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Hello everyone,
I’ve just got back from a month-long Canadian tour, which explains the slight delay in publishing this update. I’ve based it mostly on the great St.Louis Festival, if I can call three super tournaments in classical, rapid and blitz a festival. This event was notable as it saw a comeback for Garry Kasparov - his first official tournament since 2005.

Download PGN of August ’17 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish. Anti-Marshall with 8.a4 b4 9.a5 [C88]

Our first game in this update is Carlsen, M - Aronian, L 5th Sinquefield Cup 2017. The players followed the game Topalov, V - Adams, M, Shamkir 2017, and reached the diagram position:

Here Carslen was the first to deviate with 14.Nc4!?, instead of Topalov’s 14.d4, and managed to set Black some problems. A well-played game by the world champion. The opening line which occurred in the game has a lot of subtleties and has to be analysed in depth. 17...Bc5, instead of 17...bxc3?!, seems to be the way to improve upon Aronian's play.

Spanish. Anti-Marshall with 8.h3 Bb7 9.d3 d5 [C88]

Aronian was also faithful to his pet opening in blitz, but the game Navara, D- Aronian, L Saint Louis Blitz 2017, had the same sad outcome for the Armenian.

This time the players reached the diagram position after following the game Svidler, P - Muzychuk, A, Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2012, and here Aronian was the first to deviate with 19...Qg6 (instead of 19...bxc4 in the aforementioned game). 19...Nxc4, as in one correspondence game, also promises good compensation for a pawn. Navara reacted by 20.Bd2, when 20.Qg4! looks more challenging. However, Levon was the first to err with 21...Nd5? and White obtained a healthy extra pawn. 19...Qg6 looks inaccurate, instead Black should play 19...bxc4 or 19...Nxc4.

Spanish. Berlin endgame, MVL line 9.h3 Ke8 10.Nc3 h5 11.Bf4 Be7 [C67]

The game Vachier Lagrave, M - Karjakin, S 5th Sinquefield Cup 2017, saw a theoretical discussion in MVL’s pet line with 11.Bf4.

The players followed the main theory of this line to reach the above diagram position. Here Karjakin played 19...Rd8, which is the latest trend and the move I offered in my annotations to Caruana, F - Karjakin, S, Sao Paulo/Bilbao BRA/ESP 2012, which instead saw 19...Nd5. The current game continued 20.Rxd8 Kxd8 21.Rh1 Nd5 22.Bg3 and here the Russian GM introduced the strong novelty, 22...Rh6!, instead of 22.g5 which was played in a few preceding games, including Anand, V -Karjakin, S, Khanty-Mansiysk 2014. By move 40 the players reached an endgame position with thre pawns for Karjakin versus MVL’s bishop, which was already analysed by Karjakin at home. Almost a perfect game, although it was all the fruit of the players' home preparation. The ball remains in White's court, it's still extremely difficult to set Black any problems in the Berlin endgame.

Spanish. The Aronian system with 5.Re1 [C60]

The game Johnson-Konstantin, M - Mikhalevski, V St.Dennis Festival Montreal 2017, saw a toothless line against the Aronian system with 5.Re1.

In the diagram position White had to proceed with 13.Nc3, reaching a slightly worse version of the main line, as Re1 was played instead of a more useful move. However, instead my opponent played 13.Bg5?! and soon found himself in an inferior position.

This game proved that 5.Re1 is a waste of time, White should play 4.c3 or 5.c3.

Scotch 4...Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 Ba6 9.b3 g6 10.f4 [C45]

The rare line with 10.f4 occurred in the game Svidler, P - Carlsen, M 5th Sinquefield Cup 2017.

The world champion now introduced the new move 17...Rae8, instead of the 17...Rhe8! that was played in two preceding games, but Svidler managed to equalise with ease. The previously played 17...Rhe8 promises Black some winning chances and so the entire line with 10.f4 is hardly a challenging weapon. Moreover, White has to be accurate to retain equality.

Scotch with 4...Bb4+ 5.c3 Be7 [C45]

This rare but interesting line occurred in the game So, W- Carlsen, M 5th Sinquefield Cup 2017:

So reacted well with 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 and obtained a slight edge, but his 19.Bf4? was a mistake and allowed Black to first equalize, and then to seize an edge. Instead, 19.b3! promised White the upper hand. The line with 5...Be7 can serve as a surprise weapon, but will never replace the main lines.

Italian. Giuoco Piano 6.h3 d6 7.c3 a6 8.a4 Ba7 9.Re1 h6 [C54]

The game Ding Liren - Giri, A Ding Liren vs Giri Match Wenzhou 2017, saw one of the more popular lines of the Giuoco Piano with 9...h6.

Here The Chinese number one player continued with 12.Nf1, a move which had already been seen in a game between two Chinese players in 2016. Instead 12.b4!? was played by Karjakin on the next day in Saint Louis. Giri underlined White’s slight inaccuracy by means of 13...a5! and equalized comfortably. A nice win from Giri, White should prefer 12.b4 to 12.Nf1, although even then an opening advantage is far from guaranteed.

Italian. Giuoco Piano 6.h3 d6 7.c3 a6 8.a4 Ba7 9.Re1 b5 [C54]

The latest trend in the Giuoco Piano, 9...b5, was seen in the game Vachier Lagrave, M - Aronian, L 5th Sinquefield Cup 2017.

The line with 9...b5 was introduced by the young Norwegian GM Aryan Tari and started to gain popularity really fast. Thus the diagram position has already been seen three times since June 2017. MVL followed Anand’s 13.Bc2 and Levon almost immediately deviated from the rapid game Anand, V - Nakamura, H, Saint Louis USA 2017 with 14...d5. instead of 14...b3. However, he erred first with 23...Rxe5?, instead of 23...Bb5, which promised dynamic equality, but managed to save the game. An interesting fighting draw, which was well-played by both players. The line with 9...b5 is definitely playable and requires more practical tests.

See you next month, Victor.

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