ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Hello everyone,
This month the choice of which tournament to cover was easy. There was only one real classical tournament- the Russian Individual Championship. So, all of the games in this update will cover new developments in theory based on this tournament. Please give special attention to the games Nepomniachtchi, I- Esipenko,A, in which White introduced a very interesting piece sacrifice, and Dubov,D-Karjakin,S, with an early and surprising idea.

Download PGN of December ’20 1 e4 e5 games

>> Previous Update >>

Spanish, Open variation 9.c3 Be7 [C83]

The game Esipenko, A - Fedoseev, V 73rd RUS-ch Moscow 2020, saw an extremely rare line in the diagram position given below:

Instead of the popular 10.Nbd2 or the many other moves we considered earlier, Esipenko played 10.h3, which has the point of covering the g4-square. After the natural 10...0-0 11.Bc2 Fedoseev came up with the dubious 11...Qc8?!. The standard 11...Qd7 was better and could transpose to 10.Nbd2. However, the text led to a worse version of it after 12.Nbd2 f5 13.exf6 Nxf6 14.Re1 Bd6 15.Nf1 and White obtained a clear edge. An interesting fight with mutual mistakes. Black's 11...Qc8?! is unfortunate and can't be recommended, 11...Qd7 is an obvious improvement.

Spanish, Yurtaev System 7.a4 Rb8 8.c3 d6 9.d4 Bb6 10.axb5 axb5 [C78]

In the game Svidler, P - Dubov, D 73rd RUS-ch Moscow 2020, White chose a line which is out of fashion.

In the position given above Svidler played 11.Qd3. The players followed a theoretical line: 11...0-0 12.Bg5 exd4 13.cxd4 h6 14.Bh4 g5 15.Bg3 Nh5, and here Peter chose a side line, 16.Rc1, instead of 16.Nc3, which we considered earlier, but Dubov was the one who introduced a novelty, 16...Ne7. In the game Gashimov,V-Anand,V Germany 2010, Black had preferred 16...Bb7. White went for the greedy 17.Nc3 Kg7 18.Nxb5, which allowed Black to obtain enough counterplay. Instead, 18.Re1 was interesting. A logical draw, this game demonstrates typical positional compensation for a pawn in the Yurtaev System. 16.Rc1 may create some problems, but Black should be able to create enough counterplay with precise play. Dubov's 16...Ne7 deserves attention.

Spanish, Improved Steinitz 5.c3 Bd7 6.0-0 g6 7.d4 Nf6 8.Re1 Bg7 9.h3 0-0 [C75]

The game Karjakin, S - Artemiev, V 73rd RUS-ch Moscow 2020, saw the players transposing from the Improved Steinitz into the Smyslov System.

Here Karjakin played 10.Bc2, instead of 10.Nbd2 which we considered in the past and Artemiev answered with 10...b5, which has never been seen in the current position, instead of the main line, 10...Re8. Nevertheless, it transposed to a known position. Sergey avoided 11.Nbd2, which would lead to a known position of the Smyslov System, and instead preferred 11.Be3. With Black’s rare 11...exd4 the players followed a correspondence game for a few moves and soon Black found himself under serious pressure. A well-played game by Karjakin, who created serious problems right out of the opening and didn't let his advantage slip, despite the inaccurate 25.Rf4? Probably 11...exd4 leads to White's advantage and so it makes sense to try something else. I can suggest 11...a5 or 10...Re8, which is more popular than 10...b5.

Italian 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 [C53]

The game Dubov, D - Karjakin, S 73rd RUS-ch Moscow 2020, saw an early surprise from the young Russian player in a well-known position.

Here Daniil played the extremely rare 6.b4!?, instead of the more common 6.e5 or 6.cxd4. The text has the point of pushing the dark-squared bishop away of the a3-f8 diagonal. Karjakin replied with 6...Bb6 and after 7.e5 chose 7...Ne4, where 7...d5 is a possible alternative. The latter was tested back in 1873(!) in a correspondence game between two European cities. Dubov followed his pawn sacrifice with the concrete 8.Bd5, sacrificing another pawn. After 8...Nxc3 9.Nxc3 dxc3 10.Bg5 we start to understand the idea behind 6.b4. The game continued 10...Ne7 11.0-0 h6 12.Bh4, but Karjakin’s 12...0-0 was inaccurate. 12...g5! 13.Bg3 0-0 would lead to an edge for Black. One more mistake 14...a5? and White launched a spectacular attack, which included a piece and queen sacrifices and eventually led to a well-deserved win. A brilliant win from the 'new Tal'. Although the line with 6.b4 might be dubious, it creates serious practical problems, especially for those who are unfamiliar with it. Black can improve his play by means of either 12...g5 or 8...d5.

