For those who are concerned about the amount of ‘theory’ they think they have to learn, here’s another forgotten line. After 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Be7 (rather than the overwhelmingly popular 5…Nd6) 6. Qe2 Nd6 7. Bxc6 bxc6 8. dxe5 the move 8 …Nf5 (instead of the traditional 8…Nb7) seems very interesting to me. Actually I’m not alone in this as the former World Champion Boris Spassky gave it a few outings in the 1980s. And another Russian Grandmaster, Evgeny Vladimirov, had it as something of a specialty.
Of course the books will want to ‘explain’ why this move and other sidelines aren’t played by attempting to show they are bad. Such is the nature of theory.
Are they right? I suspect not. And meanwhile the surprise value of such lines will more than compensate for any vulnerability.
How should someone find such variations? A good place to look is in the games of Grandmasters who are no longer quite at the top, but who still have great credentials. Spassky, being a former World Champion, will instinctively be drawn towards interesting lines. And Vladimirov was quite a star until the unfortunate happenings when he was one of Garry Kasparov’s seconds.
Here anyway is one of Vladimirov’s games with this line in which he shows the inherent dynamism of Black’s position.