I have posted A Black Fianchetto System in the Open Games, Part Two, which is the second of a projected seven-part series on a classical way of playing against 1.e4 with 1...e5 and an eventual g6. In this installment, we consider lines where White offers a pawn sacrifice by d4 followed by c3, which is widely recommended as White's best response to Black's fianchetto. We also examine ways of meeting the Danish and Goring Gambits.
In both the Spanish / Ruy Lopez (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 4.d4 exd4 5.c3) and the Italian (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 g6 4.d4 exd4 5.c3), it is dangerous for Black to take the pawn by 5...dxc3 when White speedily completes his development with 6.Nxc3 and is well positioned to attack Black on the weakened dark squares by, for example, e5, Nd5 and Bg5 or Bf4.
As my analysis shows, Black probably survives and can often hang onto the extra material, but he is definitely under pressure and must be constantly aware of very concrete threats by his opponent. Therefore, the majority of my analysis focuses on lines where Black declines the pawn.
The simplest way to decline the pawn is to "push past," meeting 4.d4 exd4 5.c3 with 5....d3!? White is thus deprived of the best square for his Knight at c3 and, when he captures the pawn at d3, will eventually either have to move the same piece twice (with Bxd3) or place his Queen on an odd square (with Qxd3). White does retain a space advantage and a slight initiative, but the play takes on a much more strategic character where the best player has good chances to prevail.
The final part of this survey offers a system with an early Nge7 by Black, which can be used against a wide range of White systems with c3. The survey of Nge7 lines begins with the little-known Svenonius Variation against the Danish (1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3 Ne7!?) and ends with a line from the Cozio Variation to which our system can transpose after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 4.d4 exd4 5.c3 Nge7!? 6.O-O!? (we also consider the range of White options) 6...Bg7 (see diagram above). The game now typically goes 7.cxd4 d5 with balanced play.
I hope you enjoy this installment which offers a lot of different ideas to incorporate into your own play. I am now working on lines where White plays an early d4 and Bg5, lines where White plays d4 and Nxd4, and the interesting Larsen Variation of the Philidor (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 g6!?). I will probably post on one of those some time next month.