1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Bc5 5.Nxe5 Nxe5
I don't like 5...Nxe4 6.Qe2 Nxe5 7.Qxe4 Qe7 8.Nc3! when the compulsory exchange of queens will lead to an exceedingly dreary ending for Black.
Analysis position after 6...a6
6...c6 7.dxe5 Nxe4 8.Bd3 d5 9.exd6 Nf6 is favorable to White (9...Nxd6? 10.Re1+ Be6 11.Rxe6+ fxe6 12.Qh5+)
A) 8.Bb3 (This more usually arises from 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O b5 6. Bb3 Bc5 7. Nxe5 Nxe5 8. d4) 8...Bxd4 9.Qxd4 d6
Analysis position after 9...d6
A1) 10.c3 Bb7 11.f3 c5 12.Qd1 0-0 13.a4 c4 14.Bc2 and now my idea is 14...d5! (14...Qb6+ 15.Qd4 Qxd4+ 16.cxd4 Nc6 17.d5 Nb4 18.Na3 Nd7 was seen in Dimitrov-Onischuk, Yerevan 1996, and this is widely supposed to be equal, but I think White is better after 19.Bf4!)
A1a) 15.axb5 dxe4! 16.bxa6 (16.Qd4 Nd3 17.bxa6 exf3!) 16...exf3! favors Black;
A1b) 15.f4 Qb6+ 16.Kh1 Neg4 is also very good for Black;
A2a) 10...Nc6!? 11.Qc3 Bb7 12.e5 Ne4 13.Qe3 Na5 14.Nd2 Nxb3 15.cxb3 (15.axb3 Nxd2 16.Bxd2 was equal in Svidler-Shirov, Groningen 1996) 15...Nxd2 16.Bxd2 0-0 17.Bc3 Qh4 18.Rae1 Rfe8 19.Qf2 Qxf2+ 20.Rxf2 dxe5 1/2-1/2, Anand-Topalov, Linares 1997;
A2b) 10...c5 11.Qc3 (11.Qd1 Ng6 12.Bd5 Nxd5 13.Qxd5 Rb8 14.Qh5 Bb7 15.Nc3 b4 16.f5 bxc3 17.fxg6 fxg6 18.Qh3 Qe7 19.e5 Rf8 was equal in Ivanchuk-Anand, Riga 1995) 11...Neg4 (11...Nxe4? 12.Qe1 greatly favors White) 12.e5 Ne4 13.Qf3 (13.Qd3 Qh4 14.h3 Ngf2 15.Qf3 c4 16.Be3 Nxh3+ 17.gxh3 d5 is very good for Black) 13...d5 14.c4 Sion-Adams, Leon 1995 14...Nxh2! 15.Kxh2 Qh4+ 16.Kg1 Bg4 17.Qe3 Ng3 18.Re1 d4 19.Qd3 0-0 Black has plenty of compensation for the sacrificed piece.;
B) 8.dxe5 Nxe4 (8...bxa4 9.exf6 Qxf6 10.Qd5 Qc6 11.Qe5+ favors White)
Analysis position after 8...Nxe4
B1) 9.Qd5? leads to an awful game for White: 9...Qh4 10.g3 Nxg3
B1a) 11.Qxa8 Nxf1 12.Qxc8+ (12.Be3 Nxe3) 12...Ke7;
B1b) 11.Qxc5 Nxf1;
B1c) 11.hxg3 Qxg3+ 12.Kh1 Bxf2 13.Rxf2 Qxf2 14.Qxa8 0-0 15.Na3 bxa4;
B2) 9.Bb3 Bb7 10.Nc3 (10.Bd5? Bxf2+ 11.Rxf2 Nxf2 12.Kxf2 Qh4+ 13.Kf1 Bxd5 14.Qxd5 0-0 and Black is better because of his more secure king and more active pieces) 10...Qh4 11.Bxf7+ Short-Onischuk, Wijk aan Zee 1997 (11.Be3? Nxc3 12.bxc3 Qe4 13.Bxf7+ Kxf7 14.Qxd7+ Be7 Onischuk) 11...Kxf7! 12.Qxd7+ Kg6 13.Nxe4 (13.Qe6+ Nf6 14.exf6 Rhe8 and Black's intention, after White's queen retreats, is to play 15...Qxf7+) 13...Qxe4 (13...Bxe4? 14.g3) 14.Qe6+ Kh5 15.Qh3+ Kg6 16.Qe6+ with perpetual check;
7.dxe5 axb5 8.exf6 Qxf6
Analysis position after 8...Qxf6
9.Nc3 (9.e5 Qg6 10.Nc3 c6 11.Re1 0-0 12.Ne4 Be7 13.Bf4 Ra4 is better for Black) 9...c6 10.Qd3 (10.Be3 Bxe3 11.fxe3 Rozentalis-Z. Polgar, Groningen 1993 11...Qe7! 12.Qd4 0-0 13.a3 d6 14.Rad1 Rd8 looks equal; 10.e5 Qf5 11.Kh1 b4 favors Black)
A) 10...b4!? should be considered, after which 11.Nd1 (11.Ne2 d6) 11...d6 12.Be3 Be6 13.Bxc5 dxc5 favors Black;
B) 10...0-0 11.Be3 Bxe3 12.Qxe3 Timman-Beliavski, Linares 1993 (12.fxe3 Qg6 is equal) 12...b4 13.e5 (13.Nd1 Re8 is also equal) 13...Qf5 14.Qe4 d6 15.Qxb4 dxe5 16.Ne4 Be6 and Beliavski says it's equal
A viable alternative appears to be 7...Ba7 8.dxe5 Nxe4 9.Qd5! (9.Bd3 d5 10.exd6 Nxd6 11.Qh5 Be6 12.Bg5 Qd7 13.Nd2 h6 14.Rae1 Rg8 15.Be3 Bxe3 16.Rxe3 0-0-0 was played in Gavrilakis-Calderin, Holguin 1989. Black has managed to equalize.)
