The Campbell Report
Hard Chess
with USCF Master Mark Morss
5. Nc3 O-O 6. Nxe5

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Bc5 5.Nc3 0-0 6.Nxe5

Unambitious is 6.d3 d6 (6...Re8 7.Bg5 a6 8.Bc4 b5 is also equal) 7.Bg5 h6 8.Bh4 Be6 with an equal game.

Diagram a
Analysis position after 6. Nxe5

This position often arises from 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bb5 Bc5 5. O-O O-O 6. Nxe5. Indeed, if Black plays the Classical Defense to the Spanish, he may as well play 4...Bc5 against the Four Knights, and save himself some memory work.


Worth considering is the ancient and speculative 6...Re8!?

Diagram b
Analysis position after 6...Re8!?

A) 7.Nd3 Bd4 offers Black compensation for his pawn;

B) 7.Nxc6 dxc6 8.Bc4 (more critical is 8.Bd3 Qd6 , though Black has a good deal of compensation for his pawn) 8...b5 9.Be2 Nxe4 10.Nxe4 Rxe4

B1) 11.Bf3 Re6 12.d3 (12.c3?! Qd3 favored Black in Paulsen-Morphy, New York 1857) 12...Qh4 gives balanced chances;

B2) 11.c3 Qh4 does also;

C) 7.Nf3 Nxe4

C1) 8.d4 Nxc3 9.bxc3 Bf8 10.c4 was played in Kamsky-Winants, 2nd Match Game, Tilburg 1992. (10.Ng5 h6 11.Nh3 d6 12.Qf3 Bd7 13.Rb1 Rb8 was even in Ljubojevic-Beliavsky, Linares 1993; 10.Bd3 h6 11.Bf4 d6 12.Rb1 Qf6 13.Bg3 b6 with equality in Schlecter-Marshall, Monte Carlo 1904.; 10.Bg5 Be7 11.Bf4 Bf6 12.Qd2 a6 13.Bd3 d6 with equality in Yates-Thomas, England 1926.) According to theory, Winants now should have played 10...b6 with unclear prospects;

C2) 8.Nxe4 Rxe4

C2a) 9.d3 Re8 10.d4 Bf8 11.d5 Ne5 12.Bf4 is slightly better for White, according to Wolff, but Black doesn't seem to be in much difficulty (12.Nxe5 Rxe5 13.Bf4 Rf5 14.Bg3 c6 15.dxc6 bxc6 16.Bd3 Rg5 17.f4 Rxg3 18.hxg3 Qb6+ 19.Kh2 Qxb2 was unclear in Yin Hao-Li Shilong, Beijing 1995.) ;

C2b) 9.c3 d5 10.d4 Bf8 (10...Bd6 11.Ng5! Re7 12.Bd3 h6 13.Qh5 left White with a strong initiative in Wolff-Winants, Wijk aan Zee 1993.) 11.Bd3 Re8 seems to be satisfactory for Black, since 12.Bxh7+ Kxh7 13.Ng5+ Kg6 doesn't work.

7.d4 Bd6 8.f4

White's problem after the more natural 8.dxe5 is that the b5 bishop is not very efficiently placed. 8...Bxe5 9.Bd3 (9.Qd3 c6 10.Ba4 b5 11.Bb3 a5 12.a4 b4 13.Ne2 Ba6 14.Bc4 Bxh2+ 15.Kxh2 Ng4+ 16.Kg1 Ne5 was highly favorable to Black in Paulsen-Winawer, Baden-Baden 1870.) 9...Re8

Diagram q
Analysis position after 9...Re8

A) 10.Bd2 d6 11.h3 (11.f4 Bd4+ 12.Kh1 Bg4 13.Qe1 Bf5 and Black is much better; 11.Qe2 d5 is excellent for Black; 11.Qf3? Bg4 12.Qe3 d5) 11...Bxc3 12.Bxc3 Nxe4 and White's compensation for the pawn is meager;

B) 10.Qf3 Bxc3 11.bxc3 d5 12.Bg5 dxe4 13.Bxe4 Bg4 14.Qxg4 (14.Bxf6 Bxf3 15.Bxd8 Bxe4 is at least equal for Black) 14...Nxg4 15.Bxd8 Rxe4 looks equal;

C) 10.Ne2 d5 11.f4 Bd6 12.e5 Bc5+ 13.Kh1 Ne4

C1) 14.Bxe4 dxe4
C1a) 15.Qxd8 Rxd8 16.Ng3 Bb6!
C1a1) 17.Nxe4 Bf5 is very good for Black;

C1a2) 17.h3 Be6 18.Nxe4 (18.c3? Bc4) 18...Bf5 19.Re1 Rd4 is good for Black;

C1a3) 17.c3 e3 18.Re1 Rd3 19.Ne2 c5 with advantage to Black, according to Kholmov.;

C1b) 15.Ng3 Qxd1 16.Rxd1 f5 and Black has the better minor pieces;

C2) 14.Qe1 f5! 15.c4 dxc4 16.Bxc4+ Be6 17.Bxe6+ Rxe6 18.Ng3 appears to be equal.


