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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Combating Anti-Sicilians with ...e5: Anti-Bc4 (Line C)

This post is concerned with the line 1.e4 c5 2.Bc4 e5 3.Nc3, or Line C in the series. See the introductory post for this series for Line A, as well as an explanation of the entire variation and some database statistics. 

This is part of a larger series on meeting anti-Sicilian lines with …e5. In a previous post, I covered how this move can successfully be employed against the Rossolimo Siclian (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5).

In the introduction to this series on ..e5 against the anti-sicilians, I point out that Black needs to take care of d5, anticipating moves from White such as Nc3-d5, Na3-c4, and c3 followed quickly by d4. The move Bc4 also introduces pressure against f7. Black should be on guard for moves like Ng5 (which in the initial position is not possible due to Qxg5).

1.e4 c5 2.Bc4 e5
C) 3.Nc3
D) 3.f4
E) 3.b4
F) 3.Nf3 (Followed by c3, O-O, d3, or b4)

Click 'Read More' below to see the analysis. Stay tuned for continued analysis of this variation, from Lines D through F (Links will be activated once the posts are up.) 

I try to provide as comprehensive and accurate analysis as I can, but as a class player with limited time and computer resources, I've probably missed quite a bit. 

Please let me know what you think, and add any of your analysis in the comments section!

C) 3.Nc3

This move is reminiscent of either a Grand Prix or Vienna game. In fact, it is likely to transpose to either of those openings. It is a logical move, developing and solidifying control over d5. However, it does forfeit control of d4, as White will not be playing c3 anytime soon.

So, is a Grand Prix or Vienna better when Black has pawns on both c5 and e5? Well, the d5 square is clearly in White's hands in this line. However, Black can boast a stronger grip on the central dark squares. Typically, the Grand Prix or Vienna features attacks from White based upon f4, usually followed (sometimes preceded) by d3 and Nf3. Here, however, I would argue that this attack has less force, as White cannot as effectively use the f4 pawn lever as a means to gain more control over d4 or e5. However, much of this remains to be settled at the board!

After 1.e4 c5 2.Bc4 e5 3.Nc3 Black has several options, some of which transpose into each other. Contesting control of d5 with 3…Nf6 (Line C1) is possible. To avoid committing the Kings Knight too early, Black might also try 3…d6 (Line C2), 3…Nc6 (Line C3), or even the slower 3…g6 (Line C4).

Certain replies from Black are simply bad. For example, 3…Be7 4.Qh5 g6 5.Qxe5 Nf6 6.Nd5 led to disaster for Black in Burdet-Chataigner, Lyon 1999. Black could have tried 4…Nh6 in the above line, but 5.d4 O-O 6.Bxh6 gxh6 7.dxe5 still brings the second player no joy.

A move like 3…a6 runs into similar problems to the line above. Now e7 is open for Blacks Queen, but other squares remain weak. For example, 3…a6 4.Qh5 Qe7 5.Nd5 Nf6 6.Nxe7 Nxh5 7.Nxc8 wins for White.

Finally, the strange looking reply 3…Bd6 runs into specific tactical problems after 4.Nb5 Bc7 (Qe7 or Qb6 replies come to a similar position) 5.Qh5! g6 6.Qf3 f6 7.Qb3 Ne7 8.Bf7+ Kf8 9.Nxc7 Qxc7 and White has the Bishop pair while Black's position is behind in development and balanced upon the edge of disaster.

C1) 1.e4 c5 2.Bc4 e5 3.Nc3 Nf6

This move by Black contests d5 and e4, while leaving the central dark squares to look after themselves. White has several ways to reply, either through quick development with 4.Nf3 (Line C1.1) or some combination of f4 (Line C1.2) and d3 (Line C1.3).

As mentioned in several of the notes below, 3…Nf6 does not threaten the 'fork trick' of …Nxe4 and …d5. This theme works in the Vienna (to some extent) and the Italian Four Knights, but does not work here.

C1.1) 4.Nf3 Bd6 

The classic 'fork trick' for Black here fails due to the weakness of the a4-e8 diagonal. 4…Nxe4 5.Nxe4 d5 6.Bb5+ Bd7 7.Bxd7 Nxd7 8.Ng3 and White is ahead a piece.

