bc5 13. e6 fxe6 14. fxe6 Bxe6 15. Qh5+ Kd7 16. Be3 Qe7
when Black is quite OK]
Black now has a choice:
(a) Max Lange with 5... Nxe4
(b) Max Lange with 5... Bc5
I include analysis of both lines in case you fancy playing this as White.
This is the most complex line.
6. Re1 d5
Now White has two important attacking alternatives:
Sacrificial 7. Nc3
Tricky 7. Bxd5
Although, both lines are tricky and sacrificial!
7. Nc3 dxc3
[or 7... dxc4 8. Rxe4+ Be7 9. Nxd4 f5 10. Rf4 O-O 11. Nxc6 Qxd1+ 12. Nxd1 bxc6 13. Rxc4 Bd6 14. Nc3 =
8. Bxd5 Be6
[8... Bf5 9. Bxe4 Bxe4 10. Rxe4+ Be7 = BCO ]
9. Bxe4 Bb4 10. b3 Qxd1 11. Rxd1
11... Rd8 12. Be3 a6
Black has an extra pawn which is hard to keep and harder to make use of. The storm has blown itself out.
So let's look at the alternative
7. Bxd5 Qxd5 8. Nc3
Another surprising Knight move. This is a terribly well-analysed position, so whoever knows most about it should win. One line goes:
[8... Qh5 9. Nxe4 Be6 10. Bg5]
9. Nxe4 Be6 10. Neg5 O-O-O 11. Nxe6 fxe6 12. Rxe6 Bd6
[or 12... Qf5 13. Qe2 h6 14. Bd2 Qxc2 = Bogolyubov]
13. Qe2 Qh5 14. h3 Rde8 15. Bd2 Ne5
And again White's attack has blown out.
Black has only one good move here:
To see why:
[6... Ng4 7. Bf4 O-O 8. h3 Nh6 9. Bxh6 gxh6 10. c3 +-
[6... Ne4 7. Bd5 f5 8. exf6 Nxf6 9. Bg5 +-
Now the main line of analysis goes:
7. exf6 dxc4 8. Re1+ Be6 9. Ng5 Qd5 10. Nc3 Qf5 11. Nce4
This is exciting stuff! White has a strong K-side attack and control of the e-file. But Black has an extra pawn, good central hold and has sent the King off into safer territory. Black can even think about a K-side counter-attack. For example:
12. Nxe6 fxe6 13. fxg7 Rhg8 14. Bg5 Rd7 15. Nf6 Qxg5 16. Nxd7 Rxg7
and White has run out of steam...
Now, you can research this lot for yourselves, but there's a lot to it. For example, if you check this line in the Levy/Keene book, they give 12. g4!
They also say Black's 8...Be6 is " more or less forced, since on 8...Kh8 comes 9. Bg5 cxb2 10. Bh6+ Kg8 11. Nc3! with a tremendous game for the pawn... e.g. ... 11...Bf8 12. Bxf8 Kxf8 13. Ne4 followed by 14. Qd2 with clear advantage to White ." Whereas, if you look in BCO2, you find " 8...Kh8 9. Bg5 cxb2 10. Bh6+ Kg8 11. Nc3 f8 12. Bxf8 Kxf8 13. Ne4 f5 =+ " - that is, advantage to Black, and instead White can only hope for equality after 12. Nxd4 Bxh6!. So I don't know how many recent books you need, although Andrew Soltis (who seems to be going for the world record of chess books published) has written a repertoire book from White's point of view about the Moller and the Max Lange.
The main line, which I recommend, goes:
But there is an alternative: the Wilkes-Barre variation or Traxler Counterattack.
This is wild and exciting chess, although I have a nasty suspicion that White can just play safe with
5. Bxf7+ Ke7 6. Bb3 Rf8 7. O-O d6 8. Nc3
when I don't see how Black can justify both the pawn deficit and poor King position.
But it's worth a look, and I include some examples in the games section. Even if you don't ever play the variation, you might learn from some of the tactical ideas.]
After 4. Ng5 d5, White should try
Now the only right move here is
Although 5...Nb4, 5...Nd4 and 5...Nxd5 have been tried.
[5... Nxd5 can lead to the famous Fried Liver Attack
This is the famous Fried Liver Attack (or Fegatello) After 6... Kxf7 7. Qf3+ Ke6 8. Nc3 Nce7 9. d4 c6
We can only say the position is unclear!
But White can actually play the simple 6. d4
with the better game, and when Nxf7 is a real threat]
After 5...Na5, play usually goes
6. Bb5+ c6 7. dxc6 bxc6
When there are two well-known gambit lines
(a) 8. Be2 h6 9. Nf3 e4 10. Ne5 Bd6 11. f4 exf3 12. Nxf3
(b) 8. Qf3 Rb8 9. Bxc6+ Nxc6 10. Qxc6+ Nd7
I enclose a game in each line below.
4... d5 5. exd5 Nxd5 6. O-O f6 is one time when the Rule 2 shoud perhaps be broken, as Re1 to follow is uncomfortable, although I don't know if Black is in any great danger.
4...Bc5 of course returns you to the Giuoco Pianissimo (spit).
And another safe line is 4... Be7.
But the alternative
is quite OK. The idea is: in the slow Closed Morphy Variation (5...Be7) of the Ruy Lopez, Black often re-organises with ...O-O, ...Rfe8, ...Bf8, ...g6 and ...Bg7. Now with 4. d3, White has said that they plan to play it slow, so you might as well put the B on g7 straight away. 4...g6 loses to 5. Ng5, so you play 4...h6 first. The only way to take advantage of this apparent waste of time is to break open the centre with d3-d4, but this is also a loss of time (d2-d3 then d3-d4), and Black can adjust.
