Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Beating the Marshall Defense: Part 2

In Part 1 of our series, we examined the 4. e4 variation in the Marshall Defense. Although White is able to build up a pawn centre, Black can obtain good counterplay by pushing e5.

So how to stop Black from playing e5? The answer lies in the 4. Nf3 variation, now considered the main refutation to the Marshall Defense:

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 d5 3. cxd5 Nxd5 4. Nf3 (D)

Position after 4. Nf3

After 4. Nf3, White threatens to play e4. Black's most direct way to prevent this is 4. Bf5, but it weakens the b7 square. White can play 5. Qb3!, threatening b7 and buying time to push e4.

In his YouTube Channel, Matt Pullin gives a thorough analysis of the Marshall Defense, 4. Nf3 variation. I will use many of his suggestions here:

The above can be summarized into a few simple points:

  • After 4. Nf3, White's best follow up is to put pressure on b7 with Qb3, forcing Black to respond and lose tempo
  • Don't capture on b7 too early! Instead, focus on preparing the e4 push, usually with Nc3 or Nd2
  • When White is able to get in e4, the threats of pushing d5 and Qxb7 ensure a large advantage in development and piece activity

Sample Game

We will see a sample game played in 1951 between Lipnitsky and Bondarevsky. White responds to the Marshall Defense with 4. Nf3 and 5. Qb3, obtaining developmental advantage and winning a pawn.


So... now you know how to defeat the Marshall Defense, right? Then why do many of us still fail to gain that advantage, or even worse, losing? We shall examine some of the potential pitfalls when fighting the Marshall Defense in Part 3 (:

Part 1:


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