Recently I played a game with a fairly standard Ponziani opening when something slightly interesting occurred. The game started as thus:

[FEN ""]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3 Nf6 4.d4 Nxe4 5.d5 Ne7 6.Nxe5 d6

6...d6 here is, of course, not the main line; 6...Ng6 is a stronger move for Black, still threatening a capture on e5 in a way that develops the knight while also keeping the king relatively safe. In the single game I found in this position, White (Daniel Klocker, 8/30/2008) proceeded to play 7.Bb5+, which Stockfish seems to think is the best move possible. It gives this move roughly a six point advantage for White. Meanwhile, in the game I played, I instead played Qa4+. Chess.com classifies this move as a "mistake", and while it still calculates the position as being advantageous for White, the advantage decreases to a measly +2.4.

Why is this a poor move, though? When I was playing, my logic was this: if they play b5, then I play Qxb5+. If they play anything else, then I play Qxe4. In hindsight, perhaps it would be better to play Qxe4 in any case, or to maybe offer a queen trade if Qd7, but it seemed sound at the time. What is the downside of this move that I'm not seeing? White's queen isn't under attack here, and frankly, I'm not sure why Bb5+ is better since it's easily blocked by c6, forcing White to retreat instead of developing further.

  • 1
    Why would White retreat after 6.Bb5+ c6 rather than play the obvious 7.dxc6 which Stockfish approves?
    – bof
    Nov 3, 2021 at 7:24

1 Answer 1


6...d6?? is an horrible move.

White is totally winning because of the weakening of the a4-e8 diagonal. Choosing between several winning lines isn't always obvious, and the computer may call a winning move a blunder just because another possibility is even more crushing.

After 7.Bb5! Black can safely resign, since after 7...c6 8.dxc6 bxc6 (otherwise the discovery check wins a queen) 9.Nxc6 Qb6 (or 9...Nxc6 10.Bxc6 Bd7 11.Bxe4 win an extra piece) 10.Nd4 (10.Nxa7 or 10.Qa4 or 10.Qe2 are good too) Bd7 (10...Kd8 11.Qf3) 11.Bxd7 Kxd7 12.Qf3 White has a huge attack and a couple of extra pawns.

7.Qa4?! also wins, but after e.g. 7...c6 8.dxc6 bxc6 9.Nxc6 (or 9.Qxe4 dxe5 10.Qxe5 with "only" a safe extra pawn) Nc5 10.Nxd8 (or 10.Qb5 Qd7) Nxa4 11.Bb5 Kxd8 12.Bxa4 this is "only" an extra pawn and Black may play on in the cheerless endgame.

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