[or 5. Nc3 d6 6. a3 g6 7. h3 Bg7 8. Be3 O-O 9. Qd2 Kh7 10. g4 Nd7 11. Rg1 Nb6
= Spassky-Belyavsky 82 12. g5 Nxc4 13. dxc4 h5]
5... d6 6. c3 g6 7. d4 Qe7 8. Nbd2 Bg7 9. Re1 O-O 10. h3
Bd7 11. Nf1 Rae8 =
with equality, BCO2
4... Nxe4 5. Nxe4
[5. Bxf7+ Kxf7 6. Nxe4 d5 7. Neg5+ Kg8, when Black has the advantage in the centre]
Boden-Kieseritsky Gambit 5... Nxc3 6. dxc3 Be7, when you have no weaknesses but must defend solidly for a while. If you don't fancy this you can always try the plan 4...Be7, 5...O-O and 6...Na5]
5... d5 6. Bd3 dxe4 7.
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d4 exd4 5. O-O Nxe4 6. Re1 d5 7. Bxd5 Qxd5 8. Nc3 Qa5 9. Nxd4 Nxd4 10. Qxd4 f5 11. Bg5 Qc5
12. Qd8+ Kf7 13. Nxe4 fxe4 14. Rad1 Bd6 15. Qxh8 Qxg5 16. f4 Qh4 17.
17... Bh3 18. Qxa8 Bc5+ 19. Kh1 Bxg2+ 20. Kxg2
21. Kf1 Qf3+ 22. Ke1 Qf2#
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d4 exd4 5. O-O Nxe4 6. Re1 d5 7. Bxd5 Qxd5 8. Nc3 Qa5 9. Nxe4 Be6 10. Bd2 Qf5 11. Bg5
11... h6 12. Bh4 g5 13. Nxd4 Nxd4 14. Qxd4 gxh4 15. Nf6+ Ke7 16. Nd5+
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Na5 6. Bb5+ c6 7. dxc6 bxc6
8. Be2 h6 9. Nf3 e4 10. Ne5 Bd6 11. f4 exf3 12. Nxf3 Qc7 13. d4 Ng4
4. c3 Bxh2 15. xh2 g3 16. d2 c4 17. Bxc4 e3
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Na5 6. Bb5+ c6 7. dxc6 bxc6
Black chooses an unusual reply which goes badly wrong.
8... Qb6 9. Nc3 Be7 10. d3 h6 11. Be3 Qc7 12. Nd5 Nxd5 13. Qxf7+ Kd8
14. Qxd5+ cxd5 15. Nf7#
V.C. Wilkes-Barre Variation N WARNING N
These games contain uncut scenes of chess violence. Do not play through them late at night, or in the presence of sensitive adults.
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 Bc5 5. Nxf7 Bxf2+ 6. Kxf2 Nxe4+
7... Qh4 8. g3 Nxg3
9. Nxh8 d5 10. Bxd5 Bh3 11. c3 Nd4 12. Bf3 O-O-O 13. Nf7
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 Bc5
5. Bxf7+ Ke7 6. Bd5
6... d6 7. c3 Rf8 8. d4 exd4
9. Bxc6 bxc6 10. O-O dxc3 11. Nxc3 h6
12. Qe2 Bg4 13. Nf3 Nd7 14. h3 Bxf3 15. gxf3 g5 16. Be3 Ne5 17. Bxc5 dxc5 18. Kg2 Rxf3 19. Rh1 Qg8
White resigned, seeing no way to stop the threats of ...Raf8 and ...g4, combined with perhaps ...c4-c3 and ...Nd3. Estrin was world correspondence champion, and has published a book on the Wilkes-Barre Variation!
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 Bc5 5. Bxf7+ Ke7 6. Bd5 Nb4 7. d4 exd4 8. O-O Nbxd5 9. exd5 Re8 10. Qd3 h6 11. Qg6 hxg5 12. Qxg7+ Kd6 13. Bxg5 Rf8 14. c4 dxc3 15. Nxc3
Black resigns, for if 15... Bd4 16. Nb5+ Kxd5 17. Nxd4, and the King will die in the centre of the arena.
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 Bc5 5. Nxf7 Bxf2+ 6. Kf1
Qe7 7. Nxh8 d5 8. exd5 Bg4 9. Be2 Bxe2+ 10. Qxe2 Nd4 11. Qxf2 O-O-O
12. Ke1 Ne4 13. Qf7 Qh4+ 14. Kf1
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 Bc5
5. Nxf7 Bxf2+
6. Kxf2 Nxe4+
7. Ke3 Qe7 8. Kxe4 d5+ 9. Bxd5 Qh4+ 10. g4 Bxg4 11. Bxc6+
11... Bd7+ 12. Ke3 Qd4+ 13. Ke2 bxc6 14. Rg1 Bg4+ 15.
Rxg4 Qxg4+ 16. Ke1 Qh4+ 17. Kf1 O-O 18. Qe2 Rxf7+ 19. Kg1 Raf8 20.
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 Bc5 5. Nxf7 Bxf2+
6. Kxf2 Nxe4+
7. Kg1 Qh4 8. g3 Nxg3 9. Nxh8 d5 10. Bxd5 Bh3 11. c3 Nd4 12. Bf3 O-O-O
13. Nf7 Rf8