M) 4....Nxe4 5.Qxd4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Be7
      7.Bg5 Nc6 8.Qh4 d6 9.O-O-O

M1) 9...Bf5 M2) 9...O-O M3) 9...Qd7 M4) 9...Be6

Position after 9.O-O-O

   The 8....d6 line does not challenge the center and thus allows White to develop a piece attack against Black's King (whether it remains in the center or castles on either wing). Moves like 9....Bf5?!, 9....O-O?! and 9....Qd7?! all allow White an immediate attacking plan. Black's best is therefore 9....Be6, seeking to block the open e-file before White plays Re1 and to chase or exchange the White Bishop at c4. After 9....Be6 White can choose between avoiding the exchange of Bishops by 10.Bb5?! and 10.Bd3?! or correctly accepting it with 10.Bxe6 and 10.Rhe1!

The move 10.Bb5?! generally forces a draw or a rather lifelessly equal position unless Black carefully returns the pawn for a positional edge. And extensive practice suggests that Black can equalize with careful play against 10.Bd3?! and should even have an edge after the new move 10....Ng4! White's safest alternative is 10.Bxe6, seeking to recover the pawn quickly or gain an attack, but Black can likely equalize if he immediately surrenders the pawn by 10....fxe6 11.Rhe1 Qd7 12.Qc4 O-O-O! The logical developing move 10.Rhe1! poses Black the most difficult problems and provides White excellent chances of exploiting his initiative after 10....Bxc4 11.Qxc4 O-O, when several moves and plans present themselves.

Index of Lines
A) 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 ...
B) 3.d4 Nxe4 4.dxe4
C) 3.d4 exd4 4.Nf3 ... 
D) 4.Nf3 Bb4+
E) 4.Nf3 d6
F) 4.Nf3 c5
G) 4.Nf3 Bc5
H) 4.Nf3 d5
I) 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Qxd4 ...
J) 5.Qxd4 Nf6 6.Bg5?!
K) 5.Qxd4 Nf6 6.Nc3! ...
L) 6.Nc3 Be7 7.Bg5 Nc6 8.Qh4 d5
M) 6.Nc3 Be7 7.Bg5 Nc6 8.Qh4 d6
N) 6.Nc3 Be7 7.Bg5 c6 8.O-O-O d5
Urusov Gambit & Related Links
Urusov PGN File from Pitt Archives

M1) 9....Bf5?! 10.Rhe1 O-O +=/±
The Bishop is poorly placed at f5 where it stands unprotected and allows White to gain time for a kingside attack. This position is often reached via 9....O-O?! 10.Rhe1?! Bf5?! because White misses the stronger attack with 10.Bd3! -- see M2 below.

M1a) 11.Bd3? M1b) 11.Re2!? M1c) 11.Nd4?!
M1d) 11.Rxe7!? M1e) 11.Qf4 M1f) 11.g4!



M1a) 11.Bd3? Bg6 12.Bxg6 hxg6 13.Re3 Nc6 14.Rde1 Qd7 =+ Wienand--Rapp, Marbach/Fasanenhof, 1989.

M1b) 11.Re2 Qd7 12.Rae1 Rae8 13.Bb5 Bd8 14.Nd4 Rxe2 15.Rxe2 h6 16.Bd2 Bg6 17.Qg3 a6 18.Ba4 b5 19.Nxc6 Qxc6 20.Bb3 unclear Bucan--Moeckel, Bad Woerishofen 1992 .

M1c) 11.Nd4?! Nxd4 12.Rxd4 c6?! (12....h6! 13.Bxh6 gxh6 14.Qxh6 Nh7! is better for Black) 13.g4 Bg6 14.f4 h6 15.Bxh6 gxh6 (15....Ne4 16.g5! ±) 16.Qxh6 d5 17.f5 Nd7 and now White should have won immediately by 18.Rxe7! Qxe7 19.fxg6 fxg6 20.Nxd5! +- in Goeller--Whitfield, Westfield 1983 .

M1d) 11.Rxe7!? (Tartakower's move, which likely inspired a similar try by Torre. Müller and Voigt write that "This stretches it," meaning that it is hard to believe that such a romantic sacrifice can succeed against best defense. But my own analysis suggests that the idea has a lot of merit if properly followed up. Of course, White has easier ways to get an advantage against Black's weak 9....Bf5?! which is why this is not the main line. A lot can be learned from the stem game that is useful in understanding the important exchange-sac motif which is so central to the latent tactics of many positions in the M-line generally.) 11....Nxe7 (Müller and Voigt note that 11....Qxe7? 12.Re1! h6 [12....Qd8 13.Nd5] 13.Bxh6 Be6 14.Bg5 gives White a strong attack) 12.Bxf6 gxf6 13.Re1?! (This seems a mistake, though it is not noted by Müller and Voigt. The more direct 13.g4! += or even 13.Qxf6!? would improve here as indicated in my notes to the stem game.) 13....Ng6 14.Qh6 c6 15.g4 Bxg4 16.Rg1 d5 17.Bd3 Bxf3 18.Bxg6 fxg6 19.Rxg6+ Kf7? (Black tries too hard to win. A draw by perpetual check was the correct result after 19....hxg6 20.Qxg6+ Kh8 21.Qh6+ Kg8 =) 20.Rg7+ Ke6 21.Qe3+ Be4 22.Nxe4 dxe4 23.Qxe4+ Kd6 24.c4 f5 25.Qd4+ Ke6 26.Qe3+ Kf6 27.Qc3+ Ke6 28.Qe3+ Kf6 29.Qc3+ Ke6 30.f4 Qf6 31.Qe3+ Kd6 32.c5+ Kd5 33.Rd7+ Kc4 34.Qb3+ Kxc5 35.Qa3+ Kb6 36.Qb4+ Ka6 37.Qxb7+ Ka5 38.Rd3 1-0 Tartakower--Shoosmith, Ostende 1907 .

M1e) 11.Qf4 (The "book" move: White plans to use the Bishop at f5 to gain time for a pawn assault on the kingside.) 11....Bg6?! (Probably better is 11....Qd7 to slow up White's plan and keep open options for the Bishop, though after 12.Bxf6 Bxf6 13.Nd5 Bd8, White would be doing well.) 12.g4 Na5?! (Black wants to exchange off White's Bishop at c4 to reduce forces, but the Knight seems misplaced here. Better might be 12....a6 followed by 13....b5 or 12....a5 with the idea of 13....Nb4 to begin a counter-attack against White's King.) 13.Bd3 Qd7 14.Bxf6 (This reduces the defenders around Black's King and gains a strong outpost for the Knight at d5, but a better plan might have been to seek a strong outpost for the other Knight with 14.Nh4 or 14.Nd4 with the idea of 15.Nf5 followed by h4-h5) 14....Bxf6 15.Nd5 Bd8 16.Bf5! Bxf5 (If Black does not exchange now, White will eventually compel him with h4-h5, opening up lines for attack) 17.gxf5 f6 (This weakens the e6 square, but Black must prevent 18.f6! Driving back the Knight with 17....c6 weakens the d-pawn and Black cannot play 17....c6 18.Ne3 d5? because of 19.b4! winning the Knight or 18....b5!? 19.f6! Bxf6 20.Rxd6! with the powerful threat of Rxf6!) 18.h4 (The immediate 18.Nd4, with the idea of Ne6 followed by doubling Rooks on the g-file, seems more thematic, but White is actually rewarded for his patient development of the kingside attack because Black soon weakens his queenside, allowing the Knight a different avenue of invasion.) 18....b5 19.Nd4! Nc4 20.Qe4 Rc8 (see diagram below) 21.Nc6! ± Ne5 22.Nxa7 Ra8 23.Nb6 cxb6 24.Qxa8 Qxf5 25.Qd5+ Kh8 26.Qxd6 Qf4+ 27.Kb1 1-0 Keidanski--Lasker, Berlin 1891.

M1f) 11.g4! (This appears to be a more direct method of exploiting the Bishop's placement at f5 to initiate a pawn-storm on the Black king) 11....Bg6 (11....Bxg4? 12.Bxf6 Bxf6 13.Qxg4 ± or 11....Bd7? 12.Bd3! ± with a winning attack) 12.Qg3 ± with the idea of h4-h5 -->.

