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Hello everyone,
As usual, you're going to see top level chess mixed with two games from yours truly. Some of the lines weren't covered for quite a while and so it was a good time to revisit them.

Download PGN of April ’17 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish. The Open Variation with 9.Nbd2 Be7 10.c3 0-0 11.Bc2 f5 12.Nb3 [C83]

Let me start with the game Adams, M - Giri, A Du Te Cup 2017, which featured the once popular line with 9...Be7 and 10...0-0.

The players reached a position which has already been seen in two games between the French WGM Marie Sebag and both of the Muzychuk sisters. In those games White played 25.Qb1, but in an attempt to improve upon Sebag's play Adams played 25.Qf3. This game shows the current state of theory in the line with 10...0-0, White creates a protected passed pawn, but Black has enough counterplay thanks to his passed pawn and White's king.

Spanish. The Breyer Variation main line with 13.Nf1 [C95]

Our next game, Zherebukh, Y - Caruana, F ch-USA Saint Louis 2017, saw the main line of the Breyer system.

Here, in the diagram position after 20.Bg5, Caruana tried to surprise his opponent with the extremely rare 20...Bg7, instead of the common 20...Be7. However, the former Ukrainian GM was up to the task and outplayed one of the top players in the world in nice style. A great positional achievement from Zherebukh! This game may serve as a model game, proving 20...Bg7 to be dubious. Black should play 20...Be7, as he did on many previous occasions.

Spanish. Central Attack - 9.d4 with 15...Nc4 [C91]

In the game Kamsky, G - Naroditsky, D ch-USA Saint Louis 2017, White played the Central Attack, which is part of his opening repertoire.

Long ago we considered 18.Bd3 in the diagram position, but here Kamsky deviated with 18.Qe2. This was considered to be "the last try to fight for the initiative" by Olivier Renet. Daniel answered it with a novelty, 18...Nb6 instead of 18...Bf8, but soon started to err and was skilfully outplayed. A nice positional win from the former number one US player. 18...Nb6 instead of 18...Bf8 is playable, but Black has to proceed with 20...h6 instead of 20...Qd7?

Spanish. Anti-Berlin 4.d3 Bc5 5.Bxc6 dxc6 6.Nbd2 Be6 7.0-0 Bd6 8.d4 [C65]

The game Robson, R - Nakamura, H ch-USA Saint Louis 2017, featured the line with 8.d4, which is gaining popularity.

In the position given above Nakamura played the risky-looking 12...f5, which Robson answered with 13.Qe2. His 17.exf5?! was already inaccurate and allowed Black to seize the initiative. A nice technical win by Nakamura, who slowly but surely outplayed his young opponent. 13.Qh5 seems to be the only try to set problems in this line. Black can also consider 12...f6.

Spanish. Anti-Berlin 4.d3 Bc5 5.c3 d5 [C65]

Caruana's play in the 2017 US Championship was shaky, but he introduced an interesting novelty in the game Caruana, F - Xiong, J ch-USA Saint Louis 2017, in the following diagram position:

Here Fabiano surprised his opponent with 9.a4, instead of a few other options. Black's reaction was faulty, 9...e4?! and allowed White to seize a big edge with the clever 12.Kc2! Unfortunately for White he committed a few inaccuracies and the game was eventually drawn. An interesting fighting draw, but White's novelty 9.a4!? has to be answered with 9...0-0.

Scotch 4...Bc5 5.Nb3 Bb6 6.Nc3 Qf6 [C45]

The game Bakalchuk, J - Mikhalevski, V Budapest Spring 2017, saw a pretty rare line with 6...Qf6.

I answered the 8.Be3 of the diagram position with 8...0-0?!, which is the main line, but inaccurate, and I came under pressure. A very interesting fighting game. 6...Qf6 is a playable line only if Black connects his plans with queenside castling.

Scotch 4...Bc5 5.Be3 Bb6 [C47]

Another branch of the Scotch with 4...Bc5 was seen in the game Andreikin, D - Carlsen, M Pro League KO Stage 2017.

In the diagram position, after 8...Re8, Andreikin played the inaccurate 9.f3?! (instead of the 9.Re1 from Golubev,M-Ivanchuk,V/Odessa 2006). Magnus answered this with 9...Ne5, when 9...d5 promised him the upper hand. The text was still good enough and Black could claim an edge, but he started to err. However, his actual loss was probably caused by a mouse slip. The rare line with 5...Bb6 and 6...Nf6 is not without venom. White should try to set problems by means of 7.Qd2, as instead 7.Bb5 doesn't promise any advantage.

Italian. Giuoco Piano 5.0-0 d6 6.a4 a5 [C50]

The last game in this update, Odeev, H - Mikhalevski, V Budapest Spring 2017, featured a rare line of the Giuoco Piano with 6...a5.

Odeev introduced a new move in the diagram position, 8.Bb3 instead of 8.Na3 (as in Areshchenko,A-Granda Zuniga,J/Aachen GER 2016). However, his next move, 9.Be3 was inaccurate and promised Black good play after 9...Bxe3. A rather clean game, notwithstanding the mutual blackout on the 17th move. It seems that White can set some problems with 9.Na3, but Black can also avoid the discussed position with 6...a6 or 6...h6.

See you next month, Victor.

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