Sunday, 21 September 2014

King's Gambit Modern Defence

I have been busy recently, away on holiday for two weeks and preparing to start a new job in mid-October (which will mean relocating to Devon from Yorkshire) so progress on my chess site has been quite slow recently.  However, as promised, I have been recapping on my King's Gambit coverage, revising it after taking a close look at John Shaw's enormous book on the opening.  My investigations have started with the Modern Defence: 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 d5.

In general I think John Shaw may if anything be a little pessimistic from White's point of view in some of the variations, as reading through the book it is not clear if White can even reach equality.  I think that after 4.exd5 Nf6 (which clearly represents best play from both sides), White can get dynamically equal play with 5.c4!?, and that 5.Bb5+ and 5.Bc4 are both sufficient for dynamic equality.  After 5.Bc4 Nxd5 6.0-0 Be6 7.Bb3 c5 (Nakamura-Adams, London Classic 2011) I still think that 8.c4 and 8.d3 are probably good enough for equality, although I don't trust 8.d4 or Nakamura's 8.Kh1.  After 5.Bb5+ best play probably runs 5...c6 6.dxc6 Nxc6 7.d4 Bd6 8.0-0 0-0 9.c4 Bg4 with equal chances.

On the other hand, 5.Nc3 looks dubious (5...Nxd5 6.Nxd5 Qxd5 7.d4 Be7 8.c4 Qe4+, or 6.Bc4 Nxc3 7.dxc3 Qe7+) and I'm not sure that White gets enough for the pawn following 5.Be2!? Nxd5 6.c4 Ne7, intending ...Ng6 defending f4 (Shaw doesn't believe in White's compensation there).

In general though Shaw's coverage is impressively thorough, as he covers 5.c4, 5.Bb5+, 5.Bc4 and 5.Nc3 in considerable depth, and those who are interested in knowing about the ins and outs of the various sidelines would definitely benefit from his chapter on the Modern Defence.  My coverage is rather thinner by comparison but I hope that I have included the most important variations and ideas for both sides.