# Can Black equalize?

I am working hard on improving certain line, and no matter how much I try I get no headway. I am forced to delve into risky lines, so I am asking for help to determine if Black can equalize in the following position:

``````[Title "White to move"]
[fen "rn2kbnr/ppp1pppp/8/8/1q1P4/2N5/P1P1NPPP/R1BQK2R w KQkq - 0 1"]
``````
• That line is pretty rough, even by my lax standards. Are you interested in any specific variations? – Tony Ennis Jun 18 '14 at 22:38
• @TonyEnnis: Well, I am searching the strongest continuation for White and Black. I looked `1.Rb1 Qc4` in my analysis but your suggestion `Qd3!` seems much stronger... – AlwaysLearningNewStuff Jun 18 '14 at 22:58
• Before I looked at the answers I was trying to figure out how you got into that mess. The best guess I could come up with was that they started the game without light square bishops (the chess set was missing a coupld of pieces?) and White went for the gambit line 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.b4!? Qxb4 and then White made a couple of extra moves while Black wasn't looking and is about to move again. – bof Aug 30 '20 at 6:30

First of all, let's see how this position is arrived at. This itself will help us evaluate the position and tell us whether Black can equalize, without even performing any detailed analysis.

``````[Event "Queen moves around, wasting time"]
[FEN ""]

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qe5+ 4. Be2 Bg4 5. d4 Bxe2 6. Ngxe2 Qa5 7. b4 Qxb4
``````

If we see Black's play, Black played a very peculiar 3...Qe5+, forcing White to develop a piece (Be2). Then Black attacked that piece with 4...Bg4. White continued development with 5. d4, chasing away the queen, gaining a tempo. Black was now forced to exchange the Bishop with 5...Bxe2, but White used that to his advantage by bringing his g1 knight into the game with Ngxe2. Now, f3 would be the best square for this knight, so Black gained something from this exchange. However, Black is tremendously lagging in development. Two of White's pieces are already developed, White has a strong pawn center, the Black queen has to move. After 6... Qa5 7. b4! White opens another line for his rook to come into the game at the cost of a pawn. Analysis will show that Black cannot hold on to the material advantage, but even without analysis we can simply assess this position as good for White because the Black queen's position is quite bad, the b7 and c7 squares are weak and White's piece activity is tremendous.

Now, here's some complementary analysis with Houdini 1.5 and Stockfish 4.2 which proves the above point. After 7...Qxb4, I initially thought of 8. Rb1, but it seems that after 8...Qc4! the Black queen finds a safe refuge. Hence the computer move 8. Qd3!, developing the queen and preventing Qc4 is quite strong.

``````   [Event "White's lead in development is too much for Black"]
[FEN ""]

1. e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qe5+ 4. Be2 Bg4 5. d4 Bxe2 6. Ngxe2 Qa5 7. b4 Qxb4
8.  Qd3 Qd6 9. Rb1 b6 10. Bf4 Qd7 11. Qf3 c6 (11...  Qc6 12. Nb5!)
(11... Nc6 12. d5 Na5 13. Nb5 Rc8 14. Nxa7 Rd8 15. Nb5 Rc8 16. O-O Nf6
17. Rfd1 Nc4 18. Nec3 Nd6 19. Re1! Nc4 20. Rb4 Nd6 21. Bxd6 cxd6 22. Ra4 h5
23. Ra7 Qd8 24. Qg3 h4 25. Nxd6+ Qxd6 26. Qxd6) 12. d5 Nf6
(12... cxd5 13. Nxd5 Na6 14. Nxb6) 13. Bxb8 Rxb8 14. dxc6 Qg4 15. c7 Rc8
16. Qb7 e5 17. h3 Qe6 18. Nb5 Bc5 19. Nxa7 O-O 20. Nxc8 Qxc8 21. Qc6
``````
• Instead of `12..Nf6` why not `12...cxd5`? – AlwaysLearningNewStuff Jun 19 '14 at 0:40
• After 13. Nxd5, Black is immediately lost. White is threatening Nc7+, so 13...Na6 maybe, but then Nf6+! wins (or the stronger move Nxb6!). – Wes Jun 19 '14 at 0:42
• Indeed... Maybe `11...Qc6`, returning the pawn is better... I am taking a look at i right now... – AlwaysLearningNewStuff Jun 19 '14 at 0:45
• Check with a computer. 11...Qc6 is also immediately lost. The point is, White's development lead is too much. – Wes Jun 19 '14 at 0:51
• You mean `11...Qc6 12. Nb5! Qxf3 13.Nxc7+!` ? I have missed that one in the first glance... What about `11...Nc6 12.Nb5 e5! 13.dxe5 0-0-0 14.Qxc6 Qxc6 15.Nxa7+ Kb7 16.Nxc6 Kxc6` Although pawn down, I believe that active king and White's weak pawns at queenside can give me good counterplay. Also, I can pressure `e5` pawn, and if I enter rook endgame than anything is possible... Or have missed another tactical strike ( God please not again!! ) ? – AlwaysLearningNewStuff Jun 19 '14 at 1:03