Position after 20....Rc8.
The diagram shows a key moment from Keidanski-Lasker, when it is White to move after 20....Rc8. Lasker is hoping to develop a counterattack on the Queen's wing, beginning with c5 perhaps, but Keidanski demonstrates that White's centralized pieces allow him to control the entire board. With 21.Nc6! he switches his attack from the Kingside and center to the Queenside. The Knight is immune, since 21....Qxc6?? 22.Ne7+ wins the Queen. After 21....Ne5 (to prevent 22.Ne7+ winning the exchange) 22.Nxa7 Ra8 (22....Rb8 23.f4!) 23.Nb6! White won the exchange and the game.

M2) 9....O-O?! 10.Bd3! ±
Castling is premature here since it allows White to initiate an immediate attack against which there is no satisfactory defense. Also playable for White, if not as strong, is 10.Rhe1, when play will transpose to M1 or M4 depending on whether Black plays 10....Bf5 or 10....Be6.

M2a) 10....g6 11.Rhe1 Be6 12.Ne4 Nxe4 13.Rxe4 Bxg5+ 14.Nxg5 h5 15.g4 (15.Rxe6!?) 15....Kg7? 16.Rxe6 1-0 Kokholm--Christensen, Denmark 1993.

M2b) 10....h6 11.Bxh6! (11.Rhe1 hxg5 12.Nxg5 g6 13.Nd5 Kg7 14.Rxe7 Nxe7 15.Nxf6 Rh8 16.Qd4 Kf8 17.Ngh7+ Rxh7 18.Nxh7+ Kg8 19.Nf6+ Kf8 20.Re1 Be6 21.Nh7+ Kg8 22.Nf6+ Kf8 23.h4 Nc6 24.Qf4 Kg7 25.Ne4 Ne5 26.Re3 Nxd3+ 27.Rxd3 Bf5 28.Ng5 f6 29.Qxf5 gxf5 30.Ne6+ Kg6 31.Nxd8 Rxd8 32.Kd2 += Zahorbensky--Vavra, CZR 1997) 11....gxh6 (11....Ng4 12.Bg5) 12.Qxh6 Ne5 (12....Nb4?! 13.Ng5 Nxd3+ 14.Rxd3 Bf5 15.Rg3 Bg6 16.Ne6! 1-0 Nejstadt--Amateur, Exhibition 1950) 13.Nxe5 dxe5 14.Qg5+ Kh8 15.Bf5 Qe8 16.Rd3 +- Nejstadt.

M3) 9....Qd7?!
Black's plan is to return the pawn in order to quickly exchange Queens with Qg4. I include this move because I was recently surprised by it in a friendly game. 10.Rhe1 (Perhaps 10.h3!? is the simplest way to point up the problems with Black's plan which puts the Queen on an awkward and unproductive square.) 10....0–0! (Better than my friend's 10...Qg4!? 11.Bxf6 [11.Nb5!?] 11...gxf6 12.Qxf6 Rf8 [12...0–0?! 13.Rxe7! Nxe7 14.Rd4!‚ Qxg2 15.Ng5 Be6 16.Bxe6 fxe6 17.Qxe6+ Kh8 18.Qh6 +-] 13.Nd5! [I played 13.Bb5!? Be6 14.Bxc6+!? bxc6 15.Qh6 Qxg2 16.Qe3 and eventually developed a winning attack on Black's King stuck in the center of the board] 13...Be6 14.Nxc7+ Kd7 15.Bxe6+ fxe6 16.Qxe6+ Qxe6 17.Nxe6 +- with a clear two-pawn advantage, the better pieces, and the better pawns. Also ineffective is 10...Kf8?! 11.Rxe7! [11.h3!?] 11...Nxe7 12.Bxf6 Nf5 [or 12...Ng6 13.Ne5 etc.] 13.Ne5 [13.Bxg7+!?] 13...Nxh4 14.Nxd7+ Bxd7 15.Bxh4 ±) 11.Bd3 h6 12.Rxe7!? (A less complicated road to advantage follows 12.Bxh6! Qg4 13.Bg5 Qxh4 14.Nxh4 Bd8 15.f4 +=) 12...hxg5 13.Nxg5 Qg4 14.Re4 Qxh4 15.Rxh4 Re8 16.Nh7 Ng4 17.Nd5 Nxf2 18.Nxc7 Nxd1 19.Nxe8 Ne3 20.Nxd6 Nxg2 21.Re4!? Kxh7 22.Re8!? g6 23.Nxf7! Nf4 24.Nd6 Nxd3+ 25.cxd3 Nb4 26.Kd2 Nxa2 27.Rxc8 Rxc8 28.Nxc8 and White should have a decisive edge in a complex ending. See M3.pgn.

M4) 9....Be6!
White now has four standard alternatives, but none has yet proven in practice to yield much more than an equal game against best defense. It is worth knowing the ideas behind all of these lines to some extent in order to better understand the motifs and transpositions in the main line with 10.Rhe1! The safest alternative is 10.Bxe6, which yields at least a very slight advantage even if Black is smart enough to return his extra pawn by 10....fxe6 11.Rhe1 Qd7 12.Qc4 O-O-O! 13.Qxe6 Qxe6 14.Rxe6 with approximate equality.


M4a) 10.Bb5?! =+
This move will likely force a draw in most over the board play. With best defense, however, Black can obtain a positional advantage after returning the pawn with 10....h6! 11.Nd4! O-O! =+.

M4a1) 10....a6?! (A critical loss of time that gives White good attacking chances against the King in the center unless Black plays accurately.) 11.Bxc6+ bxc6 12.Nd4 (12.Ne5? Nd5 13.Bxe7 Qxe7 14.Qc4 Qg5+ 15.Rd2 Ne7 16.Nxf7 Qxd2+ 0-1 Gazic-Hajnal, Budapest 2001) 12....Nd5 (No better was 12....Qd7 13.Rhe1 O-O 14.Ne4 +=/=) 13.Ne4 h6 (Perhaps 13....Bxg5+ 14.Nxg5 Qf6! when White can consider 15.Rhe1 or 15.g3! with unclear play.) 14.Bxe7 (14.Nxe6!? fxe6 15.Qh5+ is less clear) 14....Qxe7 15.Qg3 Kd7?! (The King is too exposed in the center of the board, though there was also no escape in 15....O-O? 16.Nxc6! Qd7 17.Rxd5! Qxc6 [17....f5 18.Nc5 Qxc6 19.Nxe6 gives White a strong attack while 17....Bxd5? 18.Nf6+ wins the Queen] 18.Nf6+ Kh8 19.Rh5! and Black must surrender considerable material to stop the threat of Qg5! forcing mate. But a better defense was certainly 15....Bd7! 16.Rhe1 O-O 17.c4 Nb6 18.c5 dxc5 19.Nb3 with complex play and probably equal chances.) 16.Rhe1 Rae8 17.f4 (More direct was 17.c4! Nb6 18.c5 Nd5 19.Qa3) 17....Kc8?! (17....g6 or 17....c5!? are better tries at defense) 18.Qa3! +- Nb4 19.Nxe6 Qxe6 20.Qxb4 Qxa2 21.Nc3 Qa1+ 22.Kd2 c5 23.Qb3 Qa5 24.Qxf7 Ref8 25.Qe6+ Kb8 26.g3 d5 27.Kc1 d4 28.Nb1 Rf6 29.Qc4 1-0 Boschetti--Schulte, Lugano 1985.

M4a2) 10....O-O
(Obviously not 10....Qd7? 11.Ne5! ± and White has a critical tempo on M3b1 below. Also of interest, though, is 10....Nd7 11.Rhe1 h6 12.Bxe7 Qxe7 13.Nd5!? [13.Qg3 0–0 14.Bxc6 bxc6 15.Nd4 Nc5 16.Nxc6 Qd7 17.Nd4=] 13...Qd8 14.Qa4 0–0 15.Bxc6 Nc5 16.Qh4 bxc6 17.Qxd8 Raxd8 18.Ne7+ Kh7 19.Nxc6 Rde8 =)

M4a2a) 11.Rhe1?! Re8 12.Nd4 Nxd4 13.Rxd4 c6 14.Bd3 g6 15.Ne4 Nxe4 16.Bxe7 Qxe7 17.Qxe4 Qg5+ 18.f4 Qh4 19.g3 Qxh2 20.Qf3 Bd5 21.Be4 Bxe4 22.Rdxe4 Rxe4 23.Rxe4 Qg1+ -+ Rice--Phillips, Hastings 1995.

M4a2b) 11.Bd3!

