This is a guided tour through some representative lines, ideas and mistakes in this sharp opening. It's an unusual opening in that black offers his rook to be sacrificed in move 4. Rarely seen in major tournaments, its' wild exciting play makes it a favorite in correspondence play, skittles games, youth chess and independent study.
These first four moves are the Traxler Counterattack
1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 Nf6
4. Ng5 Bc5
Normally followed by 5. Nxf2+,5. Bxf2+ and occasionally 5.d4.
Others have said about the Traxler
It may not be entirely accurate when held up to the light of heavy computer analysis - Heisman
One must note that even experienced masters, trying to punish Black's too active play in the opening, are often overimpressed by White's great material advantage and lose their objectivity; sometimes they also show their incompetence in the field of book theory.- Estrin
5. Nxf7 is followed by Bxf2+ !?. White here makes important decisions that direct the course of the game.
o Take the bishop 6. Kxf7 and upon 6...Ne5+ white's reasonable
next moves are either 7.Kg1,Ke3 Possible but not as good are Kf1,Ke1,Ke2
o Decline the offer of the bishop with 6...Kf1 (worst is Ke2 due to Ng5+ seen in the Reinish/Traxler Game)
6.Kxf2 Nxe4+ is normally followed by Black creating complications for White while White looks to gain material my Nxh8.
Reoccuring Themes in the Traxler games are Black plays for the initiative developing with threating moves, checks,combinations and sacrifices. White must play very accurately in order to find King Safety and struggles to get his pieces developed. Whites Knight on H8 is out of the action for the immediate future and his queenside pieces are often left on their original squares. This often leads to minatures,Queen traps, King marches, creative mating nets, unusual checkmates.
5.Bxf7+ is considered sounder for white without as many complications. In my view it is much harder for black to play against. Beliavksy played this line as black against Anand and won.
Here is a link that speaks to refuting the traxler and some refuting the refutations 8)
This Chess Column speaks to the original game by Karel Traxler
Also Dan Heisman created a great interactive CD on the Traxler with tons of games,analysis and I recommend it to anyone interested in this interesting line.
This is a black forced draw line not on the chessgames site.
[White "Diehl, Klaus"]
[Black "Dietzsch, Herbert"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 Bc5 5. Nxf7 Bxf2+ 6. Kxf2 Nxe4+ 7. Kg1
Qh4 8. g3 Nxg3 9. Nxh8 Nd4 10. hxg3 Qxg3+ 11. Kf1 Qf4+ 12. Kg1 Qg3+ 13. Kf1
(this is a work in process and hope to update and improve this soon)
I also have a number of my traxler games on my blog site
(Followon note:I am finding this line is so tactical and complex, that as I research this much of what I have viewed as firm conclusions and convential wisdom are being questioned through correspondence play and heavy computer analysis. IE. Heisman excellent cd book speaks that 6 . ke2 in the Nxf7 line may not be as bad as I originally thought)