The Anti-Modern 5...Ng4
By Michael Goeller
Probably the most annoying line for White to face against the Two Knights Modern Attack (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.e5) is the counter-attacking 5...Ng4, which immediately puts pressure on White's advanced pawn on e5 and makes it difficult for him to both defend that pawn and try to regain his lost pawn at d4. In this way, it is the perfect "dark square" system against the Modern and really ought to be called "The Anti-Modern." Inspired by James Schuyler's discussion of this line in his excellent book The Dark Knight System (where he reaches this line via the move order 1.e4 Nc6 2.d4 e5 3.Nf3 etc.), I thought I would present a repertoire for Black that builds on Schuyler's suggestions. Though I have mainly played these positions from the White side, I must say that I am more likely to play them from the Black side in the future!
6.Bxf7+ Kxf7 7.Ng5+ Kg8 8.Qf3!?
Yolanda Penas Hernandez (1945) - Alejandro Dominguez Ramos (2025) [C55]
Ideal Clave op/Barcelona (4) 1997
Until the 20th Century, this move was thought to refute 5...Ng4, but analysis of Prik (1912) helped to change that assessment. It has taken a long time for the reassessment of that move to gain acceptance. In my view, however, 5....Ng4 is definitely Black's most dangerous move and the best with which to play for a win.
This is generally the correct retreat in such positions unless the White Queen can immediately get to the a2-g8 diagonal.
Not as strong here is 7... Ke8!? because the King will be stuck in the center for a while, but Black should still be better after 8. Qxg4 d6 9. Qe4 (perhaps 9. Qg3!? h6 10. Nf3 dxe5 11.
This temporary piece sacrifice must be studied closely to avoid getting "miniatured." There is only one defense to this move, and if Black does not know it he loses quickly due to the twin threats of Qf7# and Qb3+ or Qd5+.
The only move, but sufficient to give Black a winning advantage.
This is James Schuyler's recommendation in The Dark Knight System. Schuyler's analysis of the 5...Ng4 line in that book inspired me to put together this analysis. This move is practically interchangeable with the "book" move, 9... Ngxe5, and probably simplifies things considerably.
b) 9... Ngxe5 (the book move) 10. Qd5+ Kf8 11.
12. Qb3+ Kf8 13. Qh3 Kg8 (13... Nxf1! 14. Qf3+ Ke8 15. Qh5+ g6 16. Qxg6+ Kf8) 14. Qb3+ Kf8 15. Qh3 Ng4!? (15... Nxf1!) 16. Qf3+ Kg8 17. Qb3+ Kf8 18. Qf3+ Ke8 19. Qxg4 hxg5 20. Bxg5 Qxe5 21. Bf4 Qh5 22. Re1+ Kf7 23. Qxh5+ Rxh5 24. Bxc7 Nxb4 25. Na3 1/2-1/2 Hector, J (2515) -Lejlic,S (2420)/Limhamn op (43).
and White cannot avoid mate by Qh4 or Rh1+ followed by Qh4+.
6.Bxf7+ Kxf7 7.Ng5+ Kg8 8.Qxg4 h6!
Roeland Verstraeten - Cornelius Van Wieringen [C55]
Corr. ch-Netherlands/Correspondence 1990
a) 9. Qf3 hxg5! 10. Qd5+ Kh7 11. h4 g4 (11... gxh4 12. Qe4+ g6 13. Rxh4+ Kg7 14. Rxh8 Kxh8 15. Qxg6 Qe7) 12. Qe4+ g6 13. h5 Qe8 14. Qxg4 (14. hxg6+ Kg7 15. Rxh8 Kxh8 16. Qxg4 Kg7) 14... Kg8 (14... Nxe5 15. Qe2 d3 16. cxd3 Nxd3+ 17. Kf1 Qxe2+ 18. Kxe2 Nxc1+ 19. Rxc1 Bg7) 15. Kd1 d6 16. Qg3 dxe5 (16... Nxe5) 17. Nd2 Bg7 18. h6 Rxh6 19. Rxh6 Bxh6 20. Ne4 Bg7 21. Bg5 Bf5 22. Nf6+ Bxf6 23. Bxf6 Qf7 0-1 Vasiliev,A-Selivanovsky,S/ Moscow 1962/[Goeller,Michael]
10. e6?! Qf6 11.
This move is strongest, but Black can get the advantage in a number of ways:
a) 11... Qf6 12. Nxc6 bxc6 13. c3 Bf5 14. Qxd4 Qg6 15.
Nadezhda Azarova (2281) - Antoaneta Stefanova (2502) [C55]
Turin olympiad women (12) 2006
An interesting alternative (for those seeking a more consistent approach to this system) is 6... f6!? 7.
6.O-O Be7!? 7.Bf4 g5!
Daniel Hersvik (2080) - Roy Harald Fyllingen (2405) [C55]
Troll Masters/Gausdal (8) 1999
A very interesting and relatively rare idea -- one of many to be found in Schuyler's excellent book.
A daring "Black jet" attack.
Black has even more fun against 8. Bg3?! when he can get his pawns rolling by 8... h5! 9. h3 (9. Nxd4 h4 10. Qxg4 d5 11. e6 hxg3 12. fxg3 dxc4 13. Nxc6 bxc6 14. exf7+ Kf8 15. Qxc4 Qd5)
9... h4 10. Bh2?! (Black is still better after 10. Bxh4 gxh4 11. hxg4 d5 [11... h3 12. gxh3 Rxh3]
12. exd6 Qxd6 13. Bb5 Bxg4 14. Qxd4 Rg8 15. Qxd6 cxd6 16. Nbd2
Black tries to get the most out of the position.
