There is a variation of the Ruy lopez that I have recently played and made two sacrifices and ended up with a very good game, and I wanted to know if anyone else could or have tried it? Here is the move order:

[FEN ""]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 b5
5. Bb3 Na5 6. Bxf7+

Then the continuation that was played was

[FEN ""]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 b5
5. Bb3 Na5 6. Bxf7+ Kxf7 7. Nxe5+ Ke8 8. Qh5+ g6
9. Nxg6

and black resigned. This was all played with a 2+0 time control so I saw this nice little gambit.


4 Answers 4

  1. ... b5 is quite uncommon in the Ruy Lopez. I was initially sceptical, but the gambit seems to be quite interesting, or at least not easily refutable. On amateur level, it seems to score pretty well, if you have a look at for example the database on lichess. However, amongst stronger players in long games black scores significantly more points. I would definitely try it in Blitz, but not in a long game. Ultimately, it seems, it's objectively at least equal or worse for the sacrificing party (as with almost every gambit).

My evaluation:

  • little practical utility (literally nobody plays 4. ... b5, at least on my level)

  • unsound

  • probably fun at blitz


7...Ke8?? is a blunder for black. Instead, 7...Ke7!? is a much better try with the idea of weathering the attack with moves like ...Nf6 ...d6 and ...Qe8 (not necessarily in that order). Hard to prove that white is winning.


5...Na5 is interesting and it's hard for White to refute. Both 6. Nxe5 and 6. Bxf7+ are tempting options, but the best move is simply castling with 6. 0-0. White's plan is to push in the center with d4, and Black's Knight is missed on c6.

Sample line after 6. 0-0:

6...Nxb3 7. axb3 d6 (Black must protect the now undefended e5-pawn) 8. d4! exd4 9. Nxd4 (threatening to take on b5 due to the a-file pin) Bb7 10. Re1.

At this point, White has a nice edge. He has a good lead in development, and the Knight on d4 can jump to the f5-square at any point. While Black does have the two Bishops, his cramped position with barely any pieces out does not give him enough.

MVL recently played 5...Na5 in a rapid game though, so it's definitely a viable move. I doubt most people could find 6. 0-0 over the board if they hadn't studied the line previously.

  • I think it loses the initiative and goes defensive. I considered it but, I think even Carlsen would choose the more aggressive line, I might be wrong but I've seen his aggressive play. I could see Karpov play 0-0 but not really my style. Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 1:34
  • @Evin Switzer It may seem defensive, but on principle it's correct. Black's moving a Knight to the side, so White should attack. However, only attack once your King is safe, and since it only takes one move to castle, why not? Also in the Mega Database 0-0 has been played 5 times more than any other move, and at the 2600-2800 level everyone has played castle. I had to scroll down to the 2500 level to find one game that played d4. The first game I found that played Bxf7 was in the 2400 section. Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 18:30

WHITE CAN PLAY STRONGER! Thus, the newest chess opening theory ( https://jeromegambit.blogspot.com/2021/06/the-nightingale-gambit-etc-c70-c20-c60.html ) shows that after 6.Bxf7+!? Kxf7 7.Nxe5+ Ke7! 8.Nf7! Kxf7 9.Qh5+ g6 10.Qd5+ Kg7 11.Qxa8 Nc6 12.c3! N (Bukayev Yu. V.) the position is unclear. Here Yury V. Bukayev considered also 11...Qg5!? N and found that White has an enough success here too!

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