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Hello everyone,
Just as in the previous few updates I had to choose the games from the various online tournaments. The top players get used to online chess and produce high quality chess with a lot of new opening ideas. They don’t even keep these for normal, live play anymore. Look at how Nepomniachtchi outplayed Svidler in the Spanish and Anand in the King’s Gambit Declined.

Download PGN of August ’20 1 e4 e5 games

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Closed Spanish, 6.d3 d6 7.c3 0-0 8.Re1 Re8 9.Nbd2 Bf8 10. Nf1 h6 11.Ng3 b5 12.Bb3 [C84]

Our first game is Nepomniachtchi, I - Svidler, P Legends of Chess Preliminary 2020.

The first important position took place after White’s 12.Bb3. Peter went for Chigorin type of play with 12...Na5 13.Bc2 c5 14.d4 cxd4 15.cxd4 Nc6 16.d5 Nb4, but after 17.Bb1 a5 18.a3 Na6 19.b4 found himself in a slightly worse position and was slowly outplayed. Black was under pressure throughout the game and so he needs to improve on his play in the opening. I would like to suggest 12...Ne7.

Spanish, Berlin 5.Re1 Nd6 6.Nxe5 Be7 7.Bf1 Nxe5 8.Rxe5 0-0 9.d4 Bf6 10.Re1 Re8 [C67]

In the game Nepomniachtchi, I - Giri, A Legends of Chess Final 2020 White tried an extremely rare idea.

Here he played 11.Rxe8+ Nxe8 12.d5 d6 13.a4!?, which was only played once previously. After the logical 13...a5 14.Ra3 Bd7 15.Nc3 Bg5 16.h3 Bxc1 17.Qxc1 Anish played the passive 17..Nf6, came under pressure and was slowly outplayed. Even though he eventually won the game I wouldn’t recommend repeating Black’s play in this game. 12.d5 in combination with 13.a4 is an interesting idea, but Black has to play more actively than Giri did in the game in order to avoid coming under pressure. My suggestion is 17...Qh4!

Spanish, Berlin 4.d3 Bc5 5.Bxc6 dxc6 6.Nbd2 [C65]

Our next encounter between two World Champions, Anand, V - Carlsen,M Legends of Chess Preliminary 2020, saw Magnus applying his favourite rare line in the diagram position given below:

Recently the most common move in this position was 6...Nd7, but Carlsen prefers 6...Bg4, which he has already played on a few occasions, and Vishy reacted with the logical 7.h3 Bh5 8.Nc4. While reviewing games played in this line I realized that White doesn’t score well at all, and the current game only worsened White’s statistics here. Black continued with 8...Nd7 9.Be3 f6 10.Qe2 Qe7! 11.0-0-0 0-0-0 12.Kb1 Kb8 and it turned out that his position is already slightly better. Despite getting a good position later in the game, it seems that White's opening setup doesn't promise him any advantage, so he has to look for alternatives on move 8.

Giuoco Piano 6...a6 7.Re1 h6 8.a4 0-0 9.Nbd2 Re8 10.h3 Be6 11.Bxe6 Rxe6 12.b4 Ba7 [C54]

The game Ding Liren - Carlsen, M Carlsen Tour Final 2020, featured a well-known line of the Giuoco Piano.

Here Ding Liren tried to surprise the World Champion with the rare 13.Bb2, where earlier the Chinese player preferred the main line, 13.Qc2. After the move 13...Ne7 Ding decide to follow the game Radjabov,T-Kramnik,V, Wijk aan Zee 2019, with 14.c4, but I believe, 14.Nf1! is more accurate, as the text could be answered by 14...Nh5! Nevertheless, Black continued 14...a5 and White could take advantage of this with 15.b5! Instead he went for 15.bxa5 Nc6 16.Bc3?, which turned out to be wrong and could have cost White dearly. However, the World Champion returned the favour with 16...Nd7?, instead of the correct 16...Nh5!, and White obtained a clear edge. 13.Bb2 is an interesting line, which requires more practical tests. I can suggest 13...Qd7 as a safer option than the text.

