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This update is based on games from the Dresden Olympiad, which offered a lot of material so I had to choose from a huge number of interesting and theoretically important games. The accent will mostly be on the Spanish as in my previous updates.

Forum member Micawber has produced another fantastic ChessPub Forum analysis digest, this time on the King's Gambit! This is available to all subscribers as a two-part Archived ChessBase download once again by clicking here: Download Games. Don't miss it!

Download PGN of December '08 1 e4 e5 games

The Marshall Variation [C89]

This brilliant invention of the late American player is under attack again, but Black seems to find just enough resources to maintain equality.

Let's start this time with the 12.d3 line and our first game in this update will be Bacrot, E - Aronian, L, 38th Olympiad 2008.

I don't expect major improvements in this line and thus the main arena of theoretical discussion remains the 12.d4 line, which is the subject of our next two games.

The game Efimenko, Z - Sargissian, G, 38th Olympiad 2008, saw Black avoiding Kramnik's 19.f3 with 17...Qh5. Moreover, in the following position he prepared a strong novelty for his opponent:

20...Nf4! was the surprise, which eventually led to a perpetual check despite, or perhaps thanks, to one mistake on either side. Just one week after the current game the Chinese player Ni Hua tried to refute Black's idea with 23.Bb3, instead of 23.Nf1, and this game will be analysed in the January update.

Unlike Sargissian, Leko was ready to meet Kramnik's 19.f3 and played 17...Re6 in Nisipeanu,DL-Leko,P, 38th Olympiad 2008. However, this time it was White who avoided Kramnik's line and played 18.a4 instead, which is also a well-known continuation:

To my big surprise the entire game was a repetition of the game Polgar-Adams, San Luis 2005. Nevertheless, I decided to comment this game for you as the earlier one is not a part of our PGN Archive.

This game proves that at this moment White has no advantage after 18.a4 and so he has to play 18.Qf1 if he has any aggressive intentions.

Anti-Marshall [C88]

There are a few ways to avoid the Marshal. One of them, 8.a4, occurred in the game Karjakin, S - Svidler, P, 38th Olympiad 2008. The key position of the rare line with 9.a5 arose after Black's 12...Ra8:

White played the inaccurate 13.Bb5?! here, and was soon fighting for a draw. Instead, Morozevich's 13 Qe2 seems to be the only chance to fight for an advantage in this line.

The Breyer variation [C95]

This variation is also very popular at the top level. I've chosen two games, each of them in the important sub-line with 18.c4:

Now Black has to choose between the 18...Nb6 of the game Vachier Lagrave,M-Harikrishna,, 38th Olympiad 2008, and the 18...Qc7 of Smeets, J - Roiz, M, 38th Olympiad 2008.

In the first game Black played 19...bxc4?! after 19.Qe2, which looks suspicious. Instead, Spassky's piece sacrifice 19...cxd5, with the subsequent 20...Nxd5, deserves attention and will be covered in the game Tseitlin, M - Avrukh, B, ISR-ch, Haifa 2008, which will be part of my January update. By the way, Avrukh was the eventual winner of this event.

If we come back to the Olympiad game, White obtained a stable advantage and I especially liked the manoeuvre 27.Ne1-c2-b4. A very good positional achievement from Vachier Lagrave who completely outplayed his strong opponent.

As I have already mentioned, Roiz played the solid 18...Qc7, and after 20...a5 the following position appeared on the board:

Here White introduced the dubious novelty 21.Nh4?!, instead of Anand's 21.Bb1. Roiz answered with the cautious 21...Kh8 and soon obtained an advantage thanks to the misplaced knight on h4. In my opinion White could try to fight for some advantage by means of 21.dxc6 instead.

The Exchange Variation [C69]

The game Guseinov, G - Werle, J, 38th Olympiad 2008, featured an interesting novelty of Radjabov's, 14.a4, which he introduced at the beginning of the year:

Werle avoided 15...Ng6, which was tested by Jakovenko in the original game, by playing 15...Kb7, which seems to be a safer choice. However, Black's mistakes from move 18 to 23 allowed White to obtain an advantage, and after a few more mistakes Black couldn't even save the game any more. 18...Rg8 seems to be the first moment to improve upon Black's play in this game, and I believe it promises a decent position.

The Italian Game [C50]

Our last game in this update, Lupulescu, C - Georgiev, Kir, 38th Olympiad 2008, saw a rare variation of the Italian with 5.Nc3. The important diagram position arose after 13.0-0:

Here Georgiev played a number of over-ambitious pawn moves: 13...b5?! and 15...c5?! and after 17.e5 had to face a strong attack. 25...Nc6 was the last chance to put up some resistance, but instead Black played 25...Rfd8 and got crushed. A great attack from the Romanian player, but nevertheless the line with 5.Nc3 can't be considered dangerous and may mostly serve as a surprise weapon.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Enjoy, Victor.

Please post your Kingpawn Opening queries on the 1 e4 e5 Forum, or subscribers can write to if you have any questions.