M3a2b1) 11....h6 12.Bxh6! gxh6 13.Qxh6 Re8 14.Qg5+ Kf8 15.Qh6+! = perpetual check

M3a2b2) 11....g6 12.Rhe1! Nh5! (12....a6 13.Bc4! += or 12....Re8 13.Bb5! +=) 13.g4! (13.Be4!? Bxg5+ 14.Qxg5 unclear) 13....Bxg5+ 14.Nxg5 h6 15.gxh5 Qxg5+ 16.Qxg5 hxg5 17.hxg6 Ne5 18.gxf7+ Rxf7 19.Rg1 Rg7! 20.Be4 =

M4a3) 10.... h6!
This careful move order avoids the likely draw following 10....O-O 11.Bd3!, for if now 11.Bd3?! then Black has an important tempo on lines in M4b below and can play 11....a6, 11....Nd7, or 11....Ng4 to advantage.

M4a3a) 11.Rhe1?! O-O 12.Bxh6 gxh6 13.Qxh6 Nh7! =+ 14.h4 Re8 15.Bd3 Nf8 16.Ne4 Nb4 17.Ng3 Bf6 18.Nh5 Bh8 19.Ng5 Nxd3+ 19.Rxd3 Bf5 and White's attack failed in Nilsson-Wik, Correspondence 1991.

M4a3b) 11.Nd4!

M4a3b1) 11...Qd7 12.Nxc6 bxc6 13.Bxf6 cxb5 (13...Bxf6?! 14.Qe4 +=) 14.Bxe7 Qxe7 15.Qxe7+ Kxe7 16.Nxb5 =

M4a3b2) 11....Bd7 12.Nxc6 bxc6 13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.Qe4+ Qe7 15.Bxc6 Qxe4 16.Bxd7+! Kxd7 17.Nxe4 =

M4a3b3) 11....Nd5 12.Bxe7 Qxe7 (12....Ndxe7?! 13.Nxe6 fxe6 14.Qg4 += or 13.Rhe1! +=) 13.Qg3 Nxc3 14.Qxc3 Qg5+ 15.Kb1 O-O 16.Bxc6 bxc6 17.Qxc6 =

M4a3b4) 11....Nd7 12.Bxe7 Qxe7 13.Qxe7+ Nxe7 (13....Kxe7 14.Bxc6 +=) 14.Rhe1 (14.Nxe6 fxe6 15.Rhe1 e5 [15....c6?! 16.Rxd6 followed by R6e6 +=] 16.Bxd7+ Kxd7 17.Rxe5 =) 14....a6 (14....Bg4? 15.Nd5! +- or 14....O-O-O 15.Nxe6 fxe6 16.Rxe6 +=) 15.Nxe6 fxe6 16.Rxe6 axb5 17.Nd5 Kd8 18.Rxe7 c6!? 19.Rxd7+ Kxd7 20.Nb6+ Kc7 21.Nxa8+ Rxa8 22.Re1 Kd7 23.a3 =

M4a3b5) 11....O-O! 12.Nxe6 fxe6 13.Bd2 (13.Bxh6? gxh6 14.Qxh6 Rf7! 15.Rd3 Rh7! -+) 13....a6 14.Bxc6 bxc6 15.Rhe1 and White should recover his pawn with excellent chances of equalizing. For example: 15....Qd7 (15.....e5!? 16.Qc4+ d5 17.Qxc6 is unclear) 16.Qg3 Kh8 17.Qe3 e5 18.f4 Nd5! 19.Nxd5 cxd5 20.fxe5 dxe5 21.Qxe5 Bf6! =/=+ and while White has recovered the pawn, Black retains a positional advantage due to his center pawn, half-open b-file, and control of the long diagonal.


M4b) 10.Bd3?! =+
The "classical" method and until recently the "book" move: White retreats his Bishop to avoid exchanges and awaits signs of weakness in the defense. This move has always struck me as rather artificial and a waste of time, which goes against the entire logic of the Urusov which is all about gaining time in exchange for material. The position is quite balanced, though, and most games in this line have ended in a draw. Black has at least five playable methods of meeting 10.Bd3, all of which seem to equalize or gain an edge. But best may be a move not discussed by theory at all: 10....Ng4!, which is a slightly better version of 10....Nd7 and should be at least slightly better for Black. The alternatives explored below are:

M4b1) 10...Qd7?! M4b2) 10...h6 M4b3) 10...a6
M4b4) 10...Nd7 M4b5) 10...Ng4!  

M4b1) 10....Qd7?!
This long-standard move allows White to continue his initiative, though his attack should probably only bring a draw against careful defense.
Immediately exploiting the Queen's position. Keres suggested 11.Rhe1!? as an interesting alternative.
Less promising appear to be 11....Kf8!? or 11....O-O-O? 12.Qa4 a6 [13....Nd5 14.Rxd5! Bxg5+ 15.Rxg5 hxg5 16.Nd4 +- Mortensen--Wesche, Correspondence 1994] 13.Bxa6! bxa6 14.Qxa6+ Kb8 15.Nb5 +- Keres or 12.Ne5 Qe8 13.Nc6 bc6 14.Ba6+ Kd7 15.Na4 +- Tartakower.

M4b1a) 12.Ne5

M4b1a1) 12....Qc8 13.Nxc6 bxc6 14.Bxc6

M4b1a1a) 14....h6 15.Bxh6!? (15.Bd2 Rb8 16.Qa4 Ng4 17.Rdf1 [17.Be1 Bg5+ 18.Kb1 Bf6 19.b3 Nf2 20.Bf2 Bc3 21.Qa7 Bf5 1/2-1/2 Nejstadt--Burlayev, Moscow 1958 22.Bd4 += Harding] 17....Bf6 18.f4! +- Estrin) 15....gxh6 16.Qxh6 Ng4 17.Qf4 Rb8 18.Rd3 Qd8 19.h4 Bxh4 20.Ne4 f5 21.Bd5 Bxd5 22.Rxd5 Bf6 23.Rxf5 Bxb2+ 24.Kd2 Nxf2 25.Qxf2 Bg7 26.Qf3 d5 27.Ng5 Qd6 28.Qxd5+ Qxd5+ 29.Rxd5 Rf2+ 30.Kd3 1/2-1/2 Lemieux--Gelin, Correspondence 1988.

M4b1a1b) 14....Rb8 15.Ne4 Qa6! (15....Qd8 16.Rd3 Kh8? 17.Nxf6 gxf6 18.Be4 1-0 Matrisch--Ninkovic, Correspondence 1973) 16.Nxf6+ Bxf6 17.Bxf6 gxf6 18.Be4 Rfe8 19.a3 Qb5 1/2-1/2 Daubenfeld--Dieckmann, Correspondence 1988) .

M4b1a2) 12....Qe8 13.Nxc6 bxc6 14.Bd3 h6 15.f4 Nd5! (15....hxg5? 16.fxg5 1-0 Griffith--MacDonald, Correspondence 1924) 16.Nxd5 Bxg5 17.fxg5 Bxd5 18.c4 (18.gxh6 Qe3+ 19.Rd2 Qxh6 20.Qxh6 gxh6 21.c4 Be6 22.Be4 Bd7 =+ Knorr--Langheld, Correspondence 1990) 18....Qe3+ 19.Kb1 Be6 20.g6 Rfe8 21.Rhe1 Qg5 22.Qe4 fxg6 23.Qxc6 Bf7 1/2-1/2 Hohm--Lassahn, Correspondence 1990.

M4b1b) 12.Nd4 a6 (12....h6 13.Bxh6 gxh6 [13....Ng4!? 15.Bg5 Bxg5+ 16.Qxg5 Nxf2 17.Bh7+ Kxh7 18.Qh4+ Kg8 19.Qxf2 Nxd4 20.Rxd4 = Moston--Coleman, Correspondence 1997] 14.Qh6 Ng4 15.Qh5 +-; 12....Bf5? 13.Nxf5 Qxf5 14.Bd3 +-) 13.Bd3 Ne5 (13....h6!? and if 14.Bxh6 Ng4! Hooper) 14.f4 Nxd3+ 15.Rxd3 c5 (15....Bf5 16.Re3 Rae8 17.Rxe7 Rxe7 18.Bxf6 gxf6 19.Nd5! +- Tartakower; 15....h6 16.Bxh6 Ng4 17.Bg5 f6 18.Nxe6 Qxe8 19.Re1 Qd7 20.Rh3 fxg5 21.Qh7+ Kf7 22.Qh5+ Kg8 23.fxg5 Qf5 24.Qh8+ 1/2-1/2 Stock--Thiem, Correspondence 1988) 16.Rg3 Kh8 17.Nf3 Ng8 18.Be7 Qe7 19.Ng5 Nh6 20.Re1 Qd7 21.Rge3 Rfe8 22.Nce4 Bf5 23.Nf6 gf6 24.Qh6 Bg6 25.Nh7 Bh7 26.Rg3 Rxe1+ 27.Kd2 Re2+! 28.Kd1 Re1+ 1/2-1/2 Mieses--Rubinstein, Breslau 1912.

