As I sat at the board contemplating my options after 3...f5, I wondered why I was unprepared. It was the first time that I faced the Schliemann in a game that I recorded on my scoresheet, but a check of my database of online games offers a clue to my lack of preparation. Against the Schliemann in online blitz, I have fifteen wins, one draw, and two losses. In one of those wins, I was busted in a manner similar to what happened at the EWO, but my opponent ran out of time a few moves before checkmate. Having dominated this response to the Spanish, I had not realized my need to understand it.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 f5
White to move
I briefly considered 4.exf5, becoming convinced that it was dangerous and unwise. This had been my choice in one of my blitz losses and my draw. I also have three wins with this system. It is rare move by strong players and its overall score in the ChessBase database is abyssmal. Rejecting it was a good choice.
I considered 4.Bxf6 with the idea that I might get away with 5.Nxe5. I have five wins and a loss in online blitz following this move. I knew that John Julian would be happy with the bishop pair, and that he could play them well. This line has been played by strong grandmasters, but rarely.
4.Nc3 is the most popular move, scores the best, and one that I considered. I have never played it in blitz, except from the Black side (two draws). Should I face the Schliemann again in tournament play, I hope that I will have some familiarity with some games with this move. At the top levels there are many draws following 4.Nc3, but both Black and White have scored victories.
4.d3 is White's second most popular move. I have played this move twice in online blitz, winning both games. On the Black side, I have one draw. I do not recall that I considered this move during my game with Julian.
I played 4.d4. I have three online wins after playing this move. Several grandmasters have employed it against strong opponents with mixed results.
My game continued 4...fxe4 5.Nxe5 Nxe5 6.dxe5 c6
White to move
After our continuation 7.Bc4 Qa5+ 8.c3?! (8.Nc3 appears better) 8...Qxe5 9.Qd4N Qxd4 10.cxd4 d5 11.Be2, Black had the initiative and an extra pawn. The only merit in my position was that I had a clear plan: start a minority attack to break up Black's pawn chain, and attempt to swap my way into a rook ending where I might have the chance to fight for a draw. Of course, Black understands this plan and Julian easily thwarted it. I got my minority attack, but he kept minor pieces on the board, kept my d-pawn isolated, and created mate threats that led me to sacrifice a piece. When it was clear that my d-pawn would fall, I resigned.
After the game, my opponent showed me a gambit line that I had not considered. It scores reasonably well for White, although much worse than 4.Nc3.
7.Nc3!? cxb5 8.Nxe4 d5 9.exd6 Nf5
White to move
In addition to two pawns, White has positional compensation for the bishop. Here there are three popular tries for White. All of them have been employed by strong players.
Grodzensky, S -- Filippov, V
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 f5 4. d4 fxe4 5. Nxe5 Nxe5 6. dxe5 c6 7. Nc3 cxb5 8. Nxe4 d5 9. exd6 Nf6 10. Bg5 Qa5+ 11. Nc3 b4 12. Bxf6 gxf6 13. Nd5 b3+ 14. c3 Be6 15. Nc7+ Kd7 16. O-O Bxd6 17. Nxe6 Qe5 18. Re1 Qxh2+ 19. Kf1 Qh1+ 20. Ke2 Qxg2 21. Qxb3 Rae8 22. Kd3 Kc8 23. Qc4+ Kb8 24. Qd4 Qh3+ 25. Re3 Qf5+ 26. Qe4 Qxf2 27. Qd5 Bc7 28. Rae1 Rd8 29. Nxd8 Rxd8 0-1
Khalifman, A -- Glek, I
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 f5 4. d4 fxe4 5. Nxe5 Nxe5 6. dxe5 c6 7. Nc3 cxb5 8. Nxe4 d5 9. exd6 Nf6 10. Qd4 Be7 11. Bg5 Bf5 12. O-O-O Bxe4 13. Rhe1 Qxd6 14.Qxd6 Bxd6 15. Rxd6 O-O 16. Bxf6 Bxg2 17. Rg1 Rxf6 18. Rxf6 gxf6 19. Rxg2+ Kf7 20. Rg3 Rc8 21. Kd2 1/2-1/2
Klima, L -- Zeberski, J
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 f5 4. d4 fxe4 5. Nxe5 Nxe5 6. dxe5 c6 7. Nc3 cxb5 8. Nxe4 d5 9. exd6 Nf6 10. O-O Nxe4 11. Qh5+ g6 12. Qxb5+ Qd7 13. Qe5+ Kf7 14. Qxe4 Bxd6 15. Re1 Qf5 16. Qd4 Bc5 17. Qh4 Qg4 18. Qh6 Bd7 19. h3 Qf5 20. Be3 Rae8 21. Bxc5 Qxc5 22. Rxe8 Bxe8 23. Re1 Bc6 24. Qf4+ Kg7 25. Qc7+ Kh6 26. Re4 Qh5 27. Rg4 Re8 28. f4 Re1+ 29. Kf2 Rc1 30. Qe7 Rxc2+ 31. Ke1 Qa5+ 32. b4 Rc1+ 33. Kd2 Qxa2+ 34. Kxc1 Qc4+ 35. Kd2 Qd4+ 36. Ke2 Bb5+ 37. Kf3 Qd3+ 38. Kf2 Qd2+ 39. Kg1 Be2 40. Rh4+ Bh5 41. Qf8# 1-0