Hungarian Defence, 3...d6 4.c3 [C50]

In the game Fedoseev, V - Dubov, D 73rd RUS-ch Moscow 2020, Black came armed with a rare idea very early.

In the diagram position Dubov played 4...f5. This rare idea had been tested by the Russian GM Paravyan a couple of times in 2020. After the solid 5.d3 Black played 5...Qf6, which has only been seen twice in online games of the aforementioned player. Ivan Sokolov's 5...f4 is an interesting alternative. The game continued 6.Ng5 Nh6 7.f4! with early complications. Daniil reacted correctly with 7...Bd7, but after 8.0-0 0-0-0 9.exf5 his 9...exf4 was inaccurate. Instead, 9...Nxf5! was strong and promised equal chances. Black's opening setup with 4...f5 is interesting and promises some original positions.

Scotch 4...Bc5 5.Nb3 Bb4 6.c3 Be7 7.Bf4 d6 8.N1d2 [C45]

The game Matlakov, M - Fedoseev, V 73rd RUS-ch Moscow 2020, featured a known alternative to 7.f4, the move 7.Bf4.

In the quite rare position given above Fedoseev came up with the rare 8...Bg5, trying to exchange pieces in a slightly passive position. However, after the logical 9.Bg3 his 9...Nge7?! looks risky. Instead, 9...Qf6, which prevents 10.f4, was interesting. Matlakov answered with 10.f4 and after 10...Bh6 he could have chosen between 11.Bd3 and 11.Bc4, with an obvious edge for White in both cases. Instead he played 11.Qf3 0-0 and then erred with 12.Bf2. After this the advantage changed hands. 5...Bb4 is an interesting alternative to 5...Bb6. 8...Bg5 is also playable, but 9...Nge7 looks dubious, Black should prefer 9...Nf6.

Scotch 4...Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 Ba6 9.b3 g6 10.f4 [C45]

In the game Nepomniachtchi, I - Vitiugov, N 73rd RUS-ch Moscow 2020, the players discussed a sharp line of the 4...Nf6 Scotch with 10.f4:

Vitiugov answered the text with the most critical line, 10...d6 and after 11.Qf2 Nf6 12.Be2 dxe5 13.0-0 Ne4 the players reached an important junction. Ian went for the most popular 14.Qe1, while earlier we analysed 14.Qf3 in Nedev,T (2484)-Kramnik,V (2760) Tromso NOR 2014 [Mikhalevski,V]. Nikita was well prepared and went for the direct 14...Qc5. After the forcing 15.Kh1 Qd4 16.Bf3! Qxa1 17.Qxe4 Black demonstrated the only defence, 17...Bb7, and after 18.Qc2 Bc5! Both players were precise to the end and had to repeat the position in just a few moves. A short, but interesting game. The line with 10.f4 leads to a very sharp play with roughly equal chances, while 14.Qe1 leads to a forced draw after 14...Qc5.

Petroff Mainline 6...Bd6 7.0-0 0-0 8.c4 c6 9.Nc3 Nxc3 10.bxc3 dxc4 11.Bxc4 Bf5 12.Bg5 Qa5 [C42]

The last game of this update, but definitely not the least, Nepomniachtchi, I - Esipenko, A RUS-ch Moscow 2020, saw a discussion in a popular line of the 3.Nxe5 Petroff.

In the well-known diagram position White continued with the fresh line 13.d5, which was introduced by Kasimdzhanov last October - the main line is 13.Nh4. The young Russian player answered with 13...Qc7, while the main alternative 13...Qc5 was tested in the game Karjakin-Esipenko earlier in the tournament. After 14.Re1 h6 White introduced the brilliant novelty, 15.Nh4!, the fruit of his seconds' work. The only preceding game, Kasimdzhanov,R (2657)-Lei,T (2469) Douglas 2019, saw 15.Bh4, which might be objectively better, but is much less attractive. White’s idea was demonstrated right away after 15...Bh7 16.Bxh6! A very interesting positional piece sacrifice. Esipenko defended very well for a quite a while, but eventually erred with 25...Kg6?, being under pressure for most of the game. 15.Nh4!? is a very interesting novelty. Black defended well, but his 25...Kg6? was a mistake, 25...Kg8 was necessary with a holdable position.


See you next month, Victor.

>> Previous Update >>

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