How should White continue after Nxb4 in the Evans Gambit?

Recently I have been playing the Evans Gambit as many times as I can and for the most part, black plays `4...Bxb4`, but someone played `4...Nxb4` and I wasn't sure how to continue. After the following moves below, how should I continue with the `Evans Gambit` as white?

``````[FEN ""]
1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 Bc5
4. b4  Nxb4
5. c3  Nc6
6. d4  exd4
``````

`4...Nxb4` directly transposes to the main line with `4...Bxb4 5. c3 Bc5`.

In that line, white usually plays `6. d4 exd4 7. O-O!`.

Black cannot take the pawn on c3 because of `8. Bxf7+! Kxf7 9. Qd5+` picking off the bishop on c5 with an overwhelming advantage.

``````[FEN ""]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Nxb4 (4... Bxb4 5. c3 Bc5) 5. c3 Nc6 6. d4 exd4 7. O-O \$1 dxc3 \$2 8. Bxf7+ \$1 Kxf7 9. Qd5+
``````
• Andrew, I am slightly confused, how can `4...Nxb4` transpose into `4...Bxb4...`. After `4...Nxb4`, is it correct to play `5. d4` – xaisoft Jan 17 '13 at 16:02
• @xaisoft I added a replayer to help you out. In the Evan's Accepted, white always plays `5. c3`. After `5... Nc6`, it is the exact same position as the main line with `5... Bc5`. – Andrew Jan 17 '13 at 16:17
• OK, it makes sense now. I made the mistake of `7. cxd4` instead of `7. O-O`. – xaisoft Jan 17 '13 at 16:32
• The transposition still is a little weird to me, but let me know if I have it right: Are you saying that since the Black Knight went back to `c6`, it is as if the Bishop captured the `b4` pawn and went back to `c5` and we are essentially back were we started. – xaisoft Jan 17 '13 at 16:34
• @xaisoft, yes, that is exactly correct. Check out the pgn viewer above, the position is the same after black's 5th move in both the main line and the variation. – Andrew Jan 17 '13 at 16:44

The only point of `4...Nxb4` is to set a trap already noted in comments to two of the answers:

``````[FEN ""]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Nxb4 5. Nxe5? Qf6 6. d4? (6. O-O Qxe5 7. c3 Bd6 8. f4? Qc5+) Bxd4! 7. Qxd4 Nxc2+ 0-1
``````

Interpolating 6 Bxf7+ doesn't help; the best White can do is bail out with `6. O-O`, but that's still not nearly enough compensation for the lost Knight.

However, if White plays the normal `5. c3` instead, Black is basically forced to play `Nc6`, transposing to the Bc5 variation of the main line `4...Bxb4 5. c3` — so `4...Nxb4` is no better than `4...Bxb4`, and may be worse if you prefer `5...Ba5` in the main line, or if White turns out to have a better move than `5. c3` (perhaps `5. 0-0`, or an immediate `5. d4` as xaisoft suggests in a comment to Andrew's answer).

Answering the original question: after 4...Nb4 5.Ne5 (threatens 6.Nf7 or Bf7+) if 5...Nh6 6.d4? Bd6? 7.Bh6 Be5 then things go wild with 8.Bf7+ Kf7 9.Qh5+ & then 10.Qe5 but Black has a fork with check in hand ...Nc2+ but White has the attack.

``````    However instead of 6...Bd6?, Black has 6...Bd4! as 7.Qd4 fails to
7...Nc2+
``````

So White needs 6.c3 before 7.d4. Basically instead of the original 4...Nb4 5.c3 ... ,
try 4...Nb4 5.Ne5 Nh6 6.c3 and the position looks good for White.

• Why is `5... Nh6` necessary? Why not `5... d5!?` or `5... Qf6 6. d4 Bxd4!`. – Dag Oskar Madsen May 16 '15 at 17:39

I don't play the Evans, but I happened to play this friendly game an hour ago, and came here looking to see what the Books said about 4...Nxb4. I saw no reason to transpose to other lines but sought some advantage, and it was a fun if flawed game. I have not seen a master game with this yet.

(PHS vs Ken, offhand game 5-27-2017)

``````[FEN ""]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Nxb4 5. Nxe5 d5 6. exd5 Qf6 7. d4 Bb6 8. Nc3 Ne7 9. a3 Na6 10. Ne4 Qh4 11. Qf3 f6 12. Nf7 Bg4 13. Qb3 Bxd4 14. d6 Be6 15. Qxb7 Rb8 16. d7+ Kxf7 17. Bxe6+ Kxe6 18. Qxa6+ Bb6 19. Qc4+ Ke5 20. Bb2+ Kf5 21. Ng3+ Kg5 22. Bc1+
``````
• Black could have played `7... Bxd4`, if I'm not mistaken. – Dag Oskar Madsen May 27 '17 at 19:12

The main strategic theme for White in Evans is White builds up a Powerful Centre and sacrifices some Pawns to create a lasting initiative & one objective of White is always restrict Black to castle . The Evans gambit is for the Players who are the Prime attackers and are bold enough to sacrifice material at all costs to maintain the initiative.

Here in the above position White should castle first and depending on Black's best reply which is d5,Nf6,d*c3 White has too many ways to keep the momentum .

Let's check some of the lines .

1. if dc3 from Black then White can play Bf7+ and then Qd5+ nabs the Black Bishop and Black cannot castle anymore and his King stays in the centre .
2. if Nf6 then c*d4 and White's Pawn simply dominates the Centre kicking off the Bishop & the Knights.
3. If d5 then after ed5 the e-file from White gets opened . The Queen can come to h5 targeting the f7 pawn and Black King would be in pretty bad position with development quite incomplete and defend for the rest of the Game .

I would say this is quite a familiar position for the Evans Gambit practitioners you can refer 1-2 games of Kasparov/Fischer/Janowsky/Marshall/Anderson/Morphy to see how the games go on.