As an alternative to the main line 5… Nbd7 (Lines 275-285) Black has a viable sideline in 5… a6. White has tried a numerous moves in response and, beside 6. Qc2 (transposing to Line 070) and 6. a4 (Line 099), moves 6. b3 and 6. c5 can also be seen very frequently.
Protecting the c-pawn with 6. b3 is connected with a plan that includes Bf1-d3 and short castling. Black usually replies with 6… Bb4, forcing White to occupy with 7. Bd2 a not so good square for the Bishop. After 7… Nbd7 8. Bd3 O-O 9. O-O Bd6 occurs one of the critical positions of this opening line, where White often opts for an early e3-e4. Black on his behalf typically reacts with e6-e5, with good chances to equalize.
In case of 6. c5 Black has two plans that should provide him with sufficient counterplay. One is the immediate 6… b6, where after 7. cxb6 Qxb6 he often proceeds with a6-a5 and Ba6. The other plan is 6… Nbd7, with the idea e6-e5. For example, 7. Bd3 e5 8. dxe5 Ng4, and Black is fine.
[Diagram: White to Move] White’s intentions are clear – attacking the black King. He needs to increase the pressure, so white Queen has to find the way to join the attacking pieces. Any ideas?
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