Ask GM Joel
By Joel Benjamin
August 28, 2007
I have a question about this opening line:
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.0-0!?
(I know the main line is 8.Bb3) 8...Nxe4 9.Bxf7 Rxf7 10.Nxe4 Qa5
Position after 10...Qa5
In this position, my book says Black is better but I do not understand why.
Could you please make some analysis to prove this statement? Thanks very much.
It would be useful to include the name of the book so I might examine the
reference (future contributors please take note!). I will assume that the
author either gave or implied the symbol =+, meaning "Black is slightly
better." Such an evaluation is a judgment call that another annotator
might make differently. You are operating under a misconception that a slight
advantage can be "proven" by analysis. It is simply a verdict that
Black has a little better chance to win from this position than White.
I can tell you that White has preferred 8.Bb3 in 1,720 games while choosing
8.0-0 only 120 times in my database. In five games after 10…Qa5, Black has a
60% score. Those are facts which support the author's contention.
What you need is not "proof," but an explanation of what is going on
in the position. Black has a few trumps in the position. He has the bishop
pair, an extra pawn in the center, and a half-open f-file for his rooks. White
has a technically more solid pawn structure (two pawn islands versus three) and
is a bit better mobilized. If Black can neutralize or chase away White's
knights from the center, his dynamic advantages will start to tell. The
following example, while not representing best play, shows the potential of
- GM Joel