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Hello everyone,
I am currently on a chess tour of North America: I have already played four 9-round tournaments and two more are yet to come. So, I have a lot of new material of my own, and I suppose it won’t come as a big surprise if I mostly analyse my own games in this update, all with Black.

Download PGN of August ’19 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish, Open variation 9.Be3 Be7 10.c3 0-0 11.Nbd2 Bg4 [C83]

The game Motylev, A - Matlakov, M 72nd ch-RUS 2019, featured an important line in the 9.Be3 system with 11...Bg4:

Here White tried to surprise his opponent with the rare 12.Re1, but Black was well prepared and played 12...Nxe5!, a move which was last seen back in 1915! White continued with 13.Nxe4 Bxf3 14.Qxd5 Qxd5 15.Bxd5 Rad8 16.Bb7 and now Black improved on the game Milnes,B-Northrup,G USA 1915, with the important novelty 16...f5! and equalized easily. A short, but important game, which seems to finish 12.Re1.

Spanish, Open Variation 9.Nbd2 Nc5 10.c3 [C80]

In the game Tiglon, B - Mikhalevski, V Summer of Seattle 2019, I tried a very rare line, 10...Bf5, which is, in fact, my brother’s invention:

White reacted pretty logically with 11.Nd4, even though White preferred 11.Bc2 in majority of games. After 11...Nxd4 12.cxd4 Ne6 Tiglon played a very strong move 13.Nb1, which helps to regroup the knight to a better position on c3. Here I introduced the over-the-board novelty, 13...h5 but was unable fully equalize. For example 19.h3! promised White a clear edge instead of the b>19.Bc2 he played. The opening experiment with 10...Bf5 wasn't that successful, and it seems that White's chances in this line are higher.

Spanish Opening 5.d3 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.0-0 d6 8.c3 h6 9.a4 Rb8 [C78]

The game Azarov, S - Mikhalevski, V Continental Open Sturbridge 2019, saw an early novelty in the diagram position after 9...Rb8:

White now played 10.Bc2 (whereas 10.axb5 is the main line), I answered with the logical 10...b4 and after the critical 11.d4 Ba7 Azarov decided to the tension in the centre and played 12.h3. I managed to equalize without visible problems and Sergey was the one who already offered a draw on move 24, as he didn’t like his position. White's novelty 10.Bc2 doesn't seem to set enough problems.

Spanish Opening 7.c3 d6 8.Bg5 h6 9.Bh4 Bb6 [C77]

I also faced the same line with 5.d3 in the game Preotu, R - Mikhalevski, V Summer of Seattle 2019.

This time my opponent went for 8.Bg5, and in the diagram position he played the rare 10.0-0, instead of the main line 10.Nbd2. I answered with 10...Na5, which is already new, but in fact there were no previous examples of 10.0-0 at the GM level. After 11.Bd2 I considered 11...g5, but miscalculated one of the lines and went for 11...c5, instead. The latter is also playable, but it seems that 11...g5 is more accurate and leads to a roughly equal position, while after the text White could try to set some problems by means of 12.d4!

10.0-0 doesn’t promise any opening advantage if Black answers with 11...g5.

Aronian System 5.c3 Bg7 6.d4 exd4 7.cxd4 b5 8.Bc2 d6 9.h3 [C70]

The game Der Manuelian, H - Mikhalevski, V Continental Open Sturbridge 2019, featured the Aronian System.

I again played 9...Nf6 in the diagram position, the move I introduced a few years ago and which was played by Dreev in a couple of recent games. White played 10.Nc3 0-0 11.0-0 Bb7 and then introduced a novelty 12.d5. I equalized easily with 12...Na5 13.Re1 Re8 and after White’s inaccurate 14.a3?! I started to take control with 14...c6. A couple more inaccuracies/mistakes and Black obtained a decisive advantage by move 20. The line with 9...Nf6 looks like a good weapon for Black and White is still searching for ways to set him some problems.

Bishop's Opening 4.Nc3 Nxe4 5.Bxf7+? [C55]

A well-known and bad line for White occurred in the game Cordovez, J - Mikhalevski, V 2019 US Open Orlando.

This line has been known to be dubious for White for a long time, since after 5...Kxf7 6.Nxe4 d5 Black obtains a strong pawn centre and the bishop pair. The current game only confirmed this assessment. After 7.Neg5+ Kg8! the knight on g5 is also misplaced, which adds to White’s problems, and in two moves the position was already virtually won for Black. The 5.Bxf7+? line can’t be recommended for White, 5.Bd3 is necessary.

Italian Game 4.0-0 Nf6 5.d3 0-0 6.h3 [C50]

The game He, A - Mikhalevski, V Summer of Seattle 2019, featured a popular Giuoco Piano setup.

Here I decided to surprise my young opponent with the extremely rare 6...a5, and after 7.c3 h6, when 7...d6 would transpose to a much more popular position from the 6...d6 line. Anthony tried to refute my play by means of 8.d4 Bb6 9.dxe5, but after 9...Nxe4 he needed to play 10.Bd5! with some edge. Instead he played 10.Bf4 which allowed me to equalize by means of 10...d6 and after White’s subsequent mistakes I obtained an edge. It turns out that 6...a5 is playable, although White can try to set some problems with 10.Bd5.

Italian Game 4.d3 Nf6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 Be7 7.Nbd2 d6 8.c3 [C50]

The interesting line with 5.Bg5 was tested in the game Sevian, S - Mikhalevski, V Continental Open Sturbridge 2019.

In the important position given in the diagram I played 8...a6, but Black had at least two worthy alternatives, 8...Nh5 and 8...g5. Still, after 9.a4 Nh5 10.Bg3 g6 Black equalized without big problems and soon started to take over and even reached a winning position. However, some inaccuracies in my time trouble allowed White to equalize. The setup which occurred in the game doesn't seem to promise much for White. One of the key ideas for Black in this opening is the ...g7-g5-g4 advance.


See you next month, Victor.

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