ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Hello everyone,
The only really high-level recent tournament was the first part of the Candidates tournament. So, this update will be entirely based on its games. Despite the situation, the players were able to show many interesting opening ideas.

Download PGN of April ’20 1 e4 e5 games

>> Previous Update >>

Spanish, Anti-Marshall 8.h3 Bb7 9.d3 d6 10.a3 Qd7 11.Nc3 Rfe8 [C88]

The game Vachier-Lagrave, M - Ding Liren Candidates Yekaterinburg 2020, featured the 9...d6 line of the Anti-Marshall with 11.Nc3.

In the diagram position, after 11...Rfe8, MVL played 12.Bd2. Earlier the Chinese player had faced 12.Ne2 and 12.Nd5. Black answered with the standard 12...Nd8, and after 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.exd5 c5 15.a4! White first obtained an edge and then, after Ding’s 15...f5?, he got a clear advantage and led the game to a win. A well-played game by Vachier Lagrave! Black should improve his play in the opening, I can suggest 13...Ne6 instead of 13...Nxd5.

Spanish, Anti-Marshall 9...d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nbd2 Qd7 12.a4 [C88]

A different line of the 8.h3 Anti-Marshall was seen in the game Grischuk, A - Ding Liren Candidates Yekaterinburg 2020.

Earlier this position has mostly been tested in correspondence games. The players followed the main line 12...f6 13.Ne4 Na5 14.Ba2 c5 15.Be3 Rfc8 and after numerous exchanges the players arrived in a position with a very slight edge for White and pawns on one side. A high-level game with no visible mistakes. Black didn't experience any real problems in the game and so White is still to find a way to create problems in the 9...d5 line.

Spanish. 6.d3 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.a3 0-0 9.Nc3 [C84]

In the game Nepomniachtchi, I - Ding Liren Candidates Yekaterinburg 2020, a popular line of the 6.d3 system was tested.

In the position given above Black played the most popular 15...a5, instead of 15...Bd8, which we analysed previously. Here Nepo plyaed a new move, 16.Rb2, where other options include 16.c4, 16.Nxf6 and 16.Ra1. The game continued logically: 16...axb4 17.axb4 Bd8 18.c4 Nd4 19.Nxd4 exd4 20.Qc2 and here Black played the inaccurate 20...Re8?!, wasting an important tempo. Black came under some pressure after 21.g3! bxc4 22.Qxc4 c6 23.Nf4 and didn’t manage to hold.

16.Rb2 sets some problems, but they seem to be solvable, I recommend 20...c6.

Spanish, Yurtaev System 10.a5 Ba7 11.h3 0-0 12.Be3 exd4 [C78]

The game Vachier-Lagrave, M - Caruana, F Candidates Yekaterinburg 2020, featured a well-known line of the Yurtaev System.

12...exd4 is the second most popular move in the position, earlier we considered the alternatives 12...Re8 and 12...Ra8. After the sequence 13.cxd4 Nb4 14.Nc3 Bb7 15.Ng5 Caruana introduced the new idea 15...Qe7!, instead of the 15...Qe8 from most of the preceding games, including the recent game Sasikiran,K (2648)-Moroni,L (2532) Caleta 2020. After the critical 16.e5! dxe5 17.Nxf7! Fabiano played the coldblooded 17...e4!, which allows different discovered attacks. MVL’s reaction, 18.Nd6?! wasn’t the best and he obtained no advantage. It seems that 12...exd4 doesn't solve the opening problems as White's play can be improved by means of 18.Nd8 or 18.Ng5.

Spanish, Yurtaev System 10.a5 Ba7 11.h3 0-0 12.Be3 Re8 [C78]

Grischuk, A - Caruana, F Candidates Yekaterinburg 2020, saw the American’s second Yurtaev System, this time with the extremely rare 12...Re8:

Grischuk decided to repeat position once with 13.Ng5 Rf8 14.Nf3 Re8 and then sacrificed a pawn by means of 15.Re1!?. Black accepted the challenge, 15...exd4 16.cxd4 Nxe4, but after 17.d5 Bxe3 18.Rxe3 had to accept a bad position for his knight, 18...Na7. After 19.Qd4 his next move, 19...Bf5!, demonstrated that he was still in his home preparation. The game developed logically before Black played 26...b3? Fortunately for him, Alex didn’t find the strongest reply, 27.Qc4, which would set serious problems. An interesting fighting game. The rare 12...Re8 doesn't fully equalize, as both 13.dxe5 and 13.(15.)Re1 promise White a slight edge. So the ball remains in Black's court.

The Berlin endgame 9.Nc3 Ke8 10.h3 h5 11.Bf4 Be7 12.Rad1 Be6 13.Ng5 Rh6 14.Rfe1 Bb4 15.a3 Bxc3 16.bxc3 h4 [C67]

In the game Nepomniachtchi, I - Grischuk, A Candidates Yekaterinburg 2020, the players discussed a topical line of the Berlin endgame.

In the diagram position, which has been seen in quite a few top level games, with MVL being white in most of these games, White introduced a new move, 17.Kh2. However, the novelty didn’t prove strong as after Grischuk’s 17...Kf8 Ian started to err. First, 18.Rb1?! and then 19.Rb4?!, and soon found himself in an inferior position. White's 17.Kh2 didn't prove to set any problems, instead White had to be accurate not to enter an unpleasant position in the game. The ball remains in White's court.

Giuoco Piano 4.0-0 Nf6 5.d3 d6 6.c3 0-0 7.Re1 a5 8.Nbd2 Be6 9.Bb5 [C54]

A popular line of the Giuoco Piano was seen in the game Alekseenko, K - Giri, A Candidates Yekaterinburg 2020.

Here, after 9.Bb5, Giri surprised his young opponent with the very rare 9...Ba7. White played a few natural moves 10.Nf1 Ne7 11.Ng3 c6 12.Ba4 Ng6 13.h3 and after 13...d5! Black at least equalised. 9...Ba7 is an interesting idea, but White needs to play 10.h3 in order to play d4 as early as possible and create some problems. 13.h3 was the last chance to fight for some initiative, and in the game it was White who had to be accurate to equalise.

Petroff Mainline, 6...Bf5 7.0-0 Be7 8.Re1 0-0 9.Nbd2 Nd6 10.Nf1 Bxd3 11.Qxd3 c6 12.Bf4 Na6 [C42]

Our last game in this update is Nepomniachtchi, I - Wang Hao Candidates Yekaterinburg 2020. It saw an important line of the Petroff.

In this diagram position the Russian player had prepared 13.h4, instead of the four other options which had been tested in this position at a high level. After 13...Nc7 14.Ng5 Black’s 14...Bxg5 wasn’t necessary. Nevertheless, the position remained playable and only further inaccuracies allowed White to prevail. 13.h4 is an interesting idea, although Black should be able to defend the position, I can suggest 14...g6.


See you next month, Victor.

>> Previous Update >>

Please post your Kingpawn Opening queries on the 1 e4 e5 Forum, or subscribers can write to if you have any questions.