Attempting to defend the e-pawn with either 4…d6 or 4…Nc6 is inadvisable for Black due to 5.Ng5!, which should win at least a pawn. For example, 4…Nc6 5.Ng5 d5 6.exd5 Na5 7.Bb5+ Bd7 8.Bxd7 Qxd7 9.Qe2 gives White the pawn and an initiative, and 4…d6 5.Ng5 d5 6.exd5 h6 7.Nge4 Nxe4 8.Nxe4 Qh4 9.Qe2 is probably even worse for Black.

5.Nb5 Bc7 6.Ng5 O-O 

White has some initiative, and Black must absorb this pressure. But the pressure is more superficial than anything else, with no mortal threats present.

The most likely result is a slight edge for White (their position is looks easier to play). For example, 7.O-O h6 8.Nxf7 Rxf7 9.Bxf7 Kxf7 10.d3 Nc6 (or d6 11.f4 Bg4) 11.f4 d6 12.fxe5 Nxe5 when White does have some targets, and Black's counterplay is not as obvious. Still, the position is close to equal (for now!).

Quieter tries from White, such as 5.d3 (which can be met with 5…Nc6, 5…O-O, or 5…h6, among others), are not likely to produce and advantage and will lead to positions similar to those covered below.

C1.2) 4.f4 exf4 

The f4 push from White might transpose the game into Vienna or Grand Prix territory. Black can respond in a number of ways.

As mentioned in the note to line C1.1, the 'fork trick' does not work. 4…Nxe4 5.Nxe4 6.Bb5+ wins for White. Instead, Black might also try 4…Nc6. Then, White has 

Black can try to defend the e5 point with 4…d6, when White has a number of responses including creating a bind with 5.f5; this bind will be annoying for Black to deal with, although the central dark square control and Queenside play should compensate and provide equality.

5.f5 Nc6 6.d3 Be7 7.Nf3 O-O 8.Ng5 Na5 9.Nxf7 Rxf7 10.Bxf7 Kxf7 11.Bg5 This line is not forced, and may be equal, but I'd prefer White here

Likewise, the fork trick doesn't work for Black here either (as in line C1.1). 4…Nxe4 5.Nxe5 5.d5 Bb5+ and White ends up ahead a piece.

5.e5 d5! 

While 5.e5 appears to be the best try for White, it is not forced. Other tries include 5.Nf3, which can be met with 5…Nc6 6.d3 Bd6 7.O-O O-O, when it is hard to see how White wins the pawn back (8.Ne2 Qc7 holds on to extra material). 

5.d3 is likely to transpose to the variation in the preceding paragraph, and most other possibilities for White are either harmless or clearly inferior.

6.Bb5+ Nfd7

Necessary to save the Knight, this move also gives Black the open line and possibility of Qh4+. These factors help compensate the loss of the d5 pawn. Note that if this line doesn't work, 4…exf4 cannot be recommended (4…exf4 5.e5 Ng8 cannot be good for Black).

7.Nxd5 a6

Black's Queen is needed at home to defend c7, so after 7…Qh4+ 8.Kf1 there is nothing better than 8…Qd8 when the loss of the time is costly due to 9.e6 followed by Qh5.

There is an active alternative, however, in 7…Nc6 when play might continue 8.Nf3 Ndxe5 9.Nxe5 Qxd5 11.Qe2 Be7 12.O-O O-O 13.Nxc6 bxc6 14.Bc4 Qd4+ 15.Kh1 and although Black is up a pawn, due to the damaged pawn structure the position is likely equal or slightly better for Black.

Instead of instigating exchanges with 8.Nf3 (following 7…Nc6), White can also try to play more combatively with 8.e6 when play might continue 8…fxe6 9.Nxf4 Nd4 (A multipurpose move; hitting b5, c2 and protecting e6) 10.Ba4 b5! forcing elimination of White's Bishop 11.c3 (after 11.Bxb5 either Nxb5 or Qh4+ are strong for Black) 11…bxa4 12.cxd4 Qh4+ 13.g3 Qf6 14.Qf3 Rb8 and a wild but balanced position is reached. Both players have weak pawns structures, open lines, and poor development. However, I would prefer the Black side, for several reasons including the fact that Black has the Bishop pair in a relatively open position with lots of targets.

8.Bxd7+ Bxd7 9.Nxf4

White can also try 9.Nf3, when Black should continue 9…Bg4 10.Nxf4 Nc6 11.O-O. 

This pin (9.Nf3 Bg4) is a good idea, if for no other reason to make more room for Black's other pieces (and keep the Queen's pressure on the d-file). Still, Black can delay this move, i.e. 9…Nc6 10.Nxf4 Be7 11.O-O O-O 12.d3 Bg4 (what else?)

