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Hello everyone,
According to this year's 'tradition', each of my updates is dedicated to one of the super tournaments, and this time to the spectacular Amber tournament in Nice. This gives us the opportunity to cover some less popular openings, and despite the quick time limits the standard of play was very high and so you certainly won't be disappointed.

Download PGN of April '10 1 e4 e5 games

Chigorin System [C99]

In Dominguez, L - Svidler, P 19th Amber Blindfold 2010, the Cuban GM played a new and interesting idea in the well-known theoretical position of the following diagram:

Dominguez played 21.dxe5!? here and set Black some problems. Svidler has to be happy to escape with a draw, as White was winning towards the end of the game. Anyway, the line with 21.dxe5 certainly deserves further practical tests.

Breyer [C95]

Smeets, J - Svidler, P 19th Amber Rapid 2010.

Black has just played a side line with 15...a5, which the Dutch GM met with the novelty 16.Bd3. However, the rest of the game proves that this move is not of a high quality, as it was soon White who had to look for equality. 15...a5 is an interesting alternative to the main line, 15...Bg7.

The game Smeets, J - Carlsen, M 19th Amber Rapid 2010, sees another uncommon line in the Breyer variation, 12...c5 instead of 12...Re8. Soon they reached the following position:

Here Smeets played 17.Nxd6 instead of 17.Bg5, which was played in the only preceding game, but the position remained equal. Once again Carlsen demonstrated great endgame technique to outplay Smeets from an equal position. It seems that 12...c5 is a worthy alternative to 12...Re8.

Delayed kingside fianchetto [C70]

Karjakin, S - Ponomariov, R 19th Amber Rapid 2010, is a meeting between the youngest FIDE ex-World Champion and his youngest coach. Ponomariov decides to surprise his opponent with an extremely rare continuation in the opening and a completely new position already arose after Black's 7...Na5:

White's reaction 8.a4 was good and Black was soon punished for neglecting his development. Black's 7...Na5 may work as a surprise weapon, but leaving the kingside undeveloped can cost you dearly!

Italian Game [C54]

The game Gashimov, V - Dominguez, L 19th Amber Rapid 2010, sees one of the oldest theoretical lines, which was studied almost 400(!) years ago. White introduced a good novelty in the diagram position given below:

Here Gashimov played 20.Nd4!, which allows White ... to equalise! A very interesting game, but the opening line can only be recommended as a surprise weapon since it doesn't promise any advantage.

Four Knights [C48]

The interesting line with 4...Bd6 is gaining some popularity of late, and Carlsen, M - Aronian, L 19th Amber Rapid 2010, was another serious test of this variation.

Here Carlsen introduced a new move, 8.Bc4 instead of the 8.Ba4 which was tested in the only preceding game. Aronian reacted correctly and soon fully equalised. However it was Carlsen who won again thanks both to his fantastic technique and some help from Black. However the entire system with 4...Bd6 and in particular 6...Re8 deserves further tests.

Bishop's Opening [C24]

Karjakin, S - Smeets, J 19th Amber Rapid 2010, is another battle in an old, well-forgotten line.

This position has been known for more than a century. In all the earlier games White played 15.Be3, including Maroczy, G - Teichmann, R/Prague 1908 and Teichmann, R - Schlechter, C/Prague 1908. Instead, Karjakin introduced a new idea, 15.Bd2, and managed to set Black some problems, but mostly due to some inaccurate play from the Dutch GM.

After some good play in the first part of the game Karjakin obtained an extra pawn and good chances for a win, but then he started to play badly and could have lost. Nevertheless, the line which was chosen by Black deserves further tests, as 15.Bd2 can be met by means of 15...Qe7.

Petroff [C42]

It's difficult to find a top level event without a Petroff and Amber was no exception. Gashimov, V - Smeets, J 19th Amber Rapid 2010, saw White test a recent idea from the Israeli GM Sutovsky:

Here Gashimov played 13.d6!?, which brought Sutovsky a quick victory in Pojkovsky 2009. Smeets introduced an interesting novelty and needed just one more precise move, 20...Qd5 instead of 20...Qh5, in order to fully equalise, but failed to do so and was crushed. A good game by Gashimov, though it seems that objectively 13.d6 doesn't promise more than equality.


See you next month, Victor.

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