Position after 26.Rg3 Rxe1+ 27.Kd2.
In the position from Mieses-Rubinstein, White has sacrificed a Rook and a piece to bring about a position where Black cannot directly prevent mate, since it is threatened by both 28.Qg7# and 28.Qxf6#. But Rubinstein discovers an indirect defense: a perpetual check with 27....Re2+! 28.Kd1 Re1+. The Rook is immune on both squares since its capture allows Black to organize a defense with Qe6+ and Rg8, with a winning material advantage. And the King dare not venture to the third rank since he is mated of course after 27....Re2+ 28.Kc3? Rxc2+ 29.Kb3 Qb5+ etc. A delightful conclusion to a very hard fought game.


M4b2) 10....h6 11.Rhe1 Qd7?! (Better 11....a6! =) 12.Bb5 O-O-O (12....O-O 13.Bxh6 gxh6 14.Qxh6 +- Degli--Eg, Correspondence 1995) 13.Qa4 Nd5 (13....hxg5 14.Nd4 Nxd4 15.Bxd7+ Nxd7 16.Rxd4 Bf6 17.Rb4 a6 18.h3 Nb6 19.Rxb6 cxb6 20.Ne4 +- Galberg-Lund--Frederiksen, Correspondence 1994; 13....Ng8 14.Be3 Bg4 15.Ne5 1-0 Dellenbach--Scheu, Correspondence 1988; 13....Kb8 14.Nd4 hxg5 15.Nxc6+ bxc6 16.Bxc6 Qc8 17.Qb5+ 1-0 Tornow--Richter, Correspondence 1988) 14.Rxd5! Bxg5+ (14....hxg5 15.Nd4 Bxd5 16.Nxd5 Bf6 17.Bxc6 1-0 Uschold--Wallinger, Correspondence 1985) 15.Rxg5 hxg5 16.Nd4 Rdg8 17.Nxc6 bxc6 18.Bxc6 Qe7 19.Qxa7 1-0 Svensson--Tolksdorf, Correspondence 1973-1974.

M4b3) 10....a6 11.Rhe1 Qd7 (11....h6!? Keres 12.Kb1!? Qd7 13.Ne4 Nxe4 14.Bxe4 Bxg5 15.Nxg5 Qe7!? 16.Qh5 O-O! 17.f4 unclear)

M4d3a) 12.Qa4?! h6 13.Bh4 Na7 14.Rxe6? fxe6 15.Bg6+ Kd8 16.Qb3 Nc6 17.Qxb7 Ra7 18.Qb3 Kc8 19.Bf7 d5 (19....Nd8? 20.Ne5!) 20.Re1 Nd8 21.Ne5 Qd6 22.Qa4 Rb7 23.a3 Rf8 24.Bg6 Qb6 25.b3 Bd6 26.Bd3 Bxe5 0-1 Wawrowski--Johansson, Correspondence 1986.

M4d3b) 12.Ne4 Nxe4 13.Bxe4 (13.Qxe4?! d5 14.Qh4 h6 15.Bxe7 Qxe7 16.Bf5 Qxh4 17.Nxh4 O-O 18.Rxe6 fxe6 19.Bxe6+ Kh7 20.Bf5+ g6 21.Bxg6+ Kg7 22.Rxd5 Rad8 23.Rxd8 Nxd8 24.Bf5 Nf7 and now Galberg-Lund suggests 25.Ng6! = instead of 25.f3 in Zwisler--Pilgaard, Correspondence 1993) 13....O-O-O 14.Bxc6 Bxg5+ 15.Nxg5 (15.Qxg5!?) 15....Qxc6 16.Nxe6 fxe6 17.Qg4 = Hooper.

M4b4) 10....Nd7
Harding writes: "
Instead of the normal 10...Qd7, Black immediately proposes piece exchanges to reduce White's temporary initiative. By avoiding premature castling and pawn moves like ...h6 or ...a6, Black loses no time and gives White no targets to attack." An even better way of achieving the same goal might be 10....Ng4! which prevents 11.Qg3 and therefore forces exchanges by 11.Bxe7 Qxe7 12.Qg3 O-O-O =+.
11.Qg3! (11 Rhe1 Nde5 12 Bxe7 Nxd3+! =+ Harding) 11....Nde5 12.Bxe7 Qxe7 (12....Nxd3+!?) 13.Nxe5 Nxe5

M4b4a) 14.Qxg7 O-O-O = Ivanov/Kalinichenko

M4b4b) 14.Bb5+ c6 15.f4 Ng6 16.Bd3 f5 17.Bxf5 Bxf5 18.Rhe1 Ne5 19.Ne4!? (19.fxe5 d5 20.Rd2 O-O =+ Ivanov/Kalinichenko) 19....O-O-O 20.Nd2 Rhe8 21.fxe5 d5 (21....dxe5 22.Nc4 with counterplay notes van der Tak. This line looks about equal, though Harding thinks otherwise. See PGN) 22.Qf2 Bg4 23.Nf3 Kb8 24.Rd3 Rf8 25.Qg3 Bf5 26.Rd2 Ka8?! 27.Qg5 Qxg5 28.Nxg5 Rde8 29.e6 h6 30.e7 Rf6 31.Nf3 Re6 32.Rxe6 Bxe6 33.c4 Kb8 (33....Re7 34.Re2 Re8 35.Nd4 Bd7 36.Rxe8 Bxe8 37.cxd5 cxd5 38.Nf5 += van der Tak) 34.Nd4 Bd7 35.cxd5 cxd5 36.Nc2 Rxe7 37.Rxd5 = with an eventual draw in Schulz-Reiners, Correspondence 1995. See PGN

M4d4c) 14.Be4!? Qf6 15.Bxb7 Rb8 16.Bd5 O-O 17.Rhe1 Rfe8 18.Bxe6 fxe6 19.Re4 Rf8 20.f3 Nd7 = 21.Qh4 Qf7 22.Rdd4 d5 23.Rf4 Nf6 24.Ra4 e5 25.Rfb4 Rxb4 26.Qxb4 Qg6 27.b3 Qxg2 28.Kb2 d4 29.Qc4+ Kh8 30.Nb5 Qxf3 31.Qxc7 d3 32.Qd6 Nd5 33.cxd3 Rf6 34.Qb8+ Rf8 35.Qd6 Rf6 36.Qd8+ Rf8 1/2-1/2 Max Zavanelli – T. D. Harding, ICCF 50 years Official Jubilee Tournament 2002. For a very detailed analysis of this game, see Harding's remarks in Kibitzer 83.

M4b5) 10....Ng4! which prevents 11.Qg3 and therefore forces exchanges by 11.Bxe7 Qxe7 12.Qg3 O-O-O =+ (Harding notes that 12....Qf6!? or 12....O-O might also be considered). This seems a refutation of the entire classical way of playing the Urusov with artificial Bishop maneuvers following 10.Bd3?!

M4c) 10.Bxe6!? +=/=
This move, which is not discussed by theory, allows White to quickly recover his pawn or develop an attack. But if Black immediately surrenders the pawn, before incurring weaknesses in its defense, he will be able to equalize completely.
10....fxe6 11.Rhe1

M4c1) 11....e5?! 12.Qc4!? (White can simply snatch back his pawn here with 12.Nxe5! += with a slight edge, since Black should not risk 12....Nxe5 13.Rxe5 dxe5?! 14.Rxd8+ Rxd8 15.Qa4+ when White's strong initiative and better position give him the edge despite the rough material balance. Instead Naim tries to get more out of the position by first weakening Black's position, but this may be riskier.) 12....Nd7 13.h4!? h6 (13....Nb6!? 14.Qb3!) 14.Bxe7 Nxe7? (necessary is 14....Qxe7! 15.Nd5 Nb6! = and Black is ok) 15.Nb5! Nc6 16.Qe6+ Ne7 17.Rxd6! Qc8 18.Nxe5 Nxe5 19.Rxe5 Qxe6 20.Rdxe6 O-O 21.Rxe7 Rxf2 22.Re2 Rf1+ 23.Kd2 Rd8+ 24.Kc3 a6 25.Nxc7 Rf7 26.Rxf7 Kxf7 27.Ne6 +- Naim--Verducci, Correspondence 1992.

