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Here's an example of the line in question:
From white's perspective, how can this be avoided? Does white have anything better than 4. e5, 4. Bxc6, or 7. h3?
An alternative is 7.d4 cxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg4 9.e5 Rd8 10.Qa4 Bxf3 11.exf6.
However, I think an improvement over your main line of 8.Ne4 Bg4 9.Nxc5 instead would be a gambit with 9.d3 Bxf3 10.Qxf3 Qxe5 11.Bd2 e6 12.c4 Nb4 13.Bc3 Qc7 14.Qe2 0-0-0 15.f4 when black will have a difficult time holding his ground with the knight stuck on b4.
Thanks for the response and suggestions! I really like the gambit line. I think 14. Ng5 looks like a really promising idea for white, preventing black from castling.
My next question is, what happens if the gambit is declined? I guess that's always something to consider with every gambit. My thoughts would be something involving Re1 to later support the pawn, c4 to create room for the queen while maintaining the initiative, and perhaps Qe2 to emphasize e-file pressure.
What happens if black plays 11. ...Qxb2, to greedily sweep up pawns?
If black declines, then the kick of the knight with c4 is best. So in your idea of 9...g6, then 10.c4 Nb6 11.Re1 and black doesn't dare play Bg7 or lose immediately to 12.Nd6+! Kf8 13.Nxf7! Kxf7 14.Ng5+
Even better! Thanks for helping iron out these lines. After looking at the position for a bit, I think I was able to answer my own question about the poisoned b-pawn: 11. ...Qxb2 12. Rab1 Qxc2 13. Rxb7, and white threatens a dangerous Nd6+, mating soon.
Happy Birthday Mikhail Tal!!
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