August '00 Update
Welcome to this month's Daring Defences Update, presented by GM Neil McDonald.
In the Exchange Variation 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 Na4!? is still generating a lot of interest- see for example Dias-Fernades given last month. The sacrificial response 5...e5! is more than holding its own. In the two encounters given here Black strives for dynamic play and in both cases after the dust has settled he has has emerged with a slight positional advantage. Shirov was unable to break down Lputian's resistance but he had all the winning chances. Have a look at Lputian-Shirov and Kubala-Groszpeter.
The 'Ultra-Mainline' with 8 Rb1 and 11...Qxa2 continues to lead to dramatic games, even if in some cases they are exhibitions of home analysis rather than genuine fights! I guess you just have to learn to appreciate them in the same way that you enjoy an action movie or a tragedy at the theatre- everything has been stage managed and no one is really going to be hurt, but it's exciting nonetheless. On the other hand, I don't think chess can be called a sport if such games are possible. I wouldn't want to watch a football match in which all the 'moves' had been worked out before hand!
The two games given here demonstrate the power of Black's passed a pawn in this variation. In the first game, Black gives up a piece in enterprising style to get the pawn moving. Whilst I'm not 100% sure about this idea it is the sort of thing that should appeal to Daring Defenders. See what you think of Elsness-Bae, which also contains Ivanchuk's more solid though less fun alternative to the sacrifice. Meanwhile, in Van Wely-Svidler White succeeds in neutralising the passed pawn but only at the cost of allowing perpetual check.
The sharpest line after 5 Qb3 involves the e4-e5 advance. Black has to be careful not to be overwhelmed by an attack on his king beginning with e5-e6 or h2-h4, or a combination of the moves. That's what happens to Black in Gershon-Bagirov where he is crushed in only 19 moves. However, improvements will be found in the analysis.
In the Stonewall Black blocks the centre, so during the initial phase of the game the emphasis tends to be on careful manoeuvring to achieve the best strategical layout of the pieces. However, tactics are never far from the surface of any opening, and a lot of thinking in general terms can dull a player's sense of danger. This is what happens in Sundararajan-B.Ponomariov. [Note Black isn't the former prodigy Ruslan!] Black is thinking what squares his pieces should be on when WHAM! he is suddenly hit by a tactic out of the blue.
Bareev is adept at outplaying opponents from apparently simple, harmless positions. In the first game given here his opponent is striving to prove he has the advantage on the queenside, but quite unexpectedly ends up in a desperate endgame. No matter what opening you play, a mastery of strategy will always bring results, as Van Wely-Bareev proves.
The next game features a characteristic kingside pawn onslaught by Black. It doesn't end in mate, but it is disruptive enough to leave a white knight trapped on the edge of the board. This allows Black to gain control of the centre. Once again the attacking potential of the Dutch is revealed. Have a look at Bouwmeester-Ioseliani.
Finally in this section, we see an example of 7...Qe8 in the mainline without d4-d5. It is hard fought and only decided by a blunder right at the end. However, White seems unaware of what I consider to be a strong improvement for him given in my book on the Leningrad. Have a look at the analysis in Jankovic-Bromberger.
In any opening one of the most difficult decisions is whether you should concede ground in the centre in return for a solid deployment of the pieces or hold onto space at all costs. In the game offered here Black makes an instructive strategical misjudgment after which he has nowhere safe for his king. White carries out the attack in an excellent style. Click on Nikolaidis-Rotstein.
One thing I've learnt from doing the Daring Defences updates for the last couple of months is never to underestimate the ability of an opponent to panic when facing an attack on his king! Often it doesn't seem to matter whether the threats are real or imaginary. In the game presented here, Black moves his queen to h5 and this is enough to provoke White into premature action in the centre. As is usually the case, the attack only becomes dangerous because the opponent has weakened himself positionally in a bid for 'counterplay'. Have a look at Schumacher-Capitaine.