Ruy Lopez, Norwegian Defense

Ruy Lopez, Norwegian Defense‎

IM Silman
22 | Opening Theory

James Dong asked:

I was wondering whether you would give your views on the Bxf7 sacrifice variation in the Ruy Lopez Norwegian Defence? I consider myself an aggressive player and would like to add this to my repertoire as it is very interesting.


Dear Mr. Dong:

The Norwegian Defense in the Ruy Lopez (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 b5 5.Bb3 Na5) has been considered inferior for quite some time. However, it's positionally suspect, not tactically. Thus the gambit line that attracts you (and it's attracted many players over the years!) isn't sound and certainly shouldn't be part of any repertoire!

Let's take a look at two fairly recent games (don't forget to click on MOVE LIST to see all the text and moves):

The real test of this opening is 6.0-0 (what could be more natural?) 6...d6 7.d4 when the old 7...Nxb3 is very nice for White. However, there is a bit of light for fans of the Norwegian since no less a chess powerhouse than Morozevich has taken it up by championing 7...exd4.

Here are a couple of samples:

As you can see, 6.Bxf7+? isn't really any fun at all (maybe for Black, but not for you!). However, 6.0-0 gives White an easy game with good chances of a plus. Since the Norwegian is quite rare, why not stick to 6.0-0 (which really requires no memorization or work) and use the time saved for lines that occur with a lot more freequency?

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