A risky but so far unrefuted idea is 8...Neg4!? 9.e5 Be7 10.h3 (10.f5 d6 11.exf6 Nxf6 12.Be3 c6 13.Bd3 may be slightly better for White, but Black is solid enough) 10...d6 11.Be2 dxe5 12.fxe5 Nxe5 13.dxe5 Qxd1 14.Rxd1 Nd7 15.Bf4 Nc5 16.Nd5 Bd8 and the game looks even.

9.e5 Be7 10.d5

10.exf6 Bxf6 11.d5 Nd4 (see diagram) (11...Ne7 12.Bc4 b5?! was played in Juares-Perez, Buenos Aires 1992, but I must confess that I miss the point of Black's gambit after 13.Nxb5 c6 14.Nd6)

Diagram r
Analysis position after 11...Nd4

A) 12.Bd3 b6 13.Be3 c5 is unclear;

B) 12.Bc4 d6 13.Be3 Nf5 14.Bf2 Bxc3 15.bxc3 Qf6 and Black's better pawns are balanced by White's two bishops.

C) 12.d6!? b6 13.dxc7 Qxc7 14.Nd5 Qd6 15.Nxf6+ Qxf6 16.Bd3 Bb7 17.Bd2 Qc6 18.Qg4 f5 19.Qh3 Rf6 favored Black in Euwe-Reti, Rotterdam 1921.

10...Nb4 11.exf6

Ambitious but dubious is 11.d6 cxd6 12.exf6 Qb6+ 13.Kh1 Bxf6 14.Ba4 d5 15.Nxd5 Nxd5 16.Qxd5 Bxb2! 17.Rb1 (17.Bxb2 Qxb2 18.Rae1 Qf6 is in Black's favor, according to Nunn) 17...Qd4 18.Qxd4 Bxd4 19.Ba3 Rd8 20.Rbd1 Bf6 21.Rfe1

Diagram c
Analysis position after 21. Rfe1

This position was reached in Dekic-Chaves, Manila 1992, and Black should have continued 21...d5! 22.Rxd5 Be6 returning the pawn in exchange for excellent endgame prospects.

11...Bxf6 12.Be3

It's strange that this natural move has neither been played nor considered by theory. What follows from 12. Be3 is necessarily my own analysis. But besides 12.Be3, there are two major theoretical branches that need to be considered.

The first major branch of theory is 12.a3 Bxc3 13.bxc3 Nxd5 14.Qxd5 c6 15.Qd3

A) Here theory considers only 15...cxb5 16.f5 (16.Qxb5 Qf6 17.Qe5 Qxe5 18.fxe5 b6 with equality)

A1) 16...f6 17.a4 bxa4 18.Rxa4 d5 19.Rh4! (19.Rd4 Qb6 20.Be3 Re8 21.Re1 Qc7 22.Rxd5 b6 is even) 19...Re8 20.Be3 Qe7 21.Bd4 Bd7 22.Qh3 and White has a powerful attack, according to Hodgson.;

A2) 16...Qf6 17.Be3 b6 18.Bd4 Qc6 19.f6 g6 20.Qg3 Bb7 21.Rf2 Rae8 with unclear chances, though personally, I'm not too comfortable with the Black pieces.;

B) I don't understand why nobody has considered 15...Qb6+! 16.Be3 Qxb5 17.c4 (17.Qxb5 cxb5 18.Bc5 d6 19.Bxd6 Rd8 is somewhat better for Black) 17...Qh5

Diagram d
Analysis position after 17...Qh5
B1) 18.Rae1 d6 19.Qxd6 Be6 20.Qb4 b6 21.c5 b5 and I prefer Black based on his more active bishop;

B2) 18.f5 f6 19.c5 b6 20.Qb3+ Kh8 21.cxb6 axb6 22.Bxb6 (22.Qxb6 Ba6 gives balanced chances) 22...Ba6 The presence of opposite colored bishops plus major pieces suggest that a titanic tactical struggle may be in the offing. I doubt that White's outside passed pawn will be important in its outcome.;

B3) 18.c5 b6 19.cxb6 axb6 20.Bxb6 Ba6 21.Qf3 Qxf3 22.Rxf3 Rab8 with approximate equality in spite of White's outside passed pawn;

The second major branch of theory is 12.Ne4 c6

Diagram e
Analysis position after 12...c6

A) 13.Nxf6+ Qxf6 14.Bc4 Qd6 15.Be3 Nxd5 16.Bxd5 cxd5 17.Qd4 (17.Bd4 f6 18.Qh5 b6 is equal) 17...b6 18.Rad1 Re8 19.Rf3 Bb7 20.f5 (Here Taylor-Rizzitano, New York 1984, was agreed drawn.) 20...f6 with equality;