Here's the main-line so far.

``````[Title "White to move"]
[fen "rn2kbnr/ppp1pppp/8/8/1q1P4/2N5/P1P1NPPP/R1BQK2R w KQkq - 0 1"]

1.Qd3 Qd6 2.Rb1 b6 3.Bf4 Qd7 4.Qf3 c6 5.d5 Nf6 6.Bxb8 Rxb8 7.dxc6 Qg4 8.c7 Rc8 9.Qb7 e5 10.Nb5 Bb4+ 11.c3 Bc5 12.Nxa7 O-O 13.Nxc8 Qxc8 14.Qxc8 Rxc8 15.Rd1 Rxc7 16.Rd8+ Bf8 17.Kd2 Ra7
```
```

A wild game with the position being rated 1.36. While I think this is harder for Black to defend than for White to win, there are chances, I think.

Here's a line for ALNS's `Rb1` idea. White ends up being +.68, down from 1.36. It's still a wild game.

``````[Title "White to move"]
[fen "rn2kbnr/ppp1pppp/8/8/1q1P4/2N5/P1P1NPPP/R1BQK2R w KQkq - 0 1"]

1.Rb1 Qc4 2.Rxb7 Qc6 3.Rb5 Qxg2 4.Rg1 Qc6 5.Bf4 Nf6 6.Rc5 Qb6 7.Bxc7 Qb7 8.Be5 Nc6 9.Rb5 Qc8 10.Bxf6 gxf6 11.Nd5 Qd8 12.c4
```
```
• I did upvote your answer and before I have decided whether to accept your answer or Wes' ( since they both simply quote Stockfish ) I have asked you both a question in a comment. Member Wes responded immediately, after which a series of followup questions appeared. Since he covered all the possible defenses, I have decided to officially accept his answer since I believe that it will be more useful to others viewing this post, due to detailed coverage of the problem in his answer and in followup comments. Best regards. – AlwaysLearningNewStuff Jun 19 '14 at 1:19
• @AlwaysLearningNewStuff you seem very polite and kind hearted! – Wes Jun 19 '14 at 1:21
• @Wes: Thank you... He did answer first ( with the exact same lines you offered ), but "our" detailed coverage of the question will offer viewers better help. We must take that into consideration as well, if we wish this site to mature and become respected as StackOverflow and others. We have a harder challenge, as there are many other web sites people turn to, not to mention quality publishers. – AlwaysLearningNewStuff Jun 19 '14 at 1:27
• @TonyEnnis: You are always most welcome. Thank you for helping me. Best regards 'till next time. – AlwaysLearningNewStuff Jun 19 '14 at 1:58

This looks like one of those Mieses Gambits? 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qa5 4. b4?

In the first position given, White has more than enough compensation for the sacrificed pawn, but there's a lot of chess to be played. Asking if Black can equalize is a silly question. Of course Black can equalize. Anything can happen in a real game of chess.

Chessplayers today are in the habit of thinking each side will play perfect chess, as though everyone is a 3300-level computer. Most players are 300-rated humans.

• "Can Black equalize?" obviously means "Can Black equalize if White plays well?" – David Aug 30 '20 at 8:59