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My game against Jim Plaskett in the latest 4NCL weekend alerted me to a couple of notable omissions on the site. Just before the game I discovered that Jim played the dreaded DERLD (Delayed Exchange of the Ruy Lopez Deferred) and not with 7.d3 but with 7.Qe1.

Download PGN of September '04 1 e4 e5 games

Spanish Opening, DERLD Variation [C85]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.Qe1:

I didn't have much time to prepare but saw that experts in open games as Black liked to delay ...f7-f6. Have a look at Plaskett - Davies.

In (John, not Julian) Hodgson - Hebden we see the same kind of formula except that Hebden also played an early ...c6-c5 in order to rule out d2-d4 by White. Plaskett had managed to win in this line against Emms (Plaskett - Emms). Perhaps 11...b5 was a bit premature, though the loss wasn't really because of the opening.

In Blatny - Ehlvest we see Black play 7...c5, stopping d2-d4 by White at an even earlier stage:

Is 8.Nxe5 anything for White? Not on the evidence of this game. Black only lost because of a blunder in the endgame when he was close to notching up the full point.

7...Be6 is an unusual way for Black to play the position, but on the evidence of Plaskett - Saskikiran it's not a particularly good one. Plaskett built up a fine position before losing control (23.bxa5 is the start of his troubles).

Besides 7.Qe1, Black also needs to know about 7.Nc3:

White has not been playing this line because of the piece sacrifice with 7...Bg4 8.h3 Bh5 9.g4 Nxg4!? 10.hxg4 Bxg4, though it has to be said that this position is far from being clearly good for Black:

In Large - Littlewood White defends his knight with 11.Kg2 but it could be that 11.Qe2 (Conquest - Stefansson) is better. Conquest lost this murky encounter, but it's hard to see this as a final word.

Can Black avoid having to sacrifice a piece? Maybe. 9...Bg6 does not have a good reputation but it seems quite playable. After 10.Nxe5 Black has the safe 10...Nxe4 as an option and 10...Bxe4 doesn't seem that clear to me either. See Vaskan - Klovans for my thoughts on the matter.

White can also avoid the complications by playing 9.Qe2. In Wolff - Kavalek White came prepared with a new move (10.Qe3) which looks very interesting but was well handled by Black:

It should not be forgotten that he can also play 10.d3 followed by Nd1 and Ne3 as Tal once did in an old game against Keres.

The reason why this 7.Nc3 line could be worth an occasional outing is that if Black is unsure of 7...Bg4 he might well find himself playing 7...Nd7. This is good against both 7.Qe1 and 7.d3, but here it looks unpleasant for Black after 8.d4 (Soltis - Halfdanarsson).

Good luck with both the Black and White sides of the DERLD. It certainly makes a pleasant change from the current 4.Bxc6 epidemic!

That's all for this month.

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Nigel Davies