Can Black reach solid and defensible position in the below diagram? I understand that Black will have to apply "equalize over time" method, so to help posters keep the analysis brief, I am interested in position that offers realistic chances to reach equality over time.

[Title "Black to move"]
[StartFlipped "0"]
[fen "r3kb1r/ppp1pppp/n4n2/1N1P5/8/4B3/PPP1NPPP/2KR3R b kq - 0 1"]
  • Considering black's huge lag in development, his position is very likely lost. It even seems to me black should lose either a7 or c7 in a few moves. So your question has no satisfactory answer, in my opinion. There is no satisfactory defence, black lost too much time already.
    – Niels
    Jun 15, 2014 at 12:23
  • @Niels: Since I have no engines installed I had to post this to be sure. ( maybe 1...Nxd5 or 1...Ng4 can save Black, or some other move I overlooked... ). Jun 15, 2014 at 13:26
  • I don't use a machine, just common sense and experience show that white must be winning there.
    – Niels
    Jun 15, 2014 at 13:34

3 Answers 3


I'd like to point out that I tend to post Stockfish's entire tree of moves, but anything past the first 4 or 5 full moves is likely fiction.

To answer the OP's question, the answer is "with perfect play, Black looks lost. However, Black is not so lost he can't offer resistance." Giving up on the game makes no sense to me since imperfect play got Black into this situation to begin with. With staunch resistance, perhaps White will err as Black did previously.

EDIT - 1... Nxd5 2. Rxd5 c6 3.Re5 and black is lost` variation shows White's advantage dropping to .5

The ever-practical Stockfish sees the following after several minutes. It decides that the d5 pawn is the problem and removes it. In the main line, White ends up with a 1 point advantage. The good news is that Black is well positioned to defend.

In the 1...Nxd5 variation, Stockfish says White is slightly better than the main-line. I'm going to have to look at this one a bit more. It's... odd.

In the variation at move 3, Stockfish rates the final position as -.5, but I don't see how Black's extra piece is going to save him from the pawn onslaught.

[Title "Black to move (Stockfish)"]
[StartFlipped "0"]
[fen "r3kb1r/ppp1pppp/n4n2/1N1P5/8/4B3/PPP1NPPP/2KR3R b kq - 0 1"]

1... e6 (1...Nxd5 2.Rxd5 c6 3.Rd2 (3.Re5 cxb5 4.Rxb5 b6 5.Rd5 Nb4 6.Rd2 e6 7.Nc3 Rd8 8.Rhd1 Rxd2) cxb5 4.Rhd1 b4 5.Bxa7 e6 6.Bb6 h5 7.Rd7 h4) 2.dxe6 fxe6 3.Rhe1 ( 3.Nxa7 c6 4.Nd4 Bc5 5.Ndxc6 Bxe3+ 6.fxe3 bxc6 7.Nxc6 Rf8 8.Rhf1 Ng4 9.Rxf8+ Kxf8 10.b4 Nxe3 11.Rd3 Nd5 12.Rf3+ Ke8 13.a3 Kd7 14.Ne5+ Kd6 15.Nc4+ Ke7 16.Kb2 Nf6 17.Rg3 g6 18.Rd3 Nc7 19.Ne5 Ncd5 20.c4 Nf4 21.Nc6+ Kf7 )Kf7 4.Ng1 c6 5.Nd4 e5 6.Nb3 b6 7.Nf3 Re8 8.Kb1 Nb4 9.Nbd2 e4 10.Nd4 Rd8 11.a3 c5 12.Nb5 Nc6 13.h3 Be7 14.Nc3 h6 15.Ndxe4

  • So far, the endgame looks very good for White... It seems that the position is lost... I will try to edit my post with the position that I believe gives best chances for Black. Can you look at 1...Nxd5 continuation please? It seems like the best way to simplify, but Rhd1 ideas "give me the chill". Upvoted and thank you for your efforts. Jun 15, 2014 at 13:24
  • the final position is just lost ... good news ??
    – Niels
    Jun 15, 2014 at 13:29
  • @Niels: So far, the endgame looks very good for White...It seems that the position is lost... I never said it was a good news... Jun 15, 2014 at 13:31
  • @AlwaysLearningNewStuff I was referring to Tony Ennis comment.
    – Niels
    Jun 15, 2014 at 13:33
  • @niels ALNS is looking for a way forward. Between the starting position and the final position are lots of moves where an opponent could make a mistake. I was delighted that Stockfish didn't find something that would make the final result plainly untenable.
    – Tony Ennis
    Jun 15, 2014 at 13:41

Can't Black just win a Pawn?

1... Nxd5 2. Rxd5 c6 3. Rd2 cxb5

Then White can try to regain his Pawn back with 4. Nc3 or 4. Nd4

Probably Black can't defend the Pawn with 4...Nc7 because White can attack it with 5. Bf4

But Black can try just 4...b4, and then have you got enough compensation for the Pawn White? Probably yes, more than enough compensation. But I think Black can hold this.

  • The problem is that White plays Rhd1! instead of Nc3 or Nd4 and gains overwhelming pressure on the d-file in my opinion. I also believe that 1...Nxd5 is Black's only chance, but maybe 1...Ng4 can save the game too. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if Black loses this :( Jun 15, 2014 at 13:29
  • 1... Nxd5 2. Rxd5 c6 3.Re5 and black is lost.
    – Niels
    Jun 15, 2014 at 13:31
  • 1... Nxd5 2. Rxd5 c6 3.Re5 and black is lost. Not after 3..f6! after which 4.Rf5 e6! drives the rook back, and after cxb5 White will have hard time establishing stronghold on d-file. Jun 15, 2014 at 13:36

Black's going to have a hard go of it, for sure, though no plan for White stands out

1...g6 2. Rhe1 Bg7, now what? Can White bring any more pressure to bear on c7 or e7? Will a gradual expansion on the queenside do?

I think the second is more likely, because I think Black might opt to give up the a-pawn or the c-pawn because it's the only way to complete his development. Then White surely would have good winning chances.

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