M4c2) 11....Qd7! (Developing the Queen and preparing to castle. Black has more trouble castling after 11....Qc8?! 12.Qc4! [12.Ne4!? e5?! 13.Nxf6+ Bxf6 14.Bxf6 gxf6 15.Qxf6 = Hausner-Satransky, Rakovnik 2001, but Black should have played instead 12....O-O! =+] 12....e5 [12....O-O 13.Rxe6! Kh8 14.Rde1 Qd7 15.Qe2 +=] 13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.Nd5 Bd8 15.Nf4! followed by Ne6 with more than enough pressure to win back the pawn and keep the initiative) 12.Qc4! (Müller and Voigt simply leave things here with the symbol for "with compensation." The alternative 12.Bxf6?! Bxf6 13.Qc4 [or perhaps first 13.Qh5+!? g6 14.Qg4] at least equalizes after 13....Kf7 14.Ne4 h6 15.Nc5! or 14....d5 15.Neg5+ or 13....O-O-O 14.Qxe6 Qxe6 15.Rxe6 Bxc3 16.bxc3 Rhe8 17.Rde1 Kd7 18.Rxe8 Rxe8 19.Rxe8 Kxe8 20.Nd4! =, but not after 13....e5! 14.Nxe5 Bxe5 15.f4 Qf7! 16.Nd5 O-O 17.fxe5 dxe5 =+) 12....d5!? (Weaker is 12....Nd8?! 13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.Nd5! +=. But Black should return the pawn with 12....O-O-O! 13.Qxe6 Qxe6 14.Rxe6 Rhe8 15.Rde1!? Kd7! = when White has only the slightest edge, and Harding thinks the game should peter out to a lifeless draw after the likely exchanges along the e-file.) 13.Qe2 Kf7 (13....O-O-O! 14.Qxe6 Qxe6 15.Rxe6 Rd7! 16.a3 +=/= and White has only a slight and likely temporary edge.) 14.Bxf6! (14.Bf4 h6 15.Nb5 Bd6! or 14.Nb5 h6 15.Nbd4!? are unclear) 14....Bxf6 (14....gxf6 15.Nd4 Nxd4 16.Qh5+! Kg7 17.Rxd4 and White's attack looks strong) 15.Ne4! Rhe8 16.Nfg5+ Bxg5+ 17.Nxg5+ Kg8 18.Qd3 g6 19.Qh3! and White regains his pawn with a good game.

Position after 16....Ne7.
The diagram shows a key moment from Naim-Verducci, when it is White to move after 16....Ne7. Naim demonstrates that pieces alone can break through pawn cover by sacrificial means. After 17.Rxd6! the Rook is immune from capture since 17....cxd6? 18.Nxd6+ Kf8 19.Qf7 is mate, so suddenly the central lines are open and Black has no defense. Verducci tried to break one of the pins with 17....Qc8 but lost material after 18.Nxe5 Nxe5 19.Rxe5 Qxe6 20.Rdxe6 O-O 21.Rxe7.

M4d) 10.Rhe1!
This move completes White's development and forces the exchange of Black's Bishop at e6, weakening his defense of the e-file. After the exchange of Bishops, White threatens to disrupt Black's King's field by Rxe7 and Bxf6, though this motif needs some preparation to assure success. White can also play for piece pressure and a pawn storm against Black's kingside, as in Berlin-Budapest, after which the position remains quite unclear.
Harding points out that this exchange may not be as forced as I had assumed. Not 10...0–0? 11.Rxe6! (better than 11.Bxe6?! fxe6 12.Rxe6 Qd7 13.Rde1 d5! unclear) 11...fxe6 12.Bxe6+ Kh8 (12...Rf7?! 13.Nd5! ±) 13.Bf5 ± Krticka-Lyer, Prague 1921 13...h6 14.Bxh6 Qe8 15.g4 with a strong attack. But possible is 10...Qd7!? 11.Bb5 (11.Bxe6 fxe6 12.Qc4 0–0–0! = transposes to M4c2 above) 11...0–0 (11....Kf8?! 12.Ne5 Nokes-Anderson, New Zealand 1979 12...Qc8 13.Nxc6 bxc6 14.Bxc6 Rb8 15.Qa4 +=) 12.Ne5! (White is up a tempo on line M2 above, but finding the way to mate is complicated. Alternatives include 12.Nd4!?, 12.Ne4!? Nxe4 13.Bxc6 bxc6 14.Bxe7 Rfe8 15.Ne5 Qxe7 16.Qxe7 Rxe7 17.Nxc6 Ree8 18.Rxe4 =, and 12.Bd3!? Bf5! =+ but these do not appear promising.) 12...Qe8 (not 12...Qc8? 13.Nxc6 bxc6 14.Bd3! h6 15.Bxh6 gxh6 16.Qxh6 followed by Re3 -->) 13.Nxc6 bxc6 14.Bd3 h6 15.f4! (The immediate 15.Bxh6!? Ng4! 16.Bg5 Bxg5+ 17.Qxg5 Nxf2 18.Qh4 [18.Ne4!?] 18...Nxd3+ 19.Rxd3 Qd8 20.Qh5 Qf6 21.Rf3 Qh6+ 22.Qxh6 gxh6 23.Ne4 is unclear). After 15.f4! Harding writes that the position "poses awkward questions" for Black since now the Bxh6 sac is really threatened. Forced seems 15...Qd8! 16.Ne4! (16.Bxh6!? Ne4 17.Qh5 Nf6 18.Qg5 Ne8 19.Qh5 Nf6 20.Qe2!? is also interesting) 16...Nd5 17.c4! Nf6 (17...Bxg5? 18.fxg5 Nb4 19.Nf6+! +-) 18.g4! (less clear is 18.Nxf6+ Bxf6 19.Bxf6 Qxf6 20.Qxf6 gxf6 21.f5 Bd7 22.Re7 +=) 18...Rb8! (18...Re8 19.Bxf6 Bxf6 20.Nxf6+ Qxf6 21.g5 Qd8 22.f5 -->) 19.Re2! Re8 20.Bxf6 Bxf6 21.Nxf6+ Qxf6 22.g5 Qd8 23.Qh5 g6 24.Bxg6 Bxc4 25.Be4!! --> and I think White wins. This is a long piece of analysis, though, to prove something that any player as Black should know intuitively: don't go there!
The Queen is well-positioned here. Clearly inferior is 11.Bxf6?! Be6! 12.Bxe7 Qxe7 13.Qg3 (13.Qxe7+?! Nxe7 14.Ng5 Kd7 =+ Estrin) 13....Qf6 14.Nd5 Qh6+ 15.Qg5 Qxg5 16.Nxg5 Kd7 17.Nf4 Rae8 18.f3 g6?! (better 18....Bc4! =+) 19.Ne4 Ke7 20.Ng5 Kf6 21.Ne4+ Ke7 22.Ng5 Nd8? (22....Ne5! =+) 23.Re3?! (23.Nd5+! ±) 23....h6 24.Ngxe6 Nxe6 25.Rde1 Kf6 26.Nd5+ Kg7 27.Nf4 Kf6 28.Nd5+ 1/2-1/2 Matrisch-Simon, Recklinghausen 2002.
And we arrive at what is likely the critical position of the Urusov Gambit.
There are now at least five options for White, the last three of which seem most promising as methods of seeking an edge. But readers are urged to look through all of the analysis as there are ideas and motifs (especially Torre's exchange sacrifice) that are useful for White in other lines.

M4d1) 12.Rxe7?! M4d2) 12.Qh4 M4d3) 12.Re3!?
M4d4) 12.Rd3!? M4d5) 12.h4!?  

M4d1) 12.Rxe7?!
(This sacrifice has more psychological power than analytic validity at this point. But a lot can be learned from this game, since the exchange sacrifice is always a latent possibility in these lines.) 12....Nxe7 13.Bxf6 gxf6 14.Ne4 Ng6? (Better defensive prospects are offered by 14....Kh8! 15.Nxf6 Ng8! 16.Nh5 Qd7 17.g4 Qe6 18.Qd4+ f6 =+) 15.Qc3! += Kg7?! 16.Nd4 Qc8 17.Qf3 Re8 18.Qxf6+ Kf8 19.Ng5 ± Re7 20.Nf5 Qd8 21.h4 Ke8 22.h5 Ne5 23.f4 Ng4 24.Ng7+ Kd7 25.Qf5+ Kc6 26.Qxg4 +- f6 27.N5e6 Qg8 28.Qf3+ Kb6 29.Qb3+ Ka6 30.Qc4+ Kb6 31.Rd5 a5 32.Rb5+ Ka6 33.a4 c6 34.Re5+ Kb6 35.Qb3+ Ka6 36.Nc5+ dxc5 37.Qxg8 Rxg8 38.Rxe7 h6 39.g3 b5 40.Nf5 bxa4 41.Re6 Kb5 42.Rxf6 c4 43.c3 a3 44.bxa3 Ka4 45.Rxh6 Kxa3 46.Rxc6 Kb3 47.h6 Kxc3 48.h7 Re8 49.Rxc4+ 1-0 Torre-Santasiere, New York 1924 .


