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Hello everyone,
This month Black had a hard time defending his positions in both the Ruy Lopez and the Petroff. The format of the Amber tournament seems to help players forget about ratings and play chess!

Download PGN of April '09 1 e4 e5 games

Marshall Gambit [C89]

Despite some decrease in popularity this opening remains an extremely important weapon against the Ruy Lopez. Volokitin, A - Inarkiev, E, European Championship Budva 2009, saw Svidler's 15.Qe2, which has become Volokitin's favourite line against the Marshall.

In this important position for the 15.Qe2 line White introduced a good novelty, 20.a4! Black's reaction was reasonable, but already his 23th move, 23...c5, was a serious positional mistake, and despite resourceful defence Black didn't manage to save the game. Notwithstanding White's good novelty Black seems to have sufficient counterplay, and I believe practical examples will confirm this evaluation.

Zaitsev System [C92]

Topalov, V - Morozevich, A Amber Rapid 2009, saw the 12.a3 line:

In the diagram position the top rated played introduced a virtually new idea, 13.d5, and suddenly created a strong attack on the kingside. Morozevich lost without making an obvious mistake. A surprisingly easy win for White, and so the game proved that the modest 12.a3 mixed with 13.d5 is a rather poisonous weapon. I'm expecting more games in this line.

Morozevich also faced the 12.Bc2 line in the game Ivanchuk, V - Morozevich, A Amber Blindfold 2009.

This time he was well prepared and refuted Ivanchuk's 17.g4, which was played in the diagram position, without too much effort. A well-played game by Morozevich, who completely outplayed Ivanchuk, and in spite of his blunder at the end made the line look good for Black.

Breyer System [C95]

The game Anand - Kamsky, Amber Rapid 2009, saw an old line, 16.Ba3, which after recent wins from Anand may come back into fashion. Kamsky answered it with Psakhis' 16...Nh5, but already two moves later introduced the dubious novelty 18...exd4 in the diagram position below:

After this Anand's play was simple and strong and led to a well deserved win. Another convincing positional win from the World Champion in this line and Black still has to look for improvements, so I'm expecting to see this line played again at the highest levels in the very near future.

While Morozevich defends Black's position in the Zaitsev system, Kamsky is faithful to the Breyer system. This time, in Ivanchuk, V - Kamsky, G, Amber Rapid 2009, White chose the line with 16.Qc2, which Gata met with the old 16...Qb6. Once again his novelty 18...Nf4 came two moves later in the following position:

Ten moves later Black already had a very comfortable position, when his inaccuracy 29...Bd7?! allowed White to take the initiative. Nevertheless Kamsky saved the game with good defense. Surprisingly the line with 16...Qb6 turned out to be a reliable weapon, and White needs a good idea to set any problems.

Open Variation [C83]

Naiditsch, A - Mikhalevski, V, European Championship Budva 2009, saw an important theoretical line:

In this position, which arose after 21.Be3, I introduced the dubious novelty 21...Qc6 (instead of 21...f4) and came under attack. Thanks to a piece sacrifice I managed to prolong the fight and even had a draw at some point, but nevertheless it is clear that Black has to prefer Carlsen's 21...f4 or look for other improvements.

Petroff Defence [C42-43]

Morozevich,A-Wang Yue, Amber Blindfold 2009, reached the following critical position in the line with 8.Re1:

Here Black introduced an interesting novelty, 14...Kh8, but his later play was dubious and Morozevich slowly outplayed him and won the game in good positional style. An interesting game, which is important for the theory of this system. 14...Kh8 deserves further tests, but Black has to link his play with ...Ng6 either on the 18th or 19th move.

Finally the game Anand, V - Kramnik, V, Amber Blindfold 2009, saw a side line with 14...Rfd8 instead of the more popular 14...Re8. See the diagram below:

Anand decided to avoid Kramnik's preparation and played 15.h4, though I believe White's only chance to fight for an advantage in this line is with 15.Qg5. After 15...Be6 he introduced the novelty 16.Qg5, which shouldn't, however, create any problems for Black. Nonetheless, Kramnik's 17...Bf8?! and 18...Rd5?! allowed White to take hold of the initiative and (not without further help) to win the game. The opening line with 14...Rfd8 deserves further tests, while 15. Qg5! is critical.

See you next month, Victor.

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