17 years ago I can remember writing Winning With The Philidor, armed with a typewriter and a small chess set. Finally I got around to looking at some of my old analysis, but this time helped by a very fast computer and the latest analysis module, and my first thought was that 'analysing' has become a lot faster and easier - no need to think any more!
I had been pressed to look at Antoshin's Variation several times this last year, as it has become quite popular recently, and so I was pleased to see the game Almasi, Z - Nisipeanu, L, where The Romanian super GM tried out a line of Zaitsev that I had favoured way back then, in reply to 6 g3 (which is arguably White's best choice here, intending to clamp down on d5) 6...d5! 7 e5:
he played 7...Ne4, and got a good position, but there are a couple of problems - see the notes.
Black can also play the sharper 7...Ng4, which can lead to a lot of exciting complications, see Rizouk,A-Argandona Riveiro,I.
Schliemann Gambit [C63]
Now that we can discount any surprise factor, and can be sure that Radjabov really believes in this line, and his opponent's have had plenty of time to search for a refutation, it is interesting to see that White prefers 4 d3!
See Carlsen, M - Radjabov, T for the lowdown.
Berlin Defence [C67]
In his December '03 update Nigel Davies looked at an interesting move order that reaches an Open Spanish, via the Berlin. This has the advantage of 'threatening' the opponent with the Berlin endgame (so that he might try to avoid this by playing 4 d3, say) whilst avoiding the Exchange Variation.
However, in Ivanchuk, V - Carlsen, M, after 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nf6 4 0-0 Nxe4 5 d4 a6 Ivanchuk played 6 Bxc6 dxc6 7 Qe2 Bf5 8 Re1!:
This move is almost unplayed, but seems very strong. White soon had a completely winning position, and so, as Victor likes to say: 'the ball is in Black's court'!
Modern Archangel [C78]
The mainline of the Modern Archangel has seen Black under some pressure recently, and in Carlsen, M - Shirov, A Black returns to the line 13...Bxf3 14 gxf3 Nh5:
White responding with 15 f4!, which seems to be strongest - have a look at the note to see why White no longer plays 15 dxe5. Black is still suffering here!
Open Variation [C80]
I must first apologise to the reader for including an Open Spanish game after last month's update, and also to Victor for including this horrible defeat, but as he is arguably the World's top expert on the line, and loses so rarely, Almasi, Z - Mikhalevski, V is just too important to miss.
8 a3!? is an unusual Anti-Marshall that has started to gain some favour with the elite. White prepares a possible retreat for the bishop on a2, and can consider a later b4:
Carlsen, M - Aronian, L soon reaches an Archangel type of position when Aronian initiates some hair-raising complications where it appears the white a-pawn would have been better placed on a2!
Nisipeanu, L - Naiditsch, A gave another outing to ...Qd7!?, that worked so well for Ivanchuk a few months ago, but this time White played the more precise 16 Bc2:
Following with g4, Bf5, then h4-h5 and a devastating kingside attack. Except that Hiarcs 12 found a clever defence for Black just when it looked like he was completely lost!
Shomoev, A - Khalifman, A features a new attempt to revive the long 12 a4 mainline, but this also leads to a forced draw.
This variation is very difficult to play properly, and Black often gets mated - just look at some of the notes!
Till next month, Tony