Max Lange Attack

Last time I mentioned the Max Lange Attack, annotating a game where it might have arisen from a Giuoco Piano. It can also arise from other openings, for instance 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 (the Two Knights Defence) 4. d4 exd4 5. O-O Bc5 6. e5, and 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Bc4 (the Scotch Gambit) Bc5 5. O-O Nf6 6. e5.

Now 6.. Ne4 just loses after 7. Re1 or Qe2 when Black has terminal problems on the e-file. 6.. Ng4 is playable, but after 7. Bf4 White’s probably a bit better. Black’s most critical, and strongest, reply, therefore, is, as so often in this type of position, 6.. d5.

Here, White can choose 7. Bb5 Ne4 8. Nxd4, which, after O-O, is fine for Black. So instead we play 7. exf6 dxc4, with a complex position.

This was analysed extensively in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and, while, much of the analysis is still valid today, the engines have come up with some improvements. White’s choices are 8. fxg7, or 8. Re1+ Be6, with another branch: 9. fxg7 or 9. Ng5 (the old main line).

White’s last move creates a threat: many people on my database have overlooked this and continued 9.. Qxf6??, losing a piece to a queen fork: 10. Nxe6 fxe6 11. Qh5+ and 12. Qxc5. Always worth a try if you think your opponent might not notice. So play usually continues 9.. Qd5 10. Nc3 Qf5 11. Nce4 with complications. But the engines prefer 9.. g6 10. Qf3 (10. Nxe6 fxe6 11. Rxe6+ Kf7 is fine for Black) 10.. O-O 11. Rxe6 fxe6 12. f7+ Kh8 13. Nxe6 Qe7 14. Bg5 Qxf7 15. Qxf7 Rxf7 16. Nxc5 Re8 17. Nd2 Kg7, giving Black a slight advantage.

So White should probably try 9. fxg7 Rg8 10. Bg5 Be7 11. Bxe7 Qxe7 12. Nd4, when the engines and stats both prefer White.

White can also forgo the check and play the immediate 8. fxg7 Rg8 9. Bg5 Be7 10. Bxe7, giving Black a difficult choice of recapture.

10.. Qxe7 11. Nxd4 gives Black too many tactical problems on the e-file and elsewhere. 10.. Nxe7 11. Qxd4 Qxd4 12. Nxd4 Rxg7 13. Nb5 seems to favour White. So Black’s best option is the Steinitzian 10.. Kxe7 11. Re1+ Kf6 followed by Kxg7, when the engines again have a slight preference for White. But how many players would have the courage to play this over the board if they hadn’t done their homework?

So it seems to me that, if you enjoy gambit play, the Max Lange Attack might be worth adding to your repertoire. However, whichever move order you choose, there will be several ways for Black to avoid it. If you choose the Two Knights approach, you have to be prepared for 5.. Nxe4, or if you prefer the Scotch Gambit, then 4.. Nf6.

Richard James

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Richard James

Author: Richard James

Richard James is a professional chess teacher and writer living in Twickenham, and working mostly with younger children and beginners. He was the co-founder of Richmond Junior Chess Club in 1975 and its director until 2005. He is the webmaster of chessKIDS academy ( or and, most recently, the author of Chess for Kids and The Right Way to Teach Chess to Kids, both published by Right Way Books. Richard has been a member of Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club since 1966. Richard is a published author and his books can be found at Amazon. Richard is currently promoting minichess (games and puzzles using subsets of chess) for younger children through his website, and writing coaching materials for children (and adults) who want to start playing serious competitive chess, through View all posts by Richard James

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