GM Jan Gustafsson is a leading expert on the Marshall Attack (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d5) especially in the attacking lines where Black plays uncompromisingly for a win. The Marshall Attack has the reputation of being a very reliable drawing weapon in top level chess. This is surprising since the positions in the critical variations are very sharp and Black often has the initiative. White has to be very careful and well prepared, since in many cases seemingly natural moves by White can lead to a quick loss due to a mating attack. Even at high level it sometimes happens that White gets busted right out of the opening so the Marshall Attack is an excellent choice for Black.
Still, at the highest levels the Marshall Attack has a drawing reputation. GM Gustafsson is a little more aggressive in his play, usually avoiding queen exchanges and playing for a direct attack on the White King. After all, that was Marshall’s original idea.
In this game, I played the lesser tried 12.d3 instead of the more popular 12.d4 but did not gain any advantage. In fact, I was the one who had to be careful not to fall into a lost position. There were several chances for me to get into complicated positions where the engines were suggesting I had a slight advantage, but, as I have stated in other posts, I have a strong distrust of engine evaluations in materially unbalanced positions and so avoided venturing into those lines.