The Möller Defence
Let your Bishops loose in this exciting response to the Ruy Lopez!

The Möller Defence

toucanchess
toucanchess
Jan 15, 2018, 1:15 AM |
13

Today I will provide a short introduction to an opening my coach has recommended to me- the Möller Defence. If I were to sum it up, I would describe it as a lively defence that can combat the Ruy Lopez and give Black a perfectly good game. It has been employed many times by top players such as  Veselin Topalov, Alexander Onischuk,  and even the great champion Alexander Alekhine. Surely this is an opening that is worth some consideration when deciding on your opening repertoire. Let's jump in!

Initial Moves:

The Möller Defence is characterised by the following moves:

Themes:

There are a few themes in this opening that Black can use again and again to combat almost anything that White throws at him:

-Eyeing f2: 

From the 5th move Black actively places his Bishop on the c5 square, from which it controls the a7-g1 diagonal with d4 and f2 being the most notable of  these. Of course d4 is a handy square to control because almost all opening theory revolves around the centre. f2 is also crucial, though. It is well known that this is the most tender pawn in the initial stages of the game as it is only defended by the King, which means that a battery that eyes this square could be deadly.A Bishop on c5 usually has one main target- f2!

          A Bishop on c5 usually has one main target- f2!                  

I have also found that this placement of the Bishop favours Black because of the X-Ray against the Castled King. Many tactical ideas in the middlegame revolve around this theme.

-Nc6-e7-g6 Maneuvre:

Also taking the form of Nc6-e5-g6, this maneuvre appears in many of the theoretical lines of the Möller. It improves the c6 Knight, which often finds its purpose lost after the e5 pawn has been sufficiently defended, by swinging it over to the Kingside to participate in an attack agaisnt the White monarch. When this attack occurs, the Knight is usually stationed on the f4 square.

However, this maneuvre also has some defensive value, as the Knight can defend its own King with the aid of the f6 Knight if it is ever needed.

 -Fianchettoed Light-Squared Bishop

Black's Light-Squared Bishop often finds itself placed on b7, where it also eyes the White King, once the centre has been cracked open. Aren't Black's Bishops just great?

 Theoretical Lines:

Let's take a look at some of the mainlines in this defence, which I will annotate, along with some comments from my coach:

 
Finally, I will provide two sharp lines that Black needs to know if he wants to avoid being blown off the board:
Illustrative Games:
When learning an opening, it is always nice to supplement theory with master games. Here you will see two games played by strong players. I will not annotate these, as it is best for the student to study these games and try to understand what is going on for themselves. If you become stuck, you may wish to use an engine.
 
The first is a battle between seven-time Colombian champion Alonso Zapata and Asia's first GM, the great Eugenio Torre:
 

 Next, Sandor Takacs takes on one of the greatest World Champions of all, Alexander Alekhine:null

Alexander Alekhine

Where Now?
Hopefully this blog post will have excited you about this wonderful opening. Why not try it out in an online or OTB game? Then you could take it to the next level by whipping out the Möller in a weekend tournament. Watch as your opponent's face turns to confusion! May you enjoy active pieces and winning chances vs 1.e4 for many years to come. If you would like to further learn the opening, these links may come in handy:
Thanks to my coach for giving me resources that helped organise this blog and to GM Nigel Davies for helping us understand this opening more. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I will try my best to help. As I said, opening suggestions are welcome, as are any improvements you think I could make. Thanks for reading!