1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 This may also be played on the third move by Black but here its known as the Steinitz Defence Deferred.
5.0-0 [A flexible line, but White may obtain a central duo at e4 and d4, via 5.c3 Bd7 (5...f5 is a sharp line favoured by Marshall.) 6.d4 then Black fights to hold e5 with 6...Nge7 ; Immediate central action with 5.d4 leads nowhere for White after 5...b5 6.Bb3 Nxd4 7.Nxd4 exd4 8.Bd5 (8.Qxd4 actually loses a piece to 8...c5 the so called Noah's Ark trap.) 8...Rb8 9.Bc6+ Bd7 and Black has easily obtained equality.; 5.c4 , a move White plays next, can be chosen here too. In its original form, as devised by Duras White plays 5. d3 and then 6. c4 with a very solid central formation, but here White may combine c4 with d4. A famous game now went 5...Bd7 (5...Bg4 is considered to give Black an easier game fighting for control of d4.) 6.Nc3 g6 7.d4 Bg7 8.Be3 Nf6 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.Bc5 and White won a classic game in only 23 moves in Keres-Alekhine, Margate 1937.]
5...Bd7 6.c4 Now that Black has spent a move on Bd7 this is still an interesting way for White to play. The opening may transpose into lines that originate from a 5.c4 move order as, in fact, many of the games cited later in these notes did. [Instead 6.c3 is the most common move for White in this position.]
6...g6 The fianchetto is a frequent concept for Black in this variation. [6...Nf6 is a solid alternative when play may go 7.Nc3 Be7 8.d3 (or 8.d4 exd4 9.Nxd4 Nxd4 10.Bxd7+ Nxd7 11.Qxd4 Bf6 12.Qe3 transposes to Suetin-Keres, Budapest 1970.) 8...0-0 9.h3 Nb8 is rather passive. Instead (9...Nd4 is better as in Movsesian-Van Foreest, Teplice open 2016.) 10.d4 Bxa4 11.Qxa4 Nbd7 12.Be3 c6 13.Qc2 with an advantage which White went on to convert to a win in Richardson-Kalish, 10th World Correspondence Championship (final) 1978-80.; 6...g5 is a little too adventurous. Now 7.Bxc6 is only a touch better for White (but correspondence chess games have shown that White can get a significant edge with 7.d4 g4 8.d5 Stoere-Schroll, W-ch M509 1990 and Schlosser-Kahn, Baltic Sea Tt 1986.) 7...Bxc6 8.Nc3 Bg7 9.d3 h6 10.Be3 Ne7 11.d4 Ng6 Sjugirov-Mamedyarov, Qater Master open Doha 2015.]
7.d4 exd4 8.Nxd4 Bg7 9.Nxc6 [9.Be3 holds the tension in the centre a bit longer when some more recent games continued 9...Nge7 (9...Nf6 10.Nc3 0-0 11.Nxc6 Bxc6 12.Bxc6 bxc6 13.c5 transposes to Grischuk-Mamedyarov,W-ch Blitz, Moscow 2007.) 10.Nc3 0-0 11.h3 to Shabalov-Korobov,WMSG Rapid Team KO Beijing 2008.]
9...bxc6 [9...Bxc6 10.Nc3 Ne7 11.Be3 0-0 12.Bd4 Bxa4 13.Nxa4 Bxd4 14.Qxd4 Nc6 15.Qd2 reaches Yates-Capablanca, Ramsgate 1929 and an edge for White.]
10.c5! This seems strongest although White was better in an earlier and later game (reaching this position via transpositions) [10.Nc3 Ne7 Boleslavski-Fine, USSR-USA Radio Match 1946.; 10.Re1 Ne7 11.Nc3 0-0 12.Bf4 Hosticka-Muron, Czechia 1997.]
10...d5 [10...dxc5 is poor as White can establish a very strong blockading knight on the c5 square 11.Nd2 Nf6 12.Nb3 Qe7 13.Qc2 0-0 14.Nxc5 and White is dominant as in Schweber-Pilnik, Trelew 1972.]
11.exd5 cxd5 12.Re1+ A stronger line that the move that occured in a later game between highly rated players: [12.Qxd5 , arising via 5. c4, gives Alvir-Lengyel, Vienna open 1996 which went 12...Bxa4 13.Qe4+ Ne7 14.Qxa4+ Qd7 15.Qc4 when White is just a bit better.]
12...Ne7 [12...Kf8 is not very appealing but perhaps had to be tried as now Black comes under intense pressure. After the king move, nevertheless White may play 13. c6 or 13. Nd2 (with the idea of Nf3) still with the far better game.]