9…Qg5 10.d4 cxd4 

This is an active and risky try for Black, but White is likely to gain an edge. Instead, Black can play 9…Nc6 and likely transpose to the note to White's 9th move after 10.Nf3 Bg4

11.Nf3 Qf5 12.O-O

This position contains play for both sides, but I'd prefer White. Indeed, with the advantage in space and development, coupled with the open F-file and pressure against Black's exposed Queen, I'd say White has a fairly strong advantage here. Play might continue 12…Bc5 13.Nd3 Bb6 14.Ng5 Qg6 15.e6! when Black is toasted.

C1.3) 4.d3 h6

Chances are this quiet move (4.d3) will transpose to positions from line C1.1 or C1.2. Still, there are a few independent variations stemming from this position.

While Black is not forced to play 4…h6, I think this is a good response whenever White plays d3, to rule out any annoying tactics involving Bg5.

Alternatives such as 4…Nc6 or 4…d6 are likely to transpose to other lines covered here. Black might also try the somewhat passive 4…Be7, when play could follow 5.Nf3 d6 6.Ng5 O-O 7.Be3 h6 8.Nxf7 Rxf7 9.Bxf7 Kxf7 10.f4 Bg4 11.Qd2 when White has some initiative against the Black's King, but material and space is roughly even. Still I'd prefer White, as their position seems easier (and more fun) to play.


An interesting idea, preparing some combination of O-O, f4, and Ng3-f5. 

White does have several alternatives. The immediate 5.f4 should probably be met with the more solid 5…d6 or 5…Nc6, as 5…exf4 will lead to positions similar to those in Line C1.2, but where the inclusion of d3 and h6 are probably more helpful to White.

After 5.f4 Nc6, play is likely to continue 6.Nf3 d6 7.O-O Bg4 when White has a slight advantage, but Black has a solid position (or at least, solid enough!).

Of course, White can also try 5.Nf3, with play similar to lines presented elsewhere in this article.

5…Nc6 6.O-O Na5

Due to the slow approach taken by White, Black has been able to contest the d5 square.

White has alternatives, such as 6.f4 (which leads to play typical of several other lines mentioned in this article) or 6.a3, attempting to preserve the Bishop.

After 6.a3 (better than 6.a4, which allows …Nb4 and …d5 to follow) a6 7.O-O b5 8.Ba2, Black still has some work to do since 8…b5 does not permit the d5 advance (9.Na4 d5? 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Bxd5 Qxd5 12.Nb6!). White's edge, however, is small.

7.Bd5 Rb8 8.a4 Be7 9.Ng3 d6

Play from either side is not forced in the past few moves. White's position is optically better, but Black has some ideas of expansion with b7-b5 and putting additional pressure on d5 (for example, playing …a6, …b5, and an eventual …b4 to undermine support of d5.

The game should be balanced or slightly in White's favor. If Black can achieve the d5 push, or force exd5 by White, he should be fine.

C2) 1.e4 c5 2.Bc4 e5 3.Nc3 d6

Black anticipates the pressure that will be brought to e5 and decides to solidify his central structure at once. White has a number of options, including the typical replies 4.Nf3 (Line C2.1), 4.f4 (Line C2.2), and 4.d3 (Line C2.3).

C2.1) 4.Nf3 Nc6

4.Nf3 isn't the most logical move, since the e5 pawn is very strongly guarded. This means that Black has time to play a variety of moves, such as …Nc6, …Be7 or …h6, the last two played to stop the threatened Ng5 (the most active idea behind 4.Nf3), as well as a chance to play risky moves such as 4…f5.

For example, after 4…f5 5.d3 Nc6 (5…h6 is not good because it weakens the g6 square too much. White wins after Nxe5 followed by Qh5+) 6.Ng5 Nh6 7.O-O when White is aiming for a strong attack on the f-file. Black can prevent f4 by playing it himself, but after 7…f4 8.Ne6 White wins the Bishop pair and will probably open the f-file at some point anyway with g3. Black might be able to survive in this line, but White certainly retains an edge (probably both positionally and in terms of ease of play)

Note that 4…Nf6 is probably not a good idea, since here Black will have a difficult time meeting 5.Ng5! (For precisely the reason that 5…Nh6 is not possible). 

A more solid (but passive) approach with 4…h6 should also work for Black. 

