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Hello everyone,
Two strong Swiss tournaments took place in February and so most of the games in this update will be dedicated to them. I've also just added my own recent game from the Israeli Team championships. There are a few remarkable ideas to see including Bosiocic's 7.g4 and Nepomiachtchi's 14.Nh4! Nh7 15.Bxh6!

Download PGN of March ’16 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish. Marshall with 13...Bf5 14.Qf3 Qh4 15.g3 Qh3 16.Bxd5 [C89]

Our first game in this update is Paravyan, D - Swiercz, D Aeroflot Open A 2017. The players reached the well-known theoretical position given below after 18.Qg2:

Here the Polish GM decided to keep the queens on by means of 18...Qh5. This move isn't new, but recently it was in the shadow of 18...Qxg2. The novelty came much later, 26.Bc5? instead of 26.Qd6 as in a few e-mail games, and it was bad. White continued to err with 27.Qd5?! and 29.fxe3? and eventually lost the game. A very interesting and important game for the theory of this line. 26.Qd6 is the critical test of 18...Qh5.

Spanish. Marshall with 13...Bf5 14.Qf3 Qh4 15.g3 Qh3 16.Be3 [C89]

Another branch of the Marshall attack, this time with 16.Be3, was seen in the game Vachier-Lagrave, M - Aronian, L Sharjah Grand Prix 2017. The players followed the recent game Harikrishna, P-Aronian, L/Wijk aan Zee NED 2017 for the first 21 moves and reached the diagram position given below:

Here Aronian deviated from the aforementioned game with 21...Rc8 just to change, even though he considered the 21...Bf5 he played against Harikrishna to be better. The French GM tried to set him problems with 23.Ra6, which had mostly been seen in online chess, but failed to do so. The line which occurred in the game doesn't set Black any problems and so White has to look for more challenging variations.

Spanish with 6.d3 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.a3 [C84]

Two days earlier Maxime deviated from 6.Re1 with 6.d3 in the game Vachier-Lagrave, M - Mamedyarov, S Sharjah Grand Prix 2017.

The diagram position after 13.Bg5 is rather new, although it had been tested at a high level a few times. The Azeri GM went on with the fashionable 13...Nd7, instead of Anand's 13...Qd7. MVL tried to fight for an advantage with 17.Qb1, but Black was up to the task, and after the inaccurate 22.Qe4?! he even seized the initiative. A well-played game by both players, especially by Mamedyarov, as White was lucky to escape with a draw. White's main chance to fight for some opening advantage seems to be 17.h3, although it doesn't look like much either.

Spanish with 5.d3 b5 6.Bb3 Be7 [C77]

The game Bosiocic, M - Xu Yi Aeroflot Open 2017, saw a bizarre idea in an early part of the game.

White played Morozevich's 7.g4 in the diagram position and obtained an edge after 11...Na5?! It was a good positional squeeze by the Croatian GM, but, in fact, the opening idea of 7.g4 looks dubious, especially after the simple 7...h6.

Scotch with 4...Bc5 5.Be3 Qf6 6.c3 Nge7 7.Bb5 [C45]

In the game Najer, E - Inarkiev, E Aeroflot Open 2017, White surprised his opponent with the rather rare option of 7.Bb5.

The players followed the game Morozevich, A - Romanov, E Sochi 2016, for the first 9 moves and deviated from it in the diagram position with the unfortunate 9...a5?!, instead of 9...Qg6, which is better. White took advantage of Black's slip with 10.Nc2! and 12.f4 and obtained a clear edge. A very convincing win for Najer, clearly the line with 7.Bb5 is not without venom and so Black has to treat it carefully. An obvious improvement is 9...Qg6! instead of 9...a5?!

Italian with 5.c3 d6 6.Bg5 [C54]

The game Salem, A.R. Saleh - Ding Liren Sharjah Grand Prix 2017 saw the very old line 6.Bg5, which was introduced by the English maestro Howard Staunton in London back in 1851! However I'm pretty sure that White actually based his preparation on the recent game Aronian, L - Adams, M London 2016.

Here Ding Liren played a pretty rare line with 8...0-0, which he probably prepared with a help of his computer, as engines consider this move to be the best. Two years after the Staunton, H - Andersen, A London 1851 game, two further games reached the diagram position and Black chose two different moves: 8...Bb6 in Boden, S - Simons, A London 1853 and 8...a6 in Shumov, J - Urusov, D/Russia 1853. White's novelty 10.a4, which is a typical idea for the modern Italian, came early in what was already a very rare position. White then started to err with 17.d5?!, 21.Bh5? and 22.g3?, which allowed Black to seize the advantage and later convert it into a full point.

A convincing victory for the top Chinese player. Black proved that 6.Bg5 doesn't promise any opening advantage.

Two Knights 4.d3 Be7 5.0-0 0-0 6.Re1 [C55]

In the game Bitensky, I - Mikhalevski, V ISR-Tch 2017, the players reached the following diagram position after the moves 6...d6 7.a4 h6:

Here Bitensky played the quite rare 8.Nc3 instead of the main line 8.a5. I answered it with 8...Bg4!?, which had been seen only once, although it makes a lot of sense. However, I didn't dare to answer 9.h3 with 9...Bh5, as after 10.g4 the most critical is 10...Nxg4 and I wasn't sure if was going to work. After the inaccurate 24.dxe5?! dxe5 the position was equal, but I managed to outplay my opponent in a long battle. The line with 8.Nc3 is not as innocent as it may seem, while the option of 7...Na5 is a good alternative to 7...h6.

Petroff 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Bd6 7.0-0 0-0 8.c4 c6 9.Nc3 [C42]

And the last, but definitely not the least, game in this update is a short, but spectacular effort, Nepomniachtchi, I - Li Chao Sharjah Grand Prix 2017.

In the rather popular line with 9.Nc3 Black played 11...Bf5, which is gaining popularity. White was well-prepared for it, however, and after 12.Bg5!?, and Black's inaccuracy 12...Qc7?!, obtained an edge by means of 13.Re1! However, the most interesting events took place after 13...h6: White answered this with 14.Nh4! Bh7 and 15.Bxh6!, a clever piece sacrifice, which led to a quick disaster for Black.

A beautiful win for the Russian GM. If Black wants to play the line with 11...Bf5 he has to meet 12.Bg5 with 12...Qa5.

See you next month, Victor.

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