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In the Bird's Defense Deferred in the Ruy Lopez(1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nd4), why can't White take the e5-pawn?

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In the case of 5.Nxe5 Qe7 6.f4 b5, Black will meet both 7.c3 and 7.Bb3? with 7...d6. E.g., 7.c3 d6 8.cxd4 dxe5 is apparently around equal.

A better response for White is 5.Nxd4 exd4 6.0-0. This is an improved version (for White) of the Bird's Defense, since now ...c6 won't come with tempo. In the normal Bird's Defense with the bishop on b5, ...c6 was a key resource.

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    Is there any point to "deferring" Bird's defense? Is that a real opening? – bof Aug 14 '20 at 12:19
  • @bof I google searched the name and it looks like a recognized system at least. One point could be restricting the number of squares White's bishop can retreat to (just b3, instead of c4, d3, or e2). However, this doesn't mean much and having the bishop on a4 (away from ...c6) favours White. – Inertial Ignorance Aug 14 '20 at 17:59

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