I've been trying do some research on the defence against 4. Ng5, since it has been a really big thorn in my side for a bit of time.

[FEN ""]
[StartPly "7"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5

I've firstly taken a look into the Traxler attack, but I'm unsure about it since it's such a 'hack' line and well, it's a bit unreliable in a really big match.

I am looking at mainline with Na5 and c6, but I am not quite sure how Black keeps up the initiative from there. His queenside looks a bit shattered and White seems to be fine with happily developing his queenside.

Can anyone tell me some kind of plan or theory on the classical refutation against 4. Ng5? Thanks!

  • 1
    I think you are asking for a defence against 4. Ng5. The Fried Liver is 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Nxd5 6. Nxf7 Kxf7 which you probably don't want to go into. Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 12:54
  • Erm, yes, I think that's what I am talking about. Though I am not quite sure what the proper name for 4.Ng5 is.
    – Mildwood
    Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 12:58
  • 1
    That's maybe a question in itself. Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 13:01

4 Answers 4


As someone who plays 4.Ng5 as White, I can tell you what I've found to be the hardest Black line against me: 4...d5 5.exd5 Na5 6.Bb5+ c6 7.dxc6 bxc6 8.Be2 h6 9.Nf3 e4 10.Ne5 Bc5!?

[FEN ""]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Na5 6. Bb5+ c6 7. dxc6 bxc6 8. Be2 (8. Qf3 Be7 9. Bxc6+ Nxc6 10. Qxc6+ Bd7 11. Qf3 O-O) h6 9. Nf3 e4 10. Ne5 Bc5!? (10...Bd6 11. f4 exf3 12. Nxf3) 11. c3 (11. O-O Qd4 12. Ng4 Bxg4 13. Bxg4 e3) O-O 12. b4 (12. O-O Qc7) Qd5!?

The theory move is 10...Bd6 hitting the knight, but as White I've found that 11.f4 exf3 12.Nxf3 gives White a comfortable enough game a pawn up.

10...Bc5!? takes f4 off the table because of king safety, and Black can attack the near-trapped knight with the queen instead. A main line might be 11.c3 (11.O-O Qd4) O-O 12.b4 (12.O-O Qc7) Qd5!?

  • Thanks, but I am also concerned of the line with, instead of 8.Be2, white plays Qf6, pinning the pawn against the rook and threatening the c pawn. I can't play Bg4 in response because White takes c pawn with check.
    – Mildwood
    Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 22:51
  • How does Black refute 11.O-O Qd4 12.Ng4?
    – bof
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 0:00
  • 1
    12...Bxg4 13.Bxg4 e3
    – Jeff Y
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 11:31
  • 1
    On 8.Qf3 instead of Be2, Black will have to be content with the theory line 8...Be7 9.Bxc6+ Nxc6 10.Qxc6+ Bd7 11.Qf3 (or Qc4) O-O.
    – Jeff Y
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 12:04
  • I believe this is the modern "refutation" of the line. Usually white players in this line are willing to sacrifice material in order to have attacking chances. With these moves, Black is "counter-sacrificing" only a pawn for a much superior piece development and initiative. The compensation is clear, but one must play aggressively to pose clear questions to white's king safety and lack of development. While sound, one of the main factors of these lines is the psychological one: an attacking player usually does not want to be on the defensive, not even a pawn up. Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 8:56

I played the Traxler a lot, and it's quite a good option to play after preparation. Your opponents will escape with castling most of the time because they will be scared of your opening prep. And when they accept the sacrifice, there are quite easy draws for Black, if you don't want to play to win.

If you feel confident in complex tactical positions, the Traxler should be your main option. It instantly turns the tables, Black attacks, White defends.

Plus, it's a very engine friendly opening, as it's mostly tactical. You can analyze the opening with an engine and discover a novelty if you are lucky enough.

This is a very good start for preparation: https://www.newinchess.com/Yearbook/pdf/YB63_146.pdf


You could just do what most grandmasters do and play 3...Bc5. It will usually transpose to positions you could get after 3...Nf6 while avoiding the Ng5 stuff.


I think this video is helpful: Traxler counterattack

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 Bc5 $5 5. Nxf7 Bxf2+ 6. Kxf2 Nxe4+ 7. Kf1 (7. Kf3 Qf6+ 8. Kxe4 d5+ (8... Qf4+ 9. Kd3) 9. Bxd5 (9. Kxd5 Nb4+ 10. Kc5 (10. Ke4 Qf4#) 10... Qb6#) 9... Qf4+ 10. Kd3 Qd4+ 11. Ke2 Qxd5 12. Nxh8 Bg4+) (7. Ke2 Nd4+ 8. Ke3 (8. Kd3 Nf2+) 8... Qh4 9. Rf1 (9. Nxh8 Qf4+ 10. Kd3 Nc5+ 11. Kc3 Nb5+ 12. Kb4 a5+ 13. Kxb5 c6+ 14. Kb6 Na4+ 15. Kc7 e4#) 9... d5 10. Bxd5 (
  2. Nxh8 Qg5+) 10... Bg4 11. g3 Qh5 12. Qe1 Nxc2+ 13. Kxe4 Nxe1 14. Rxe1 Qf5+
  3. Ke3 Rf8) (7. Ke1 Qh4+ 8. g3 Nxg3 9. Nxh8 (9. hxg3 Qxh1+ 10. Bf1 O-O 11. Qe2 Nd4 12. Qg2 Qxg2 13. Bxg2 Nxc2+ 14. Kd1 Nxa1) 9... Ne4+ 10. Ke2 Qf2+ 11. Kd3 Nb4+ (11... Nc5+ 12. Kc3 Qd4#) 12. Kxe4 Qf4#) 7... Qh4 8. Qf3 (8. Qe1 Ng3+ 9. Qxg3 Qxc4+ 10. d3 Qxf7+ 11. Ke1 O-O) 8... Ng3+ 9. Kg1 (9. Qxg3 Qxc4+) 9... Qd4+
  4. Qe3 Qxc4 11. hxg3 Qxf7 *

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