Position after 19....Re7.
In the position from Torre-Santasiere, it is White to move after 19....Re7. Torre's "real sacrifice" of the exchange has yielded a powerful attack, and he has the pleasant choice of 20.Nxh7+ winning another pawn or 20.Nf5! winning back at least the sacrificed material. Torre chose 20.Nf5, when the hapless Rook cannot move from the defense of f7, and if 20....Rd7 21.Nxh7+ Ke8 22.Ng7# or 21....Kg8 22.Qg7#. Black tried 20....Qd8 when Torre chose to continue the attack rather than grab the Rook with 21.h4! Ke8 22.h5 Ne5 23.f4 Ng4 24.Ng7+ Kd7 25.Qf5+ Kc6 26.Qxg4 netting him two pieces for a Rook without ending the King chase.

M4d2) 12.Qh4 =
White prevents immediate simplification by 12....Nd7 and threatens an improved version of Torre's exchange sacrifice idea with 13.Rxe7! While White has a lot of pressure after this move, Black should be able to extricate himself with careful defense. Therefore White probably does best to take the forced draw after 12.Qh4 Re8! 13.Rxe7! = as analyzed in my notes to the game Jaeckle-Gross, Berlin 1998
(12....h6?! 13.Rd3 [13.Rxe7!? +=] 13....hxg5 [13....d5 14.Bxh6!] 14.Nxg5 Re8 15.Rh3 Nh5 16.Rxe7! g6 17.Rxe8+ Qxe8 18.Re3?! [18.g4! ±] 18....Qf8 19.Nd5 Qg7 20.Nxc7 += Browne-Taylor, BCCC 1993 ; 12....Qd7?! 13.Rxe7! Nxe7 14.Bxf6 Ng6! 15.Ne5! +=) 13.Re3!? (13.Rxe7! =) 13....Nd7?! (13....Qd7! 14.Rde1 h6! =+) 14.Nd5 f6 15.Bf4 Nb6 (15...Nde5!?) 16.Qh5 Bf8? (16...Qd7! 17.Nd4! Nxd4 18.Rxd4 Bf8 19.Rh3 h6 20.Rg3 Nxd5 21.Qxd5+ Qf7 22.Bxh6 =) 17.Nh4? (17.Rxe8! Qxe8 18.Qxe8 Rxe8 19.Nxc7 +=) 17....Rxe3 18.Bxe3 Ne5 19.Bxb6 axb6 20.f4 Rxa2! =+ 21.fxe5 g6 22.Qf3 Bh6+ 23.Kb1 Qa8 24.Ne7+ Kf8 25.Qxf6+ Ke8 26.Qh8+ Bf8 27.Kc1 Qa5? 28.c3 Qb5 29.Rd2 Qa4 30.Rd4 Qb3 31.Rb4 Ra1+ 32.Kd2 Qd1+ 33.Ke3 Qg1+ 34.Kf4? Qxh2+ 35.Kg5 Qg3+ 36.Rg4 h6+ 37.Kf6 Qxe5+ 0-1 Jaeckle-Gross, Berlin 1998 .

Position after 20.f4.
In the game Jaeckle-Gross, it was Black to move after 20.f4 (see diagram). If Black tried passive defense with 20....Nf7, White might have been able to organize an attack by g4-g5 after taking time out to defend the hanging pawn at a2. But Black took advantage of this moment to assume the initiative with 20....Rxa2! 21.fxe5 g6 22.Qf3 Bh6+ 23.Kb1 Qa8 threatening mate. White might first have played 20.Kb1 before venturing with his pawns, but then Black has time to organize his defense with 20....c6 21.Ne3 Qe8 and it is difficult to see how White will retain any compensation for the pawn. If an improvement is to be found for White in this line, it will have to come earlier.

M4d3) 12.Re3!? unclear
From the stem game Berlin--Budapest, Correspondence 1937-1938. Despite its reputation, this move offers good chances of playing for a win with relatively little risk of losing. Instead of using a sacrifice at e7 to exploit the open e-file, White builds up piece pressure against Black's position, threatening to set up "Alekhine's Gun" with Qe2 and Re1 if Black takes no useful action. My impression now, though, after examining this move in comparison to 12.Rd3 and 12.h4!? (see below) is that Re3 can be a wasted tempo in some lines -- especially where the Rook moves again to exchange (as after 12....Re8) or sacrifice itself at e7. Clearly either 12.Rd3 or 12.h4!? are the most logical follow-through in the Urusov-player's exploitation of his time advantage. The fact that 12.Re3!? is still so promising, though, suggests a lot about what we might discover with the other moves.

M4d3a) 12....Nd7 (This natural move, seeking exchanges, is probably not best since White seems to do quite well in all lines following.) 13.h4! (After this move, Black cannot exchange at g5 and open the h-file, nor can he play f6 while White's Queen is at c4. Not 13.Rxe7? Nxe7 14.Re1 Re8 15.Nd5 Nb6 -+ as noted by Richter.)

M4d3a1) 13....Re8 14.Bxe7 (White accepts the exchanges since he can thus reduce the defensive forces on the kingside) 14....Rxe7 (14...Nxe7?! 15.Ng5 +=) 15.Rxe7 Nxe7 (15...Qxe7?! 16.Nd5 Qd8 [16...Qe6 17.Ng5! Qg6 18.Nxc7 Rf8 19.Qe4] 17.Ng5 Nde5 18.Qe4 g6 19.Qf4 +=) 16.Ng5 Ne5 (16...Qf8 17.Qxc7 +=) 17.Qe4 N7g6 (17....f5?! 18.Qb4 c5 19.Qb5 c4 20.f4 a6 21.Qxb7±; 17...g6 18.f4 N5c6 19.Qc4 Qf8 20.h5 +=; 17...N5g6 18.h5 Nf8 19.Qf4 Qe8 20.h6 +=) 18.f4 h6 (18...Nc6 19.h5 Nf8 20.Qc4 Ne5 [20...Qd7 21.h6!] 21.Qb3 h6 22.Nce4 hxg5 23.fxe5 Qe7 24.Qxb7 += or 18...Ng4 19.h5 Nf6 20.Qc4 Nh8 21.h6 gxh6 22.Nge4 Ng6 23.Qd4 Nxe4 24.Nxe4 +=)

M4d3a1a) 19.Nh3?! Nc6 20.h5 Nge7 21.g4 Qd7 22.f5 Re8 23.f6 gxf6 24.Qf3 Kg7 25.Rf1 Qe6 26.Nf4 Qe5 27.Qg2 Nd4 28.Kb1 Nb5 29.Nxb5 Qxb5 30.Qf3 Ng8 31.Nd5 Qc6 (32.c4 Re5! 32.g5 hxg5 33.h6+ Kxh6!) 0-1 Berlin--Budapest, Correspondence 1937-1938.

