Spanish Central Attack - 9 d4 [C91]
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 O-O Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 d6 8 c3 0-0 9 d4 Bg4 10 d5 Na5 11.Bc2:
For a long time this position was considered inoffensive for Black on the basis of two wins of A. Rubinstein with the black pieces against Yates in 1922 and 1925 that went 11...c6 12 h3! Bxf3 14 Qxf3 cxd5 15 exd5 Nc4 (15..Qc7 was played in the other game) 16 Nd2 Rc8. Nowadays this evaluation has changed and it is generally considered that White has good dynamic chances.
Thanks to a very talented generation of Soviet players (L Stein, O Romanishin, V. Tcheskovsky, B Gulko) the line gained popularity in the seventies, and then, more recently, all their ideas were taken and enriched by a new generation of youngsters (Khalifman, Svidler, Volokhitin, etc.).
Very recently M. Adams lost badly against the computer HYDRA and we'll start with this game.
This game was a shock for Adams but was not so important from the theoretical point of view. It seems that Adams tried to avoid complications at all costs, played very passive chess, and was completely dominated without a fight. See Hydra - Adams.
I will now show three ways to for Black to obtain a good game in this line. Strangely enough, these lines were discovered by great players in the past and have never been refuted, even by correspondence games or computers!
Black plays 11...c6 12 h3 Bc8:
Timman - Spassky, Montreal 1979, is a marvellous example of Spassky at his best. I have analysed the critical position in some detail - look out for the 'interfering' knight!
Stein was a big specialist in this line, and found a new idea that was recently revived by Volokhitin. However, in my notes I propose a nice novelty to fight against it with Black - see Stein - Kavalek, Caracas 1970.
Here Black maintains the pin by 11...c6 12 h3 Bh5:
It is fantastic to see a game of Karpov from his early years (in 1968 he was only 17 year's old), because he had the same style as now, and already manoeuvred fantastically! His order of moves is the best, and although this line has a bad reputation, it is not deserved, don't miss Popov - Karpov, Cht USSR 1968.
In G.Kuzmin- Lukacs, Budapest 1978, Lukacs uses an old idea of Podgaets which at first sight looks very attractive but is, in fact, a little dubious. Kuzmin found a fantastic defence but then failed to exploit all his possibilities. This incredible game shows that Karpov's order of moves is the correct one.
In 1979 Romanishin beat Tseshkovsky with Black during the USSR zonal play-off with 11...Qc8:
The idea of this move is to play ...c6 as in the other line, but to defer it for one move in order to be able to retreat the g4-bishop to d7 without having to fear the reply Nxe5.
After this victory many players started to play this idea. Nowadays it is still considered to be one of the best lines for Black against this system.
In Ponomariov - Svidler, Eucup 2001, Ponomariov made a very interesting queen sacrifice but after accurate defense the game soon ended in a draw. This game provides an occasion to analyse a few ideas that Volokhitin has employed to fight against 11...Qc8.
To conclude I would like to remind everyone that 1 e4 e5 is a very large section and so it is not easy to satisfy everyone, all the time. I hope that even if you don't play this line you will have a look at it.
I wish good luck to any subscribers who manage to utilise some of the ideas given here, and don't forget to email me if you have found an improvement, or simply if you want to propose another subject for analysis.