From the initial position of this opening line, know as the Mason-Showalter Variation, move 7. Nc3 is a sideline and our recommendation for club level players, while 7. O-O is by far the main choice of the players of White. Variation 7. O-O Bg4 8. c4 is considered to be more promising for White, so 7. O-O Be7 is much more common. 8. c4 is covered in our Lines 356-357, while its three interesting alternatives – 8. Nc3, 8. Re1 and 8. Nbd2, are covered here.
In case of 8. Nc3 Nxc3 9. bxc3 Bg4 Black reaches roughly equal position with a few accuracies.
A rare line 8. Nbd2 has recently become popular on a very high level and is our recommendation for beginners, since it is rather easy to handle with White pieces.
[Diagram: Black to Move] White Queen and Bishop on c6 have gone astray, and Black has a chance to finish the game in style. Can you find the way for Black to deliver the mate in a couple of moves?
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