5.d3 Bg4

Black prevents the Ng5 jump through the use of a pin. It is also possible to play 5…h6 or 5…Be7, solid options that are likely to transpose to the variations in the note to Black's fourth move.

Instead, ignoring the Ng5 is risky for Black (but might still be playable). For example, 5…g6 6.Ng5 Nh6 leads to play similar to the note above, and might continue 7.O-O Bg7 8.h3 (to prevent eventual Ng4 or Bg4) O-O 9.f4 Kh8 10.fxe5 Nxe5 11.Bd5 f5, with a complex position that will likely result in a decisive result.

C2.2) 4.f4 Nc6

4.f4 is a direct attempt to open lines and compromise Black's pawn structure. It is possible for Black to take with 4…exf4, but I prefer to preserve the strong pawns on e5 and c5. Instead, after the capture, play is likely to proceed 5.Nf3 g5 6.d3 Bg7 7.O-O

Ignoring the offered f-pawn does come with some risks, however, as White is given time to build up as well as the option of eventually creating a bind on the light squares with 5.f5


Note that 5.f5 does not work immediately, since Black can respond with 5…Bxf5! 6.exf5 Qh4+, picking up the c4 Bishop and netting a pawn. Instead, after Black's fifth move White's best try is 6.Bxf7+ Kxf7 7.exf5 when material is even and Black's Qh4+ is not as dangerous. Black's superior pawn structure (better central control) provides some compensation for his poor King position.


5…h6 is also possible (and has the benefit of preserving Blacks central pawn structure), but White may eventually be able to achieve a bind with f5. In fact, the immediate 6.f5 Nf3 7.d3 Be7 8.O-O O-O leads to a position where White has at least some advantage due to the space.

Why not take the pawn? In this case, there doesn't seem to be an easy way for White to win it back or generate a dangerous attack.

6.d3 g5 7.h4 g4

White's best choice here is likely to retreat, and not play in the fashion of the Kings Gambit. Moving forward with 8.Ng5 is met with 8…Ne5 by Black. White is certainly at a disadvantage here. Retreating is no picnic for White either, but at least after 8.Ng1 f3! 9.gxf3 Be7, the position is balanced. Ironically, it is White's king now that will start to feel some pressure

White can also try a different approach with 6.O-O, but then Black's answer, 6…Bg4 should ensure equality.

C2.3) 4.d3 Nc6 5.f4 exf4

Black can also try 5…Be7. If Black plays carefully they should be equal. White can develop some initiative on the Kingside, with moves like f5 and Nf3-g5, has to watch out for counterplay on the Queenside by Black, which is aided by the c5 pawn.

For example, 5…Be7 6.f5 h6 7.Nf3 Nf6 will likely transpose to the note to 5…exf4 in line C2.2.

6.Bxf4 Nf6 7.Nf3

White definitely appears to have pressure in this position, but ultimately the chances are likely to be balanced. Losing a tempo whilst pinning the Knight with 7.Bg5 doesn't seem to be particularly helpful for White.

I'd say the position is dynamically balanced, with White's position being slightly easier to play. Play my continue 7…Bg4 8.h3 Be6 9.Nd5

C3) 1.e4 c5 2.Bc4 e5 3.Nc3 Nc6

C3.1) 4.Nf3 Be7

4…Be7 is played to prevent the Ng5 jump. Black can also stop this move with 4…h6, after which White will.

As in other variations presented here, allowing 5.Ng5 is inadvisable for Black. For example, 4…Nf6 5.Ng5 will still lead to a better position for White (although perhaps not quite as devastating as the above variations). Black can try 5…d5 (which is a bad option in line C2.1) but White should still come out on top after 6.exd5 Nd4 7.d3 a6 (played to try and recover the lost pawn, otherwise White is simply ahead in material) 8.a4 Rb8 9.O-O b5 10.axb5 axb5 11.Ba2 b4 12.Ne2 Bd6 (The White pawn is still immune, since after 12…Nxd5 13.Qf3 wins) 13.Nxd4 cxd4 14.f4 when White is taking advantage of Black's lack of development. If Black tries too hard to win back the pawn, he/she is likely to allow an overwhelming attack (i.e. 14…O-O 15.Qf3 Bb7 16.fxe5 Bxe5 17.Qh3 and the pawn is still alive).