A) 9...Nxf2!? It looks odd to trade off the two active minor pieces, but this idea, not found in the books, may be worth trying. 10.Rxf2 Bxf2+ 11.Kxf2 Qh4+ 12.Kf1 (12.Kf3 Qxh2 13.Bf4 Qh5+ 14.Ke3 Qf5 is also unclear) 12...Qxh2
Analysis position after 12...Qxh2
Black's slight material advantage doesn't count for anything because of White's advantage in space and mobility. The question is, will White be able to use his better activity to damage Black's position, or will Black be able gradually to free his pieces with a view toward reaching an ending?
13.Be3 0-0 14.Nc3 (the time-wasting 14.Qc5 d6 15.exd6 cxd6 is good for Black) 14...Re8 with unclear chances.;
B) 9...Nc5 10.Be3 and White is much better, according to Rodriguez. White will be able to run his f-pawn.;
C) 9...Qh4!? 10.g3
C1) 10...Nxg3?! 11.hxg3 Qxg3+ 12.Qg2 Qxe5 13.Nc3 0-0 14.Bd2 d6 15.Rae1 Qf5 (also much better for White is 15...d5 16.Bxa6 Qh5 17.Be2 Qf5 18.Bd3 Rodriguez-Armas, Havana 1991) 16.Nd5 and White was winning in Pavlovic-Jukic, Linares 1996;
C2) 10...c6! The only move. It was suggested in NIC-24, without further analysis, by Rodriguez. 11.Qc4 b5
C2a) 12.Qb4 a5 13.Qa3 (13.gxh4 axb4 favors Black; 13.Qb3 Qe7 is even) 13...Qe7 14.Qxe7+ (14.Bf4 Qxa3 15.Nxa3 g5 16.Be3 Bxe3 17.fxe3 0-0 appears to be even) 14...Kxe7 15.Bf3 f5 16.exf6+ Nxf6 It is quite difficult now to see any advantage for White. Black will soon play ...d5.;
C2b) 12.gxh4 bxc4
C2b1) 13.Bf3 This move is a mistake because ...f6 will soon enough challenge White's dominion of d6, and White will be unable to react with f2-f4. 13...Nc5! (see diagram) (13...f5? 14.Nd2! c3 15.Nxe4 fxe4 16.Bxe4 Bd4 17.bxc3! Bxe5 18.Re1 Kf7 19.Bxc6 dxc6 20.Rxe5 Re8 and though Black has drawing chances, White certainly is better)
Analysis position after 13...Nc5!
C2b11) 14.c3?! Nd3 15.Na3 Nxe5 16.Re1 f6 17.Nxc4 0-0 18.Nxe5 fxe5 19.Kg2 d5 favors Black;
C2b12) 14.Bd2 Rb8 15.Na3 Rxb2 16.Bc3 Rb8 17.Nxc4 0-0 18.Rfe1 (18.Rab1 Rxb1 19.Rxb1 f6 20.exf6 d5) 18...Na4 19.Ba5 f6 with a good game for Black;
C2b13) 14.Na3 c3 15.Nc4 0-0 16.b4 (16.bxc3 f6 is fine for Black) 16...Ne6 and Black will be able to play ...f6, for example 17.Bg5 f6 18.exf6 h6!;
C2b2) 13.Nd2 Nxd2 14.Bxd2 Bd4 15.Bxc4 (15.Bc3 Bxc3 16.bxc3 f6 17.f4 Rf8 18.Bxc4 Rb8 and Black is O.K.) 15...0-0 (15...Bxb2!?) 16.Rfe1 Bxb2 17.Rad1 Re8 (see diagram)
(17...Ba3?! 18.Bf4 favored White in de la Villa-Nogly, Berlin 1997. It continued 18...Bc5 19.Kg2 Kh8 20.h5 f6 21.h6 gxh6 22.Bxh6 Rd8 23.f4 and White was winning.)