B) 13.Bc4 (this position can also arise from 12.Bc4 c6 13.Ne4) 13...b5

B1) 14.a3 Nxc2 15.Qxc2 bxc4
B1a) 16.d6?! Bd4+ (16...Ba6 17.Re1 Rb8 18.Rb1 Bd4+ was Podlesnik-Schein, Austria 1998, and to me, it also appears better for Black.) 17.Kh1 Ba6 with advantage to Black;

B1b) 16.Qxc4? Qb6+;

B1c) 16.Nxf6+ Qxf6 17.Qxc4 Re8 and Black has equal chances in a postion where the presence of opposite colored bishops plus heavy pieces promises a hard struggle;

B2) 14.Bb3 Bb7 15.dxc6 dxc6 16.Qxd8 Bxd8 17.Nd6 Bb6+ 18.Kh1 Ba6 is equal;


Diagram f
Analysis positon after 12...c6


13.a3 Bxc3 14.axb4 Bxb2 15.Rb1 Qf6 and the game is difficult, but I doubt that White has full compensation for his pawn.

13.dxc6 dxc6

A) 14.Bc5 cxb5 15.Bxb4 and now:

A1) Adequate is 15...Bg4 16.Qxg4 Qd4+ 17.Kh1 Qxb4 18.Nd5 Qd6 (18...Qxb2? 19.Rab1) 19.Nxf6+ Qxf6 20.c3 with an approximately even game;

A2) More enterprising is 15...Qb6+! 16.Kh1 Rd8 17.Nd5 (17.Qe2 Be6 and the threat of ...a5 is very troublesome for White; 17.Qf3? a5; 17.Qh5 a5 18.Bc5 Qc6 and White is in serious trouble) 17...Qc6 18.Nxf6+ Qxf6 19.Qc1 Bf5 and Black has the initiative;

B) 14.Ba4 is no better: 14...Bf5 15.Qe2 (15.Qc1 Re8; 15.Bc5 Be7 16.Bxe7 Qxe7) 15...Re8 and Black's pieces are more active.;

13.Bc5 d6 14.Bxb4 (14.dxc6? dxc5 15.Qxd8 Rxd8) 14...cxb5 15.Ne4 Bxb2 16.Rb1 a5

A) Relatively best is 17.Bxa5 Rxa5 18.Rxb2 Bf5 19.Nf2 (19.Qd4 Ra4 20.Rb4 Rxa2 21.Rxb5 Qe7 is very favorable to Black) 19...Qf6 20.Qb1 Rc8 but Black's prospects are good;

B) Even more difficult for White is 17.Bxd6 Re8 18.Rxb2 (18.Bc5 Rxe4 19.Rxb2 b6 is the same) 18...Rxe4

B1) 19.Bc5 b6 20.Qd3 (20.d6? bxc5 21.Qd5 Rb4 22.Rxb4 Be6; 20.Bf2 Rxf4 and Black wins material) 20...Bf5 and Black is better;

B2) 19.Be5 f6 20.Qd3 Bf5 and White is in trouble;

13...b5 14.Bb3

14.a3 Nxc2 15.Qxc2 bxc4 16.dxc6 Re8 17.cxd7 Qxd7 18.Rad1 Qf5 and Black can look forward to good play on the light squares.


Diagram g
Analysis position after 14...a5


15.Qf3?! a4 16.a3 (16.Bc5? axb3 17.Bxb4 Bd4+ 18.Kh1 c5 19.Nxb5 Bxb2 20.Bxc5 Bxa1 21.Bxf8 Qxf8 22.Rxa1 Rxa2) 16...axb3 17.axb4 Rxa1 18.Rxa1 bxc2 19.Rc1 Re8 20.Rxc2 Qe7 21.Bc5 (21.Re2 Qxb4 22.dxc6 Bxc3 23.bxc3 Qxc3 is also very good for Black) 21...Qe1+ 22.Qf1 Qxf1+ 23.Kxf1 Bb7 clearly favors Black;

15.a4 Bxc3 16.bxc3 bxa4

A) 17.cxb4 axb3

A1) 18.bxa5 Rxa5 19.Rxa5 Qxa5 20.cxb3 (worse for White is 20.dxc6 Qc3) 20...Ba6 21.Qa1 Qb5 is even or perhaps slightly better for Black;

A2) 18.dxc6 Ba6 19.Re1 dxc6 20.cxb3 gives equality;

B) 17.Rxa4 Nxd5 18.Bxd5 cxd5 19.Qxd5 Ra6 The game is even.;

15.Qh5? a4 16.Bc5 axb3 17.Bxb4 Qb6+ 18.Kh1 c5.

15...dxc6 16.Qxd8 Rxd8 17.Bb6 Re8

17...Rd2 18.Ne4 is good for White.

18.a4 Bf5 19.axb5 cxb5 20.Nxb5 Bxc2 21.Bxc2 Nxc2 22.Rxa5 Bxb2 with a likely draw.

Copyright © 1999 by Mark F. Morss

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