"In your book, 'The Ruy Lopez: A Guide for Black', you recommend the move 8...d5 after the moves 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 Qe2 b5 6 Bb3 Be7 7 0-0 0-0 8 c3 (Dia) and you say that 'the more conservative 8...d6 9 Rd1 Na5 10 Bc2 c5 11 d4 Qc7 leads to standard Chigorin positions where White's chances should be slightly preferable.' The 8...d6 line is recommended by Nigel Davies in 'Play 1 e4 e5!' and by Mihail Marin in 'A Spanish Repertoire for Black' which came out after your book. You have 'Play 1 e4 e5!' in your bibliography so you must have thought that White has improvements over Davies' lines. What do you think about Marin's analysis of this line? How does both books analysis compare to Greet's Play the Ruy Lopez?"
Actually the decision to recommend 8...d5 was not mainly a result of any dissatisfaction with 8...d6 or Davies' analysis of the move. The two moves have a roughly equal theoretical status so our choice was more a matter of taste and of finding a move that fitted into our general repertoire. Space considerations also was an issue as the Worrall clearly had to be considered a minor line - even more so before the arrival of Greet's book.
It must be taken into consideration that Davies and Marin both are recommending a Chigorin based repertoire where 8...d6 followed by ...Na5 and ...c5 fits very nicely in - the main strategies are the same whether White's rook is on e1 or on d1. We, however, offer a Zaitsev based repertoire. That doesn't totally exclude Chigorin like lines but it would require extra space for strategical explanations. Another factor is more subjective: we chose to recommend the Zaitsev variation because it involves rapid and natural development. Correspondingly we avoided the Chigorin because we were not really happy with the knight excursion to a5. It is a fact that Black often finds it quite hard to activate this knight in the Chigorin. These considerations apply in the diagram position too.
So, why didn't we recommend a Zaitsev development scheme with ...Bb7 and ...Re8 then? That is indeed a good question and this should have been stated clearly in our book: Against the Worrall attack, 8...d6 9.Rd1, 9...Bb7 doesn't seem to be working very well, as 10.d4 creates threats to e5, thanks to the pin in the d-file.
Fortunately this isn't a great problem as 8...d5 is an active and strong move which fits well with the general philosophy behind the Zaitsev. It takes a bit more theoretical preparation than 8...d6 but once Black masters a few sharp lines he can expect quite a pleasant life against the Worrall. This claim has to be backed up by analysis (and in our book we supply some). But to some extent it can also be supported by visual evidence.
If you compare these two diagrams which shows the positions after 11 moves in the two mainlines there can be no doubt that Black appears more active in the second:
- In the first diagram (arising from 8...d6 9.Rd1 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Qc7) White has achieved an central advantage (e4&d4 vs. e5&d6) while Black's knight on a5 appears somewhat misplaced.
- In contrast White in the second diagram (arising from 8... d5 9. d3 Bb7 10. Nbd2 Re8 11. a3 Bf8) has spent a move on the modest a3 while Black is almost fully developed (Zaitsev style!) and has even taken the active stance in the centre (e5&d5 vs. e4&d3).