Italian, Giuoco Piano 9...Ba7 10.Nf1 Re8 [C54]

Another game between two world champions, Carlsen, M - Kramnik, V Legends of Chess Preliminary 2020, saw a different branch of the same line, 9...Ba7.

In the diagram position White continued with 11.Be3. Earlier we considered 11.b4, when Kramnik looked at the board from the white side. However, the text isn’t new and had already been seen at the top level. Kramnik went for the natural 11...Bxe3 12.Nxe3 Be6 13.Bxe6 Rxe6 14.b4 and after 14...a5 introduced the strong novelty, 15.b5! In the only preceding game, Giri,A (2771)-Anand,V (2786) Leuven 2017, White played 15.Rb1. After the natural 15...Ne7 16.Qc2 Ng6 Carlsen went for 17.g3, when 17.c4, stopping 17...d5, looked interesting. Kramnik seized his chance and played 17...d5, but after 18.c4 c6?! 19.cxd5 cxd5 20.Rac1 Magnus gained an edge and should have led the game to a win, but some inaccuracies towards the end allowed the Russian player to escape with a draw. A happy escape by Kramnik, but his opening play has to be improved. I could suggest 18...d4, but it seems that Black was already under some pressure and so a possible improvement lies at an early stage of the game. The ball is in Black's court now.

Scotch 4...Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.h4 [C45]

In the game Nepomniachtchi, I - Giri, A Legends of Chess Final 2020, the Russian player went for an interesting line with 8.h4:

There are a few ways to answer the text, and Giri chose the interesting 8...a5. After 9.c4 Ba6 10.Nd2 (earlier Nepo played 10.g3 against the same opponent) Anish played 10...Nb6, although I prefer 10...g6. In the position on the board White introduced a novelty, 11.h5!?, which took Black by surprise and the Dutchman instantly committed a mistake, 11...Qe6? After the moves 12.h6!? gxh6?! 13.b3 0-0-0 14.Bb2 Bg7 15.0-0-0 Rhe8 16.f4 White obtained a clear advantage and converted it to a win.

The line with 8.h4 is very tricky and has to be taken seriously. Black has a reasonable choice between 8...Qe6 and 8...a5, but in the latter case he should proceed with 10...g6, as 10...Nb6 can be strongly met by 11.b3!

Scotch Four Knights 7...d5 8.exd5 cxd5 9.0-0 0-0 10.Qf3 c6 11.h3 [C47]

The game Xiong, J - Le Quang Liem, match 2020, saw a quiet system of the Scotch Four Knights.

The Vietnamese GM went for the popular 11...Rb8 in the diagram position and after 12.Bf4 Bd6 13.b3 chose 13...Be6 (earlier we had considered 13...Rb4, but Black also has other alternatives). White continued 14.Ne2 and Liem played the very rare 14...Re8, instead of 14...c5. Nevertheless, Xiong already had experience with this line and answered with 15. Rfe1, as he did in two recent games. However, after 15...Qc7 his reaction 16.Rad1?! wasn’t the best - it seems that White can set some problems with 16.Qg3!, which was played in Smirnov,A (2585)-Maiorov,N (2523) Rome 2019. In the line which occurred in the game White hopes for a slight positional edge, which could be achieved had White preferred 16.Qg3! over 16.Rad1. So, I would suggest that Black play 14...c5 instead of 14...Re8.

King’s Gambit Declined 2...Bc5 3.Nf3 d6 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Bc4 Nc6 6.d3 [C30]

Finally, the game Nepomniachtchi, I - Anand,V Legends of Chess Preliminary 2020, saw a transposition from a Bishop's Opening to the King’s Gambit Declined with 2...Bc5.

Anand decided to go for the sharp 6...Ng4? in the diagram position, but it turned out to be bad due to the following forced line: 7.Ng5! Bf2+ 8.Kf1 exf4 9.Bxf7! Kf8 and 10.Be6! In the game Ian played 10.Ne6?!, but still kept an edge after 10...Bxe6 11.Bxe6 Ne3 12.Bxe3 Bxe3 13.Qh5!

6...Ng4? is a dangerous move for Black, which was shown by the Russian player. However, 10.Be6! would be even more convincing.


See you next month, Victor.

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