13.Bg5 An uncomfortable move to meet as Black is forced to block his bishop which is presently his only active piece.
13...f6 14.c6 [It is a sign that the opening has gone badly wrong for Black in that White has other promising lines. An example is 14.Bf4 0-0 (14...Bxa4 15.Qxa4+ Qd7 16.c6 Qd8 17.Qa5 Ra7 18.Nc3 is no better as Black's game has been reduced to that of a beginner's, and with Qc5 and/or Rad1 to follow, Black would lose rapidly.) 15.Bxc7 Qxc7 16.Rxe7 winning.]
14...Bf5 [14...fxg5 is hopeless for Black. White has a guarded passed pawn on d7 that prevents a rook coming to e8. In addition, White has very easy development and can build up an attack on the displaced king rather easily. For instance, 15.cxd7+ Kf7 16.Nc3 Rf8 (16...Bxc3 17.bxc3 Rf8 18.Qe2 Nf5 19.Qe6+ Kg7 20.Qxd5+- ) 17.Nxd5+- ; 14...Bg4 is also bad as the bishop is exposed to attack. For example 15.Qd4 Kf7 16.Qxg4 fxg5 17.Qe6+ Kf8 18.Nc3 which would have been too gruesome to be seriously considered by Black]
15.Be3 Kf7 [15...Bxb1 At least allows the Black king to escape from the centre but once again pressure on d5 aided by a lead in development means Black's game is not tenable. 16.Rxb1 0-0 17.Bc5 Re8 18.Qf3 and Rbd1 follows when d5 falls and Black's game collapses.]
16.Bc5 Re8 17.Nc3 Be6 Black has been forced to loose a tempo to enable his game to be patched up so as to achieve a degree of co-ordination. However, on e6 guarded only by the king, the bishop is still vulnerable to attack. White follows this plan although the option of Qf3 and Rad1 is also good as in the last note.
18.Ne2 f5 [Trying to escape with 18...Kg8 allows White to establish an annoying rook in the heart of his position with 19.Nf4 Bf7 20.Ne6 Bxe6 21.Rxe6 Rb8 (Chasing away the rook would use more time and allows White to establish a bind with 21...Kf7 22.Re3 Bf8 23.Rd3 (or with 23.Bb3 ) ) 22.Qe2+- ]
19.Nf4 Ng8 Here one can almost hear McEnroe "you cannot be serious". Black undevelops a piece in order to defend e6. Just maybe it might come out again to f6 and give Black a tenable game!?
20.Qe2 Possibly Black underestimated this move which places the queen in the firing line of the Re8. However, the move also connects the rooks, allows the queens rook to come to d1 to add pressure to d5 as indicated in earlier notes.
20...Qf6 [So no Nf6! But even if Black achieves this with 20...Qc8 21.Rad1 Nf6 Black loses to 22.Bb3 Rb8 23.Qf3 Ne4 (or 23...Rb5 24.Nxe6 Rxe6 25.Bxd5 Nxd5 26.Qxd5 ) 24.Nxe6 and its over.]
21.Bb3 Rad8 [21...Qxb2 doesn't help Black at all after 22.Nxe6 Qxe2 23.Ng5+ (But not 23.Rxe2 which is a terrible blunder as Black survives with 23...Bxa1 24.Bxd5 Kf6 etc) 23...Kf6 24.Nxh7+ Kf7 25.Bxd5+ Qe6 26.Bxe6+ Rxe6 27.Ng5+ wins for White.]
22.Bd4 A nice deflecting sacrifice.
22...Qxd4 23.Nxe6 Rxe6 [Black is forced to shed material. For if he saves the rook from Nxd8+ then he loses in short order, eg. 23...Rd6 24.Ng5+ Kf8 (24...Kf6 25.Nxh7+ Kf7 26.Qxe8# ) 25.Qxe8# ; or 23...Rb8 24.Nxd4 Rxe2 25.Bxd5+ Kf8 26.Nxe2 ]
24.Qxe6+ Kf8 25.Rad1 [Here Black resigned since after completing development with tempo by 25.Rad1 the d5 pawn goes which is the bulwark that is restraining White's pieces. Once this goes then the White heavy pieces flood into Black's position. Some possible lines are 25...Qf6 (25...Qb4 26.Bxd5 Nh6 27.Bb3 Rxd1 28.Qe8# ) 26.Rxd5 Qxe6 27.Rxd8+ Ke7 28.Rd7+ A remarkable game for its time. Black a very strong player, the 7th World and a joint Russian Champion, as well as a noted opening theoretician is simply annihilated right out of the opening.] 1-0