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A question from Doug Schwetke in the variation 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.e5 d5 6.Bb5 Ne4 made me realise than neither I nor my predecessor, Paul Motwani, had actually covered it. In this month's update I'll rectify the omission with some theory and recent games.

Download PGN of April '05 1 e4 e5 games

The Modern Attack

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.e5 d5 6.Bb5 Ne4:

After 7.Nxd4 Bd7 8.Bxc6 bxc6 9.0-0 Bc5 10.f3 Ng5 11.f4 Ne4 12.Be3 Bb6 Doug asks what Black should do about 13.Nc3, a suggestion of Dzhinzhischavili's on one of his videos:

This has in fact been played in a few recent games, though I can's say that it looks much better or worse than the older 13.Nd2.

After 13...Nxc3 14.bxc3 Black has usually played 14...Qe7 in order to inhibit 15.f5. In Kovachev - Ashton White played this anyway, though in addition to 15....Qxe5 it isn't clear to me that 15...0-0 is so bad either.

15.Qd2 is a solid alternative to 15.f5 and helps control the dark square on the queenside, but didn't look at all bad for Black in Radovanovic - Pilgaard. Radovanovic got a better result against Brenjo in Game 3 with 15.Qf3, but the queen doesn't look better placed here than on d2.

Besides 14...Qe7 Black can also play the nonchalant 14...0-0 as in Andres Gonzalez - Rodriguez Fernandez:

The idea is that after 15.f5 Qe7 White can't protect the e5 pawn anyway, and indeed Ashton could have transposed into this had he played 15...0-0. Once again I find the whole thing quite unconvincing for White, though the two advanced pawns can look a bit scary.

Personally I think that Robert Zelcic's 13.Nd2 c5 14.Ne2!? (Zelcic - Ivic) looks more interesting:

Zelcic specialises in the Italian Game and has quite a few interesting ideas up his sleeve, this certainly being one of them. The fact that this is rather unexplored territory also makes it difficult for Black to rely on established patterns of play.

In the remaining three games I review some of the older theory.

In Gurevich - Polovodin White retreats his d4 knight to f3 and gets somewhat the better game after the passive 15...Bf5. Klovans' 15...d4 (Masternak - Klovans) is more critical, though the position wasn't clear until White tossed his e-pawn away with 24.e6.

Finally we come to Sveshnikov - Agzamov. 15.Nb3 had been condemned on the basis of this game but once again it seems far from clear after 19.Qf4.

I have to say that this looks like an interesting line for both sides. My own preference has been for 5...Ne4, but I wouldn't mind playing this with either colour.

Happy hunting, Nigel Davies

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Nigel Davies