Two Knights [C56-59]
First, something of a bonus. The Forum has become a fantastic source of new ideas and interesting analysis, but how to find the important lines in such a massive number of threads?
Top Forum member Micawber has actually gone through all the Two Knights threads picking out the important ideas and compiling a database of Forum analysis, much of which is as good as any GM could produce.
I will be using this analysis whenever possible in my future annotations, but in the meantime the database (complete with important games) is available to everyone as a download by clicking here: . Don't hesitate to try to improve any of the analysis over on the appropriate threads - chess theory never stands still!
In this update I shall be focusing on the closed variations of the Ruy Lopez where White either plays a very early d3 or adopts the Anti-Marshall with 8.a4, followed by d3. We shall then take a look at a solid way for White to take on a sharp line of the Open Variation.
Berlin Defence [C65-66]
The 'd3 systems', once considered innocuous, are becoming increasingly popular in GM play. One of the ideas of 4.d3, very simply, to avoid the endgame variation of the Berlin Defence which occurs after 4.O-O Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8 Kxd8. However, the line with 4.d3 also has its own points: sometimes White delays castling and completes the manoeuvre Nb1-d2-f1-g3 well in advance, while in the game White simply develops and keeps Black guessing as to whether he will ever advance in the centre.
Ironically, by playing such a seemingly passive move like 4.d3 White is actually displaying his aggressive intentions. This is because the play now becomes very heavy duty, with few exchanges and a lot of difficult manoeuvring, which allows plenty of scope for a strong player to outplay an opponent.
In our first game, Balogh - Berkes after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 Black responded with the reliable 4...d6 5.O-O g6 6.c3 Bg7 and now White went for the creative 7.Bg5!?:
which, together with a good novelty on move 11 provided him with an advantage and he went on to win a fine game.
Closed Spanish [C77]
Of course Black may first throw in ..a6, thus a cousin system occurs after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.d3. Here Cabrera - Ponomariov continued 5...d6 6.c3 g6 7.Bg5 when White cleverly delayed castling in order to play Nbd1-f1-e3. Unfortunately for him Pono displayed some real power play in the opening, with aggressive play on the kingside and Cabrera quickly had the worst of it right from the outset.
In Perunovic - Banikas Black showed that the classical set up also has value, and after 5.d3 b5 6.Bb3 Be7 7.a4 Bb7 8.Nc3 b4 9.Nd5 Na5! he gained good play although he later went on to lose:
It is actually surprising that 9...Na5 has not been played more often, as in my notes you shall see that I have made some suggestions for Black that give him a promising game, while Michael Adams has also been successful with this move.
The Anti-Marshall that occurs after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 O-O 8.a4 is reviewed in the game Hou Yifan - Harikrishna. Once again the move 8...b4! proved its worth:
after an excellent novelty on move 14 Black gained good play and soon had a huge positional advantage.
Open Variation [C83]
The Open Variation that occurs after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Nxe4 is explored in the game Adams - Smeets. After the further continuation 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6 9.Nbd2 Nc5 10.c3 Be7 11.Bc2 Black choose the popular move 11...d4. Adams responded with 11.Nb3 d3 and now instead of 12.Bb1 Adams went for 12.Nxc5 forcing play into an ending where White has a small edge. In the notes to the game I point out how Black should be trying to hold this endgame, but unfortunately for Smeets it only took a couple of inaccuracies for Adams to start working his magic. After patiently accumulating small advantages Adams ultimately forced his opponent to resign.
There was a post on the Forum saying that recent coverage of the Zaitsev Variation was lacking, and so when I saw my predecessor playing it live in the French Championships I took immediate notice. Unfortunately, after White's 12 a3 Olivier immediately went wrong by 12...Nb8?:
While this is all part of the plan to bring the knight to d7 it allows the powerful 13 Ng5! and White wins by force, see the convincing game Bauer, C - Renet, O.
Now the fantastic game that everyone is talking about, which may change the Chigorin Defence for ever!
When I first saw this game mentioned on the Forum I could scarcely believe my eyes, and my first thought was that it had been pre-arranged. How could one game feature such a massive novelty and also such a wonderful, near-perfect attack with a real queen sacrifice? Now, after careful analysis I realise that this could not be the case.
The novelty in question is the stunning 10...d5!?:
Only time will tell if this sacrifice is completely sound, but my opinion (aided by Hiarcs and Rybka) is that it is, and two other games played later (in mid- August) have certainly looked good for Black.
Anyway, don't miss the incredible 'Gajewski Variation' in Kuznetsov, V - Gajewski, G!
When the irresistible force meets the immovable object
I first heard about the following game from Glenn himself, while I was playing in the British Championship, and then when driving to Spain with a car full of French players some days later I also heard them discussing it, so I knew I just had to see it!
The game hasn't any great theoretical importance, but Glenn is well-known as a great defender and Hisham is a brilliant attacker, so when they meet there can only be fireworks!
With only 30 seconds left on your clock could you find Black's forced draw here? See Hamdouchi, H - Flear, G.
Till next month, Tony