M4d3a1b) 19.fxe5! hxg5 20.exd6 (20.e6!? Ne5 21.exf7+ Nxf7) 20...gxh4 (20...cxd6 21.h5 Nf4 22.Qxb7 Nxh5 23.Rxd6 or 23.Nd5 +=) 21.d7! c6 22.Kb1 +=

M4d3a2) 13...Rc8 14.Bxe7 (The most direct route. Less clear are 14.Rde1 Nde5 15.Qb5 Rb8 16.Bxe7 Qxe7 17.Nd5 Qe6 = and 14.Qb5!? Bxg5 15.hxg5 Rb8 16.Qf5 Re8 =) 14...Nxe7 15.h5 Nf5 16.Re2 Nh6 17.g4 Qf6 18.g5 Qxf3 19.gxh6! Ne5 20.Qh4 Qg4 21.Qxg4 Nxg4 22.Nd5 Rce8 23.Rxe8 Rxe8 24.Nxc7 Rd8 25.hxg7 Nxf2 26.Rf1 +=

M4d3a3) 13....Nb6 14.Qg4! (Less clear is 14.Qd3!? Re8 15.Bxe7 Rxe7 16.Ng5 g6 17.h5 Rxe3 18.Qxe3 Qe7 19.Qg3 h6 20.Nf3 g5 21.Re1 Qf6 22.Nd2 =) 14...Re8 15.Rde1 Bxg5 16.hxg5! (Taking with the pawn is almost always strong here for White, since the open h-file and the pawn at g5 further his attack.) 16...Rxe3 17.Rxe3 d5 18.Re1 Qd6 19.Qh4 Qd7 20.Rh1 Qf5 21.Nd2 d4 22.Ne2 Nd5 23.g4 Qg6 24.f4 h6 25.gxh6 Qxh6 26.Qe1 Qg6 27.Qh4 Qh6 (White has at least equality here, but he should try for more.) 28.Qe1 Qg6 29.Rh4! ± Ncb4 30.Nxd4 Qf6 (30...Nxa2+ 31.Kb1 Qb6 32.Qh1! Nac3+ 33.Kc1 Na2+ 34.Kd1 Nac3+ 35.bxc3 Nxc3+ 36.Ke1 Re8+ 37.Kf1 Kf8 38.Rh8+ Ke7 39.Rxe8+ Kxe8 40.Qh8+ Ke7 41.Nf5+ +-) 31.N2f3 c5 32.g5! Nxa2+ 33.Kb1 Qa6 34.Qh1 Nac3+ 35.bxc3 Nxc3+ 36.Kb2 Qa2+ 37.Kxc3 cxd4+ 38.Nxd4 Rc8+ 39.Kd2 Qa5+ 40.Ke2 Re8+ 41.Kf2 Qd2+ 42.Kf3 +- and White wins.

Position after 18.f4.
In the correspondence game between the two chess clubs Berlin-Budapest, it was the Hungarians to move after 18.f4. White seems to have organized an attack, and if Black simply retreats with 18....Nc6 then 19.h5! causes headaches for the defense. So Black played 18....h6! 19.Nh3?! Nc6 20.h5 Nge7, which slowed up White's attack enough to allow a reorganization of Black's forces. But White should have played 19.fxe5! hxg5 20.exd6 (also possible is 20.e6!? trying to undermine the Knight at g6) 20....cxd6 21.h5 with more targets for attack than in the game continuation and at least a slight advantage.

M4d3b) 12....a6?! (Black cannot afford to waste time since White's threat to triple on the e-file is quite strong.) 13.Qe2! h6 14.Bh4 Re8 15.Re1 g5 16.Nxg5! hxg5 17.Bxg5 Ne5! (17....Nd4 18.Qd3 Ne6 19.Rxe6! fxe6 20.Rxe6! Nh5! 21.Rg6+! Ng7 22.Qd5+ Kf8 23.Bh6 Bf6 24.Qf5! Kg8 25.Nd5! Re1+ 26.Kd2 +-) 18.f4! (18.Bxf6 Bxf6 19.f4 c6 20.g3 d5 21.Nb1 Re6 22.fxe5 Bg5 23.Nd2 Bxe3 24.Qxe3 Qf8 25.Qf4 Rae8 26.Nf3 f6 =+) 18...Nfg4! 19.fxe5! (19.Bxe7?! Rxe7 [19...Qxe7? 20.Rg3 f5 21.fxe5 Qg5+ 22.Qd2 Qxd2+ 23.Kxd2 Kf7 24.exd6 Rxe1 25.Kxe1 cxd6 26.h3 Ne5 27.Rg5 ±] 20.Re4 Nf6 21.fxe5 Nxe4 22.Qg4+ Kf8 23.Nxe4 Rxe5 24.Qh3 Ke8 and the King escapes -+) 19...Bxg5 (19...Nxe3 20.Bxe3 Bg5 21.Qg4 Rxe5 22.h4! +=) 20.Qxg4 Kf8 21.Ne4! (21.h4?! Bxe3+ 22.Rxe3 Rxe5 23.Rxe5 dxe5 24.Qh5 Qf6 25.b3 Kg7 26.Qg4+ Qg6 27.Qf3 =+) 21...Bxe3+ (21...Bh6 22.Nf6 Bxe3+ 23.Rxe3 Rxe5 24.Nd7+ Qxd7 25.Qxd7 Rxe3 26.Qxc7±) 22.Rxe3 Rxe5 (22...Qc8 23.Qh5 Rxe5 24.Ng5 Qe8 25.Rxe5 dxe5 26.Qh8+ Ke7 27.Qxe5+ Kd8 28.Qd5+ Kc8 29.Nxf7 Qe1+ 30.Qd1 Qe7 31.Qf3 Qe1+ 32.Qd1 Qe7=; 22...Re6 23.Rh3 Rg6 24.Qf5 dxe5 25.Rh8+ Rg8 26.Ng5 Qd5 27.Rh3 [27.Rxg8+ Kxg8 28.Qh7+ Kf8 29.Qh8+ Ke7 30.Qxa8 Qxg2 31.Qg8] 27...Rg6 28.b3±) 23.Rh3! Ke7 24.Rh7 Qc8 25.Qh4+ Kd7 26.Rxf7+! (26.Nf6+ Kc6 27.Qc4+ Kb6 28.Qd4+ Kc6 29.Qc4+ Kb6 30.Qd4+ Kc6=) 26...Kc6 27.Qe1! Qe6 28.Qc3+ Rc5 29.Qf3! Re5 (29...Rd5 30.b4±; 29...Kb6 30.Nxc5 Qe1+ 31.Qd1 Qe3+ 32.Kb1 Qxc5±) 30.Nc5+ Qd5 31.Nd3 Qxf3 32.Nxe5+ dxe5 33.Rxf3 ± Analysis

M4d3c) 12....Re8
This move likely forces White to lose a tempo.

M4d3c1) 13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.Rxe8+ Qxe8 15.Nd5 Qd8 (15...Bd8?! 16.Re1 Qf8 17.Kb1! [necessary preparation for the idea of playing Qe2-e8-d7 or Qg4-d7 and Re8] 17...h6 18.Qg4 ±) 16.Re1 Be5?! (Though Black remains up a pawn, White has a strong grip on the position and can strengthen that grip in a number of ways.) 17.h4 Qd7 18.c3 Re8 19.Nd2 Re6 20.Ne4 Kf8 21.Re3 +=/±.

M4d3c2) 13.Qb3!? Nd7 (13....Rb8?! 14.Rde1! Nd7 15.Bxe7 Rxe7 16.Rxe7 Nxe7 17.Ng5 Qf8 18.Qc4 += and White wins back his pawn at either c7 or h7 with a slight edge; 13...Ng4 14.Bxe7 Rxe7 15.Rxe7 Nxe7 16.Ng5 Nh6 17.Qxb7 Rb8 18.Qxa7 +=) 14.Bxe7 (14.h4!? Nc5 15.Qc4 a5 16.Rde1 h6 17.Bxe7 Rxe7 18.g4 Rxe3 19.Rxe3 Qd7 20.g5 h5 21.g6 Qf5 22.gxf7+ Qxf7 23.Qxf7+ Kxf7 24.Nd5 Rc8 25.Ng5+ Kf8 26.Nf4 Ne5 27.Nxh5 =) 14...Nxe7 15.Qxb7 Nc5 16.Qb5 Rb8 and White has recovered his pawn with good chances. For example: 17.Qe2 Qd7 18.Re1 Ne6 19.Ng5 Nf5 20.Qd3 Nxg5 21.Qxf5 Ne6 22.Nd5 c6 23.Nf6+!! gxf6 24.Rg3+ Kf8 25.Qxf6 d5 26.Qh6+ Ke7 27.Rxe6+ Qxe6 28.Re3 ±.

