KindredSpirit’s Kaleidosope: Ruy Lopez – Marshall Variation …Nd-f6 visited

The Marshall counterattack line in the Ruy Lopez has a good reputation among those who look to challenge The Spanish Torture. Capablanca-Marshall is the most famous game being the first time Marshall employed it as a surprise weapon in his match with Capablanca. Marshall corrected his original plan of retreating the Knight from d5 to f6 with a clear improvement with simply defending the Knight on d5 with c6. Later analysis by cc players show that the move …Bb7 is also playable.

In 1983 Westerinen decided to use this earliest idea against Hanson at Esbjerg. After 1.e4 e5  2.Nf3  Nc6  3.Bb5 a6  4.Ba4  Nf6  5.O-O  Be7  6.Re1  b5  7.Bb3  O-O  8.c3  d5.

There are a number of ways for White to continue in this opening. For one thing he can throw a monkeywrench into Black’s plan by using one of the anti-Marshall lines 8.a4, 8.d4, 8.h3. White by playing 8.c3 is telling Black he has no fear of going up against the Marshall Counterattack.

9.exd5  Nxd5  10.Nxe5  Ncxe5  11.Rxe5  Nf6.

This was the move FM played against the Cuban who brilliantly defended the attack and emerged with a winning game.

12.d4  Bd6  13.Re1  Ng4  14.h3  Qh4  15.Qf3.

Why doesn’t White play 15.hxg4? It wins a piece. The answer is that Black then attacks with 15…Qh2+ (the Bishop-Queen attack on h2). Forced is 16.Kf1 and Qh1+ 17.Ke2 Bg4+ is a killer.

15…Nxf2  16.Bd2!

Now if, 16.Qxf2 Bh2+ 17.Kf1  Bg3  18.Qe2  Bxh3 19.gxh3  Rae8. One interesting shocker exists here, too. Were Black to play instead 16…Bg3??, 17.Qxf7+! is pretty!

16…Bb7  17.Qxb7!

No good would be 17.Qxf2  Bh2+ 18.Kf1  Bg3  19.Qg1  Rae8  20.Re3  Re6  21.Bxe6  fxe_  22.Ke2  Rf2+ 25.Kd1 Bxg2, or; 21.d5 instead of the Bishop capture at e6…Rf6+ 22.Rf3  Rxf3+  2.gxf Re8!

17…Nd3  18.Re2  Qg3  19.Kf1  Nf4.

Is 19….Qh2 an alternative worth considering? Again, the answer is NO! because of 20.g4!

After treading his way through the maze of complications in meeting Black’s onslaught attempt, White fails to find the best idea and in one move vindicates Black’s decision to try this system abandoned for such a long time.  Correct now is probably 20.Rf2! and Black seems to come up a little short. The time clock may have taken its toll as so often happens to the player who is put on the defensive for most of the game.

20.Bxf4??  Qxf4+  21.Qf3  Qc1+ 22.Kf2  Bh2!  23.Re1.

This stops the …Qg1 mate threat.


White resigns here as his position is hopeless.

Perhaps the alternatives to Re1 are 23.Qd3 where Qg1+ 24.Kf3 Qf1+ is decisive, or; 23.Qf5  g6  24.Qc2 Hoping to exchange Queens is simply met by …Qf4+ 25.Ke1 Bg3+ 26.Kd1 Rae8.

This counterattack variation of the Marshall is interesting and might be tried against opponents who like to attack themselves or more likely are lower rated or have a dislike for defensive play or have boned up on modern oft played systems.


Here is a little fun for you to tickle your ribs!!

1.e4  e5 2.Nf3  Nc6  3.Bb5  a6  4.Ba4  Nf6  5.O-O  Nxe4  6.d4  b5  7.Bb3  d5  8.dxe5  Be6  9.Nbd2  Bg4.

This game is the Open Defense against the Ruy Lopez. Better would be either 9…Nxd2 or 9…Nc5 would be better replies.

10.Nxe4  dxe4 11.Bd5  Nxe5.

Having miscalculated his visualized plan, he makes a decisive error, giving White the opportunity to create a gem. The theme of the attack goes back to the days of Morphy and earlier.

12.Nxe5!!  Bxd1  13.Bxf7+ Ke7 14.Bg5+ Kd6 15.Raxd1+ Kxe5  16.Bxd8.

A disheartened Black gave up the ship at this point.


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