Thursday, January 1, 2015

Oh horror, black develops faster in this Vienna sideline

We all know that the Vienna defense is annoying as black refuses the free f3. The result is a difficult choice for white, as he has the choice between the berserker attack with g4, sometimes followed up by the even more-than-hara-kiri h4. The other choice is the quiet fxe4, but also here, white is not without problems.

1.d4 Nf6 2.f3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.Nc3 Bf5 5.fxe4 Nxe4 6.Qf3 Nxc3
The other option is 6...Nd6, protecting both the b6 pawn and f5 bishop.

7.bxc3 e6 (diagram)

In my book, I had given 8.Qxb7 Nd7 9.Nf3 as equality, but I am not so sure anymore now. Let's have a closer look.

8.Qxb7 Nd7

The alternative line 8...Qh4+ offers no winning chances for black, eg 8...Qh4+ 9.Kd1 Be4 and white has the luxury of choice between 10.Qc8+, 10.Qxc7 and 10.Bb5+. So back to our main line after 8...Nd7 9.Nf3 (diagram)

It is now black who has the luxury of choice. Let's consider today black's most challenging continuation 9...Rb8. The white majesty can go to c6 or capture on a7 - my silicon assistant prefers the capture after a long thought.

9...Rb8 10.Qxa7 (diagram)

The problem is that black now has 10...Bxc2 and white has no more development moves. Ideally, the white bishop wants to be developed to d3, but this is one of the few lines where this is not possible. Also, 11.Bg5 is not so good as black simply replies 11...Be7 and it is black who can castle first.

So, are we facing a simple, yet effective antidote against our beloved gambit ? It surely seems so.


  1. I used to play 5 Bg5 here, with decent results.

  2. give us an example of 5. Bg5 !? please.

  3. White could instead try to exchange off Black's powerful f5-bishop with 9.Bd3. I can find two practical examples with this in the database. Following 9...Bxd3 10.cxd3 Bd6 11.Nf3 White was at least equal in Gruentaler-Bauer, Bayern 2006. Instead if 10...Rb8 then 11.Qe4 is probably more reliable than 11.Qxa7 Qh4+, and again after 11...Bd6 12.Nf3 chances are even.
    I had a quick look at a way of persisting in playing for compensation for a pawn with 8.Bd3 (instead of 8.Qxb7) but this can be dismissed due to 8...Bxd3 9.cxd3 Qd5.