M4d3d) 12....Qd7!
This is almost certainly the best move and the critical test of 12.Re3. Black completes his development and connects his Rooks, preparing to fight back against White's pressure. The Queen move has the added advantage of defeating some of White's typical plans in this line, as the analysis shows. 13.Bxf6! (Exploiting the fact that the Queen's move slightly weakens the f6 square) 13....Bxf6 14.Nd5 Qd8
(Probably best when the position is dynamically balanced and difficult to assess. Not 14....Be5?? 15.Nxe5 Nxe5 16.Rxe5 dxe5? 17.Nf6+ winning the Queen; 14....Rae8 or 14....Rfe8 are playable but allow 15.Nxf6+ gxf6 damaging the kingside formation when White has very clear compensation for the pawn; 14....Bd8 15.Rde1 and White has stronger pressure because Black's Rooks are not connected; and 14....Qf5?! 15.g4! Qg6 16.h4! helps White to attack. We now reach a critical position for the evaluation of the M3c3 line. White clearly has a strong lock on the position, but Black will wriggle out if he does not pursue an attack.) 15.c3!? (Probably best. The quiet pawn advance blunts the Bishop's attack on the long diagonal, prevents back-rank mates, keeps the Black Knight out of b4 and d4, supports a White Knight advance to d4, and blocks attacks along the c-file if White wins the c7 pawn.) 15....a4 (I like this attacking idea best, though it loses some force after 15.c3. Not 15...Bg5?! 16.Nxg5 Qxg5 17.Qb5! Qh4 [17...Qxg2? 18.Qxb7!+-; 17...Ne5?! 18.f4 c6 19.fxg5 cxb5 20.Nc7 Rad8 21.Nxb5 ±] 18.Qxb7 [18.Nxc7?! Rac8 19.Qxb7 Qxf2 20.Rf3 Qxg2 21.Qxc6 Rxc7 22.Qxc7 Qxf3 23.Qxd6 Qe3+ 24.Qd2 Qe6 25.Kb1 f5] 18...Ne5 19.g3! Qh6 [19...Qxh2 20.Ne7+ Kh8 21.Rh1 +-] 20.f4 Rab8 21.Qa6 Ng4 22.Re2 +=) 16.Qb5!? (A multipurpose move: attacking the pawn at b7, taking advantage of the weakened b5 square, and preventing 16....Bg5 with exchanges) 16....Ra7 (16....Rb8 17.g3! to support h4 += with great control of dark squares) 17.g4! (White has a number of choices here to try to build his pressure, including repositioning moves like 17.Nd2-Ne4, 17.Re4, 17.Qd3-Qf5, 17.Kb1, and 17.Qa4 to keep Black under wraps, but this seems the most aggressive idea. If White does not act quickly Black might develop a queenside initiative with 17....a4-a3. Therefore, if necessary, White should sacrifice his h-pawn with h4! to open lines.) unclear

M4d4) 12.Rd3!?
This move seems an improvement on 12.Re3. White plans to develop a piece attack on the Kingside and keeps open the possibility of sacrificing the Rook at e1 (with Rxe7) without the tempo loss incurred after 12.Re3. I think White should, at the very least, be able to force a draw with a rapid attack (see illustrative line M4d4c below). A more slowly developing attack may yield even more for White, but you will have to study this for yourself.

M4d4a) 12....h6?! 13.Qh4! += transposes to Browne-Taylor, BCCC 1993 where after 13....hxg5? 14.Nxg5 Re8 15.Rh3?! (Müller and Voigt suggest 15.Nd5! Nh5 16.Rxe7 Nxe7 17.Qxh5 Ng6 18.Rf3 +-) 15....Nh5 16. Rxe7! g6 17. Rxe8+ Qxe8 I suggest 18.g4! as clearly better for White.

M4d4b) 12.....Nd7?! 13.Rxe7!? Nxe7 14.Nd5 b5 (14...Nb6 15.Nxe7+ Qxe7 16.Bxe7 Nxc4 17.Bxf8 Kxf8 18.Rc3 b5 19.b3 Ne5 20.Nxe5 dxe5 21.Rxc7 a6 22.c4 +=) 15.Qxc7 Nxd5 16.Qxd8 Rfxd8 17.Bxd8 Nf4 18.Rxd6 Rxd8 19.Ne5 Kf8 20.Rxd7 Rxd7 21.Nxd7+ Ke8 22.Ne5 Nxg2 23.Nc6 a6 24.Nb4 a5 25.Nc6 a4 26.a3!? += should probably win for White.

M4d4c) 12....Qd7! (As with 12.Re3 Qd7! this seems to pose White the most problems.) 13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.Nd5 Qd8 15.Qg4!? Be5 (another illustrative draw line is 15...a5 16.a3 Be5!? 17.Qf5 b5 18.Nxe5 Nxe5 19.Rh3 h6 20.Rxe5 dxe5 21.Rxh6 gxh6 22.Nf6+ Kg7 23.Nh5+ =) 16.Qf5 Qc8 17.Qh5 Re8 18.Nxe5 Nxe5 19.Rh3 h6 20.Nf6+ gxf6 21.Qxh6 Ng6 22.Qh7+ Kf8 23.Qh6+ = White may be able to get more out of this type of piece attack, but these lines are quite suggestive of how powerful White's initiative can be.

M4d5) 12.h4!N is Max Burkett's surprisingly interesting novelty. One idea appears to be 12....h6?! 13.Rxe7! hxg5?! 14.hxg5!! with an incredible attack for White. He recently completed a game by e-mail correspondence with this line: 12....Re8 (Probably the best try. I will provide some detailed analysis of alternatives, but so far it all looks good. The one tempo saved by the pawn move over a Rook move makes a big difference. Notice, for example, how 12.h4 gains a tempo over 12.Re3!? against 12....Re8 when the Rooks are inevitably exchanged.) 13. Bxf6 (An alternative plan of attack begins with 13.h5!? and involves sacrificing at least one more pawn for open lines following 13....h6 [13....Nxh5?! 14.Rxe7! Nxe7 15.Qh4! is strong for White] 14.Bh4 Nxh5!? [14....a5 15.g4!] 15.Nd5 g5 16.g4 Ng7 17.Bg3 unclear) 13....Bxf6 14. Rxe8 Qxe8 15. Nd5 Qd8 16. Re1!? (It is probably better to go for the dark-square bind immediately with 16.g3! or even 16.c3!? Now Black can consider returning the pawn for rough equality with Ne5 at some point.) 16...h6!? 17. Re3! (17.g3?! Ne5!) 17....a6?! (Black must return the pawn with 17....Ne5! or get slowly crushed. The resulting positions following exchanges look close to equal, though White's pawns are better.) 18. c3! Rb8?! (Last chance for 18....Ne5 =) 19. g3! a5! (Black's last several moves have not fit together as a plan, and one suspects that they are the suggestions of a computer. Finally, though, Black hits upon the idea of a queenside pawn storm, but he has already lost two critical tempi. Meanwhile, White has established the dark-square bind and is ready to push back the defensive Bishop at f6 and begin a winning kingside assault. Though this plan should be implemented more quickly, without first repositioning the Rook to e3, White has certainly used his time more wisely than Black has!) 20. Qe2 b5 21. Nd2 (This knight can also attack via Nf3-h2-g4) 21....Na7 22. f4 b4 23. Ne4 Be7 (The bishop has been forced to retreat and soon there are no defenders to fight off White's pawn and piece assault.) 24. Qg4 Nc6 25. Nef6+ Kh8 26.Nd7! Ra8 27. Qf5 Kg8 28. h5 (The pieces are in place, now here come the pawns!) 28....bxc3 29. bxc3 Rc8? (This makes things easier, but White's attack is already strong.) 30.g4 Bh4 31.g5! Bxg5 32.fxg5 Qxg5 33.N7f6+ gxf6 34.Qxc8+ Kh7 35.c4! Nb4 36.Qe8 Kg7 37.Kb2 Nxd5 38.cxd5 Qh4 39.Qe4 Qxh5 40.Re2 1-0 Burkett--Spiridonov, IECG WC-2003-F 2004. A great victory by Max Burkett, rich in ideas and possibilities! The Urusov's teeth have been sharpened!


It was once thought that this main line of the Urusov was a draw after 4....Nxe4 5.Qxd4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Be7 7.Bg5 Nc6 8.Qh4 d6 9.O-O-O Be6. But critical re-evaluations at moves 10 and 12 for White have led to a new view: White clearly has more than enough compensation for the sacrificed pawn and has good chances for an advantage. The previous "book" move 10.Bd3?! is now refuted by 10...Ng4! (among others). Meanwhile, 10.Bxe6 has been shown to lead to an equal and likely drawish position. But it has now been demonstrated that 10.Rhe1! is the best move. After 10.Rhe1! Bxc4 11.Qxc4 0-0, White has several options for continuing the attack, but Max Burkett's 12.h4! appears to be the new standard, as proven in a recent correspondence game. I will soon provide more extensive analysis of this game, complete with PGN file, to demonstrate how it keeps White on top. I think it is now certain that this line of the Urusov is no longer the most critical, and Black will have to look elsewhere for equality.


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Last modified: August 7 , 2004
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