Safe equality can be had by the forcing 8... Bxg5 9. Qxg4 d5 10. Qxg5 Qxg5 11. Bxg5 dxc4 and the bishops of opposite color and unbalanced pawns provide chances for both sides, e.g.: 12. Nd2 h6 13. Bf6 (13. Bh4 Bf5 14. Nxc4 Bxc2) 13... Rg8 14. f3 Be6 15. Ne4 Nb4
White probably must try the risky piece sacrifice 9. exd6!? Bxg5 (9... cxd6? 10. Nxf7)
10. dxc7 Qf6 which "doesn't give White enough for the piece" according to Schuyler, but it is still surprisingly complex after 11. Bg3 (11. Re1+ Kf8 12. Bxg5? Qxf2+!)
In order to drive the bishop away from the g-file with h6 or f6.
6.O-O Be7 7.Re1
Dragoljub Velimirovic (2500) - Leonid Stein (2620) [C55]
YUG-URS/Ohrid MKD (4) 1972
I don't know if Black can get away with 7...f6!? here.
Schuyler analyzes 8. exd6 cxd6! (8... Qxd6 is the only move you find Black playing in database games, but then White can gain a clear edge with 9. b3!
6.Qe2 Qe7 7.Bf4 f6 8.exf6 Qxe2+ 9.Kxe2
Denis Gjuran (2309) - Ilya Khmelniker (2469) [C55]
Bled open/Bled (4) 2008
This exchange of Queens reduces the possible lines that need to be examined and yields good positions for Black. However, in their article on the line, "Fighting for the Centre with f7-f6" (NIC Yearbook #69, 2003) , Krysztof Panczyk and Jacek Ilczuk claimed that swapping queens is "premature, " arguing that "Neither White nor Black should hurry to swap queens -- it only accelerates the opponent's development," and this view has become part of the dogma of the line, reducing the number of games with an early swap. But the swap is good.
The most common recapture. See the next game for 9. Bxe2.
A suggestion of Sveshnikov's, which Schuyler makes his main line. There have been a few games with this move, so Schuyler is incorrect to say that it is "brand new, never been opened, still in its original packaging."
The standard move in such positions. White can also grab a pawn at c7, but as usual that allows Black to mobilize his forces with threats against the wayward prelate:
10. Bxc7 Nge5 (10... d6! 11. Bb5 Bd7 12. Bxc6 bxc6 13. Nxd4 c5)
11. Bxe5 fxe5 12. c3 Bg7 13. Nbd2 (13. cxd4! exd4 (13... e4!? 14. Ng5 Nxd4+ 15. Kd2)
13... dxc3 14. bxc3 Ne7 15. Ne4 d5 16. Bb5+ Nc6 17. Nc5
Black returns the pawn but is able to finish his development with the more solid position.
Black's two bishops and open files more than compensate for his damaged structure.
A neat move, which stops White from occupying f5 while also improving Black's pawn structure.
16. Nxg6 hxg6 17. Kd2 Kf7 18. h4 Rh5 19. c3 c5 20. Nc2 Be7 21. g3 Rb8 22. b3 Rd5+ 23. Ke2 Rh8 24. c4 Rdh5 25. Rhe1 g5 26. hxg5 fxg5 27. Be3 Bf6 28. Rac1 Bg4+ 29. Kd2 Rd8 30. Rh1 d5 31. Rxh5 dxc4+ 32. Ke1 Bxh5 33. bxc4 Bf3!
Locking White's king to the back rank, where it will be subject to attack by the Rook along the h-file.
Immediately winning was 41... Bg2!
White might hold now with 42. Rc1
6.Qe2 Qe7 7.Bf4 f6 8.exf6 Qxe2+ 9.Bxe2
Kjetil A Lie (2536) - Magnus Carlsen (2710) [C55]
Tromso (8) 2007
The more common 9.Kxe2 is considered in the previous game.
The most common move and probably best here. After all, it was the choice of young Magnus!
b) 10. Bxc7 d6 11. Bb5 Bd7! (11... Kd7?! 12. Ba5) 12. Bxc6 Bxc6 13. Nxd4 Bxg2 14. Rg1 Bd5?! (14... Bh3! suggests Schuyler) 15. Nc3 Kd7 16. Nxd5 Nxd5 17. Ba5 Re8+ 18. Kf1 g6= 1/2-1/2 Stranz,R (2272)-Neumeier,K (2305)/Austria T Ch 2004 (36).
10... Nd5!? 11. Bg3 Ncb4 12. Nxd4 c5 13. a3 cxd4 14. axb4 Nxb4 15.
Going after the two bishops is the best way to get a concrete edge even if White recovers the pawn.
Black now wins the g2 pawn, which is at least good collateral.
Black gets the other bishop instead.
A reasonable result. Although Black is up a pawn, his pawns are fixed on dark squares and separated, so White will be able to use his Knight to tie Black down to their defense.
Games in PGN
Copyright © 2013 by Michael Goeller
James Schuyler, The Dark Knight System (Everyman Chess 2013)Krysztof Panczyk and Jacek Ilczuk, "Fighting for the Centre with f7-f6" NIC Yearbook #69 (2003).