ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Since last month's update I have played two club matches in the South of France and two in the Midlands, in England, which gave me some ammunition for this update. Once again there are plenty of new ideas, and once again I have looked at some openings that haven't been covered here for a while. In particular, two games in the Philidor which show that this opening is still viable.

Download PGN of April ’22 1 e4 e5 games

>> Previous Update >>

Centre Game 3...Nc6 4 Qe3 Nf6 5 Nc3 Bb4 6 Bd2 0-0 7 0-0-0 Re8 8 Bc4 [C22]

After many years away I returned to play the 4NCL in England last weekend, and I was particularly impressed by one of my teammate's games in the Centre Game, as in one of the mainlines Black found a powerful new move that left White in serious trouble.

Here is a possible position from the game, can you see how Black can play and win?

For the answer look at the notes to Smith, A - Baker, C.

Philidor Defence. Hanham Variation 6 a4 c6 7 0-0 h6 8 Re1 Qc7 9 a5 Nf8 [C41]

A long time ago, sometime last century (!), I wrote a book about the Philidor and played it with great success, until the day the book was actually published and then one day (before ChessBase and computer preparation) I noticed one of my opponents flicking through the book at the book stall before our game! After this all of my opponents seemed to magically play the critical lines (whereas before they looked surprised, took lots of time on the clock and played badly!) So, to cut a long story short, I gave it up.

Anyway, I noticed that the German IM Koellner has been playing my favourite Hanham Variation an awful lot recently, but instead of the 6...0-0 that I always played, he prefers 6...c6 followed by 7...h6, 8...Qc7 and then 9...Nf8:

The knight can go to g6 before Black castles, or Black can even play ...g5 first, depending on circumstances. There are two potential problems with this approach, firstly 10 Nh4 to hinder ...Ng6 and 10 d5! Followed by 11 a6 putting maximum pressure on Black's queenside light squares, as in Van Foreest, J - Koellner, R. Still, this system is definitely playable and if Koellner can be successful against 2700+ players it will do even better against club players.

Philidor Defence, Antoshin Variation 6 Bf4 0-0 7 Qd2 d5 [C41]

You could be forgiven for thinking that Antoshin's Variation is solid and dull, but after 6 Bf4 0-0 7 Qd2 d5!? it dissolves into wild complications where the better prepared player, or better tactician, will likely triumph.

I remember I covered this in my book, but haven't got a copy to hand so I can't see what my conclusion was. Anyway this is the sort of line that really benefits from today's powerful analysis modules, see Durarbayli, V - Moroni, L.

Giuoco Piano 5 d3 0-0 6 Re1 h6 7 c3 d6 8 Nbd2 Bb6 9 h3 Ne7 10 d4 Nc6 [C54]

Do you remember that Ra3 move from Abdusattorov, N - Mikhalevski, V a few months ago? Well, I couldn't help being reminded of it when I saw the 12 Ra3 of Grandelius, N - Howell, D:

The big difference here is that White's c-pawn is still on c3 so the third rank is not open, but, on the other hand, the d-pawn is hanging and if Black takes it the rook will be free to swing across to the kingside.

Two Knights 4 Nc3 Nxe4 [C55]

I have been wanting to look at this line for a while, as I have had this position many times in blitz games and I had two questions. Firstly, after best play, 5 Nxe4 d5 6 Bd3 dxe4 7 Bxe4 Bd6, is it just equal or can Black play to win? Secondly, what happens if White tries a sort of Boden-Kieseritzky Gambit by 5 0-0:

See Sarkar, J - Krysa, L for all the answers!

Two Knights 4 Ng5 d5 [C58]

Next, a bonus game! I saw that fellow writer GM Justin Tan had prepared a file on the 4 Ng5 Two Knights for one of his students and he has kindly made it available for ChessPublishing subscribers!

Don't miss Erigaisi, A- Gupta, A!

Ruy Lopez, Deferred Steinitz 3...a6 4 Ba4 Nge7 5 0-0 Ng6 6 c3 d6 7 d4 Bd7 [C75]

Alekseenko and Demchenko have been playing the Deferred Steinitz with ...Nge7-g6 a great deal lately, although, curiously, Alekseenko prefers to play a pure Deferred Steinitz move order with, say, 4...d6 5 0-0 Bd7 6 c3 Nge7 7 d4 Ng6 and Demchenko prefers to first develop the knight by 4...Nge7 5 0-0 Ng6 before playing 6 c3 d6 7 d4 Bd7. In all cases we get to the following position:

After 8 Be3 we can see Black's main plan, involving 8...Be7 9 Nbd2 0-0 10 Re1 b5 followed by 11...exd4, 12...Nb4 and 13...c5, in action in Caruana, F - Demchenko, A.

Meanwhile the most common move 8 Re1 is covered in Bacrot, E - Demchenko, A, where something very nasty happens to the French GM.

Open Ruy Lopez, Dilworth Variation, 9 c3 Bc5 10 Nbd2 0-0 11 Bc2 Nxf2 [C82]

Finally, it's interesting to see the World Champion on the white side of a Dilworth Variation, and he didn't disappoint by playing the new move 16 Bg5!?:

The idea is to control d8 and bring the bishop to g3 where it protects the king and pressures the h2-b8 diagonal. This worked well in the game where Black played a tactic forking two pieces but lost to a powerful counter tactic, but my analysis suggests that Black is fine with best play. See Carlsen, M - Niemann, H.

Until next month, Tony.

>> Previous Update >>

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