The Modernized Marshall Attack

“Usually in the Ruy Lopez Black is looking for long, slow games in solid, closed positions. The Marshall flips this on its head and Black tries to accelerate the play and radically change the character of the game at an early stage.” ~ Milos Pavlovic

[PDF – TEASER] Milos Pavlovic – The Modernized Marshall Attack

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Milos Pavlovic – The Modernized Marshall Attack – ISBN 9789492510853 – 232 pages.

[PDF – TEASER] Milos Pavlovic – The Modernized Marshall Attack

I think that nowadays it is pretty much common knowledge that the inventor of the Marshall Attack was the legendary grandmaster Frank Marshall. He famously played it for the first time in a game against Capablanca in Manhattan in 1918. Capablanca was able to pick his way through the complications and win that game, but despite its inauspicious beginnings the idea has not only survived but thrived in tournament play. The former world champion, Boris Spassky, reinvented the opening in his match against Mikhail Tal in 1965, and since then the Marshall Attack has been a key weapon in the Black arsenal against the Ruy Lopez. Indeed, today it is commonly considered as one of the top three best openings against 1.e4, along with the Berlin Defence and the Najdorf Sicilian.

The list of famous players who have used and continue to use the Marshall is long indeed, with notable names being Nunn, Leko, Aronian, Svidler, and many others. I have noticed that Ding Liren is including the Marshall in his repertoire at the very highest levels. On a personal note, my knowledge of the Marshall helped me to become a grandmaster and has allowed me to play some of my best games.

This book is about the Marshall Attack and the lines which can be grouped together under the banner of the so-called Anti-Marshall. The theory has developed so much in the last decade that there is more than enough material to be going on with just in those areas, but I also decided to include a detailed look at an important line in the Exchange Variation.

Black’s key concept in the Marshall is giving up a central pawn in return for activity, and I have tried to give as many lines as possible which adhere closely to this principle. Why is this so significant? Well, for starters, usually in the Ruy Lopez Black is looking for long, slow games in solid, closed positions. The Marshall flips this on its head and Black tries to accelerate the play and radically change the character of the game at an early stage.

Let’s briefly discuss the material of the book itself and the lines that I have decided to give. First of all, I started off with the standard Marshall Attack, after the initial moves: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d5. I have given direct analysis wherever possible and I have tried to cover all the essential lines. Of course, with the passing of the years and the continual development of theory we can see how the popularity of some positions has shifted and, in some cases, how certain lines have simply been rendered obsolete. I also discovered, to my surprise, that there are still new, unexplored, and interesting paths for further analysis.

Let’s have a look at some of the key positions for getting to grips with this system.

A1) After 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5 c6 (the modern move order did actually originate with Frank Marshall, even if he used 11…Nf6 in the stem game) we have a number of options.

A2) 12.d4 Bd6 13.Re1 Qh4 14.g3 Qh3 15.Re4!? g5 16.Qf1 Qh5 17.f3 White is simply looking to maintain the position of the rook on e4 for as long as possible.

A3) 12.d4 Bd6 13.Re1 Qh4 14.g3 Qh3 15.Be3 Bg4 16.Qd3 Rae8 17.Nd2 Qh5 This is the so-called main line and is another important set-up to know.

A4) 12.d3 Bd6 13.Re1 Bf5 14.Qf3 Qh4 (there is also the less popular 14…Re8) Today this is considered to be a critical test and Black needs to be aware of the ideas and subtleties.

Obviously, this does not encompass the entirety of the book, and many other ideas are presented. Taken together, the lines in this book give a clear and up-to-date picture of the state of contemporary chess theory on this entire system.

It is important to be aware of one key point, namely that in the lines mentioned above you simply have to know exact moves, it is not enough to just have a vague grasp of the ideas. This level of precision is not required for the other parts of the book, except for one other line, which is: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.h3 Bb7 9.d3 d5. There are many forced lines in this variation as well, so exact knowledge is important in order to successfully navigate the complications.

The rest of the lines in the book tend to be more typical and well-known, and White generally tries to adopt slower set-ups in order to steer the game into calmer waters. These lines can be said to have more of the “traditional” Ruy Lopez characteristics.

B) The line that begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.a4 is both a significant try and also a very popular choice at all
levels. This set-up has always been an attractive option for White players who want to avoid the sharp theory battles. There are not so many forced lines in this variation and the game takes on a much more positional edge. A careful study of these lines will reveal many interesting positional elements that are definitely worth knowing.

C) Another important set-up is the one after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.d4 d6 9.c3 Bg4. This line can also be seen against the regular Ruy Lopez, and many players with the white pieces prefer to explore the more open type of play that generally results. There are two main ideas, 10.d5 and 10.Be3. Both lead to interesting positions that merit (and reward!) deep understanding.

The learning material presented in this book will undoubtedly help players of practically all strengths to really get to grips with the Marshall and the Ruy Lopez in general.

~Milos Pavlovic, Belgrade 2020

Table of Contents

PART I – The Marshall Attack with d4
Chapter 1 – Minor lines…………………………………………………………………………… 13
Chapter 2 – 15.Re4……………………………………………………………………………….. 25
Chapter 3 – 15.Be3……………………………………………………………………………….. 43
Chapter 4 – 15.Qe2……………………………………………………………………………….. 55

PART II – The Marshall Attack with d3
Chapter 5 – 13…Qh4 ……………………………………………………………………………… 67
Chapter 6 – 13…Bf5 followed by 14…Qf6 ………………………………………………… 77
Chapter 7 – 13…Bf5 followed by 14…Qh4 ……………………………………………….. 85
Chapter 8 – 13…Bf5 followed by 14…Re8………………………………………………. 101

PART III – The Anti-Marshall
Chapter 9 – Alternatives after 8.c3 d5 ……………………………………………………… 113
Chapter 10 – 10: 8.h3……………………………………………………………………………. 117
Chapter 11 – 8.d3 ………………………………………………………………………………… 133
Chapter 12 – 8.d4 ………………………………………………………………………………… 147
Chapter 13 – 8.a4 followed by 9.d3 …………………………………………………………. 161
Chapter 14 – 8.a4 followed by 9.d4 …………………………………………………………. 175
Appendix – The Exchange Variation ………………………………………………… 195

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