The Ruy Lopez for ambitious players

4/22/2021 – With eleven opening surveys, the ChessBase Magazine #200 offers a large variety of interesting repertoire ideas, e.g. the Kasparov Gambit in the English Opening, the Sicilian Richter-Rauzer or the Gruenfeld. And GM Adrien Demuth has an tempting proposal for the ambitious player: the delayed Schliemann Defence (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 f5). He also checks whether it is true that "thanks to the computers everything is equal nowadays".

ChessBase Magazine 200 ChessBase Magazine 200

Anniversary issue with several extras! "My favourite young Carlsen game": 22 authors annotate. Pearls from Wijk: Jorden van Foreest and Anish Giri comment on their best games. Plus 11 opening articles, 3 opening videos, "Carlen's strategy" and much more!

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A very hot Ruy Lopez

GM Adrien Demuth looks at 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 f5

 

The starting position of our present survey. The Schliemann Defence Deferred has never been taken very seriously. But with current theory and the computer, "everything is equal"... We will try to determine if it's even true with this provocative opening, which is considered to be less precise than its version with the immediate 3...f5 (the original Schliemann Defence, also called the Jaenisch Gambit).

From the above diagram, we will consider several moves. Let's take a tour through the variations!

A) 5.Bxc6?! is quite harmless. In our sample game we will also consider the move 5.Nc3 which is strong against the Jaenisch, but no longer here due to immediate ...b7-b5 options (enabled by 3....a6!). Following 5...dxc6 6.Nxe5 Qd4 7.Nf3 Qxe4+

 

Black is already better, as in Adams,M - Piket,J 0-1.

B) 5.d3 This logical move is less critical that our main line. We lack some high-level games with it, but it seems that Black manages to convincingly master his opening problems.

 

After 5...fxe4 6.dxe4 Nf6 7.0–0 d6 8.Nc3 Be7 White has a wide range of options, all analysed within the annotations on the game Kobalia,M - Narayanan,S 0-1.

C) Finally, the critical move seems to be 5.d4.

 

Leaving the d-pawn alive is clearly not an option, that's why Black continues with 5...exd4 which is actually featured in the four remaining games of this survey. Then White has two ways to go:

C1) First, we will consider 6.exf5.

 

After 6...Qe7+ 7.Kf1 b5 8.Bb3 Bb7 the position is basically fine for Black, even if both sides can fight for a win, as in Torosyan,N - Mikaelyan,A 0-1.

C2) However, I obviously prefer for White the main move 6.e5, and this is where theory needs a breath of fresh air for Black. In the past he almost always went for 6...Bc5, but we can't say it was with good results. Instead, 6...b5 7.Bb3 Bb7 was tried a few times recently, and this is the continuation we are going to focus on.

 

I believe we can expect a lot more games starting from this position. Here everybody went 8.0–0, but I think 8.a4 might be a move we will soon see by prepared White players. Anyway, our main line continues with 8...Na5 when White has two ways again:

C2a) We start with 9.c3 Nxb3! 10.axb3 Ne7!?

 

from the game David,A - Van Foreest,L 1-0 which I like for Black.

C2b) After the principled 9.Nxd4 c5, first it's important to understand that 10.Bxg8? trying to save the bishop isn't strong because of 10...cxd4

 

as in Ter Sahakyan,S - Mikaelyan,A 1-0. White went on to win, but not thanks to the opening.

Finally, we come to the most important game of our study, featuring 10.Nxf5 c4.

 

The position is already pretty tense. White is about to lose the bishop (even if Black actually doesn't want to take it immediately because this would open the a-file), but he has great play, and Black really needs to show great accuracy. Everything is deeply analysed in Duda,J - Tari,A 1-0.

Conclusion: This fresh approach to the Schliemann Defence Deferred seems interesting to me. After a deep analysis, I can say it also holds from the computer's point of view. Furthermore, the variation is very rare, so I doubt White will be well prepared for it in the next months to come. White should go for the critical 5.d4, otherwise Black is basically fine. And in the main line following 5...exd4 6.e5 b5 7.Bb3 Bb7 Black seems to hold as well, though he probably doesn't have the easiest side to play (something the computer doesn't understand). I believe daredevils will love this line!

You will find the complete article with all games and analyses in ChessBase Magazine #200.

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