Scotch game for Black: 4...Bc5, Part 3 , 5.Nb3

Mar 22, 2018, 8:19 PM |

And here we are with part 3 and we will examine 5.Nb3

From the theoretical point of view, this move wasn't considered interesting till recently. But that has changed and even Carlsen employed it regularly. The positions it creates are interesting and the absence of heavy analysed lines means you will have to rely on your understanding more than ever. Thankfully, there aren't many new things to learn. Everything you know from carefully studying the other parts(as you owe to do), apply here too.



                                                         Diagram 1.

One thing I love is old and forgotten moves that suddenly come in fashion.
6...Nge7 was first played by Emil Schallopp in 1877 and it was one more move completely ignored from players and theoreticians. It was such a rarity that in the first 100 years of its existence there are only 4 games recorded with that move. Yes, only 4, not 40, 4!And in 2017 only there are 17 games with the move, 5 of them played from players 2400+ rated! The move's popularity increased radically in 2013. That means something must  have happened in 2012 or 2011. 2011, was the year Kamsky used the line for the first time and won Radjabov. This game drew a lot of attention since it was a surprise win of a USA team that had many of its top players absent over Azerbaijan who was playing with all its top players in the team and was among the favourites for the gold medal.
After this game, Kamsky made it his pet line and many good players employed it(Ponomariov, Ni Hua, Bok, Nyback, Flear , Inarkiev etc.).


As always, we will first try to understand the position in Diagram 1.

Black hasn't inflicted the important c3 weakness, meaning white will be able to develop his knight on c3(and usually that is the first he does). That, in turn, means Black won't be able to play a fast ...d5 and he will have to rely on...f5 if he wants to create counterplay.

Diagram 2


It is quite clear that ...f5 opens up several options for Black. He can exchange on e4 opening f-file and some good squares for his pieces(either f5 or e5) or advance on f4 gaining k-side space and e5 for his knights or keep the tension and wait for a better timing for either.

Diagram 3.

In some cases, the quick f5 might be followed by a quick  d5 but Black must be careful with that. The d5-pawn is not easy to defend.
Diagram 4.

Often ...f5 has to wait as the pawn is needed to prevent Nge7's pin from Bg5.

Diagram 4.


This is Black's typical development that can get you unharmed in most of the reasonable non-theoretical lines but there are a few more things you need to take into consideration.

First one is the placement of the knight on b3. That knight is not so well placed and can be a target, especially if White decides to castle long. Note that from b3 it doesn't have many good options if it is attacked with ...a5-a4 and most likely White will have to lose a couple of tempi to reroute it in a useful square. 


Diagram 5.
The second one is Nb3.As a general rule Black doesn't want to exchange that knight but sometimes the exchange gives him access to some important squares.
Diagram 6.
I already mentioned that Black Queen's natural square is d7 but "natural" doesn't mean "always optimal". A pattern that appears very often is the rerouting of the queen via e8.
Diagram 7.
In the above diagram ...Qe8 is partly mandatory(either that or ...fxe4) because White threatens e5. But that doesn't mean Black plays ...Qe8 only when for some reason is forced to. From e8, the queen gains access to many very important squares on both sides of the board(f7, g6, h5 on k-side and c6,b5, a4 on q-side). The most common is f7.The battery with Be6 creates pressure on b3 and a2 and enables the important ...Bc4 and the exchange of light squared bishops. 
Diagram 8.
In the previous diagram, you see a tactic related to the e3 square and there are more. The most common are related to the a4 square(which can be accessed from d7 too).
Diagram 9.
Diagram 10.
Finally,do not forget that c7 might become a target once the queen moves away from d8 and be careful when white plays a4 as there are some very dangerous attacking ideas that involve the transfer of the a1-rook on k-side via a4(we will examine that in theory section too) 
Diagram 11.


A word of warning: Opening theory has just recently started to develop in this line and as you would expect many natural moves haven't been tested. Those of you who think you are creative, you will have the chance to prove it.
Diagram 12.
 Diagram 13.
The next line is the most complicated but easy to avoid with the simple 7...a5.
Diagram 14

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