Openings for Tactical Players: Ruy Lopez, Marshall Attack

Openings for Tactical Players: Ruy Lopez, Marshall Attack

| 17 | Tactics

Long gone are the days when the words "Marshall Attack" would make the chess fans' hearts beat faster.  These days it is a weapon of choice for many 2700+ GMs looking to make a quick draw.  Using their computers, they have analyzed the Marshall Attack to almost a forced draw. Does it mean that a once a favorite of chess daredevils has quietly died?  I don't think so. Maybe we just need to start looking in a different direction. If we manage to find a new path (or a well forgotten one!), then we'll get a lot of room for our imagination and creativity to prosper. Besides, such a switch could be an unpleasant surprise for our opponent who is well prepared to repeat the moves he just saw played in a game from a recent category XX tournament. Suddenly he is on his own and these days it is very uncomfortable for many players who rely too much on the computers and databases. Let's see what happens if after the initial moves of the Marshall Attack: 

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. c3

d5 9. exd5, instead of automatic 9...Nxd5 we play 9...e4!?

Of course this ultra-sharp move was played before, but these days is almost forgotten. And as the next game shows, it can be a very unpleasant surprise, even for strong players.  GM Almira Skripchenko is one of the World's leading female players and yet, facing an unknown situation, she played the most natural move 10.Ng5 which is probably the worst of White's options. The punishment was swift. I recommend that you analyze the whole Black attack, since it is very typical for this variation.



The next short game features a very popular, yet simple trap. In fact, the trap is so primitive that I wouldn't even mention it here if not the fact that I found over a dozen games in my database where White fell into it. It means that there is a chance your opponent would fall for it too, and therefore you really want to know this trap :)
As I mentioned above, 12. Qe3? is a well-known opening mistake.  But even after the strongest move 12. Qg3 Black keeps a strong initiative:
According to the official theory, White's best move is 11.d4, which is sort of counterintuitive since White leaves the dangerous f3 pawn alive. In this case Black has to choose between 11... fxg2 (ruining White King's shelter), 11...Bg4 (defending the f3 pawn) or 11...Bd6 (sacrificing the f3 pawn).  In the next game Black preferred the last option.
As I explained in my previous articles, there is no way to analyze all possible lines of any opening in just one brief article.  My goal is just to explain the main ideas, to demonstrate typical attacking patterns and share the spirit of the opening.  If you like it, I strongly recommend you to do your own due diligence before you play it. 
In many cases people who get bitten by the Marshall Attack bug become life long devotees of this exciting opening.  I hope you'll be one of them.
Good luck!
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