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Hello everyone,
A lot of interesting and theoretically important games were played in the recent European Championship. So naturally the April update will be based on this extremely strong tournament.

Download PGN of April '12 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish - Archangel Variation [C78]

Kryvoruchko, Y - Caruana, F 13th EICC Plovdiv 2012, featured an important line of the Archangel variation. Black followed his own game against Alekseev and after playing 21...g6 the diagram position given below appeared on the board:

Here the Ukrainian player introduced the strong novelty, 22.e5, which sets Black serious problems. He was unable to solve them and eventually lost, so it seems that 21...g6 is dubious and the ball is in Black's court.

The Breyer Variation [C95]

In Navara, D - Maiorov, N1 13th EICC Plovdiv 2012, White chose the 14.Bg5 line which has recently been popularized at the top level by Gashimov. Soon he deviated from Gashimov,V-Carlsen, Nanjing 2010, with 16.a4 and the players reached the following position:

Black played 16...g6 (instead of 16...c6) and managed to equalize, even though he could have played better. Despite Black's eventual loss in this game 15...Be7 requires further practical tests.

Central Attack 9.d4 [C91]

In the game Sutovsky, E - Grigoriants, S 13th EICC Plovdiv 2012, Black played a side line and after 12...Qd7 the diagram position given below arose:

Here Sutovsky introduced the interesting and strong novelty 13.Nh4. Black's reaction, 13...d5, wasn't the best and soon White obtained a long term edge which he skilfully led to a win, finishing the game with a brilliant combination. His novelty on the 13th move sets Black problems which he couldn't solve during the game. Probably 13...Bxe4 is the best reaction, but anyway the ball is in Black's court.

Open Variation [C83]

Caruana,F-L'Ami,E 13th EICC Plovdiv 2012, saw a long and important theoretical line:

White has just played 24.h4, which the Dutch GM answered with the novelty 24...Bxh4, instead of 24...Bh6 which was played in Stellwagen, D - Svetushkin, D, Dresden 2008. From this point on White skilfully set problems, but Black was up to the task for a long time, erring only at the very end with 47...Rxb2? and soon after Black resigned as he was losing all his pawns. A great win for Caruana, although Black's play deserves admiration as well. A very important game for the theory of this line of the Open Spanish.

Spanish with 6.d3 [C84]

In Naiditsch, A - Sokolov, I 13th EICC Plovdiv 2012, White chose a relatively uncommon line with 7.c4 and already by move 12 introduced a new idea:

In the diagram position Arkady played 12.d4 instead of his own 12.Nd5 (from Naiditsch, A - Markowski, T, Warsaw 2011).

Black soon erred with 17...Kh8?! and came under pressure, another mistake and Black was done. A spectacular win for the top German player! However his opening novelty doesn't look too threatening for Black, who can try to improve over 12...Bf6 by means of 12...exd4, and even the earlier 8...Nd7 deserves serious attention. Nevertheless, I expect more practical tests of this relatively uncommon line.

Berlin Defence 4.Qe2 Bd6 [C65]

One of the relatively rare ways to deviate from the Berlin endgame is 4.Qe2, which was tested in the Russian derby Savchenko, B - Malakhov, V 13th EICC Plovdiv 2012.

The players followed the game Bartel, M - Malakhov, V, Warsaw 2010, for the first 8 moves before White deviated in the diagram position with 9.Ba4. Black reacted very aggressively by sacrificing first a pawn and then a piece. However, his subsequent 17...Nxf4? turned out to be a serious mistake, from which he never recovered. Malakhov's desire to play for a win at all costs backfired, but nevertheless the opening line deserves to be tested again, while 17...exf4 seems to be critical.

Giuoco Piano 6.Nbd2 [C50]

Shanava, K - Bacrot, E 16th Neckar open 2012, saw a modest variation of the Giuoco Piano with 6.Nbd2, Bacrot answered with his pet line 6....d5 and they reached the diagram position after 9.h3:

Here the Frenchman played 9...a6, which he had already tested against Movsesian in Rogaska Slatina 2011, instead of the 9...Bd6 he had previously tried in Radjabov, T - Bacrot, E from Khanty-Mansiysk 2011. Shanava introduced the most natural novelty 10.Nxe5 (instead of Movsesian's 10.a3) and to my surprise Bacrot immediately erred with 10...Bxf2+ and lost quickly. The obvious reason for Black's loss in the game was his unjustified attempt to complicate matters by any means, when he would have been fine after 10...Qd4. So, despite disastrous statistics in this line I expect more attempts to prove that Black's position is playable.

Scotch 4...Nf6 [C45]

Petr.Ma-Bacrot,E 16th Neckar open 2012, featured a very recent line with 10...g6 which was first played in Nepomniachtchi, I - Kramnik, V, Wijk aan Zee 2011. White deviated from the aforementioned game with 11.Qe3 and after 15.Rae1 the diagram position was reached:

Here Bacrot introduced the interesting novelty 15...Nd7 (instead of 15...Rfe8) and White soon had to force a draw by perpetual check. A well-played and theoretically important game - Bacrot's novelty is interesting and looks pretty good, so the ball is in White's court.


See you next month, Victor.

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