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Hello everyone,
Once again we're going to see top level chess with a wide choice of opening lines.

Download PGN of December '15 1 e4 e5 games

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Spanish. The Marshall with 10.d3 [C89]

The game Ivanchuk, V - Svidler, P, European team championship 2015, saw Svidler repeating a line which he played in the final of the World Cup match against Karjakin.

Here Ivanchuk deviated from Karjakin's blunder (18.Bc2) with 18.g3, which was one of my recommendations in my analysis of the aforementioned game. White's next move 19.h4 was Ivanchuk's novelty, but he started to err a few moves later with 22.Bd2?! and 24.a3. Svidler took advantage of his mistakes, though not in the most effective way, but it was enough to win the game. White's best chance to fight for an opening advantage after Ivanchuk's novelty is 21.d4.

Closed Spanish with 5.d3 b5 6.Bb3 Be7 [C84]

In the game Leko, P - Carlsen, M, European team championship 2015, the players transposed into the Closed Spanish after 5.0-0 Be7 6.d3.

The World Champion used a rather rare line with 9...Rb8 in the diagram position, but didn't manage to equalise. White could have set him problems with 13.b4, but instead Leko went for 13.Nxe7, which occurred in the only preceding game, and soon started to go astray (16.b4?!) and came under pressure. A few further inaccuracies only facilitated Black's task and the champ won in his usual efficient style.

The Open Spanish with 9.Nbd2 and 11...d4 [C83]

A critical line of the Open Spanish with 9.Nbd2 occurred in the game Svidler, P - Mamedyarov, S, European team championship 2015.

Here White played 18.Bf4 instead of the 18.g4 which we considered earlier. The players then followed a couple of known games which saw 18...a5 (instead, Wey Yi's 18...Qc8 is also interesting) when Svidler introduced an interesting novelty 19.bxa5. However, Black was up to the task and after very accurate play from both sides a well-deserved draw was agreed. A very well played game by both players, which will serve as a model for the entire line with 17...Rfd8.

Spanish. The Berlin Wall with 9...Be7 [C67]

The game Grischuk, A - Eljanov, P, European team championship 2015, saw a rather rare line of the Berlin with 9...Be7.

A couple of moves later in the very rare diagram position Grischuk introduced the novelty 12.Ne2, which is typical for many lines in the Berlin. After 15.f5 White was already better and Black's next move only worsened his position. However, Alexander didn't managed to convert his positional advantage and the game was eventually drawn. Although Black managed to defend the position his play in the game should be improved. I wonder whether we are going to see more practical tests of this 9...Be7 line at a high level?

Anti-Berlin with 4.d3 and 5...Nd4 [C65]

In the game Carlsen - Aronian, European team championship 2015, the World Champion played a fashionable line with 8.Na3, which hasn't been seen on our pages yet. The players followed a recent game Karjakin, S - Caruana, F/Zurich SUI 2015, and reached the diagram position below:

Here Aronian introduced a logical novelty, 11...Ba7 instead of Caruana's 11...Bc7. He soon sacrificed a pawn, which White accepted, but this decision turned out to be dangerous. Magnus came under pressure and didn't manage to find all the best moves to stay in the game. A well-played game by Aronian. His new idea 11...Ba7 deserves serious attention, while White's best chance to look for an opening advantage is to retreat to h4 with 14.Bh4.

Scotch with 4...Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.Qe2 [C45]

This rare line occurred in the Chinese derby Yu Yangyi-Wey Yi, 1st China Chess King 2015.

Here Wey Yi was the first to deviate from the game Nijboer, F - Wiedenkeller, M/Skopje MKD 2015, with 11...Qxd6, and White answered it with the slightly inaccurate 12.Bd3, when 12.Nc3 would be more precise. Nevertheless, White obtained a slight, but long-term edge, but Black managed to hold. The line with 6.Qe2 is not as innocent as I thought and Black has to be careful to retain the balance. I prefer 11...cxd6 to 11...Qd6

Ponziani Opening with 3...Nf6 [C44]

The game Jobava, B - Saric, I, European team championship 2015, featured an old opening, which has recently been seen mostly in blitz games.

In this position Jobava chose the side line 7.Qe2, but I believe it might become the main line one day. Later, White missed an interesting option of 11.Nd2 and allowed Black to equalise. However, instead he fell into a positional trap with 14...Bxf4?, and 15...cxd6?! and after that Baadur didn't leave Black any chances. A good technical win from Jobava. If Black wants to play the 3...Nf6 line then he has to proceed with 10...d6.

Vienna Game with 3.f4 exf4 [C25]

In the game Nielsen,PH-Krnan,T World blitz Championship 2015, it all started as a King's Gambit, but quickly transposed into the Vienna Game. Nielsen played a pretty rare line with 5.g3 reaching the following diagram position:

Black's reply 5...fxg3 was already new. Instead 5...g4 is critical. Krnan's play in the opening was rather shaky (12...f5?!, 13...f4) and White obtained a clear edge, but soon he started to err and the game ended in a draw after numerous mistakes from both sides. This rare line line with 5.g3 is not without venom, but Black should be able to solve his problems if he answers it with 5...g4.


See you next month, Victor.

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