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Hello, This month's focus is on less well-known lines, but at the same time not less played lines. It seems that many lines from the past have proven solid, surprisingly I would say considering that today chess players uses engines a lot to check positions. New ideas have been found, and new plans, therefore such positions deserves serious analytical work.

Download PGN of February ’18 1 d4 d5 2 c4 games

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QGD Janowski Variation 5.Bf4 [D31]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 a6 is the highly interesting Alapin opening, or Janowski Variation, which is also in the World Champion's repertoire!

In the game Wojtaszek, R - Lupulescu, C Bundesliga, White had a commanding position all the way but surely Black can look for improvements.

Marshall Gambit 8.Be2 Na6 9.Bd6 Qxg2 [D31]

This time, in Mekhitarian, K - Matsuura, E Ch Brasil, we have a Marshall Gambit, 1.d4 d5 .2c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e4 dxe4 5.Nxe4 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Qxd4 7.Bxb4 Qxe4 8.Be2 Na6 9.Bd6 Qxg2:

A sharp and interesting line, I think that White has a strong initiative and Black is walking on thin ice. In the game Black simply couldn't solve the problems.

Blackburne QGD 5 Bf4 0-0 6 e3 b6 [D37]

In the Classical QGD 5.Bf4 line after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 0-0 6.e3 the move 6...b6 was considered inferior to 6...Nbd7 and 6...c5, but judging by this game one would not think so:

In Fedoseev, V - Friedel, J Pro League Group Stage, Black got a nice position almost after the opening. What White has to do is to surely look for strong alternatives and improvements.

Ragozin System 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bxf6 Qxf6 7.Qb3 [D38]

The next game, Karpov, A - Hou Yifan, matches the legendary ex-World Champion against the Ragozin, 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bxf6 Qxf6 7.Qb3:

Simplicity is Karpov's trademark, and here he doesn't disappoint. Nice play indeed, but concerning the opening itself Black could do better, of course.

Anti-Vienna Gambit [D39]

In the Ragozin - Vienna line 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 Bb4 White entirely cuts-out a system with the interesting pawn sacrifice 6.Bxc4:

In the game Holm, K - Meier, G Pro League Group Stage, Black won nicely, but White could do much better, and basically the system is good for White.

Vienna Variation 6...h6 [D39]

Korobov, A - Van Foreest, L Tata Steel, is a Vienna Variation, but a sideline that might catch on in the future, 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.e4 h6!?:

Black didn't face any problems in the game, but the critical aspect of the line involves the move 11.Ne4:

See the analysis in the game, and in the PGN Archive.

Semi-Tarrash with 5...cxd4!? [D41]

Short, N - Swapnil, S Gibraltar Masters, was a Semi-Tarrash, but a rare line that was reached after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 c5 5.cxd5 cxd4!?:

What a line! I couldn't find a single game where White had chances for any advantage, its the fastest growing line among those less known or forgotten lines mentioned at the beginning of my text. Nigel had no chance to show any advantage in this game.

Botvinnik Variation Mainline, Uhlmann's 16 Rb1 [D44]

Lenic, L - Andeikin, D Pro League Group Stage, features the Botvinnik line, which is something that we don't see that often these days as it is considered somehow exhausted, only Shirov is playing it all the time. After 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.e4 b5 the main position was reached:

Following the further 7.e5 h6 8.Bh4 g5 9.Nxg5 hxg5 10.Bxg5 Nbd7 11.exf6 Bb7 12.g3 c5 13.d5 Qb6 14.Bg2 0-0-0 15.0-0 b4 16.Rb1 Qa6 17.dxe6 Bxg2 18.e7 Bxf1 White tried 19.Qxf1!??:

A surprising and rare idea, but maybe just bad, and White soon lost his way.

I hope you enjoyed my work these past two months, best wishes to all, GM Milos Pavlovic.

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