Yesterday I reached this position:

[fen "rnbqk1nr/ppp3bp/3pp1p1/5p2/2PPP3/2N2N2/PP3PPP/R1BQKB1R w - - 0 1"]

1. Bg5 (1. exf5)

White to play, I played Bg5.
Lichess told me in the analysis that was inaccurate although latter on, it pointed this move out as one of the best moves.
At first, he recommends me to move exf5 in the 6th move and in the next moves for White.
I would like to know why it is convenient to make this capture since I do not see any benefits in capturing this pawn at any time.
The link of the game is: https://lichess.org/PyqeZZnQ/white#10

  • By opening the game you could more easily use your slight lead in development. Sep 28, 2019 at 23:58
  • Ywapom's answer (it is dubious to put too much faith in computer evaluations of less than a pawn in determining the best move) is the correct one, almost surely. Even if you trust Stockfish, running it on Lichess (at the link you provided, version 10+ at depth 24) yields the evaluation scores: exf5 ≈ 1.2, Bg5 ≈ 0.9, Be3 ≈ 0.8, Bd3 ≈ 0.8, Qe2 ≈ 0.7. It is unclear whether the discrepancies really amount to anything.
    – user21820
    Dec 27, 2019 at 16:31

2 Answers 2


If the black captures in return (there's not much choice for black), you either get an open vertical e or a nasty attack on the black King by Qh5+ and so on.

But don't worry. Bg5 is also not so bad move =)

  • Thanks for the answer! I was wondering however, if Black captures with the e-pawn, can you really exploit the open vertical right away? I mean White would still have to castle before mounting an attack by which time Black can castle too. Then I am not sure if that open column really benefits neither side
    – Maths64
    Aug 2, 2018 at 12:45
  • @Timetraveler I haven't looked too far ahead, but if it were me, if black captured with the e pawn, then I'd respond Bg5. Depending on if they blocked with their knight or bishop and where they put it (I don't think moving their queen is a very strong move), I'd follow up Qe2 or Nd5. Qe2 sets up a nice pin, while Nd5 lets you start eyeing some potential forks (in particular, Nc7). With that e file open, you can really ratchet up the pressure on e7, which, interestingly enough, discourages black from castling, as it would be tough to do so without losing whatever material is on e7. Aug 2, 2018 at 18:40

In general it is dubious to put too much faith computer evaluations of less than a pawn in determining the "best" move.

In this position however I think serious thinking is required. Let's think like a human: Black has made a lot of pawn moves and is therefore behind in development. In such cases it is usually good to open the position.

Okay that suggests exf5, Now you need to "think like a Grandmaster":

6.exf5 (a) 6...exf5 enumerate candidate moves: (a1)7.Nd5 (a2)7.Bg5, etc. Things get complicated but you can see ideas based on Nd5 combined with Qe2+ and Bg5 can lead to difficulties for Black.

(b) 6...gxf5 (b1)7.Ng5 Nf6 8.Qe2!? (b1.1) 8.Qa4+ (idea 9.Qb3)...

It seems 6.exf5 looks promising, now does 6.Bg5 look as good? Well the computer gives 6...Bf6?! 1.5 to White so that doesn't make 6.exf5 better; and it says after 6...Ne7 7.exf5 gxf5. Hmmmm, on 6.exf5 it liked 6...ef5 -- because now exf5 allows Nd5. So we can force gxf with Bg5... is that what we want?

[fen "rnbqk1nr/ppp3bp/3pp1p1/5p2/2PPP3/2N2N2/PP3PPP/R1BQKB1R w - - 0 1"]

1. exf5 (1. Bg5 Ne7 (1...Bf6?) 2.exf5 gxf5) gxf5 (1...exf5 2. Nd5) 2.Ng5 Nf6 3.Qe2!? (3.Qa4+ null 4.Qb3) 

Looking at these positions which are you more comfortable playing? That is the practical question. 6.exf5 might be a fraction of a pawn better if you are a computer.

  • Even Lichess gives different evaluation scores when run multiple times. So who is to know how much randomness they added?
    – user21820
    Dec 27, 2019 at 15:43

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