Analysis position after 17...Re8
Black has obvious difficulties with his development, and his d-pawn is backward. Nevertheless, he has no tactical weakness, and if he can activate his pieces, White's inferior pawn structure may tell.
C2b21) 18.c3 a5 19.Rb1 Ba3 20.Bf4 Ba6 21.Bxa6 Rxa6 22.Red1 (22.Rb7 d5 23.Reb1 f6) 22...Ra7 and Black, intending ...f6, has a tenable game;
C2b22) 18.Bb4 a5 19.Bd6 Ba6 is defensible for Black;
C2b23) 18.Bf4 Kf8 19.h5 h6 and it seems that Black may be able to untangle himself, for example 20.Kg2 a5 21.a4 c5 22.Bd5 Ra6;
After 7...Be7 8.dxe5 Nxe4 White can get the advantage with 9.Bf3! and now:
A) 9...d5?! 10.c4 Be6 (10...c6 11.cxd5 cxd5 12.Bxe4 dxe4 13.Qa4+ Bd7 14.Qxe4 and Black does not have enough for his pawn) 11.cxd5 Bxd5 12.Qd3 f5 13.Rd1 is excellent for White;
B) 9...Ng5 10.Bd5 0-0 11.Qh5 Ne6 12.Nc3 and White had a significant spatial advantage in Popovic-Flear, Clichy 1987.
8.Re1? Nxf2 9.Kxf2 Qh4+ 10.Kg1 Bxd4+ 11.Kh1 Bf2 12.Rf1 Bg3 13.h3 d6; 8.dxe5 Qh4 9.Be3 (9.Qe1 d5 10.exd6 Bxd6 11.g3 Qe7 is also equal) 9...Bxe3 10.fxe3 (threatening Rf4) 10...Qg5 11.Qd4 d5 12.exd6 Nxd6 with approximate equality.
Possibly critical is 9.b4 Ne6
A) 10.f4 Nc6
Analysis position after 10...Nc6
A1) 11.Bb2 Qh4
A1a) 12.f5 Qxb4 (12...Ng5!?) 13.fxe6 Qxb2 14.exf7+ Kf8 15.Nd2 Qd4+ 16.Kh1 d6 and Black's game appears to be defensible;
A1b) 12.g3 Qh6 13.Qd2 f5 and though White has some compensation for his pawn, I prefer Black;
A2) 11.f5 is given as refuting 7...Nxe4 in Suetin's The Complete Spanish, Henry Holt 1991. But it looks to me as if Black can defend.
A2a) The only practical example in my data base is 11...Ned4 12.f6 g6 13.a4 and Black won a difficult game in Coenen-Gruen, Nordrhein-Westfalen 1995. (but simpler was 13.c3 Ne6 14.Be3 and no place on the board offers security to the Black king) ;
A2b) 11...Qf6 is my idea for the defense, after which:
A2b1) 12.c3 Ng5 13.Bd3 (13.Qd3 h6) 13...h6! 14.Qe2+ (14.Re1+ Ne5) 14...Ne5 is fine for Black;
A2b2) 12.fxe6! Qxa1 13.exf7+ Kf8 14.Be3 (14.Bf4 Qd4+) 14...Qe5! (14...d6 15.Bb6!; 14...b6?! 15.Bc4) and while White has a good deal of compensation for the exchange, it seems that Black will be able to maintain the balance, for example 15.Bf4 Qd4+;
B) 10.Bb2?! (this move and a claim of White advantage is attributed in some sources to Euwe) and here my idea is 10...Qg5! (Pachman's suggestion, 10...f6 11.f4 Nf7 12.f5 Neg5 13.Bd3 Ne5 is unclear to me) and it is by no means clear how White is to justify his pawn-minus, for example 11.Qd5 (11.Re1 0-0 seems good for Black) 11...d6
B1) 12.Qe4 f5 favors Black (12...Nf4 also looks good) ;
B2) 12.Bc1 Nf4 also is good for Black;
B3) 12.Bxe5? Nf4 13.Qf3 Qxe5
9...Qe7?! 10.f4 Ng6 11.f5 Ne5 12.Nc3 and White is much better.
10.f4 Ng6 11.Qxg7 Bf5
Analysis position after 11...Bf5
This position offers Black interesting counterplay.
Gdanski-Grabarczyk, Polish Champ. 1996 continued
12.Nc3 Ne6 13.Qh6 Nd4 is unclear, for example 14.Re1 Kd7
12...Qe7 13.Nc3 0-0-0 14.Bd2 d5 15.Rae1 Ne6 16.Qa7 Qc5+ 17.Qxc5 Nxc5 18.Bf3 Ne4 19.Bxe4 dxe4
and here the players agreed to a draw. White has better pawns and seemingly
more active minor pieces, but after 20. Be3 Black intends 20...Rhg8
with counterplay on the kingside light squares.