Refuting 3...Nxe4 4.dxe5 Qh4

by Michael Goeller

Any time an unusual idea succeeds in its first outing, it receives positive attention. That was true of 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 Nxe4 4.dxe5 Qh4!? which was first played in the important championship game Dorfman - Zilberstein, USSR 1974. After Black's success in that game, some Russian analysis suggested that Black is OK. And though it is almost unknown in master practice, I imagine the line does well for any prepared Black player in skittles games. White has only two good plans -- though both can be accurately described as refutations! The older idea is Larsen's recommendation in ECO of 5.Qf3 Ng5 6.Qf4! Qxf4 7.Bxf4 Ne6 8.Bg3 with a very advantageous ending for White due to Black's difficulties liberating his game with ...d6 without creating a pawn weakness. Two games have since demonstrated the accuracy of Larsen's evaluation. But a much stronger plan than trading into a nice ending is to embarrass Black's oddly placed Queen and Knight in the middlegame that arises after 5.Be3! as I was able to demonstrate in a recent blitz game at ICC. Special thanks to Max Burkett for his feedback on the analysis below.

goeller - anon [C24]

blitz/ICC 2007


1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d4 Nxe4 4. dxe5 Qh4

 

 

5. Be3!

I recommended this move back in 1985 in an article I wrote for the NJ state chess magazine. White has only one strong alternative (5.Qf3), which leads to an advantageous ending. But if you want to have fun in the middlegame, then 5.Be3! is the way to go.

a) 5. Qe2? Estrin 5... Nxf2! 6. g3 Qe4 7. Nc3!? Bb4!

 

b) 5. Qf3 Larsen 5... Ng5

(a) 5... Nxf2? 6. Qxf7+ Kd8 7. Nf3 Nd3+ 8. Kd1!)

 

(b) 5... Nd6?! 6. Bd3 (6. exd6!?) 6... Nc4 7. Qe2 Nb6 8. Nf3)

6. Qf4! Larsen

(a) 6. Bxg5 Qxc4 7. Nc3 Bb4 (7... d6! 8. O-O-O Nc6 9. exd6 Bxd6=) 8. Nge2 O-O 9. O-O?! d6?! 10. Be7 Re8 11. Nd5? Bg4! 12. Qg3 Qxd5?! (12... h5!) 13. Qxg4 Qxe5 14. Qxb4 Nc6 15. Qxb7 Nxe7 16. Ng3 Qc5 1/2-1/2 Braun v Tresch, Germany 1991.)

(b) 6. Qe2?! Nc6 7. g3 Qe4 Dorfman--Zilberstein, USSR 1974.)

6... Qxf4 7. Bxf4 Ne6

(7... Be7? 8. Nc3 Ne6 9. Bg3 O-O 10. O-O-O c6 11. f4 (11. Ne4!) 11... b5 12. Bxe6!? dxe6 13. Ne4 Nd7 14. Nf3 c5 15. Nd6 Bxd6 16. Rxd6 Nb6 17. Bf2 Nc4 18. Rd3 Bb7 19. b3 Na5 20. Bxc5 Rfc8 21. Rhd1 Be4 22. R3d2 Bd5 23. Bb4 Nb7 24. Nd4 a5 25. Be7 a4 26. Nxb5 axb3 27. axb3 Na5 28. Kb2 Rcb8 29. Na3 Rb7 30. Bd6 Bxb3 31. Bb4 Nc6 32. cxb3 Rxb4 33. Rd6 Rc8 34. Rxc6 1-0 Konijn,R-Roosink,T/Haarlem Nova open 2004)

8. Bg3 Larsen 8... Nc6 (8... Nd4!? 9. Bd3) 9. Nf3 (9. Nc3!) 9... Bc5 10. Nc3 Ned4 11. Nd5! (11. O-O-O) 11... Nxf3+ 12. gxf3 Bb6 13. O-O-O O-O 14. Rhg1!? (14. b4!) 14... Kh8 15. f4 (15. b4! Re8 16. a4!) 15... Na5 16. Nxb6 axb6 17. Bd5 f6 18. exf6 Rxf6 19. Rde1 Rf8 20. f5 d6 21. Re7 c6 22. Bxd6 Bxf5 23. Rgxg7 (23. Be5!) 23... cxd5 24. Be5! Rfe8 25. Rxh7+?! Kg8 26. Reg7+?! Kf8 27. Rh8# 1-0 Bering v Christensen, Copenhagen 2002.

5... Nxf2?!

The natural follow-up, winning material for Black but falling far behind in development. He does not have much better, however:

a) 5... Bc5?! 6. Bxf7+! Kxf7 7. Nf3! Qe7 8. Qd5+

 

b) 5... Nf6 6. Be2! (6. Bxf7+ Kxf7 7. exf6) (6. Qe2 Ng4 7. Nf3 Qe7) 6... Ne4 7. Nf3

6. Bxf7+!

Touche! Now Black's King will never castle to safety.

 

6... Kxf7 7. Qf3+ Ke8 8. Bxf2 Qb4+

Also very difficult for the second player is 8... Qg5 9. Ne2 Qxe5 10. Nbc3

 

9. Nc3 Qxb2 10. Rb1 Qa3

10... Qxc2 11. Nge2 Nc6 12. O-O! Nxe5? 13. Qh5+ Ng6 (13... Nf7 14. Nd4!) (13... Qg6 14. Qxe5+ Qe6 15. Qxc7) 14. Nf4 d6 15. Rbe1+

 

11. Nge2 Nc6 12. O-O Be7

12... Nxe5 13. Qh5+ Nf7 14. Nb5

 

13. Rb3!? Qa5 14. Bg3 Rf8

a) 14... Nxe5? 15. Qh5+ g6 16. Qxe5

 

b) 14... Kd8 15. Nd5 Qc5+ (15... Rf8?? 16. Qxf8+ Bxf8 17. Rxf8#) 16. Kh1 Re8 (16... Rf8?? 17. Qxf8+! Bxf8 18. Bh4+) 17. Qe4

15. Qh5+ g6 16. Rxf8+ Kxf8 17. Qxh7 g5

No better is 17... Qc5+ 18. Kh1 Qc4 19. Rb1!

 

18. Nb5

18. Rb1! and the simple threat of Rf1+ is deadly.

 

18... Qxa2

18... Bc5+ 19. Kh1 g4 and White finally has to play the correct 20. Rb1! winning.

 

19. Rf3+ Ke8 20. Qh8+ Qg8 21. Qxg8+ Bf8 22. Qxf8# 1-0

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Game in PGN

Copyright © 2007 Michael Goeller