5.O-O Nf6 6.d3 

Although 5…Nf6 allows White to play the aggressive looking 6.Ng5, here Black is better developed and simply answers with 6…O-O 7.d3 h6 when White can create a material imbalance after 8.Nxf7 Rxf7 9.Bxf7+ Kxf7, but both sides have roughly even chances. From this point, play might continue 10.f4 d6 11.fxe5 Nxe5 12.Nd5 Kg8 and Black's two pieces are probably better than White's extra rook and pawn.

6…O-O 7.Bd2 d6

C3.2) 4.f4 exf4

An active try, giving up part of the center for the sake of a pawn. Black can also hope to preserve the central pawn structure with 4…d6 5.Nf3, transposing to line C2.2.

Compared to line C1.2, here the e5 move from White does not have any punch. In fact, after most other fifth moves from White, Black can transpose to line C1.2 with 5…Nf6 (although in some cases even better moves exist)

5.Nf3 g5

This move challenges White's play, leading to positions reminiscent of the Kings' Gambit. However, the differences between those standards positions and this one are likely to be in Black's favor.

Other fifth moves from White can be met with Qh4+, and Black should stand fine if not slightly better.

6.h4 g4 7.Ng5 Ne5 8.Nxf7

This piece sac gives White active play, but the compensation is probably not enough. White might not have a choice though, as 8.Bd5 Bg7 9.d3 h6 forces Nxf7 anyway.

This delayed version of the sacrifice is probably worse for White. 10.Nxf7 Nxf7 11.Bxf7+ Kxf7 12.Qxg4 Bxc3! (Important improvement over the line with the immediate sacrifice). 13.bxc3 d6 14.Qxf4 and the reduced number of pieces on the board, plus the crippling of White's pawn structure, probably favors Black.

8…Nxf7 9.Bxf7+ Kxf7 10.Qxg4 d6 11.Qxf4+ Ke8 12.O-O

If there is a win for White here, I have not yet found it. Play might continue 12…Nh6 (to cover f7) 13.d3 Bg7 14.Nb5 Be6 when, despite the imbalances on the board, I'd say each side has equal chances. That being side, White's position definitely looks easier to play, especially in Blitz.

C3.3) 4.d3 Na5

This move makes a lot of sense considering that it is hard to preserve the Bishop (there is no Be2 move).

5.Bd5 Nf6 6.a3 Nxd5 7.Nxd5

Black will eventually try to contest the strong d5 Knight with moves like …d6, …Be6, and ….f5, if possible. Still, this takes time and in the meantime White has active possibilities (not all of which are good.

White can try to cramp Black with 7.exd5, to which the response 7…b6 is designed to save the Knight on a5. After this, 8.f4 and White hopes to deny Black of what space he/she already has, but at the same time White simply doesn't have enough pressure on the Black position to gain a substainal advantage. Instead, it is simply a matter that the White position is probably easier to play. A likely continuation is 8…d6 9.fxe5 Qh4+ 10.g3 Qe7 11.Nf3 dxe5 12.Qe2 f6 and White has an edge in a complex position.

7…d6 8.Bg5 Qxg5

Taking the bait is not necessary. Black can play 8…Qd7 9.Qh5 b5 10.Ne2 Bb7 11.O-O but this gives White a definite edge.

9.Nc7+ Kd8 10.Nxa8 Qxg2 11.Qf3 Qxf3 12.Nxf3 h6

Black has several plausible alternatives here, all of similar value. For example, 12…Bg4 13.Ng5 Bh5 14.Rg1 Kc8 and the Knight on a8 is doomed, so Black will end up with two pieces and a pawn for a Rook, a favorable material balance (not to mention the Bishop pair)

C4) 1.e4 c5 2.Bc4 e5 3.Nc3 g6

This slower approach is designed to control the central dark squares via fianchetto. This is a decent option, especially against 3.Nc3 when White cannot easily challenge these squares with c2-c3 and d2-d4.

White has again the three typical moves in this position at his/her disposal: straight development with 4.Nf3 (Line C4.1), and launching a Kingside attack immediately after 4.f4 (Line C4.2) or after some preparation (Line C4.3). Against this move by Black, there are additional (and strong) ways to take advantage of the weakened dark squares near the King. The move Qf3 (Line C4.4) puts pressure on Black and leaves concrete problems to solve.

C4.1) 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.O-O h6

Black ought to take the time out for this move. A try such as 5…Ne7 is met strongly by 6.Ng5 O-O 7.Qf3, when it is hard to see how Black will survive without major (and decisive) concessions.

