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Hello everyone,
I would like to apologize for the slight delay in this update - I was busy finishing a book on an opening repertoire for Black against the Spanish.
This update is mostly based on the London Chess Classics 2012, which was a really exciting tournament, I would say the most exciting one in a while. There was a lot of fighting chess, and a lot of new opening ideas which we will examine in detail here.

Download PGN of December '12 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish - Marshall Attack [C89]

The game Pap,Ga-Erdos,V 64th ch-HUN 2012, repeated a top level game for the first 23 moves and reached the following position:

In the aforementioned game Grischuk, A - Tomashevsky, E RUS-ch 2010 a draw was agreed after 24.Qg2. Instead, Pap tried to deviate with 24.Qd3, but it hardly looked like a serious attempt to play for a win. Eventually a draw was agreed in a rook endgame after a forced exchange operation. I think this proves that the line which occurred in this game is a dead end.

Closed Spanish with 6.d3 [C84]

McShane, L - Aronian, L 4th London Chess Classic 2012, was one of the most exciting games in the tournament.

In the diagram position McShane deviated from the 15.Bb3 of Kamsky, G - Leko, P Dresden 2008, with 15.h3. However, Levon solved his problems easily and even obtained a slight edge, which after a nice tactical blow became virtually decisive. This should have been the end of the story, but Black played a few careless moves which made the game extremely fascinating... Black's play in the opening looks convincing and so White should look for an improvement to set at least some opening problems.

Archangel Variation [C78]

The game Polgar, J - Nakamura, H 4th London Chess Classic 2012, saw an interesting opening line with 7.a4 instead of the more popular 7.c3.

Here Polgar played the dubious, in my opinion, 16.Bxd5 and soon it started to seem that White is the one who is fighting for a draw. After some inaccuracies Black took the initiative and won, although not without some additional help from White. The rare line with 14.Nd2 deserves attention, but I believe White has to follow it with either 16.Qd3 or 16.Qf3.

Closed Spanish with 5.d3 [C77]

In the game between the top two players in the world, Carlsen, M - Aronian, L 4th London Chess Classic 2012, a very rare, but, nevertheless, interesting idea was introduced by Aronian:

In the diagram position he played 7...0-0, instead of 7...d6, and soon sacrificed his central pawn with 10...Ne7 to obtain long-term compensation. Only his later over-confident play cost him, as instead of equalizing he continued playing for the initiative, and found himself in trouble. Black's opening idea is deep and interesting and requires further practical tests. However Black has a good alternative in 7...d6, too.

Berlin with 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.Re1 [C67]

The game McShane, L - Carlsen, M 4th London Chess Classic 2012, featured a "drawish" line in the Berlin system.

In the diagram position White introduced a new idea, 14.Bd3 instead of 14.Na3, and put Black under some pressure. Only the tactical oversight 27.Kh1? allowed Carlsen to turn the tables, and then eventually outplay his opponent from a roughly equal position with the precision of a computer. Despite winning the game the ball is now in Black's court.

Berlin with 4.d3 Bc5 [C65]

The game between the current and former world champions, Anand, V - Kramnik, V 4th London Chess Classic 2012, saw an early novelty from Anand in the position of the following diagram:

Here Vishy played 9.Bd2, but Vlad's reaction was very convincing and he started to outplay his old rival. However, at some point he played too slowly, the position became closed and soon a draw was inevitable. The final position demonstrates it better than any words:

The line with 6.Nbd2 requires further practical tests, though the ball remains in White's court.

Scotch with 4...Nf6, 6.Qe2 [C45]

Another game from the former World champion, Nakamura, H - Kramnik, V 4th London Chess Classic 2012, saw an early deviation from the main lines too:

In this extremely popular position White played the surprising 6.Qe2, though the idea didn't achieve the expected effect. Moreover, it actually backfired on White, as Black was already better by move 12 and slowly, but surely, led the game to a logical end. White's opening experiment is hardly a good idea, which Kramnik proved skilfully.

The Evans Gambit 5...Be7 [C51]

Short, N - Nyback, T 12th Puhajarve Rapid 2012, saw the Evans Gambit, rarely seen at the GM level, though Short had already played it earlier this year.

Black played 7...exd4 instead of Bruzon's 7...d6 and soon the diagram position above was reached. Here Black introduced a novelty, 10...Bb4, but couldn't fully equalize. White achieved a promising position and only lost after mutual mistakes in time trouble. The line with 7...exd4 looks promising for White, though more practical tests are necessary. Consequently, 7...d6 is safer, in my opinion.


See you next month, Victor.

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