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Im trying to build my rep against 1.e4 and im up to fighting the italian game and im noticing its really not a forced sequence of moves more or less its just a universal set up that both sides reach by like move 10. Its not sharp at all but usually it goes to the more or less same positions for example, i annotated this game
Yes, Black would still play ...Be6 had Nc4 not been played. Black would welcome the exchange of light squared bishops if white took. That's because after ...fxe6 Black has a strong pawn center.
I'm no expert on this line, but I can give my general impressions.
Not a fan of ...h6, although I can see it has been played by masters in this or positions occurring soon after. As ChrisWainscott notes, Black has no fear of doubling the pawn at e6. It gets rid of White's best piece (Bb3), will make ...d5 easier to effect after some preparation, and in the meantime keeps White Knights out of d5 and f5. But to me, you can get all that without ...h6, which leaves g6 rather weak after the exchange, just play ...Be6 right away. Not a huge difference, probably, but the older I get the more I hate to create weaknesses.
...Ra8 is perfectly normal after this sort of exchange. It just takes too much time to get the Ra7 into play any other way, for instance you would have to move the b-pawn, c-pawn, and Nc6 to clear the rank for him. So it is an excellent waiting move.
Nc4-e3 is also a very normal move. It's a very strong place for the Knight, eyeing good posts at d5 and f5, not getting in the way after trading the Be3. In some lines the Ne3 may also go to g4 to aid an attack on the Kingside or just pressure e5.
Yes, ...Qd7 and ...Rfe8 are pretty much interchangable, they are natural moves to better squares, and it is difficult to improve on those choices right away. A viable alternative might be just to take ...Be6xb3 followed by 15 ...Nh5 to land on f4 and perhaps proceed with ...Qf6 and some Kingside pressure. White's h3 does prevent ...Bg4, but I suspect it is mainly a waiting move - which also covers g4 for the Ne3 potentially.
With Bc2 White intends to play for a win, so he keeps his strong Bishop on the board, even at the cost of moving temporarily off the better diagonal. d3-d4 is in the air, but 15 Bc2 is less interested in protecting e4 as gaining the diagonal b1-h7 for attack eventually.
15 ...d5! is quite correct, and Black should be at least equal from here. It takes advantage of the redeployment of the Bb3-c2 to get in the ultimate freeing move in this structure. After 16 exd5 Nxd5 Black is happy, I wouldn't go so far as to say he is better but he cannot be worse.
After this, it really becomes a middlegame position where Black has a strong point e5 in the center and good placement for his Knights. The obvious place to look for White to improve would be in getting in d3-d4 before allowing ...d6-d5, but there was no point where it appeared likely to lead to any tangible advantage for him, at least to me. When he does play it, Black is well placed to meet it - he might even avoid exchanging with ...Nd5-f4, leaving White somewhat cluttered. When most of your pieces are better, avoid exchanges.
After that, it is beyond the scope of the opening, but does seem a typical "narrative" that flows from such positions: once Black gets in ...d5, he solves his problems and has good chances of assuming the initiative.
I hope this makes some sense and is helpful.
Lets answer your questions:
Question 1: In order to understand why black plays Ba7 you have to understand the ideal white plan. The ideal white plan is to play d4 (now that white has castled Bb4 is not a dangerous anymore opposed to an early d4 where black equalizes because of Bb4+). So somewhere in the future white will play d4 and by "forking" the e5 pawn and Bishop on c5 black is forced to take on e5 and give up the center. So by play Ba7 black improves the position of his bishop because the d4 became less dangerous. Important to point out is that black hardly lost time on development because white also lost time by playing Bc4 to b3.
Question 2: Because in that case Bg5 can be attacked by h6 and white has little better then return the bishop to e3 (giving black the h6 tempo for free). Retreating to h4 would be dangerous because of g5 and because black did not castle he gets a free attack on the white king.
Question 3: If white would play slower plan with Nf1 (in my opinion stronger than Nc4) black would still play for the exchange of the white squared bishop but he should prepare it a little better with moves like 0-0 and Qe7 before playing Be6
Question 4: White generally tries to attack on the king side with moves like Re1/Nf1/Ng3 (this is the reason why the N is better placed on f1 than c4 and conduct a spanish style attack). Black will play to open the center thus negating the white attack.
Question 5: If white does not want to exchange the bishop he will have to make consessions (either keep his bishop on c1 where is does nothing but stand in the way of the rooks or move it to d2 where it does nothing either). Blacks bishop however even though it is the bad bishop has a very nice position working against the d4 play and putting pressure on f2 and even g1. So there is no reason for white to avoid the trade. Good bishop/bad bishop is a generalization you have to look at the actual position of the pieces and decide who will be favored by the exchange. Blacks bad but strongly places bishop or whites good bishop that has no squares. The timing of the exchange ofcourse is perfect. Currently black would not take because after taking on e3 white would take back with his f pawn opening the f-file where the white rook is already in attack position. However white wants to play Re1. After Re1 black will take e3 because without the rook on the f-file fxe3 is no risk anymore. By taking himself white forces the slight displacement of the black rook.
Question 6: Yes black improves the position of his rook (it wants to communicate with his friend on f8 and support d5 sometime)
Question 7: This was the plan after Nc4 all along. It never was well places there but it is looking for the field f5 (standard spanish attack patterns).
Question 8: This would require more analysis from me because we are in an actual middle game now where plans are executed. For me personally Qd7 looks slightly more logical. It discourages Nf5 a bit and it connects the rooks.
Further questions are about game analysis. Something i have no time for now.
Estra is once again faster than i am. Hope my answers give some extra inside
Estragon and Moonnie thank you so much for your insight it really answered all my questions and i really appreciate it!
haha never try to understand the giuoco piano.
after 4. b4, black can resign.
i play the hungarian defence.
@pdve: Some people do not like a passive defence like the hungarian defence specialy not where there are much moves like Bc5 or Nf6 that equalize much easier.
The Evans gambit is a respectable gambit and one black should known. However when black knows what to do the remaining position is equal.
ok i guess i never looked it up. anyway, it's pointless because i play c5 to e4. and i know the smith morra decently ok.
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