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kasparovfan 49 ( +1 | -1 )
Difficult question A few years ago, Kasparov played the Evans gambit against Anand. After 4. b4, Anand took the pawn, I think. But I read that if the pawn isn't taken, white should continue with 5. a4 gaining space, was the term that was used.) But *how* can one decide what the criterion is for making a move. Why wouldn't castling be a better idea? Why wouldn't developing another piece be better. My general question is: how do you decide what move to make and which criterion prevails?
Thanks, René
caldazar 159 ( +1 | -1 )
In my opinion... Concrete analysis and experience help you decide. You play out lots of a particular type of position and since the similar positions have a lot of similar ideas inherent in them, you start to get a feel for what works and what doesn't over time.

In your example, 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bb6, some ideas (other than 5. a4 with pressure on the queenside) might be 5. c3 (intending d4), 5. O-O, 5. Nc3, or 5. b5.

5. c3 Nf6 6. d3 d6 and White can't play d4 right away. Still, this slow buildup is not unknown; the idea is to play c3 and d3 first, and then gradually increase one's control over d4 enough that one can play d4 later on. The c3-pawn is potentially overworked, influencing both b4 and d4, but White does have b5 to chase away the c6-knight followed by a d4-pawn advance.

5. b5 Na5 6. Nxe5 Nh6 7. d4 d6 8. Bxh6 dxe5 9. Bxg7 Rg8 10. Bxf7+ Kxf7 11. Bxe5 Qg5 and Black has some decent attacking chances. I don't think you can really apply general principles to this variation; it's okay for Black simply because the analysis bears out that it all works.

5. Nc3. From experience, I can tell you a four-knights setup in the Italian Game tends to be really boring to play and it's difficult for either side to find constructive plans to improve their positions. This is really just development for the sake of development without any particular goal in mind. I suppose it does make ...d5 very difficult for Black to play, though, so at least Black won't be undertaking aggressive action in the near future.

5. O-O Nf6. Now what is White supposed to do?

So 5. a4 tends to be the typical move because it gives White some concrete goals to work towards.