6.Ne7 Nd5 7.O-O

White has a space advantage, and probably enjoys the better chances. However, Black certainly has some play, and should direct play against the Queenside and d5 by first playing …a6 and …b5 (perhaps with …Rb8)

C4.2) 4.f4 Nc6

4.f4 is a logical and principled move, aiming to go after the g6 hook on the Kingside.

Taking the pawn may be too loosening, due to the temporary weakness of the long dark squared diagonal. 4…exf4 5.d4 when Black can try either 5…Qh4+ or 5…Nc6, but either way White is likely to end up with an advantage.

For example, 5…Nc6 6.Bxf4 cxd4 7.Nb5 d6 8.Nxd4 leaves Black with a damaged pawn structure. 5…Qh4 is not much better, as Black will eventually lose time with the Queen after Nf3. White stands better after 5…Qh4 6.Kf1 Bg7 (What else? Maybe 6…g5 is better) 7.Nf3 Qd8 8.Nb5!

5.d3 Bg7 6.Nf3 d6 7.O-O

While Black's position here is probably defensible, I think that White has a definite edge. I'd rather have white especially after a continuation like 7…h6 8.Be3 Qe7 9.Nd5 Qd6 10.c3 (White may have even better here)

C4.3) 4.d3 Bg7 5.Nf3 h6

Play is likely to transpose to Line C4.1; here, as in that line, it is important for Black to prevent Ng5.

6.O-O Nc6 7.Be3 d6

Black has a solid position, and will definitely have chances to counter the slight edge White has in space and development. Still, White's position is probably a bit easier to play.

Play might continue 8.Qe2 a6 9.a4 Na5 10.Ba2 when even after 10…Bd7 or 10…Rb8 Black will still have to be careful. White retains a slight edge.

C4.4) 4.Qf3 Nf6

Basically forced, as 4…f6 is unnecessarily weakening. Play over the next few moves revolves around White's pressure on f7; Black to block or mitigate it with …Nf6 and eventual …O-O, and White to increase it with d3, followed by threats of Bg5 and Nd5.

The other Knight jump is also insufficient to save Black: 4…Nh6 is met strongly by 5.d4! f5 6.exf5 (dxe5 is also good) Nxf5 7.g4 Nd6 8.Bd5 (threatening a mating attack starting with Nb5 or Ne4) Be7 9.dxe5 Rf8 10.Qh3 Nf7 11.Qxh7 Nc6 12.Nf3 and it is hard to see how Black is going to survive, let alone do anything active.

5.d3 h6

This precaution is not necessary, but does save Black some headaches. For example, 5…Nc6 6.Bg5 Be7 is possible, but this Bishop placement makes the …g6 move look silly. Instead, 5…Bg7 6.Bg5 almost forces …h6 anyway, and here White can exchange and play Nd5, if desired.

6.Be3 d6 7.h3

This move is played with the intention of castling long without allowing …Bg4. There are several other ways White can play this position, however, including Qe2 (to meet Bg4 with Qd2 and f3).

Because the play from either side can be flexible, it is not worth detailing every response. However, due to their superior development, I think White will have an easier time pressing for an advantage than Black. This will require strong technique from White however, as Black does have good central control and a fairly solid position.

7…Bg7 8.O-O-O O-O

Black is behind in development, but should be relatively equal. Of course, the above sequence is not forced, but this should lead to an interesting position in which the better player will win. That being said, White's attack on the Kingside looks easier to conduct (a pawnstorm with g4 and g5, possibly with h4) than Black's slower play with …a6, …b5 and an eventual …c4 and …d5 to open lines.


It appears that, if Black plays correctly, there are a number of resources that should give Black a decent game against 1.e4 c5 2.Bc4 3.e5 Nc3.

In particular, the 3…Nf6 (Line C1) and 3…Nc6 (Line C3) responses seem like good, active tries. The resulting positions will be balanced, with chances for both sides.


  1. Hey, saw your question in Gary Lane's "Opening Lanes" column. He gave a great answer, though it seems you have anticipated him with your coverage of Bc4, which would be my own preference.

  2. Thanks Mike, I hadn't actually seen the column until you referenced it. I had sent the question in while still working on some of the analysis, and I'm happy to see it that he took a look at the variation.

    I'm still revamping some of the 1.e4 c5 2.Bc4 e5 analysis, (I'll return to the Anti-Rossolimo later). Hopefully I'll get to 3.b4 soon, it probably doesn't give White anything, but looks like fun.

  3. nice analysis and exposition thank you . Enjoying your blog!