Move 6… b5 is one of the common ways to respond to White’s threat of Bxc6 and Nxe5 in the Ruy Lopez. Black keeps some extra options open like transferring the Bishop from e7 to c5, and forces the Bishop to move to b3: 7. Bb3. There are three possible continuations for Black here: 7… d6, 7… O-O and 7… Bb7 (transposing to Line 386).
By playing 7… d6, Black intends to trade his Knight for the powerful Bishop on b3 with Na5xb3. The main response from White is 8. a4, where both 8… Bd7 and 8… b4 are well-examined and lead to balanced positions.
8. a3 is an alternative way to oppose Black’s plan that has recently gained in popularity. White often continues with Nc3, Be3 and, if allowed, with d3-d4, too. Black has a couple of ways to reach equality, most notably 8… Na5 9. Ba2 c5 and 8… O-O 9. Nc3 Bg4 10. Be3 Nd4.
[Diagram: White to Move] Black King, after capturing a sacrificed piece, bravely stepped deep into White’s camp. How should White continue to punish his opponent’s hazardous play?
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