About the Schliemann defense

About the Schliemann defense

Nov 3, 2013, 3:05 PM |

Recently, it seems that Schliemann defense has attracted a high level of attention since the reputation of some moves has been enhanced by the discovery of new ideas. The latters have led to a re-evaluation of certains critical positions that have been tested over the past fews years in several games at the highest level. In this blog I'll gradually developpe this rich opening following the book of Sabino Brunello : "Attacking the Spanish" but at my chess level so I will consider the moves not only from the book but also what I could play in this kind of positions following my intuitions.


My purpose with this blog  is to create a location from which everyone (and also me !) could learn so I'll gladely consider your reactions and advises to make it as clear and complete as possible. Good reading !  


The Schliemann defense arises in a Spanish game where blacks choose to play a strange-like 3rd move that threatens the center directly: 1.e4 - e5 2.Nf3 - Nc6 3.Fb5 - f5 (see the diagram above). At this time, only one question remains: should whites have to take on f5? Obviously the most instinctive move is not a correct one since after 4.exf5 they will be in danger of being overrun in the center as blacks could play 4. ... e4! and the slight and elusive white's advantage suddenly collapse.


It is clear now than 4.exf5? is dubious. A
 possible move which avoid unnecessary complications induced by the gambit is 4.d3 . This makes whites able to maintain a pawn on the e4 square and thus to keep a certain control on the situation at center. The main idea behind White's 4th is that he can take the e4 pawn without being concerned about e4. The opponient has now to deal with this threat and we'll see now how he could do. Sabino's book strongly recommends 4... fxe4 and qualifies it to be "the soundest continuation" for blacks but without providing any clues to really convince me and for now it is not clear why we should avoid a more natural move like Nf6. After 4...fxe4, the next move is pretty instinctive and requires no specific explanation : 5 dxe4 - Nf6. That will be our starting position

From here, white's activity is generally focused on the queenside where he probably tends to install a knight on d5 and, if possible, a bishop on g5 to pin the knight on f6. A possible threat that blacks must also consider is the possibility for the opponent to advance his queenside pawns to prove black bishop is too early developped. If they do so, Black has to accept a structural weakening by moving his a-pawn in order to save his bishop. On the other hand, the open f-column make kingside play an attractive proposition for black, where the dark-squared bishop on the a7-g1 diagonal will certainly play a major role. He eventually looks to place his knight to the f4 square and his queen on g5 or h4, followed by doubling rooks on the f-file.    


Sacrificing the e5-pawn 
One should have in mind White ability to exchange his bishop for the c6-Knight in order to capture a pawn in e5. Black has generally scored quite well after such a sacrifice if only he came to the board well prepared. In this variation White cedes the bishop pair for this pawn. Moreover, Black enjoys a lead in development and active prospects for his pieces. That should be enough to give a comfortable position to him.